Contest Winner Travels to Uganda to Meet Children He Sponsors

For 12 years, David and Stacie Levis of Citrus Heights, Calif., have sponsored children across the world through ChildFund International. Their sponsorship helps provide the children with basic necessities, clean water, educational opportunities and job training.

The couple, who have three children of their own, consider their 14 sponsored children part of their extended family, always looking forward to updates, letters and photos. But it was a Facebook promotion last summer that would forever change their relationship with their sponsored children.

Community Gardens Make a Bountiful Oasis for East African Villages

In the Horn of Africa, barren landscapes and dirt fields surround large riverbeds that are totally dry. Herds of goats and camels, tired and emaciated, walk through parched lands in search of food and water. It’s the worst drought the region has seen in 60 years.

As ChildFund International continues its drought emergency operations across this region, it also remains focused on long-term development projects aimed at minimizing food crises.

In Kenya’s Turkana region, the Food for Assets program, operated by ChildFund International in conjunction with the U.N. World Food Program, is producing crops in a desert.

7th Heaven Star and Safeguard My Meds Advocate Prescription Safety

If used moderately and as directed, prescription medicines help ease many health conditions and cure others. But some people don’t know the risks of keeping medications unsecured in the home, especially medications that have a high potential to be abused, such as stimulants, tranquilizers and pain relievers.

Easy-to-find medicines can be abused by anyone entering a home, especially teens and young adults. Catherine Hicks, 7th Heaven star and parent advocate, is working with Safeguard My Meds to tell Americans what they can do to help prevent prescription medicine abuse and potential addiction.

Find Out if Your Child’s School Makes the Grade

Parents send their children to school hoping and trusting that teachers and school systems are providing a well-rounded, holistic education that’s personalized and supportive.

Now, thanks to an initiative by ASCD, one of America’s leading education associations, anyone interested in preparing today’s youth for success, can check whether schools make the grade.

Using the “Grade Your School” tool [www.wholechildeducation.org/gradeyourschool], a resource presented as part of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, parents and communities can confirm whether their schools meet the five tenets of ASCD’s Whole Child approach to education. Those tenets are:

1.    Each student enters school healthy and learns and practices a healthy lifestyle.

Impact of Running Away Is Chillier Than Winter

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Parents send their children to school hoping and trusting that teachers and school systems are providing a well-rounded, holistic education that’s personalized and supportive.
Now, thanks to an initiative by ASCD, one of America’s leading education associations, anyone interested in preparing today’s youth for success can check whether schools make the grade.
Using the “Grade Your School” tool (www.wholechildeducation.org/gradeyourschool), a resource presented as part of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, parents and communities can confirm whether their schools meet the five tenets of ASCD’s Whole Child approach to education. Those tenets are:
1. Each student enters school healthy and learns and practices a healthy lifestyle.
2. Each student learns in an environment that is safe.
3. Each student is actively engaged in learning and connected to the school and broader community.
4. Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
5. Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.
“The Grade Your School resource really gets you thinking about what an effective, even ideal, learning environment should be. I will use this tool to open the conversation with my child’s school on how parents could work collaboratively with school officials and others to create an even better learning community,” says Sioban Maslar, Silver Spring, Md.
Composed of 14 short multiple choice questions, the Grade Your School tool helps anyone quickly find out how well a school and community are doing to prepare children for the future. ASCD then provides a report card and some tips on how to use the results.
“Each community has educators, families, administrators and counselors working hard to support the success of each learner,” says Molly McCloskey, managing director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD. “The Grade Your School tool is a starting point for anyone to check how these groups are working to support the whole child approach to education, and open a dialogue about how to work together.”
Visit the Whole Child Initiative homepage at www.wholechildeducation.org to learn more.

7th Heaven Mom Advocates Prescription Drug Safety

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – If used moderately and as directed, prescription medicines help ease many health conditions and cure others. But some people don’t know the risks of keeping medications unsecured in the home, especially medications that have a high potential to be abused, such as stimulants, tranquilizers and pain relievers.
Easy-to-find medicines can be abused by anyone entering a home, especially teens and young adults. Catherine Hicks, 7th Heaven star and parent advocate, is working with Safeguard My Meds to teach Americans what they can do to help prevent prescription medicine abuse and potential addiction.
Government statistics show that 70 percent of people age 12 and older who abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from a friend or relative.
“As the parent of a teenager, I know how important this issue is. Every day, more than 2,500 teenagers abuse prescription medicine for the first time, and they don’t even need to leave the house to do it,” says Hicks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 20 percent of teens have taken prescription drugs without a doctor’s order. Hicks says certain simple steps can make a huge difference:
* Keep medication in a locked container out of reach of visitors, children and pets;
* Keep a list of medicines at home;
* Never share prescription drugs with anyone or mix them;
* Talk to your local pharmacists about the best way to store and get rid of old medicines;
* Tell friends and family to keep their medications secure.
“When we keep prescription medicine in our homes, we need to keep those medicines safe,” says Keith Hodges, pharmacist and executive committee member of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “We can all make a difference by storing and disposing of our medicine in the right way.”
Safeguard My Meds is a free resource offered by the National Community Pharmacists Association and Purdue Pharma L.P. Vis- it www.safeguardmymeds.org.

Communities Find Refreshment Through Outdoor Gardens

Whether you live in an urban or rural area, enjoying the outdoors is something many Americans have in common, and we experience it in different ways – both big and small – from growing herbs on the back porch to perusing the community farmer’s market in town.

But why not take it a step further and take action to make your community a little greener? Creating an outdoor oasis helps preserve green space, beautifies neighborhoods, and can also bring together the community through a shared cause.

Early Intervention May Prevent Bullying

What’s the best way to stop a bully? Don’t let him (or her) become one. Multiple studies have shown that teaching children positive social skills and taking proactive steps to prevent and discourage delinquent behavior can go a long way toward preventing bullying and providing a more effective learning environment.

Unfortunately, childhood bullying has become a 24/7 problem, and the anonymity of the Internet makes it more difficult to identify and punish bullies. But programs in which schools and the community work together to prevent bullying and reduce disruptive behavior can make a difference.

Stop Bullying Before It Starts

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – What’s the best way to stop a bully? Don’t let him (or her) become one. Multiple studies have shown that teaching children positive social skills and taking proactive steps to prevent and discourage delinquent behavior can go a long way toward preventing bullying and providing a more effective learning environment.
Unfortunately, childhood bullying has become a 24/7 problem, and the anonymity of the Internet makes it more difficult to identify and punish bullies. But programs in which schools and the community work together to prevent bullying and reduce disruptive behavior can make a difference.
The benefits of bullying prevention programs include freeing teachers to teach, instead of spending their time disciplining students. These programs also cut down on chaos in the classroom and foster a positive learning environment.
Michelle Molina, president and CEO of PeaceBuilders says that “Children need to be given the skills so they can solve these problems and adults need to be the guides on the sides.”
According to the nonprofit organization Child Trends, PeaceBuilders has been found to work in increasing conflict resolution skills and reducing aggression and bullying.
PeaceBuilders is a program designed to foster a positive environment not only in schools, but at home and in the community. The program is already in place in thousands of schools across the United States, where it is successfully used to prevent and decrease bullying and other disruptive behavior.
PeaceBuilders is designed to combat bullying early through a combination of school-based programs, parent training and community outreach. Parents are a critical part of the program, ensuring that practices are duplicated at home. The PeaceBuilders program can be tailored to ages and developmental levels from preschool through high school.
The program works by first identifying risk factors for bullying, including violent or aggressive behavior, drug use and tobacco use. PeaceBuilders provides tools to foster civil behavior and to discourage disruptive behavior. Then a roadmap is created that includes regularly praising children and teens for good behavior at school and at home, while discouraging bad behavior. Involving parents in the behavior improvement before adolescence helps communities create a way of life that encourages people to be nicer to each other.
For more information, visit www.peacebuilders.com.

"7th Heaven" Star Says Steps Can Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

(NewsUSA) – When used the right way, prescription medicine helps many health conditions. But many people don’t know the risks of keeping medications unsecured in the home, especially medications that have a high potential to be abused, such as stimulants, tranquilizers and pain relievers.Left-over and easy-to-find medicines can be abused by anyone entering a home — including teens and young adults. 7th Heaven star and parent advocate Catherine Hicks is working with the national campaign Safeguard My Meds to tell Americans how they can help prevent prescription medicine abuse by keeping medications safe in their home.Government statistics show that 70 percent of people age 12 and older who abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from a friend or relative."As the parent of a teenager, I know how important this issue is. Every day, more than 2,500 teenagers abuse prescription medicine for the first time, and they don’t even need to leave the house to do it," says Hicks.A new national survey shows that Americans most frequently said they store prescription medicine in the bathroom and kitchen — two areas where medications could be easily found by anyone entering the home.Hicks says taking these simple steps can make a big difference:* Keep medication in a locked storage container in a cool, dry place out of the reach of visitors, children and pets;* Keep a list of medicines in your home;* Never share prescription medicine with anyone else;* Talk to your community pharmacists about the best way to store and get rid of medicine no longer needed;* Visit the site www.safeguardmymeds.org for more tips and tools to make your home medication safe; and* Tell friends and family to keep their medications safe."When we keep prescription medicine in our homes, we need to keep those medicines safe, said Keith Hodges, pharmacist and executive committee member of the National Community Pharmacists Association. "We can all make a difference by storing and disposing of our medicine in the right way."Safeguard My Meds is a free resource offered by the National Community Pharmacists Association and Purdue Pharma L.P. Visit www.safeguardmymeds.org.