In case you didn’t already know, October is National Bullying Awareness month – a time dedicated to increasing bullying prevention and decreasing the amount of bullying-related suicides. In support of the cause, beauty company Soap & Glory has teamed up with Stomp Out Bullying (the leading anti-bullying program in the U.S.) to create the Proud Mouth Campaign. The new campaign encourages everyone to not only respect, but also celebrate others’ similarities and differences by being cautious of their words and actions.
Over the next year, Soap & Glory will donate $1 from every sale of Baby Doll Sexy Mother Pucker plumping gloss ($15; sephora.com) to help fund the Stomp Out Bullying Helpchat, a live and confidential chat line available for 13 to 24-year-olds facing bullying issues. Every purchase gets this team closer to reaching its $25,000 goal—and making kids feel a whole lot safer.
Last month we asked you to help bring 1,000,000 meals to American children in need through No Kid Hungry’s campaign with Macaroni Grill.
In less than a month, the campaign exceeded its goal by raising enough money to bring 3,000,000 meals to hungry kids!
You can continue to fight for the 1 in 5 American children who struggle with hunger by donating to No Kid Hungry or visiting their website to learn more about how you can be an advocate for hungry kids in your community.
Thank you to our readers who participated in this campaign! Let us know in the comments if you supported No Kid Hungry’s fight against child hunger.
In some ways, Jessica Seinfeld is just like us. True, she’s married to Jerry Seinfeld and will never hurt for money. But twelve years ago she gave birth to a daughter, Sascha, and like many women, wasn’t prepared for how it flipped her life upside-down. She admits that while it was fantastic, it was also “very new and stressful.” She found it hard to get out of the house. She couldn’t imagine how women who were already having a tough time in life also dealt with new motherhood. And quickly her charity, Baby Buggy, was born.
Cut to newer mama Rebecca Minkoff, designer of fabulous handbags. When she welcomed her first child a year ago, a son named Luca, she also got inspired to help moms. She found her way to Jessica’s charity through Bravado, makers of comfy and cute nursingwear. (Rebecca tried to get away with just wearing a sports bra, but her milk came in, and like many a new mommy, she quickly realized why nursing bras exist!) Starting now, 20 percent of Rebecca Minkoff-designed nursing tanks will go to Baby Buggy. Also, for every nursing tank sold, one is given to a mom in need. Check out the $39 tanks for sale at Diapers.com; they’re also shown below.
I sat down with Jessica Seinfeld to ask a few questions about giving and getting baby items:
American Baby: One question we get is, “How can I help families who need baby supplies?”
Jessica Seinfeld: You can check out BabyBuggy.org and see our network. [They have dropoff spots in New York City and Los Angeles.] Also, if you can’t find one of our partners across the country, you can go to a domestic violence shelter, or you can call, depending on where you are, a help line, like 311 in New York City or 211 in LA. Whatever your local help line is, you can call and find out how you can give back, and what organizations in your town accept donations for families in need. Head Start centers are another important place you could try.
American Baby: If you’re one of the families who need things, do you turn to those same places?
Jessica Seinfeld: Yes. Though it so depends on your circumstances. I’m not totally qualified to answer, since it depends on on where you’re from. You can reach out to a help line first and foremost, and if you have a social worker in your life, that person will be able to connect you to the right place to get donations.
American Baby: We always ask people to not take secondhand cribs and car seats if they can help it, because there are safety hazards associated with those hand-me-downs. But how do you get around that, if you’re having trouble affording them?
Jessica Seinfeld: We would love to be able to help with those, because there’s such a critical need and they’re so expensive. It sort of kills us to not be able to do it, it breaks our heart every time we have to say no. But the safety and liability issues are too great. Certainly, if you have neighbors or friends or relatives who have that gear and can assure you that everything has been safe and okay with those items, you can go that route.
American Baby: And in your opinion, what are a few of the must-have items for a new mom?
Jessica Seinfeld: What’s really important to one mom is maybe not so important to another. But a great baby carrier is a very important item, I think. It allows you freedom and accessibility to the world when you’re home and maybe feeling a little low, because you haven’t been out of the house much. For me in New York City, a stroller that was small enough to go on the subway and bus was really important. Basically anything that allowed me to be mobile was really important to me. And I stuck to basics. Swaddling blankets were my luxury item, I just loved a good swaddle. I didn’t really get a lot of stuff, to save clutter. I had just started Baby Buggy, and getting too much stuff would have defeated the whole purpose of what I was trying to do!
History is always in the making. Important events that your kids will read about one day are happening now. We offered some tips for raising a good citizen, and this election season is the perfect time to get your kids excited about civics.
We spoke with Michael J. Berson, Ph.D., professor of social science education at the University of South Florida, about ways to engage your children during this exciting time in history.
1. Hold a mock vote at home.
The Electoral College can be difficult even for adults to understand and kids may not be able to grasp the concept of the popular vote. A better way to familiarize kids with the notion of voting is by holding a mock election at home.
“Your family can vote on small things, like what to have for dinner that night,” says Dr. Berson. “The idea is to show them the power of choice, which they will carry with them later in life.”
But what happens when one sibling outvotes the other’s choice of mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner? Show your child how to “campaign” for her favorite meal the next night! This will not only teach her how to react when she don’t get her way, but will also help her understand how to enact positive change for an issue she cares about.
2. Read to your kids about elections
“One of the best ways to teach your children about the political process is by reading to them,” says Dr. Berson. “Read biographies of former presidents and don’t forget to read about first ladies as well.”
We often leave the TV commercials on in the background without thinking about them, but negative political ads could send the wrong message to kids. “It’s important for children to have visuals of the candidates,” says Dr. Berson. “Try muting the TV when negative ads come on and use the visuals to explain in positive terms who the candidate is and what issue the ad is talking about.”
4. Attend political events as a family
This is a great way to for kids to participate in an election, but not all political events are appropriate for children. “Younger children may be frightened by hecklers or negative protestors at speeches and rallies,” says Dr. Berson. “A more developmentally-appropriate option would be to attend a parade that a candidate is in.”
5. Show your patriotism
It may not be appropriate to dress your child in t-shirts or stickers that promote a candidate they are too young to fully understand. Dr. Berson says that a better option is to give your child a flag to wave if you are attending a political event.
6. Keep it positive
Dr. Berson says that it’s good to show children your sense of connection to a particular party or candidate. However, you should always speak respectfully of opposing parties. Teaching your child to respect both sides is a great lesson that will carry over into other relationships in his life.
7. Discuss platforms, not parties
Encourage your child to create his own opinions by talking to him about different sides of issues as opposed to talking about the different parties.
8. Relate the election to your home and community
The best way for kids to understand politics on a national scale is by showing them ways to actively get involved in their home or community. You can start by letting your kids think of ways to improve the area around them by working on community service projects that they are passionate about. Sites like Volunteer Match, Do Something and The Volunteer Family offer great ways to learn about kid-friendly service opportunities in your community.
When your child takes his own life, what on earth do you do? For Denis Asselin, the answer has been to walk. For seven weeks and for more than 525 miles, Denis will have stopped along the way at some of the schools, homes, and hospitals that played a pivotal role in the life of his son, Nathaniel.
Nathaniel Asselin, the exceptionally handsome young man at right, suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is when an imagined or slight flaw in one’s appearance becomes all-consuming. Up to 80 percent of people with BDD attempt or commit suicide; Nathaniel died in April 2011, at the age of 24. As difficult as his life was, it was filled with bright spots and much love. He and his younger sister, Carrie, shared an extraordinary bond, and he had a tight circle of close friends. Nathaniel was also a volunteer with his local EMS, and a middle-school cross-country coach beloved by his team.
Denis has found an incredible way to honor the life of his son and to raise awareness for BDD in particular. You can read a day-by-day account of his journey on his blog—and for those of you in Massachusetts, you might check out Denis’ route and track him down to say hello as he wraps up his final days of walking. This Thursday, June 7, the emotional odyssey will end in Boston, at a rally at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If you’re unable to attend, you can still show your support for OCD and BDD by making a donation to the International OCD Foundation, and note that your contribution is in the memory of Nathaniel Asselin.
As part of the coverage of the 2012 Presidential election, Yahoo! News has debuted “Remake America,” a webseries profiling six families as they try to reclaim the American dream. Each week, another five-minute episode puts a personal spin on issues like unemployment, foreclosure, and the mounting healthcare costs that are so common in today’s economy. But they’re not going it alone—each family gets help from career gurus, personal-finance experts and medical professionals as they fight to make ends meet. Viewers can connect by sharing their own experiences on dedicated comment threads or voting for which step each family should take next. Check it out below.
Do you think these videos paint an accurate picture of America today? How are these issues affecting your family?
I’m offering a guest post today from my sister Molly. She works for Event 360, which helps organizations use events to create a better world. One of its biggest events is the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, which has raised nearly $600 million in the fight to end breast cancer. She just wrote a great post about her experience helping my daughter raise money for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope For Heart program (that’s her in the photo, jumping away), and I think there’s so much here for parents to think about.
I’ve written before about how I’m the go-to fundraiser in my family. Previously, I was helping my cousin raise money for juvenile diabetes. But today I’m writing about how I helped my 6-year old niece, Julia, raise money for heart disease.
I received an email from my sister stating, “Julia’s learning about children with heart disease and wants to do her part to help. She’ll be participating in Jump Rope for Heart. In addition to raising money for the American Heart Association, your donation will help Julia’s school win free physical education equipment. And the class that raises the most gets to have lunch and recess with the gym teachers–another big incentive for Julia! Thanks for any amount you donate.”
I went directly to Julia’s fundraising page only to discover that her fundraising goal was set to $200. Not only was it entirely too low for my liking, but she had almost reached her goal. As a result, I didn’t really feel compelled to donate.
Here’s what happened next:
Me: Please increase her goal to $500 and then I’ll make my donation Sister: How about $300? I don’t plan to hit up many people! I figure we have a lifetime of these asks ahead of us. Me: $500 Sister: Yes ma’am. Me: Donation made.
I can’t stress enough the importance of setting a challenging goal and updating it as you get closer to hitting it to ensure people will still feel compelled to donate. Within one day, and with the help of Facebook status updates from her three aunts, Julia’s fundraising went through the roof and she had met her fundraising goal. Within two days, Julia raised $615 and became the top fundraiser in her 1st grade classroom.
If you’re looking to engage children in fundraising, here are some tips you’ll want to consider:
Make the message as simple and relatable as you can. Julia understood that it was as basic as asking people for money, spending some time jump roping and she’d be helping people she’d never meet.
When engaging children, use video as much as possible to show them who they’re helping and why. Julia remembered the name of the girl in the video – Britney – and could even describe how her heart sounded (with a “whoosh”). More than that, she understood that what she heard wasn’t normal or the way your heart is supposed to sound. The video helped her connect and stay connected to Britney.
Connect the activity to the cause. In the video they played at school to engage Julia and her classmates, they witnessed Britney getting better and even being able to jump rope. Julia was really impressed that Britney could now jump rope and learned that jumping rope would make her own heart strong too.
Incentives work for all sorts of people as my friend Jill Stewart recently shared and this couldn’t be truer for children. Even better, when you’re dealing with tiny humans, they don’t need anything that costs money. The thought of winning lunch with her teachers was enough to keep Julia focused on the task at hand! And then, Julia was rewarded for all her hard work when she learned that the teachers changed their mind and instead of just inviting the top class, they decided to also invite a few other big fundraisers. She was psyched to get an invitation from her gym teachers to join them for lunch for being the top fundraiser in her class! These kinds of things cost nothing and go a very long way with children.
Take any opportunity you have to remind children that we all share in the responsibility to help people who aren’t as fortunate or as healthy as we are.
The bottom line is that there’s no age requirement when it comes to fundraising. In fact, the top fundraiser in Julia’s school was in kindergarten! Regardless of your age, there are important and valuable lifelong lessons that fundraising can teach you. Why not start early?
I’m curious: Have you helped your child with fundraisers? How did it go? Which causes are dear to your family, and why?
Margret Ericsdottir, of Iceland, has a 14-year-old son named Keli. Keli has severe autism and cannot speak. (That’s Keli in the photo.) In 2010, Margret made a documentary about her son and her quest to understand what’s happening in her son’s mind and other children like him. You can watch the trailer here.
Through a stroke of luck—or fate—involving both the First Lady of Iceland and the wife of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair—”A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism” ended up being narrated by Kate Winslet. As Kate says in the March issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, “I knew I couldn’t just lend my voice to this documentary and go home.” She forged an immediate friendship with Margret and Keli, and together they created the Golden Hat Foundation to raise awareness about children and adults with autism—specifically those who are nonverbal and whose abilities are mistakenly believed to be severely limited.
I was honored to meet Margret yesterday at an event hosted by Ladies’ Home Journal (our sister publication) to spread the word about the Golden Hat Foundation. Its first high-profile project is a book called The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism, out March 27. The book was all Kate’s idea and the premise is simple: She’d send one of her favorite hats to celebrities, who had to take a self-portrait with it and provide one quote that was important to them. She got everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Conan O’Brien to Leonardo DiCaprio to Michael Phelps to Meryl Streep to participate.
The book contains a breathtaking section featuring the first thoughts communicated by nonverbal children, which were articulated on a letterboard used to spell out words. Keli’s: “I am real.” An 11-year-old girl named Carly’s: “Teeth—hurt—help.” Keli now writes poetry on his letterboard, and among his poems is one about a hat who speaks for a boy with autism who cannot talk. It’s called, of course, “The Golden Hat.” (And in a bizarre coincidence, Kate didn’t know about that particular poem when she came up with her book idea.)
Margret was effusive in her praise for Kate Winslet, calling her “a light in the darkness.” She said that with Kate’s help, the Golden Hat Foundation is progressing rapidly (“nothing moves slowly with her”). She also shared a wonderful video clip from a visit Kate and her children made to Margret’s home in Austin, Texas; they spent Thanksgiving together in 2010. In the clip, Kate is meeting other nonverbal children with autism, mostly teenage boys. One boy, thanks to his letterboard, tells her she’s beautiful; she gives the camera a wink and a thumbs’ up, and repays the compliment right back to him. We saw footage of Kate giving Keli a big bear hug when he told her he loved her—and we all laughed, since Margret had told us that Keli really, really doesn’t like being hugged. She said it was a struggle for Kate not to embrace Keli for their book cover shoot—but if you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see that Keli reached out to hold Kate’s hand.
Aside from helping society understand how intelligent nonverbal kids with autism can be, Margret and Kate have a more tangible goal: to build assisted-living campuses where children and adults with autism can live, learn, and work. I don’t know if anyone at yesterday’s event wasn’t in tears when Margret read an email to Kate that said, in essence, “I cannot leave this place until I know that my son has somewhere to go.”
If you’d like to help support the Golden Hat Foundation, click here. You can pre-order the book here. And for those of you who will be in NYC on World Autism Day, Monday, April 2, you can meet Margret and Keli at the United Nations Bookshop for a book signing. (Wondering how Keli will sign books if he can’t write? His mom wondered the same thing. His answer, via letterboard: “Stamp.”)