Ring in the New Year by Helping Others {through the World Food Programme}

Have you ever thought about what you would do if an emergency struck?  I often think about  it now that I am a mother. Protecting my family is my number one priority and it’s hard to imagine what would happen if tragedy really did strike. Even though a lot of us try and prepare, it’s not something anyone can ever be totally ready for, in my opinion.

Imagine, however, that you live in a place where it’s already a struggle to survive.  Areas that are war-torn or in conflict, developing nations where food is scarce and unending droughts make feeding your family nearly impossible. It is truly hard to imagine.

So for my final social good post of the year, I’m going to tell you about the World Food Programme and how they help feed families who have lost everything in midst of an emergency:

Help end child hunger
Drought, hurricanes and armed conflict. These three emergencies have one thing in common – hunger.

When emergencies hit, families depend on World Food Programme (WFP) for life-saving food. To ensure we’re there when we’re needed, we rely on you.

This holiday season, your donation can provide life-saving food for refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, families facing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti, and mothers struggling to feed their kids due to drought in Somalia.

Here’s how you can help a family devastated by a recent emergency:

• $35 provides nutritious food for 2 weeks

• $75 provides food for 1 month

• $150 provides food for the next 2 months

If you are looking for a way to pay forward all the blessings you’ve received over the past year, this is a great place to start!

Simply go here to donate.

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globalteamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

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On This World AIDS Day, Fight to End Pediatric AIDS

actaware-logo-colourIn honor of World AIDS Day (Saturday, December 1,) I’ve been very busy advocating for the tiniest victims of the AIDS epidemic–the children.  This is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart.  I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to use my voice to inform, educate and empower others about this important cause.  Just today, I have had two articles published.

So now I’ll direct you to my article published in my local paper– Let’s Help Prevent HIV Transmission

And also to my post on World Moms Blog– AIDS: The End Is In Sight

If you’d like to do something….I mean really do something, I’m going to give you an easy way to get involved. Go to A Mother’s Fight to help end pediatric AIDS.  90% of child infections are due to transmission from mother to child. Let’s end pediatric AIDS in our generation by donating to help mothers receive testing and treatment. Your donation WILL save lives.  Join the fight today.

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globalteamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

Give Hope This Year: Buy Fair Trade Gifts

This year, skip the Black Friday crowds and stores.  Instead, shop with purpose this holiday season by purchasing handmade, fair trade gifts.  These gifts truly give twice.  You see, each purchase helps  women in developing nations obtain economic stability. Be a part of helping women out of slums, sweat shops, the sex trade and extreme poverty by buying their Fair Trade products. These are products with a purpose!

I’m so excited to be partnering with Trades of Hope to help sell these amazing, handmade items from around the globe.

 

Each artisan has a story to tell of hardship, adversity and hope:

Helping women looks good on you.  Choose to give hope this year.  To read more artisan stories and to learn more about Trades of Hope including how to shop, go to my Trades of Hope site.

Malala Day: Education for All

Today, November 10th, is a global day of action for Malala and the millions of girls around the globe who are denied an education because of their gender.

As you may recall, Malala is the 14-year old girl in Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for promoting the education of girls in her nation.   She is now recovering and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education wants to make sure her message is heard loud and clear throughout the world.  On this day, we stand with Malala and fight for the right of every child to receive an education.

So can the voice of one young girl in Pakistan really change the world?  It certainly has already for millions of children around the globe:

“Today I met with the President of Pakistan one month after the terrible shooting of Malala Yousafzai to discuss Malala’s dream of education for all.

On the eve of Malala Day, I presented petitions already signed by over 1 million people in the international community in honor of Malala and her cause.

These signatures were joined with another one million signatures collected by Pakistani civil society’s One Million Signature Campaign to demand free and compulsory education and another 100,000 signatures from out-of-school Pakistani children.

The President and I agreed on a series of deadlines for finance and delivery to make ensure all of Pakistan’s five million out of school children have the opportunity to go to school.”  -Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education

The staggering statistics for children around the globe are discouraging…

  • 115 million child laborers are involved in hazardous work.
  • 61 million children are shut out of primary school.
  • 34 million adolescent girls are not in school.
  • 16 million children with disabilities not in school; 1/4 of these children are blind.

But Malala has taught us all to stand up and fight–that our voices do make a difference.  You can learn more, join the campaign and sign the petition by going here:  http://educationenvoy.org/

Let’s stand united today for all children around the globe who are denied the right to an education.  Your voice matters….won’t you join us?

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

The girl in the picture…from tragedy to hope

Vietnam holds a special place in my heart as it was the birthplace of Little Man. Not only that, we completely fell in love with the nation, its culture and its people during our month long stay.  After all, Vietnam gave us the precious gift of parenthood.

For obvious but vastly different reasons, Vietnam also holds a place in the history of our nation.  I think I could write a novel about my experience in Vietnam, including the time we spent at the war museum in Ho Chi Minh City.  It was a lot to take in and process.  Sometimes I still feel like I’m processing it…

But this isn’t a pro-war/anti-war post.  Far from it, actually.  Just like in adoption, I’ve learned that beautiful things can be made from tragic situations.  I think war at any time, anywhere is a tragedy.  So when I read stories like what I’m about to share, all feels right in the world  again.

You don’t want to miss this.  Please read and see how one life that was tragically affected by war is now helping to pass along hope to others. http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2012/06/04/on-a-road-40-years-ago/

Make Your Halloween Even Sweeter by Trick or Treating for UNICEF

I have a secret, a confession really, that I need to share with all of you.  On Halloween night, after the kids crash from their sugar highs and all is quiet throughout the house, I rummage through the mounds of candy and devour some of my favorite pieces.

I can’t be the only one, please tell me I’m not the only one……

It’s a sinfully delicious guilt that I carry around all year long.  But hey, a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.  Besides, the kids won’t miss those few pieces of candy.

Now that you all know my little secret, here’s something else that  definitely needs to be shared.  You can make Halloween even sweeter this year by joining UNICEF’s Trick or Treat fundraising program.

For 62 years, UNICEF has been motivating children to become global citizens through this festive fundraising program.  It’s a great way to provide the entire family with an easy and fun way to help others.

  • Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF encourages kids of all ages to help raise funds for their peers in developing countries by going door-to-door on Halloween night or participating in other festive fundraising activities.
  • Through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, more than $167 million has been raised, providing children in 190 countries and territories with much-needed health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

Ready to get started??  It’s easy! You can order your free collection boxes today!  Click on the image below to find out how….

You can get creative with your fundraising efforts and you can even enter the Create a Character contest for a chance to design your very own collection box for next year.

Make Halloween a little bit sweeter this year with UNICEF, and let’s keep the candy stealing just between us, mkay?

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

The Power of We

Today is Blog Action Day, a time for bloggers from around the globe to unite and join a global discussion about one important topic.

“The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a positive discussion that enables social good about an important topic. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By blogging about the same issue, on the same day, from their own perspectives, the blogging community focuses discussion and give their audiences the opportunities to take part in a global conversation, raise awareness or even funds for not-for-profits.”

The topic for today is The Power of We.  I love this topic so much and was really excited to write about it.

the reason I started blogging in the first place…..Little Man and I meeting at the orphanage in Vietnam for the first time

I started blogging in 2007 as a way to chronicle our adoption journey.  At the time, it was just a way for us to keep family and friends updated on the long, complicated journey.  Over time, my blog changed a lot.  I wasn’t sure what to write about or how to use my online presence.  But then slowly, after the adoption of our second child (a special needs, older child adoption) I knew what purpose I wanted my blog to serve.

My blog, you see, became my voice.  A voice to raise awareness on the issues that had affected my life personally: autism, special needs adoption, older child adoption, HIV adoption and the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis and non-profits providing aid to orphanages and children around the world.  I  even found my voice in encouraging others that adventure and the outdooors are for everyone–especially for children and those with special needs.

In 2009, through the power of blogging, I was able to team up with some other adoptive mama’s to start a series of campaigns to raise funds for children and families in Vietnam.  We had never even met in real life, but we had forged a connection through our sons’ shared heritages and our online voices.  We took a small idea and using he Power of We, were able to give life-saving surgeries, meals and other resources to people in need.

In 2012, again through blogging, I was able to connect and meet with the moms involved in the World Moms Blog and was able to spread my voice even further by becoming a contributor to their social good column.

And again in 2012, I was able to join a coalition of moms called the Global Team of 200 in an effort to spread my message of social good far and wide.

I am just beginning to harness the Power of We.  I don’t know where I’m heading, but I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be.  Blogging has not only let me find my voice, but has let me truly discover the amazing Power of We. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Together, our voices united, we can bring about the changes we seek.  I have seen it happen before and I am honored to be a part of the Power of We.

Won’t you join me?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead 

Global Team of 200: Social Media for Social Good

 

“Global Team of 200 is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.”

I am so proud to announce that I am now a member of this amazing team!  I can’t wait to start using my voice even more to raise awareness regarding some of the most pressing social issues.  You can read my profile and motivations here.  Stay tuned, we have a lot to discuss….

Child Safety {Call Me Cuffs}

Two seconds.  

That’s how long I let go of his hand, and it was two seconds too long.  He was gone.  

Luckily, we were in a safe place, surrounded by those who knew us.  He was quickly located.

This was the first time Big Brother wandered off.  I never, ever, under any circumstances let go of Big Brother’s hand in public if he is not restrained in a stroller or cart.  Yes, he is almost 6 years old, but like many children with cognitive impairment and autism, wandering off is a daily reality*.  In the above scenario, I let go of his hand while I was trying to help another child, without even realizing it.  As soon as I became aware that I had let go of his hand, it was too late.  The worst part is that although he is somewhat verbal, he cannot communicate his name, point me out in a crowd or recite his address.

So when the creators of Call Me Cuffs contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their product, I excitedly said yes. I had been wanting to try some sort of safety wristband for a long time, but didn’t know what kind to buy.

The Call Me Cuffs are simple.  They are temporary ID wrist bands for children that you can customize with your phone number and allergy or medical needs. Let me emphasize that they are great for all children, especially those times when you will be in a large crowd.  I imagine they would also be a great item to have on hand for field trips, too.

All children, whether they have special needs or not, can be at risk of becoming separated from their parents in a crowd. The added layer of being unable to communicate, however, makes the Call Me Cuffs even more useful in my opinion.

So I tried the Call Me Cuffs on Big Brother. I let him choose the design in hopes that he too, would be excited about trying them out.

At first I was hesitant because I thought that Big Brother might not like wearing the bracelet as he has some major sensory issues.  I was also afraid that he may spend all day picking at it in an attempt to remove it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Big Brother loved wearing the wristband and didn’t once try to remove it all day.  In fact, Little Man wanted to wear one as well!  So they both have tried them out and love them.  Neither child tried to remove the wristband and they both thought they were pretty cool dudes while sporting their “jewelry.”

my number has been blacked out in the photo

What I loved about Call Me Cuffs:

I love that these wristbands come in a variety of colors and designs, that they are customizable and they can be purchased in a package of 12 or 28. I also was very impressed with the fact that they are not easily removed and also comfortable to wear.

I’m happy to report that I was pleased with all aspects of the Call Me Cuffs and have nothing negative to report!  I will be using these wristbands for Big Brother in the future as well, and I encourage you to check them out at their website:

https://www.callmecuffs.com/

There are many ways to help keep children safe in case of wandering off or accidental separation, and this is one easy, fun way to do it.

I received a complimentary 12 pack of Call Me Cuffs in order to review.  All opinions expressed in this blog post, however, are completely my own.

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*Some staggering statistics about wandering off in individuals with Autism:

“In a 2007 online poll through the National Autism Association, 92% of parents reported that their children with autism have a tendency to wander, but no formal estimates are available.”

“In 2012, the National Autism Association found that from 2009 to 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism subsequent to wandering, and that 23% of total wandering-related deaths occurred while the child was in the care of someone other than a parent.”

‘According to data released in April 2011 by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) through the Kennedy Krieger Institute:

  • Roughly half, or 49%, of children with a autism attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings
  • More than one third of children with autism who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number’

“WHY WOULD A CHILD OR ADULT WITH AUTISM WANDER OFF? 

Many reasons. Mainly, a person with autism will wander to either get to something or away from something. Like dementia, persons with autism gravitate towards items of interest. Other times, they may want to escape an environment if certain sounds or other sensory input becomes bothersome. Outdoor gatherings present an especially large problem because it is assumed that there are more eyes on the child or adult with autism. However, heavy distractions coupled with an over-stimulating setting can lead to a child or adult wandering off without notice. School settings are also an issue, especially those that have un-fenced or un-gated playgrounds. A new, unfamiliar, or unsecured environment, such as a relative’s home, may also trigger wandering, as well as episodes of distress, meltdowns, or times when a child or adult with autism has certain fears or anxiety.”

http://www.awaare.org/

“Dandelion” Anti-bullying Project

According to a 2001 study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, about 30% of students (that’s 5.7 million children) in the US are affected by bullying, either as a bully, a victim  or both.

Children with special needs are much more likely to be bullied.  In fact, one study estimated that between 60-80% of kids with special needs are bullied.

[Statistics from the Interactive Autism Network, National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center and the Health Resources and Services Administration]

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Bullying.  It’s a word and a topic that strikes fear into my heart as a mother to two young children who are about to begin kindergarten.  As a mom to a special needs son, that second statistic absolutely breaks my heart and scares me senseless.  I’ve often thought about how I will approach the topic with my two sons, and have even started having conversations with Little Man about why other kids might say mean things towards Big Brother.  But how exactly do you get that conversation started?  Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed at the thought.

So when I was contacted last week about a new anti-bullying project that is getting ready to be launched, I was ecstatic.  This sounded like something I wanted to be a part of.

It is my deepest pleasure to introduce to you ‘Dandelion,’ a new anti-bullying book project written by Galvin Scott Davis who is the award-winning director of the digital agency Protein One.  I had the honor of reading and sharing the book with my children.

“The story follows Benjamin Brewster as he navigates his way around ‘The School for the Misguided’ and its resident bullies. With no one to turn to, a patch of Dandelions appear beside Benjamin which allow him to conjure creations from his imagination and use them to fend off the antagonists.”

“With all my might, you’ll all take flight… If I could but wish for better things, you’d all disperse and grow your wings.”

In addition to this beautifully illustrated book, the story is being turned into a very interactive and detailed digital app where you can physically help Benjamin blow the dandelions from the screen.

This story was written when one of the author’s sons was bullied at school. In an attempt to help talk with his son and make him feel more comfortable at school, ‘Dandelion’ was born.  It is a story that encourages parents and children to not only talk about bullying, but that imagination can be used to help solve problems. In fact, the main message of the story is “Bullying is for people with no imagination….”  I absolutely love this unique approach. Little Benjamin Brewster uses his imagination to fend off the bullies and find courage within himself. I think we should all be encouraging our children to use their imaginations, especially when it comes to interacting in this great big world of ours.  Most of all, I love that this project gives families a fun, interactive way to get the conversation started even at a young age.

If you would like to catch a glimpse of the app in action, check this out:

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So here’s the deal. The author is pre-selling the book and other products such as activity packs and signed merchandise to raise funds to complete the project on Kickstarter.com.  You can view the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/protein/dandelion-bullying-is-for-people-with-no-imaginati

There are 10 days left and they need your help to make this project become a reality.  You can make a pledge (not a donation) for as little as $5 towards this project and receive some awesome rewards in return (like your name in the credits, yo!)  I encourage you to not only check it out and make a pledge, but to help spread the word as well.  I wholeheartedly support this project and have already made a pledge.  The author has also graciously offered to give two lucky readers of mine a signed copy of the book, and that giveaway will be coming up in August.

So what do you think?  Will you help me spread the word?  Tweet it, Facebook it and share it with your friends. Take a few minutes to look it over and then leave me a comment. Let’s make this project become a reality!

Twitter – @dandelionapp

Facebook- www.facebook.com/dandelionapp

Kickstarter – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/protein/dandelion-bullying-is-for-people-with-no-imaginati