Random Acts of Kindness

In the end, only kindness matters

Photo courtesy of SweetOnVeg.com

Written by Courtney Battle

Bullying.  It’s an issue that you have probably heard more about than you ever thought you might in the past few years.  Divorce. It can take its toll on anyone, but especially more on children that are involved.  Body Image.  Young girls are struggling with it more and more as images they see of how they ‘should’ look are plastered all over pop culture, television, and movies.  Abuse.  Outside of the classroom, and behind closed doors, it happens way more than we talk about. What do all of these issues have in common?  Students are bringing them to school every single day, carrying them on their backs, and in many cases, probably having no one to talk to.  But what if they did? What if someone showed them that they cared?

Adam Sherman, a teacher at Spoto High School in Hillsborough County, Fla. inspired this post with his recent post on Education Week.  One day in class Sherman noticed that one of his students was looking kind of down, and not really engaged.  He wrote him a note reading, ‘Are you ok?’ and simply put it on his desk, so not to distract any of the other students or bring attention to his gesture.  The student returned the note with his response of ‘No,’ and Sherman reassured him that he understood and was available if the student needed someone to talk to, and that was that.  It turned out the student’s parents were going through a divorce, and he wasn’t receiving the attention he needed at home, but that simple post-it showed the student that Sherman cared- and sometimes, that’s all we really need, right?

If you fast-forward, Sherman spoke to his class and after some brainstorming they came up with an entire program entitled To Be Kind, which ‘seeks to prevent bullying rather than react to it.’  Through social media compliments, positive messages stuffed in lockers, and other gestures, they implemented a ‘culture of kindness,’ at their school and inspired others to do the same.  So now, we would like to take it a step further.

What if acts of kindness took off like the #ALSIceBucketChallenge?  What if people remembered to be kind as often as they check their cell phone in a day?  What about kindness as routine as your daily Starbucks fix? We are inspired by Sherman and his students, and encourage you to get out there and perform a random act of kindness for someone today.  Let us know how you’re spreading kindness around the world, too!  Take a picture, tag @communityoneinc on Twitter with the hashtag #RAK this week and remember, no matter how small you think it is, it could make a huge difference.

Community ONE knows the power that one person has to impact another, and we strive to do so in the programming and activities we provide to students.  We all can do our part in some way, so get in on it today!

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Healthy (and Fun!) Back-to-School Lunches

5th grader school lunch in Lunchbots Quad box

Photo courtesy of http://www.anotherlunch.com

Currently, 6 to 9 percent of all households do not have access to healthy food and 30 million people in the United States live further than one mile (10 miles in non-metropolitan areas) from a large grocery store.’

– A recent report by Enterprise Community Partners

Written by Courtney Battle

Did you know there is a food desert problem in the US?  Food deserts-not to be confused with desserts- are defined as ‘parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas,’ according to the American Nutrition Association.  The ANA goes on to say that these deserts usually exist because of a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets, and the like.   It may be difficult to imagine a world in which the grocery store or your local farmer’s market is more than a few minutes from your home, but the reality is that countless families are living in areas that have no grocery store in sight, but instead fast food, quickie marts, and other places that only carry processed, and sugary foods.  In fact, a recent report by Enterprise Community Partners tells us that ‘currently, 6 to 9 percent of all households do not have access to healthy food and 30 million people in the United States live further than one mile (10 miles in non-metropolitan areas) from a large grocery store.’  This lack of nutritious options plays a direct role in the food that shows up on the dinner table, and the lunches that your child takes with him or her to school.

What’s being done to address this problem? Initiatives like the Arcadia Mobile Market in DC, and Beaumont, Texas’ Get Fresh Beaumont are popping up all over the country to bring fresh, healthy foods to low-income communities and places that aren’t located in proximity to a large food provider or farmer’s market.  It’s important that these foods translate into healthy lunches for students.  So to take it a step further, we have (with the help of Pinterest) rounded up a few examples of good-for-you options that your kids can take with them to school.

 #1 Sandwich Kabobs:  A kid-friendly take on the traditional kabob, you can see more on this lunch here.

#2 Fiesta!:  To change it up a little from the normal PB&J, this Mexican-themed lunch will make all your child’s classmates jealous!

 #3 Homemade Spaghettios:  You can’t go wrong with this healthier take on a classic, paired with some fruits and veggies on the side.

 #4 Turkey/Provolone/Lettuce Roll Up:  Wrap it up!  This lunch is a win-win for your student.

#5 Baked Chicken Fingers:  ‘I don’t like chicken fingers,’ said no kid ever!  You don’t have to feel guilty about this baked version, and your child will love them too!

Community ONE believes that students can excel at whatever they put their mind to, but it starts at home.  Happy, healthy students will be more successful in and outside of the classroom.  These lunches are just one step you can take to ensure that your child is prepared to excel in everything he or she does.

Why Kids Should Play Sports

Jackie Robinson West baseball team, photo courtesy of sungazette.com

Jackie Robinson West baseball team, photo courtesy of sungazette.com

Written by Courtney Battle

With this summer’s success of Jackie Robinson West and Mo’ne Davis, kids in sports have been in the spotlight.  Both the team and Davis remind us why it’s important for all kids to be involved in sports and/or some sort of physical activity.  

#1 Teamwork

The ability to work on a team is a skill that will literally follow a child throughout their entire life- from grade school all the way through their adult career.  Fostering this at an early age is crucial.  Families.com tells us that kids who play sports ‘quickly learn that they have to work together as a team to win the game.’  Getting your child on a sports team is getting a head start on this important life lesson.

#2  Discipline

Team sports and activities allow children to also learn about setting goals and achieving them.  It may be a goal to try out and make the team at first, and then eventually it could be to ‘start’ in the game, or to improve upon a certain skill.  Setting and achieving goals not only instills a sense of discipline in a child, but also the value of hard work.  Once those goals become realities, children are also able to feel a sense of fulfillment.

#3  Angled Citizens

These days, it’s not just enough to be a student.  College admissions offices are looking for several components in their applicants, according to this article, one of which is an ‘angled’ student, or someone that has a few specific passions, rather than the traditionally ‘well-rounded’ student that dabbles in several different activities.  Once a child can hone in on those interests, it will be easier for him or her to devote attention to, and excel in the corresponding sports or activities.

#4  Keeps Kids Active/In Shape

‘…today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese.’

-Let’s Move!

Obesity can lead to several serious health issues if it’s not addressed.  Kids that are involved in sports are getting regular exercise, and paired with a healthy diet, that makes for a person who will most likely maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their adulthood.

#5 Leadership Skills

Another benefit of sports is leadership skills.  Serving as a captain is great experience, and serves as invaluable practice for leading a group of your peers.  As a team leader, a child learns how to communicate with, listen to, and motivate others, which later in life may translate into duties as a CEO of an organization.  In fact, this survey of Executive Vice President-level professionals at 75 Fortune 500 companies found that 95% of them played sports in high school.

There are tons of other reasons why kids should play sports, but we hope these are enough to inspire you.  Make sure your child is involved on a team, and they will thank you later!

 

Teachable Moments: Talking to Students about Current Events

https://www.flickr.com/photos/audiolucistore/7403731050/

Photo courtesy of www.audio-luci-store.it / Flickr CC

Written by Courtney Battle

Among all of the recent headlines in the news, one that may have caught your eye was a story reported by KMOX-TV, which explained that the Superintendent of Edwardsville, Illinois District Seven schools directed teachers to not to talk about, and to change the subject, if Michael Brown or the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri came up in classroom discussion.   The story has undoubtedly sparked quite a bit of interest in the media.  For example, Melissa Harris-Perry dedicated her ‘Open Letter’ segment of a recent show to Ed Hightower, the Superintendent, and Valerie Strauss covered the story in a post for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog.  Twitter has even gotten in on the action with the hashtag, #fergusonsyllabus, created by Marcia Chatelain, Assistant Professor in the History department at Georgetown University.  There’s no doubt that the news of Michael Brown’s death and the subsequent events in Ferguson has sparked conversation in our country about race, community relationships with the police, and justice.  However, it also begs the larger question of ‘Do we talk to students about difficult current events, and if so, how?’

Depends on who you ask, apparently.  KMOX’s report reads “Hightower says normally there would be an open discussion of current events.”  The Superintendent goes on to say, “However, this situation in Ferguson-Florissant has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown.”  On the opposite side of the spectrum, teacher David B. Cohen writes in a post for the InterACT blog:

I think we have to be willing to toss out the lesson plan, or revise it. This must be done thoughtfully and advisedly, of course. A teacher needs to know the students, the community, and have the skills and sense to manage whatever is about to replace the regular lesson. But certainly, if we place the lesson plan ahead of significant moments in our communal life, we not only rob students of a chance to learn something more lasting and potentially important, but we also unwittingly reinforce the oft-heard but incorrect message that school is separate from “the real world.”

We definitely cannot ignore the events in Ferguson, or any other recent headlines for that matter, as they directly impact the “real world” that Cohen references.  We live, work, and play in this world, and after students leave school for the day, they’re going out into the same world.  That said, how can we address kids when things happen?  Why is it important for them to engage on current events?

Education World tells us that there are several benefits to incorporating news into curriculums.  Not only can students gain language, reading comprehension, and critical thinking skills, but they can also become informed citizens and open up a more adult-like dialogue with their parents.  

Mock trials and mapping developing news stories, are a couple of the activities that Thomas N. Turner, Professor of Education at the University of Tennessee, suggests in his 1995 article for The Social Studies, “Riding the Rapids of Current Events.”  For older students, having organized debates could also be an option.  Maybe a good place to start, as Harris-Perry suggests, is reading a book as a class or exploring how music and other forms of art are often modes of expression on politics and news.  Given, the approach has to be tailored to the specific students that you are teaching, but there are several ways to engage children on what’s happening in the world.  

Whatever the approach may be, what’s important is not pretending that something didn’t happen.  Kids know what’s going on, whether they hear a conversation their parents are having, flip past the news on tv, or if one of their classmates mention something he or she saw or heard.  In addition, there’s the internet!  Today’s children are all using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and countless other social media outlets that report and spark conversation on just about everything.  Acknowledging a difficult current event, and from there using it as a ‘teachable moment,’ will help students process what has happened, but in the end they’ll also be better for it.

Star of the Month: Daniel Bradley

Daniel Bradley, CEO & Co-Founder of Dreams Work, Inc.

Daniel Bradley, CEO & Co-Founder of Dreams Work, Inc.

Daniel Bradley strives to inspire, uplift, and encourage all those that cross his path.  As the CEO and Co-Founder of Dreams Work, Inc., he uses the fine arts as a mode of reaching youth.  The non-profit organization is designed to equip young people to face critical social issues plaguing their communities, preparing them to become “artistic activists.”

Bradley has often been inspired by song lyrics recited by his Grandmother:

“If I can help somebody, as I pass along…Then my living shall not be in vain.”

Bradley has traveled extensively throughout the United States, the U.K. and the Virgin Islands to facilitate training sessions in youth development strategies. With more than 10 years of experience in youth development and community organizing, it is our honor to name Daniel as our Star of the Month!

You can find out more about Dreams Work, Inc. here.

Five Ways Volunteering Can Advance Your Career

Community ONE Volunteers at our recent Stars v. Students soccer game.

Community ONE volunteers and students at our recent Star v. Students soccer game.

#1 Networking, networking, networking!

You’ve heard it before, but let’s say it again:  sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.  It’s a well-known fact that networking is key to advancing your career, and volunteering is a great way to widen your network.  Your fellow volunteer may work in an industry that you’re interested in, or at a company you’ve had your eye on, and you never know what a good relationship with that person could lead to!  The key here is to make sure that the relationship is genuine.  So get out there and get networking!

#2  Skills

When it comes to volunteer opportunities, there’s just about something for everybody.  Once you find an organization or cause that you’re interested in, there may be chances to learn or practice skills that you don’t use regularly.  For example, maybe potential jobs you’re interested in are looking for someone experienced with graphic design.  If you handle all of the graphic design for the organization you volunteer with, that’s transferrable experience that you can include on your resume – all for a good cause.  It’s a win-win!

#3  Impressing Your Future Boss

Among the many benefits of volunteering, is the fact that it looks good!  As mentioned in the last point, doing volunteer work gives you the chance to practice skills that directly translate into job responsibilities.  In addition, it can show that you work well with others, you are passionate about a cause, you take initiative, and are a well-rounded person– all good things!

#4 Exploring Your Passions

If you are in a place where you are trying to figure out your career path, volunteering could very well help guide you in the right direction.  If you love kids, or the environment, look for ways to volunteer in those areas.  Maybe in the process you’re inspired to start your own business, or find out what you really love to do (or don’t love).  The possibilities are endless, you just have to start somewhere!

#5  Fill in the Blanks

If  you are in-between jobs, volunteering is a great way to fill in that space.  Potential employers will more than likely ask about what you’ve been doing in-the-mean-time-in-between-time, so you should be prepared with an honest answer.  Why not fill those holes with a positive experience that could help you hone in on your skills and interests?  According to a Corporation for National and Community Service report, ‘volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.’  Volunteer work can show a potential employer that you’ve been actively trying to make yourself a more marketable candidate, and hopefully help land the job that you’ve had your eye on!

Overall, volunteering is something that you won’t regret.  Not only are you bettering yourself, but more importantly, you’re helping someone else.  So while you look for ways to give back and how to reach your own personal goals, don’t forget the real reason why we volunteer.  Get up, get out, and give back!

Written by Courtney Battle

Back to School and Back to Work: Community ONE is looking for volunteers and speakers!

Backpacks, school supplies, a new outfit for the first day- all things that remind us it’s about that time for students to go back to school.  Community ONE is ready to get back to work, too, and we need your help!  We are looking for both event volunteers and speakers (or Stars, as we refer to them) to help us with our upcoming speaker series.

Volunteering

If you have been looking for a way to give back to your community, but haven’t quite found the right fit yet, this could be the opportunity for you!  We work hard to expose children to career paths that they may have never considered or seen before at home.  At our events, our volunteers are a critical part of the fun and educational experience we aim to bring to the participants.  As a volunteer you would be responsible for helping to engage the children in discussion with the Star, assist with the overall flow of the program, and participate in the interactive activity.  If all of that isn’t enough to convince you, you get a pretty cool t-shirt too!  

Exhibit A:

A Community ONE Volunteer sports his t-shirt at an event.

A Community ONE Volunteer sports his t-shirt at an event.

Stars

If you would like to take it one step further and you think you have a pretty cool job, you may be our guy (or girl).  What we’re looking for in a speaker is someone that loves what they do, has a good story to tell about his or her journey to the position they have now (including challenges he or she may have faced), and can explain all of this in a kid-friendly manner.  In addition, we will work with you to develop an interactive activity that the students can participate in to get a hands-on sense of what a typical ‘day in the life’ of you might look like.

Do these sound like you?  Let us know if they do!  Send an email to info(at)communityone(dot)org with your name, contact information, and what you would be interested in doing.  We look forward to working with you!

Written by Courtney Battle