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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Backpacks and School Supplies for Needy Kids

The Bad News:

The bad news is that we have plenty of opportunities to help those less fortunate than we are.  From school bombings to tornadoes, from cancer to poverty, something occurring in the world right now tugs at our heartstrings and prompts us to leap to action.

The Good News:

The good news is that a lot of us really do take that leap. Maybe you send $10 to your favorite charity or you volunteer your time or talents at a homeless shelter or food pantry. Whatever it is you do, people need and will appreciate your help.

As I write this, most children are enjoying their last couple of weeks of school. In the next few weeks, summer will bring vacations, sun, heat, beaches, picnics, and fun. But before too long, Summer will be over and kids will head back to school. 

Unfortunately, a lot of those kids will have no school supplies or backpacks. And that's when GET YOUR BACKPACK ON steps up to help. According to founder, Karen Zigrossi, "GYBO is dedicated to helping children start their school year with all the supplies they need to succeed! We fill backpacks with supplies and drop them off at local schools for distribution."

As a single mom who raised three children, Karen knew the struggles of single parenting. What prompted her to organize her nonprofit corporation, Get Your Backpack On, was an incident that occurred a decade and a half ago. In Karen's words, "One incident in particular has stuck with me. It has to be over 15 years ago, and I was dropping my son off at grade school on the first day. I saw a mom pull up and walk up to the school with her little boy and he was carrying a brown grocery bag. I knew that bag contained whatever supplies she could afford. That was the first time I thought about putting together backpacks for kids that didn't have one. I have thought about it every year since, but thinking about changing something doesn't change anything, so now is when I start doing something."

Can you help? Get Your Backpack On is giving you even more incentive to donate, because GYBO is giving away a "previously owned" Dell that was donated to GYBO. The Dell is loaded with Apache Office Works, which includes programs similar to and compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and Draw. It also comes installed with Google Chrome.

For each dollar donated or for each Facebook "share," you will have your name entered once into the drawing.  GYBO will draw a winner on July 1, 2013! Your chances of winning depend on the number of people who donate.

Get Your Backpack On has donated to numerous schools in Kankakee County, IL, including BBCHS, Bradley East, Bradley West, Central, King, and Kennedy. In 2013, they are adding Bourbonnais, Manteno, and Pembroke schools to their list. Last year, GYBO's first year, Karen was able to provide nearly 35 filled backpacks to local schools. This year she hopes to double her previous year. 


Contact / Donation Information:
Get Your Backpack On, Inc.
c/o Karen Zigrossi
724 Stockton Hts. Dr. 
Bourbonnais, IL 60914
Phone: 815-932-2359

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What if Your Child Just Isn't Smart?

Some teachers in my grammar school placed students in rows according to their grades. We quickly learned that the kid who sat in the last seat of the last row was the "stupidest" kid in the class. To me it seemed as if the teacher had placed a dunce cap on the poor kid – it certainly couldn't have been more humiliating. 

Today I would consider that type of placement to be child abuse. I hope nobody today is structuring the placement of their students in such a degrading way. If you are, I hope you find this article.

In 2013, we still tend to relate perceptions of intelligence to models defined by our current school system. Good grades = smart kids. However, those models are simplistic. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were the three primary concerns when I was a child. But new findings indicate that intelligence is more than just linguistics and math.

As I relate in my article, In Response to President Barack Obama's Request for Educational Innovation: School Restructuring Could Improve Student Learning in Our Race to the Top, we are all gifted with different types of intelligences. If you read the article, you will see them explained under the heading (I've included a small portion of the article here):

A Progressive Educational Model Requires Innovative Teaching and Recognition of Multiple Intelligences
Different types of intelligences, according to Howard (derived from Howard Gardner's list of intelligences) are listed below, along with a brief explanation about each type:
Linguistic Intelligence
High linguistic intelligence allows individuals to express themselves well. They also have an ability to learn languages and are sensitive to spoken and written words. Writers and poets belong in this category.
Logical-mathematical Intelligence
The ability to analyze problems logically, recognize patterns, perform mathematical operations, and investigate scientifically (reason deductively), defines how people with logical-mathematical intelligence think. Scientists and inventors would fall into this category.
Musical Intelligence
People who perform, compose, and appreciate musical patterns and who have the capacity to recognize the differences in musical pitches, tones, and rhythms, comprise this category. Howard Gardner believes that some of these intelligences are connected, like this category and linguistic intelligence.
Because Gardner sees mental activity and physical activity as related, he believes that the ability to perform and coordinate body movements is a type of intelligence that requires people to use their bodies, or parts of their bodies, to solve physical movement problems. People agile in sporting activities, such as dancers and athletes fall into this category.
Spatial Intelligence
People who are adept at estimating distance and recognizing patterns in the area of space fall into this category. People with spatial intelligence think in three dimensions and have vivid imaginations. They are spatially oriented and able to manipulate images and puzzles. Sculptors, architects, and those in imagery careers exhibit spatial intelligence.
Interpersonal Intelligence
People who work well with others and who understand what motivates others, such as educators, salespeople, counselors and religious and political leaders exhibit interpersonal intelligence. They are good at communicating and may also be good at entertaining. Educators, social workers, and actors exemplify people with interpersonal intelligence.
Intra-personal Intelligence
The ability to understand oneself and what motivates oneself are examples of what constitutes intra-personal intelligence. People who are intra-personally intelligent understand their own feelings and fears. They could be philosophers or spiritual leaders. They would also work well in the field of psychology.
Existential Intelligence
Existential Intelligence is a type of intelligence that allows people to ponder, discuss, and tackle the deeper meanings of life and death. Philosophers are endowed with existential intelligence.
Naturalist Intelligence
People born with Naturalist Intelligence are concerned about nature and all things related to the natural world. Botanists, farmers, and geologists are examples of people born with Naturalist Intelligence.
Please click the link provided above if you would like to read the entire article.

Some parents don't pay attention to the talents that enable their children to succeed in life because they define children according to their latest academic test. Your child may not be school smart, but he or she may excel in one or more of the categories listed above. Before you hang your head in shame or point fingers at the kid who can't seem to "get" school, explore your child's interests. They just might fall into one of the categories listed above, and they just might provide a roadmap to your child's success. 

Don't give up on children who seem to fail academically. Prepare them for educational experiences that go beyond school by engaging them in activities that will give them a sense of accomplishment and pride. The side effect might be that your children improve in school.

Nobody is stupid! Please be the parent who helps your child recognize his or her talents. Give your child every opportunity to explore how to use that talent to contribute something beneficial to our world. Take pride in the uniqueness of your child and recognize your own worth as the parent who guided this amazing child on the road to his or her success.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Before You Take Your Kids to the Movies…

SPOILER ALERT! Although the movie I'm about to mention is old, I do talk about the ending, so be prepared.

Movies were not something I could afford when my kids were young, so going to the movies was a special occasion for us. Finding the right movie that would appeal to all of us was difficult, though, because we had to find something that appealed to both boys and girls. 

So when the preview for My Girl (1991) appeared, I asked my three youngest children, who were 7, 8.5, and 10, if they wanted to see it. The preview looked so attractive, it prompted all of them to say yes.

I certainly did NOT want what happened when we watched Lord of the Flies (1990) to happen again. Even at the age of 6, my youngest daughter couldn't handle the bullying that Piggy endured and was inconsolable for hours. That movie affects her to this day and she's 29.

Previews for My Girl promised a family-friendly movie – I was NOT prepared to handle the repercussions after taking my kids to that movie. It should have come with a disclaimer or a warning. The scenes shown in the preview gave no indication whatsoever that parents would have to discuss such grave issues as death and loss. I walked out of that theater with 3 very unhappy children – not at all what I expected.

My tip? The next time you decide to take your kids to the movies, read reviews of the movies first.

If you would like to see the emotional movies, here are links to them.

Watch My Girl on Amazon for $2.99 (price as of May, 2013) 

Watch Lord of the Flies on Amazon for $2.99 (price as of May, 2013)

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