Thursday, July 18, 2013

Can I Get a Volunteer?

 Can I Get a Volunteer?:
How Kids Benefit From Serving Their Community
by Lara Krupicka  

Mitchell Smith hadn't done any sailing before he joined the Topsail Program at the Los Angeles Maritime Institute at age 12. But now his mom says he loves being aloft aboard the 100-foot brigantines. "He found a passion for sailing," says Mitchell's mom, Sandy. "It opened him up to a whole new world." In fact, Mitchell often volunteers as an excuse to get in more sailing. In a word, he's hooked.

Volunteering gives kids a chance to try new things. In the process they can uncover talents and interests they hadn't been aware of. Some may even go on to pursue college studies and careers inspired by their volunteer experiences.

Increased Confidence-
Youth volunteers gain valuable exposure to interacting with the public they couldn't get anywhere else. It requires them to exercise their communication and public speaking skills. In turn, this fosters confidence as students see the positive impact of their interactions. Carly Mulder, a junior interpreter at the Naper Settlement living history museum in Naperville, Illinois learned early on that part of her role involved greeting museum visitors and fielding questions about the games and other activities she demonstrates. Karin, Carly's mom, notes she's seen Carly's confidence improve from her involvement at the museum. "She's learning how to interact with the public and how to have confidence in dealing with other people." Wearing a costume and imagining herself as a person from a different era helped. So did special training provided by the museum.

Even behind-the-scenes roles can instill confidence as kids find success in completing the tasks they're given. And connecting with fellow volunteers and coordinators can be enough to help reticent youngsters come out of their shells and develop valuable social skills. For some kids, simply the act of sharing their time and being valued for their service can build self-assurance.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Get off the Couch! Keeping Your Family Healthy During the Summer (and Beyond)

As the dog days of summer set in, your child might want to burrow into his favorite spot on the couch with a bag of chips in one hand and a game controller in the other. While it might be tempting to join him, DON'T! Research shows that exercise isn't just good for your body, it's also good for your mind. This week we are focusing on ways you can help your child stay active during the summer and hopefully, for life.

Get off the Couch!
Keeping Your Family Healthy During the Summer

(and Beyond)

by Mikey Smith, M.Ed


It used to be that the start of summer meant that our parents would push us kids outside, lock the door and tell us not to come home until dinner unless someone was bleeding profusely. Nowadays, however, more and more kids are spending more and more of their summer sitting on the couch playing video games and watching TV. We all know that kids and adults and people in general are more sedentary. What can we do to reverse that trend in our own homes?

Make it a Family Affair

As with everything, parents can start by being positive examples. It's hard to expect your kids to go outside when you're sitting inside watching TV with a snack in one hand and the remote in the other hand. Go on family hikes or walk the dog together, or even get down and dirty with yardwork. Taking care of chores is a great way to make them go faster as well as to burn calories!

Be Adventurous

Let's face it, walking up and down the same old streets in your neighborhood can get a tad boring. Houston is home to dozens of sites great for exploring. Find parks, trails, campgrounds, outdoor places and events with -

 The National Wildlife Federation's Nature Find Website

The National Parks and Forests

and local playgrounds.