Monday, September 1, 2014

Tri Your Best

photo: Jen's Art & Soul cc
School is back in session...and for those kids not in organized sports and/or getting themselves to school by foot or bike, racking up enough exercise can be a challenge. Enter the Applebee's-sponsored Kids Helping Kids Triathlon, scheduled for October 12 in Cary, N.C. Kids 7 to 12 can start their "training" now to participate and raise money for childhood-cancer research.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Second Time Around

(photo: Sinead Friel cc)
It's post-prom time again, and thus time for a gentle reminder for teens to try and make another girl's prom dreams come true next year. Donating prom dresses is especially easy if you have a local organization that handles this. But even if not, there are charities that accept dress donations by mail, like the NYC-based WGirls. So get that fab frock on its merry way while it's still in style ;)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Walk This Way

photo: Kate Ter Haar cc
It's exciting to see the enthusiasm among teens at my sons' school for the upcoming Autism Walk. My only regret -- and it's a biggie -- is that the walk supports Autism Speaks, an organization that's garnered a less than ideal "financial" score from the Charity Navigator watchdog group; has repeatedly demonized autistic children in its "awareness" campaigns; and, one could argue, seems to focus more on scaring people than tangibly helping to improve life for children and families experiencing autism.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would transfer at least part the Autism Walk funds to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, which actually provides grants to families -- in some cases through Joey's Fund, honoring a beautiful little girl killed in the 2012 Newtown tragedy -- for medical bills; advocacy-related legal fees; therapies; mainstream activities like art, music and horseback riding that can be extremely beneficial for autistic children and teens; and other expenses that challenge middle- and especially lower-income families.

While it may be too late this year, what about encouraging our fired-up kids next year to organize a smaller but more helpful (to real-live people with autism) walk or other event benefitting the Flutie Foundation? Alternatives to Autism Speaks can be frustratingly hard to find, but this organization -- at least as of spring 2014 -- seems to fit the bill.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Caring & Crafty

photo: hellolapomme cc
Making homemade valentines for parents, teachers and other dear ones is a tried-and-true tradition for kids everywhere, but what about those who don't have a closetful of craft supplies on hand, or even the basics like colored paper and glue? GenerationOn, dedicated to igniting the power of kids to make a make their mark on the world, has a fun, relatively simple answer: Kids with the supplies on hand can make valentine card kits for their peers in need, then deliver on or before Feb. 14 (with prior approval first, of course) to a local high-needs school, family shelter, or other youth-/family-serving organization. It's a fun project for a few friends (or a class, Scout troop, etc.) to tackle together, as the kits can be made "assembly line" style. Mom or dad, just add snacks -- and a ride to the recipient site. Then enjoy the feeling of having shared a little crafty love this Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 13, 2014

True Blues

Blue Monday may be a myth, but in most places, January is doubtless one of the most brutal months weather-wise. The post-holiday comedown can be tough, too. Overall, not an easy time for teens struggling with depression.

Of course there's no substitute for a solid treatment plan for those with a clinical level of depression, but this video from the advocacy group Erika's Lighthouse offers an authentic-feeling collage of empathy and support from peers. Debunking the myth that only "the dark kid in the corner" is depressed, they mix facts with personal perspectives to help other depressed teens feel less alone.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stuttering Support

cc photo: Kate Ter Haar
Sometimes the kids who most powerfully help other kids are characters in books. In the case of Vince Vawry's semi-autobiographical Paperboy, the 11-year-old protagonist struggles with a significant stutter against the backdrop of segregated Memphis in the late '50s. Lauded by both book critics who compare it to To Kill a Mockingbird and by disability groups like the Stuttering Foundation of America, this would make an especially great Christmas gift for middle schoolers who stutter. Or a great read-aloud choice for teachers with a student who does.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Roll Models

photo: Oli Oldham cc
As we nibble our way toward the full-on Season of Eating, I just had to give a quick shout-out to those incredible MasterChef Junior contestants for inspiring other kids to try new foods. This would be accomplishment enough, but chances are they've inspired many peers to pick up a whisk as well. Here's to many more passionate kid cooks in the new year!