Good Halloween Habits: 5 Safety Tips for Parents and Kids

SHA Halloween ‘trick or treat’

Photo courtesy of US Army Garrison Japan

Written by Courtney Battle

With Halloween right around the corner, families are getting all geared up with costumes, pumpkins, and parties.  But with all of the excitement, it’s still important to remember safety first!  We’ve compiled some of our favorite safety tips for this weekend, and hope that you have a happy, safe Halloween!

#1 Avoid trick-or-treating alone-This is especially important for younger children, but there is always safety in numbers.  A parent or guardian should definitely accompany children looking to snag some treats for their collection.

#2 Look before you cross– Once the sun goes down, it’s even more important to be careful about going door-to-door and crossing streets.  Adults should make sure children know not to run into the street, and to make sure traffic is clear before entering a crosswalk.

#3 Restrain pets–  If Spot gets really excited when guests come over, it would probably be a good idea to make sure he is out of the way so that he doesn’t startle trick -or -treaters, or even worse– run away!

#4 Choose a brightly colored costume-Drivers will be able to spot a bright costume easily in the dark. If your costume isn’t a brighter color, you can use reflective tape, stickers, or flashlights to light the way for yourself and drivers!

#5 Inspect the treats–  Make sure children don’t sneak any candy until they get home and an adult has tossed out any unwrapped or anything suspicious-looking.  If it doesn’t seem right, it’s probably not!

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Out in the Cold: Homelessness & Academic Performance

student_ipad_school - 124

Photo courtesy of  Lexie Flickinger

Written by Courtney Battle

As the Fall season gets underway, days get cooler and our clothes get warmer.  We look forward to football and Thanksgiving, but we often forget about those who are less fortunate than us, and have no homes or families to go to during these times.  Homelessness itself is a very serious issue, but can be especially difficult for children.

According to this report, 1,258,182 homeless students were enrolled in American public schools during the 2012-13 school year.  Wrap your head around that number:  1,258,182.  Now imagine what that experience is like- you and your family having no place to live, and yet still getting up every morning to go to school.  Most of us probably could never imagine this life, but unfortunately this is a reality for more than a few kids.

On top of the larger issue of homelessness, one of its side effects are poor performance in school.  The stress alone of being homeless can have several detrimental effects on how a child does in school.  Homeless students are prone to learning disabilities, emotional-behavioral disorders, anxiety, and depression.  Make no mistake, children that live in happy, healthy homes can struggle with these issues as well, but are much less likely to.  A comfortable place to do your homework that has heating and cooling, food in the fridge, and shower to bathe in are all basic amenities that many students probably take for granted, but others would give anything for.

So what is being done to address this problem?  Children’s advocacy group First Focus and several other organizations are pushing their support for the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would broaden the current definition of homelessness to include children who are temporarily staying in hotels, motels, or with others.  81 percent of homeless children do not fall under the current definition, therefore leaving them ineligible for certain services.

Across the country, Americans are taking notice well.  These Ohio students spent a night outside with few personal items to feel what homelessness is actually like, and raise awareness.  In San Francisco, the nonprofit Hamilton Family Center has a goal of raising $6 million over three years to add to city funding.  In addition, the organization plans to meet with schools with the highest homeless student populations to hopefully reach families before or right after they become homeless.

Community ONE believes that all children should have the right to excel.  It is our goal to expose students to people who have overcome various challenges, and still ended up with successful careers and lives, no matter where they came from or where they lived.

5 Tricks To Volunteer With A Busy Schedule

There’s a lot of talk about how and why people volunteer with a full-time job, families, social lives, etc.  Volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community and do something you’re passionate about.  These are a few secrets on how to schedule your volunteer jobs, while not stressing out about time and making the most of your experience.

1. ASK.

If you find an amazing opportunity to help out with something you’re passionate about, but they are asking for more time than you can give.  Ask.  Again, you are giving your time, for free, to help them.  It’s very rare that they will say no to you flat out.  If you can give one day/week or per month, it’s better than nothing.  And, it still gets you involved on your schedule.

2. Network

Volunteer opportunities can lead to jobs or awesome relationships! Jobs and people that you’ll love. So, network! Network with any nonprofit or volunteer event you want and make the most out of it. It will lead to more volunteer opportunities or paying salaries. Don’t be afraid to make your time useful to you, as well as the community.  Knowing someone in the organization or the event you want to volunteer with will make your life much easier.

3.  Volunteer at events

If you’re only available on the weekends or nights, events are great to take part in.  Becoming a volunteer at a race or a helping hand for a charitable event is a huge help, and isn’t a big responsibility.  An event could even be a canned goods or coat donation.  Events only happen once in awhile so your time would only be for the certain event!  AND you’re still networking and helping out the community.

4. Go virtual

With everything else in this world, go virtual!  Are you great at updating your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook?!  Do you write a blog?  Are you great at organizing data or an email box?  These are all great qualities to have in today’s world.  These are little tasks that you can help out organizations with.  It’s fun and helpful.

5. Volunteer in your own way

Consider volunteering for yourself.  Create your own way to help out!  If you have your own way in helping and giving back to the community, than do it!  It’s on your own time, too :)

How do you make volunteering work into your schedule?