Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teens Spend the Summer Volunteering With the Piedmont Fayette Hospital Auxiliary

As the bell rang on the last day of school, many students ran off to spend their summer tanning by the pool, playing video games or watching TV. Lenox Tillman and Jay Wormer, however, chose to spend their summer vacation learning the ins and outs of medicine and healthcare volunteering at Piedmont Fayette Hospital through the hospital auxiliary’s youth volunteer program.

“I volunteer every Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and it’s really helped me overcome being shy,” said Tillman. “Everyone is really nice. One person gave me a silver angel pin to say thank you, and said that I deserved angel wings because I was an angel! Now I wear it every day I volunteer.”

This is Tillman’s first year volunteering and she works in the West Outpatient Lobby, escorting patients and families to help make sure they are comfortable. At 14 years old, Tillman will be a freshman in high school this fall. Her grandmother, Gayel Tillman, helped create the PFHA Youth Program more than ten years ago.

“The pool of applicants for our program grows each year,” said Alan Koth, president of the Piedmont Fayette Hospital Auxiliary. “You can’t help but be impressed by the exceptional quality of these young people, and their commitment to contributing to the community, whether through volunteering, church activities, or school leadership roles. They certainly represent the very best of today’s youth, which in turn is an investment in our future.”

Wormer, 17 years old, is going into his senior year of high school. This is his third year volunteering with the program, spending most of his time in surgical services.

“I think it’s good to help people,” said Wormer. “I feel like I’m putting these family members’ minds at ease.”

Wormer wants to continue with a career in sports medicine. After high school he hopes to attend the University of Georgia and then one day return to Fayette County, perhaps even to work at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

Tillman and Wormer are among the 160 teenagers who committed their time to Piedmont Fayette Hospital Auxiliary’s Youth Volunteer Program this summer. More than 30 percent of these youth volunteers returned from last year.

The program provides volunteer opportunities in nearly 20 service areas at Piedmont Fayette Hospital allowing each participant to have a unique experience and explore the various aspects of the healthcare field.

The eight-week program included a hospital orientation, CPR training, an opportunity to attend a state youth volunteer conference and day-to-day shadowing experiences with PFH employees and volunteers. In its eleventh year, the number of applicants and excitement for the program is as strong as ever.

Students in the PFHA Youth Volunteer Program must be between 14 and 18 years of age, submit an application and essay on why they want to volunteer, provide a letter of reference and be able to commit a minimum of 25 hours over the summer. These students from Fayette, Coweta, Clayton, Fulton and Spalding counties attend public and private schools as well as attend home school.

The Piedmont Fayette Hospital Auxiliary is a 270-member team that provides volunteer services to the hospital. If you would like more information regarding volunteer opportunities, please call 770-719-7098.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

“Dora the Explorer Live!” Coming to Explore Atlanta

World Famous Explorer Will Perform at The Fabulous Fox Theatre from August 21-23, 2009

Tickets On-Sale Now

Nickelodeon and Broadway Across America are teaming up to bring "Dora the Explorer Live! Search for the City of Lost Toys," starring the world’s most famous Latina explorer, to Atlanta from August 21-23 for six performances. The last Dora "Lost Toys" U.S. tour was seen by more than 1.2 million people during its 2003-2004 run. The “Dora the Explorer Live!” shows have grossed more than $85 million in sales worldwide, traveled to more than 255 markets across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Southeast Asia and have been seen by 2.7 million kids and parents.

Tickets are on sale now. Pricing starts at $12; tickets can be purchased through authorized ticket sellers at The Fox Theatre Box Office, Ticketmaster outlets, online at, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787. Orders for groups of 15 or more may be placed by calling 404-881-2000.

"'Dora the Explorer Live!' is a culturally rich, interactive theatrical show for preschoolers and their families," said Stuart Rosenstein, Senior Vice President, Resorts and Theatricals, Nickelodeon Recreation. “This show has captured preschool audiences everywhere. We’re thrilled to introduce it to a brand-new audience and to work with the same extraordinary team who brought other successful Nickelodeon shows to life.”

"Dora is to kids what the Rolling Stones are to parents – she’s one of the biggest stars in the world," said Stacey Burns, Vice President of Family Production for Broadway Across America. “‘Dora the Explorer Live!’ has proven to be one of the most successful family titles on the road in recent years. It truly is a blockbuster.”

Featuring familiar songs, a captivating storyline and all the characters children have come to love, "Dora the Explorer Live!" showcases Dora’s friends, including special helper Backpack, best friend Boots, cousin Diego, Map, Swiper the Fox, Tico and Benny. Each step of the gang’s journey consists of a problem or puzzle that Dora and the audience must solve together in order to move on to the next challenge. Dora is proudly bilingual and uses her knowledge of English and Spanish to communicate with her friends, teach the audience Spanish words and overcome obstacles.

"Dora the Explorer Live!" is based on Nickelodeon’s hit animated series, Dora the Explorer, which currently ranks as the number-one-rated preschool show on all of commercial television. Dora is a seven-year-old Latina heroine, whose adventures take place in an imaginative, tropical world filled with jungles, beaches and rainforests. Both the Dora TV and stage shows are designed to actively engage their audiences using a variety of learning techniques.

"Dora the Explorer Live!" is directed by Gip Hoppe who has worked with Nickelodeon on other successful productions, including: "Blue's Clues Live!" and "Blue's Clues Live! - Blue's Birthday Party"; "Dora's Pirate Adventure"; and "Go, Diego, Go Live!" Hoppe also wrote and directed the Broadway play "Jackie: An American Life." He is a founding member and co-artistic director of the Wellfleet Harbor Actor's Theatre.

"Dora the Explorer Live!" is written by Chris Gifford, who, along with Valerie Walsh Valdes and Eric Weiner, created Dora the Explorer. Gifford and Walsh Valdes serve as executive producers of the TV show.

Performances will feature set and costume designs by Tony Award-winners David Gallo and Gregg Barnes, respectively. Gallo has been recently represented on Broadway with "The Drowsy Chaperone", "Xanadu", "Thoroughly Modern Millie", "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," "Lion In Winter," and "Little Me". He was also the production designer for "Jackie: An American Life."

Tony Award-winning Costume Designer Gregg Barnes' credits include: "Legally Blonde", "The Drowsy Chaperone", 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels", "Flower Drum Song," "Disney on Ice - Princess Classics," "Side Show," "Scooby-Doo in Stagefright - Live on Stage!", "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show" and Madison Square Garden's "The Wizard of Oz."

"Dora the Explorer" airs at 10:30 a.m. and noon (ET/PT) weekdays on Nick Jr., a specially designed programming block airing on Nickelodeon weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ET/PT). Completely dedicated to preschoolers ages 2-5, Nick Jr.'s Emmy, Peabody and Parents' Choice Award-winning programs are curriculum based, fun and commercial free.

For more information about "Dora the Explorer Live!", log on to or

The performance schedule for "Dora the Explorer Live! Search for the City of Lost Toys," is as follows:

Friday, August 21 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 22 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m.
Sunday, August 23 11 a.m., 2 p.m.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back to School Ideal Time to Test Family's 'Safety IQ'

/PRNewswire/ -- The clothes fit, backpacks are filled, and lunches are packed; but, according to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), parents might want to consider one more thing before sending their children back to school - safety. Each year, children sustain an estimated 14 million potentially-disabling unintentional injuries in the U.S. UL - an independent product safety organization - is providing parents with important tips to share with their children before they head back to school this fall.

A new national UL Safety Smart Survey reveals that 90 percent of parents feel responsible for supplying their children with safety information. At the same time, nine out of 10 children grades K-5 rely on their parents for safety information to keep them safe.

According to UL's survey, though, it's possible that not all the correct safety information is being communicated to children. While the overwhelming majority of children said they would know exactly what to do if there was an emergency, they did not choose the safest option. When asked what their reactions would be in the event of a fire, only 47 percent of children knew to get out of the building right away, and nearly half would put themselves in serious danger by trying to call 911 (26 percent) first or trying to find a parent or teacher (22 percent).

"The reality is that accidents happen, so identifying and taking advantage of teachable moments can go a long way toward preventing accidents that are all too often avoidable," says John Drengenberg, director of Consumer Safety at Underwriters Laboratories. "The back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity to test your child's 'safety IQ' and provide opportunities to help them learn and practice safe behaviors at home, school and beyond."

To help parents convey the most accurate safety information to their children, UL is providing parents with safety tips and asking them to take advantage of the back-to-school time to reinforce safety with their children:

-- GET OUT and STAY OUT! Make certain that your child knows that the
first thing they should do in the event of a fire is to get out of the
building. Reinforce fire safety by discussing the importance of
learning and participating in fire escape drills at home and at
-- GO LOW and KNOW: Physically lower yourself to your child's point of
view and search each room for objects or situations that may endanger
them. For example, teach them not to put their fingers or any objects
in uncovered electrical outlets, or cover them with plastic outlet
-- PLAY It SAFE! Talk to your child about the safe way to play on the
playground equipment. Make sure your child knows to use both hands on
swings, slide down the slide feet first and not to stand on the

"The survey demonstrates that more work needs to be done to prevent accidents and help prepare our children to know what to do whenever there's an emergency," said Drengenberg. "With a few well placed lessons and a little encouragement, parents can go a long way toward not only preventing accidents, but demonstrating the importance of safe behavior that could last a lifetime."

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Home alone: When is your child ready?

One spring afternoon, 12-year-old Jack Bazemore decided to stay home alone for a couple of hours to finish his homework while his mother took his younger sister to practice for the school play. Shortly after the pair parted, he heard tornado sirens.

“I put the dogs in their crates and covered them with blankets,” he said. “I grabbed my weather radio, my cell phone and some pillows, put on my bicycle helmet and got in the closet under the stairs.”

Bazemore drew on the skills he learned in Boy Scouts and acted based on family discussions on what to do in case of a tornado. He proved he was ready to be home alone.

How do you know if your child is ready to be home alone or still needs afterschool care? University of Georgia experts say answering that question means knowing your child.

“First, the child should really want to be home alone,” said Diane Bales, a UGA Cooperative Extension child development specialist in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Deciding if you allow it should depend on the child’s personality, maturity and many other factors.”

Before they’re ready to stay at home alone after school, children need to show that they can take care of themselves, have the judgment to make good decisions and are ready to handle any emergencies or unexpected events that come up, she said.

Bales offers this check list as a guide. Answering “yes” to these questions may mean your child is ready to be home alone. Can the child:

• Give his address and directions to home?

• Repeat and dial the home phone number?

• Explain how to handle first aid for cuts and scrapes, burns, nosebleeds, poisonings, bites, choking and eye injuries, and find needed supplies?

• Identify two escape routes in case of a fire?

• Handle telephone calls or strangers at the door properly?

• Reach parents or other responsible adults by phone?

• Name two adults to contact in case of an emergency?

• Tell parents or child-care providers about daily events without prompting?

• Locate safe shelter during a storm?

• Name five household rules and identify which ones were followed last week?

• Decide what the right thing to do is, without adult input?

• Feel safe when alone and fears (such as darkness) or nightmares are minimal when adults aren’t around?

Other considerations might be whether the child completes household chores and homework, is responsible and asks for help when needed.

Experts generally agree that a structured after-school care program is a better long-term option even if the child is ready to be home alone. Choosing the right program can be difficult. Some schools offer in-school aftercare. Others contract with local day care facilities to provide after-school care.

These programs have advantages and disadvantages. “It’s convenient, and parents don’t have to worry about how the child will be transported from school to the program,” Bales said. “Also, children are well-supervised by responsible adults.”

Some other advantages include help with homework, time to play with peers, ability to participate in extracurricular activities and access to playgrounds. Many school-age programs also provide care during summers and school holidays to help parents who work.

Some disadvantages of in-school care are the added expense for parents, high turnover in staff resulting in less consistency for children and “some programs are so structured that the children don’t get enough time to play and relax,” she said.

When choosing an after-school care program, Bales recommends looking for a program that is safe, reliable and developmentally appropriate for your child’s needs, provides plenty of time for play, employs consistent, well-educated adults who understand the development of school-age children and offers appropriate opportunities for children to make some decisions about how they spend their time in the program.

Also, confirm the program is certified. “School-age care programs are required to be licensed by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning under the same rules and regulations that license all child care centers,” Bales said. Find the complete licensing rules online at .

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kool Kidz Camp Serves Special Needs and Typical Children

Annual camp at Joseph Sams School in Fayetteville offers inclusive environment

FOCUS, a 26-year old non-profit that serves children with disabilities, is holding the annual Southside Kool Kidz Camp this week at the Joseph Sams School in Fayetteville, Georgia. This year’s theme for the four-day program is “Camp TEAM” -- Together Everyone Achieves More -- and activities include water play, team sports, music, and arts/crafts.

Kool Kidz summer camps are unique in their philosophy of accepting both special needs and typical children, focusing on each camper’s unique abilities and offering an environment of fun and diverse activities. Physical and occupational therapists and other special needs professionals serve as counselors at the camp, which is also staffed by volunteers from the local community. This year’s camp is serving thirty children ages 4 – 13 in half-day and full-day programs.

FOCUS Executive Director Lucy Cusick explains that Camp Kool Kidz is a growth experience for all participants. “Campers are gently pushed outside their comfort zones. Those with developmental disabilities are urged to give each activity their ‘best shot,’ while ‘typical’ campers learn to appreciate the challenges their special needs peers face on a day to day basis. This promotes patience, understanding and compassion – with a benefit for all our campers who play together in the Kool Kidz traditional day camp format.”

The week will close with a performance by all campers on Thursday.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Planned family time good for children and parents

Activities don’t stop just because it’s the summer. Between camps, sports and work schedules, parents need to make sure they’re planning time to spend with their children.

A full schedule doesn’t just cause stress for children. It can also hurt a family’s relationship and lead to sleep loss – among other problems, said Ted Futris, a relationships specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

“We overschedule ourselves,” he said. “If both children and their parents are constantly going, when are parents engaging in discussions with their kids? Parents need to be making a conscious decision to schedule time together on a regular basis.”

Eating together

Mealtimes are one way for families to connect.

“It could be only 30 minutes a day,” Futris said. “We need to at least preserve family mealtime in an overscheduled week, because that is essential.”

Futris gets his sons up and eats breakfast with them before heading to work. He and his wife also make sure to eat dinner together as a family.

Teens who eat dinner with their families five or more times per week have lower rates of teen smoking, drinking, illegal drug use and prescription drug abuse, according to a 2007 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

“There are no silver bullets. Unfortunately, the tragedy of a child’s substance abuse can strike any family,” said CASA president and chairman Joseph A. Califano Jr. “But one factor that does more to reduce teens’ substance abuse risk than almost any other is parental engagement, and one of the simplest and most effective ways for parents to be engaged in teens’ lives is by having frequent family dinners.”

And that meal doesn’t have to be supper. Futris said families can just as easily relate over a morning Pop-Tart. The most important part is that parents are checking in on their kids and showing that they’re paying attention to what their kids are saying and doing.

“Parental monitoring is so important for adolescent development and risk-taking,” Futris said.

Setting limits

As parents pay attention to their child, they’re more able to set limits that meet their child’s needs.

“The most effective parenting style is one in which parents set limits that are appropriate for their children and give them freedom within those limits,” said UGA Extension child development specialist Diane Bales.

She says it’s more than just establishing limits. Parents also need to stand tough on them, because testing the limits is one way that children establish security.

A child’s limits also need to change with age so that a parent is “not treating a 15-year-old like a 5-year-old,” Bales said.

Being consistent

Consistency, it turns out, may be more important than the quantity or quality of time that parents spend with their children.

“It’s important that you have the time so parents can connect and follow up on the day-to-day activities of their kids,” Futris said. “You need to show that you’re paying attention.”

To show they are paying attention, he said, parents should ask children open-ended and specific questions.

A “how was your day?” may only get a grunt in return, he said. A question about a friend, a sports activity or a map project at school requires a child to give a slightly longer answer.

“Parents who remember what’s going on convey to their children that mom and dad care enough to remember what’s happening,” Futris said.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Playful Recipe Could Turn Into Real "Dough"

(NAPSI)-The maker of a well- known toy has cooked up an entertaining contest for both children and parents. By creating a playful PLAY-DOH compound "recipe" with their child, parents could win a makeover for both their child's playroom and school.

Starting August 1, parents can visit and upload a photo of their child's best food-inspired PLAY-DOH creation along with the "recipe" to make it.

The big winner of "The Ready, Go PLAY-DOH $10,000 Creation Contest" will win a $5,000 playroom makeover plus a $5,000 donation to their child's school.

Once the entry period closes on September 30th, 10 finalists will be chosen and posted on ReadyGo on October 15, so the public can vote for the big winner.

There are also 61 daily PLAY-DOH prize packs up for grabs on the Web site plus downloadable "recipes" for fun with step-by-step instructions for colorful PLAY-DOH creations.

To learn more, visit

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