Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All American

image: generationon.org
My nieces are all pretty different in personality and style, but at one time or another they've all played with American Girl dolls. So I know what a monster hit these toys are. Pricey outfits notwithstanding, the AG crew & their corresponding books have done girls at least one service: turning their attention to American history & reinforcing what they learn at school.

That point's not lost on Mary-Grace Reeves, a Pensacola (Fla.) 16-year-old named recently to the Parade All-American Service Team. The American Girl Book Club she started at 13 has reached more than 900 Gulf Coast girls in 3 years, building literacy and promoting community service. Cash shortages in Hurricane Ivan's aftermath pushed her to reach out to a diverse mix of funders and suppliers, from the local Kiwanis and friends-of-the-library clubs to restaurants, a local female attorney, even a landscaping company. Guest speakers from the U. of Florida, Daughters of the American Revolution, and others with history connections are invited to speak at each club meeting. "With the ability to read well," says Reeves at generationon.org, "one can do anything."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sweet Dreams

image: polyvore.com
Hey teens -- what if there was an easy way to help your friends do better at school, manage stress & avoid depression? You'd do that, right? Well, good news: All you need to do is stop texting your friends late at night.

Teen sleep needs average 9 hours a day, say the experts, but most don't get it. There's a whole cluster of reasons for that, but a growing one is late-night cell phone use. Several studies have looked at this trend -- e.g., the epidemic of teens sleeping with phones under their pillow, which to adults "sounds like torture," CMCH's Michael Rich, M.D. observed wryly -- and found negative consequences. "Hypertexting" teens -- those who text 120 times or more on an average school day -- are especially prone to problems with schoolwork, stress, and depression.

So if you care about your friends, resist the urge. Text before 10 or wait 'til the next day. Your pals will still be there for you, and in much better shape to offer advice and support once they've had some shut-eye.