In the course of two years, a Bloomsburg, Pa., foster teen went from running from the law to running for accolades.
Robin Moore, an 11th-grade student, was once well-acquainted with the juvenile court system, racking up fines for thefts and cyber bullying before landing himself in hot water for breaking into a coin shop with his older brother and stealing items to re-sell. But his caseworker, Tony Gold, said he has done a complete 180 since re-entering foster care in 2012.
“He’s gone from breaking into houses, sleeping on people’s couches and not listening to his mom to getting As, Bs and one C and being very, very cooperative and responsible and working with his treatment team,” Gold said.
Gold credits Robin’s foster parents, Steve and Betsy Hribick, but also commends the young man’s tenacity and realization that he would have more stable, trouble-free teenage years if he surrounded himself with positive influences. The teen, who formerly had low self-esteem and failed to stick with any sport or activity, is now on his high school’s football and track and field team, where he excels in the 100-yard dash and relay. His plan is to remain in foster care and continue to participate in track and field and football until he can enter college and study sports medicine.
“With some help and some structure, he’s been really dedicated,” Gold said. “And he’s really good at it too.”
So good in fact that Robin is one of only 300 students across the nation chosen to attend the 27th Annual Down Under Sports Tournaments in Australia in July 2015. He has been invited to represent the East Conference Track and Field Team, but he must raise $6,400 by June 1 to attend. He is selling team t-shirts for $20 each, and Gold is hoping to hold other fundraisers to help him raise the money.
Anyone who sponsors him will be entered into a raffle for a trip for two to Australia. Minimum donation is $20, and may be made online at www.DownUnderSports.com or by check, made out to Down Under Sports and sent to the KidsPeace foster care office at 304 Railroad St., Danville, PA 17821.
KidsPeace has been nominated for aMuse Toys' Community Outreach Project, and you can help us win!
Every year aMuse makes a significant donation to a nonprofit organization that serves the Baltimore community. Past winners have included Johns Hopkins, Kennedy Krieger, Casey Cares Foundation and The Baltimore Child Abuse Center. KidsPeace Maryland has been recognized for providing outstanding service to Baltimore families.
Allison Humphries, sales and programming manager for aMuse Toys, said, "We truly appreciate your hard work and energy and would love to give back to your cause."
National Neighborhood Toy Store Day (NTSD) is this Sat., Nov. 8. As part of this outreach day, customers will be asked in-store and online to vote for the nominee of their choice. This year, in addition to the monetary donation, aMuse Toys will incorporate a community service project as part of NTSD. Goodie bags for children of various ages will be assembled on Saturday then donated to the beneficiary to use with the families served by the organization.
Please spread the word and vote for KidsPeace here!
By Caren Chaffee
For most people, today’s lifestyle is one of constant activity. It seems so many people are overscheduled and often overextended. Two-way conversation falls quickly by the wayside in favor of texts, emails and social media posts, which may or may not receive a reply.
On some level, we have abridged our own ability to communicate effectively and in a meaningful way. So many of us are in a rush, hurrying from one activity to the next and typing a quick text as we walk from our car to the door of our next destination.
While it is undeniably a quick and simple solution to providing information to others, today’s instant digital contacts inevitably lead to challenges:
First, the art of conversation has dimmed. There is a stark difference between “listening” and “hearing” that too often goes unrecognized. Hearing is the act of physically accepting and recognizing sounds and words and takes little or no effort. Listening, on the other hand, involves processing the information that is heard. It takes effort, concentration and time, and it often includes observing facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. A written or posted message is open to interpretation (or, often, misinterpretation), as facial expression and tone of voice are absent from the equation. It becomes difficult to have a meaningful conversation when active listening is not involved.
In addition, two-way communication suffers. The word “communication” has its roots in the comparative Latin word meaning “to share.” Sharing implies a two-way exchange. Social media posts and mass emails often receive few or no replies and may simply end with the original post or a simple acknowledgement that the post was received or read.
Finally, when used as a primary means of contact, digital messaging can undermine relationships. A recent blog in The Washington Post referred to “digital infidelity,” in which individuals use their social media posts and texts to stay in closer contact with an ex or with someone who can be seen (consciously or subconsciously) as a “backup” to one’s current partner, in the event the present relationship fails. Furthermore, in a world saturated with social media, the definition of “friends” is changing: While primarily defined by Webster as “one attached to another by affection or esteem,” a “friend” by social media standards is often no more than an acquaintance who is linked to and can view your social media account. Individuals may have hundreds of “friends” on their social media accounts, but it is likely that a small percentage of them are actually “attached by affection or esteem.” While social media allows the user to stay in touch with individuals to whom one may otherwise lose contact, it also has the capability to erode the status and the significance of the relationship between “friends.”
Despite the challenges, digital communication has numerous advantages as well. It provides quick and almost instantaneous contact with others, can increase one’s safety by allowing for continual contact and provides an accurate record of the information provided over a long period of time. Digital communication helps maintain connections within the parameters of the fast pace of our daily lives. The danger lies in using it as a primary means of building and maintaining relationships.
It is important for adults to model good relationship-building skills for youth, which include active listening, two-way communication and maintaining friendships outside of social media. This can be an arduous task in today’s digital world. However, the rewards significantly outweigh the challenges. Today’s youth spend a great deal of time sharing information on a digital platform, and responding to them in their own digital “language” has its advantages. However, taking the time to actively listen and demonstrating to them the significance of a relationship built on solid communication and two-way conversation sends them a clear message that they are important. It allows them to experience how it feels to be made the most important person in the room when you make eye contact with them, process what they are saying and give them meaningful feedback within the structure of a conversation. It shows them how the art of conversation can improve and advance a relationship, and it models for them how to build a friendship built on affection and mutual respect. Introducing and refining these skills in their youthful years will reap a lifetime of benefits.
KidsPeace is teaming up with BookSparks for their annual "BookSparks Speaks Out" campaign and this year, they're speaking out against school violence.
The campaign is in conjunction with the release of Steena Holmes' moving new novel, "Stillwater Rising" and poignant prequel novella, "Before the Storm." The novel depicts a tight-knit community shattered by an elementary school shooting and their tragic yet empowering healing process, while the prequel novella details the events and day of the school shooting.
Tomorrow, Oct. 8, is SAVE Day (Stop America's Violence Everywhere), so to help end school violence and bolster the communities who have suffered at the hands of such tragedies, ALL proceeds from "Before the Storm" purchases made on Oct. 8 will go directly to KidsPeace.
Here are five ways you help us SPEAK OUT:
- Buy it: All proceeds from "Before the Storm" purchases made on Oct. 8 will go directly to KidsPeace. Buy the novella and support KidsPeace.
- Blog it: If you're a blogger, create a dedicated blog post to spread the word about the campaign. Use the Speak Out badge in your blog post and include it in your sidebar.
- Facebook it: Share the badge, this campaign, #SpeakOut, #SAVEDay, and your words against school violence via Facebook and tag us and BookSparks so we can share too!
- Tweet it: Speak out with @BookSparks and @SteenaHolmes about ending school violence, benefiting @KidsPeace! #SpeakOut #SAVEDay
- Rate it: Head over to Goodreads and rate Steena Holmes' "Stillwater Rising" and "Before the Storm." The moving novella and empowering novel is a story of loss, community and healing that is unlike any other.
By Denise Morganthall
“Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Remember Bobby McFerrin’s catchy song?
Worrying is a practice that many of us perfect over our lifetimes. We worry about getting sick, losing a job, keeping the house clean and what people think of us. The list goes on and on, with a lot of energy channeled into worrying about things that never happen. It is natural to worry, and worrying can actually prevent us from making some bad decisions. But there is a line, and when worrying interferes with daily life, it’s time to say enough is enough.
When we worry, we are robbing ourselves of present time and actually making ourselves sick. Worrying can cause high blood pressure, headaches and loss of sleep, and can lead to bad habits such as smoking and alcohol and drug abuse. Worrying can also impact our emotional health, leading to depression, anxiety attacks and other stress-related disorders.
Why do we spend so much time worrying about what others think of us? Did you ever hear of the 18/40/60 rule? When you are 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking about you. At 40, you don’t care what other people think of you (that one I like) and at 60 you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all. Most people aren’t thinking about you because they are worrying about their own lives. If they are thinking about you, they are worrying what you are thinking about them.
We need to take the time to determine what we worry about and how often. There are two types of worries; productive and non-productive. A productive worry is one that you can do something about, like adhering to the April 15 deadline to file your income taxes. An unproductive worry would be dwelling on something out of your control, such as a prediction that the world is going to end. Even if this prediction were finally true, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to prevent it.
In the most basic sense, if worrying is becoming a daily occurrence, it is time to find a way to overcome this habit.
By Caren Chaffee
Very recently, a surprising and, for some, confusing billboard was erected in various locations in Erie County, N.Y. The billboards, placed along major routes in the Buffalo region, simply stated “you are beautiful” – in plain font, all lowercase letters, without graphics or decoration.
This uncomplicated message incited a great deal of discussion throughout print, radio, television and social media. Many wondered: (1) where it came from; (2) who had placed the billboards in such strategic locations throughout the area and (3) above all, what it meant.
The answers were easily identified: (1) The message was first created by artist Matthew Hoffman in 2002, when he printed 100 stickers and left them in various locations in Chicago. Since then, more than 1.5 million stickers have been shared on every continent in the world. He went on to collaborate with thousands of other artists to re-create the message in cities across the globe through every possible art medium. (2) The billboards placed in Erie County are a part of a public art project organized by a Buffalo-based art gallery. (3) According to the website, “It’s our mission to leave the world a little better than when we found it.”
Words are powerful in many ways. They can be used to encourage and support, to comfort and soothe, to provide explanation, to ask questions, to apologize, to teach… and to hurt.
When we share a message with others, we can actually see its impact. A positive message can brighten someone’s day and often gives implicit permission to “pay it forward.” The result is more cheer, more happiness and a greater sense of community. A negative message can be insidious, breeding cynicism and distrust.
The power of words is immeasurable, and the example we set for youth is critical. Mr. Hoffman shared a story of an eighth-grade student who received permission from her principal to place a note stating “you are beautiful” on every locker in her school. The impact this likely had on impressionable middle school-aged youth who often grapple with feelings of self-worth was, in all probability, beyond estimation.
Mr. Hoffman launched his campaign anonymously for a long time. When finally began to talk about his project publicly, he was quoted as saying, “Can you feel the landscape changing?”
Public reaction to the “you are beautiful” campaign made the answer to his question clear. Social media posts included statements such as, “Whoever put this sign next to the freeway exit is my hero,” “Morning commute pick-me-up,” “Makes me smile every day driving home from work,” “Thank you for reminding us,” “Greatness this morning” and simply, “Yes!”
We all have a choice to spread cheer or breed unhappiness. Our words have power, and with power comes great responsibility. We must be responsible to ourselves and to our communities with the words that we choose.
By Denise Morganthall
With today’s hectic lifestyle and abundant responsibilities, it can be difficult to make time for health and self-care needs. But what better time to explore some self-care strategies than at the start of what for most people is a long weekend?
The idea of self care has been around for centuries, but it really gained a popular following in the 1980s, when it was employed in households, businesses and health care facilities. It has been proven that taking care of ourselves makes us better caretakers for others, whether children, parents or patients.
Self care is about choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors in our lives. This can involve exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep or practicing relaxation techniques, anything that cultivates a healthy mind and body. Here are some ways to make time for your own well-being:
- Listen to music
- Read a book or magazine
- Get a massage
- Take a power nap
- Go to lunch with a friend
- Go for a walk or ride your bike
- Plant a garden
- Draw or paint
- Go fishing
This list of self-care strategies could go on and on. The most important thing is that we take care of ourselves, do what we enjoy the most and make the best use of our time. You must make yourself a priority to attain a better state of mental and physical well-being, and self-care gives you the knowledge and tools to improve the quality of your life.