Friday, December 24, 2010

U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low in 2009, CDC Report Finds

/PRNewswire/ -- The birth rate for U.S. teens aged 15-19 years fell to a record low, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2009 birth rate of 39.1 births per 1,000 teens is down 6 percent from the 2008 rate of 42.5 births per 1,000. This is the lowest ever recorded in seven decades of tracking teenage childbearing. Birth rates for younger and older teens and for all race/ethnic groups reached historic lows in 2009.

The data are based on nearly 100 percent of birth records collected in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics also notes declines in the overall fertility rate – the average number of births that a group of women would have over their lifetimes – and the total number of U.S. births.

The general fertility rate fell from 68.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-44 per year in 2008 to 66.7 in 2009. The total number of births declined from 4,247,694 in 2008 to 4,131,019 in 2009. This decline appears to be continuing into 2010, based on early birth counts from January-June of this year.

Other findings:

* The total number of births to unmarried mothers declined in 2009, the first decline since 1997. The rate of births per 1,000 unmarried mothers also declined for the first time since 2002. However, because total births declined more than unmarried births, the percentage of births to unmarried mothers rose slightly in 2009, to 41 percent of all U.S. births compared to 40.6 in 2008.
* The birth rate for women in their early twenties fell 7 percent in 2009, the largest decline for this age group since 1973. The rates also fell for women in their late twenties and thirties. The birth rate for women in their early forties increased in 2009.
* The preterm birth rate declined for the third straight year in 2009, to about 12.2 percent of all births.
* The cesarean delivery rate rose to a record high of 32.9 percent in 2009, up from 32.3 in 2008. The cesarean rate has increased every year since 1996, when the rate was 20.7.
* The low birthweight rate was essentially unchanged between 2008 and 2009 at less than 8.2 percent in 2009, but down slightly from the record high of 8.3 in 2006.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nine flying reindeer cleared to land in Georgia on Christmas Eve

Department of Agriculture waives veterinary requirements

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin has granted a special 24-hour permit for nine flying reindeer to land in Georgia on the evening of Friday, Dec. 24, into the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 25.

The special permit waives routine veterinary requirements and inspections which protect the health of animals in the state and help prevent the introduction of exotic diseases. The reindeer named on the permit are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. The permit application was filed this week by a North Pole toymaker named Santa Claus.

“After consulting with our state veterinarians, I concluded these reindeer did not pose any threat to agriculture or violate any of our biosecurity measures,” said Commissioner Irvin. “As it was explained to me, these reindeer will be moving very quickly and will not intermingle with any livestock in our state. In fact, they will not even touch the ground, but will only prance and paw on rooftops.”

Commissioner Irvin said he is extremely pleased to grant this waiver, his last, to Mr. Claus. While Santa has indicated no plans to retire, Commissioner Irvin is giving up the reins at the Georgia Department of Agriculture and will be retiring to his Habersham County farm in January.

“I, and the employees of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, wish Santa safe travels this year and the years to come as he and his team of reindeer make deliveries to all the good children of Georgia.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Students: Enter Our Chimp Drawing Contest

On your mark, get set, start drawing—chimps, that is!

Time is running out for students in grades K-12 to enter The Humane Society of the United States' 2010 Chimps Deserve Better Drawing Contest.

The contest ends on December 17th.

Drawings should reflect the theme of this year's contest: A Tribute to Chimpanzee Sanctuaries.

A panel of judges that includes cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, creator of the comic strip "MUTTS," will select two Grand Prize winners and six runners-up. Winners will be notified by January 31, 2011.

The Grand Prize winners will each receive an iPod Touch. Runners-up will each receive $25. All eight winning drawings will also be featured on If either of the Grand Prize winning entries were coordinated by a teacher, the teacher will receive a $500 gift certificate for school supplies.

For more information about the contest, please check the contest rules [PDF].

The drawing contest was expanded this year to include students in grades 7-12. View the winning entries from the 2009 Chimps Deserve Better Drawing Contest.

How To Enter

1. Create an 11" x 17" drawing that shows appreciation for the incredible work that chimpanzee sanctuaries do by caring for chimps who were previously used in research laboratories, kept as pets, or used in circuses or other forms of entertainment.

2. Download [PDF], print and fill out the contest application. 

3. Mail the application and your drawing—post marked no later than December 17, 2010—to:

Chimps Deserve Better Drawing Contest
c/o Jennifer Ball
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Children's Pet Poetry Contest

Do you know a third, fourth, or fifth grader with a beloved pet (or pets!) and a way with words? Encourage him or her to enter the National Children's Pet Poetry Contest! 

Held annually by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the contest is open to third through fifth grade students nationwide. Children are invited to write a poem about their pets, what they love about them, and the happiness they add to their lives.

Two students from each grade level will each win a $250 gift certificate for pet products and publication of their poem in a major pet publication. In addition, each winner's classroom will also receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used for pet-related education.

The deadline to enter is January 31, 2011. For complete rules and entry details, visit

One of last year's winners, fifth-grader Pierce from Sewell, New Jersey, wrote this poem about Honey, his canine best friend:

Her root beer eyes are always there,
When I am sad and in despair.
With soft and silky golden fur,
My loving heart belongs to her.
Chasing toys and jumping around,
With Honey I have never frowned.
Chew toys, balls, and dog treats galore,
They would be all over the floor.
In the garden wild and free,
Boy and puppy is what you see.
Playing in tall grass and roses,
Stopping just to snuggle noses.
With kind and loving gentle paw,
And little teeth that never gnaw,
Wet loving licks that do not end,
Honey is this small boy's best friend.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

New Study Reveals That Coaching Helps College Students With ADHD Improve Ability to Learn, Succeed in College

/PRNewswire/ -- The results of a new study being released this week at the Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) conference in Atlanta demonstrate the effectiveness of a new model of coaching, developed exclusively for and used by the Edge Foundation, to help college students with ADHD improve executive functioning, which is their ability to organize, set and achieve goals, and self regulate -- all critical for a successful post secondary education. Additionally, students who participated in the study felt that coaching helped them feel less stress, greater empowerment, increased confidence and have more balanced lives.

Researchers from Wayne State University in Michigan conducted the study over two years in 10 universities and community colleges throughout the country and tracked the progress of 110 students with ADHD. It is the largest and most comprehensive study of ADHD coaching conducted to-date. The research team measured students' progress through both quantitative and qualitative analysis and have determined, "This study demonstrated that the Edge coaching model was highly effective in helping students improve executive functioning and related skills as measured by the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI; Weinstein & Palmer, 2002)."

Coaching has long been used by corporations to improve performance of CEOs and executives, but little research has been done until now on the impact this kind of intervention may have on populations with learning disabilities, like ADHD. While medication has been shown to improve academic productivity (better note-taking, scores on quizzes and worksheets, and homework completion), medication alone is not associated with skills students need to meet the demands of college which they must navigate more independently than in previous schooling.

The Edge Foundation coaches work with students in seven major areas: scheduling, goal setting, confidence building, organizing, focusing, prioritizing and persisting at tasks. They help students assess their environments, identify needs, set goals, and offer suggestions and guidance. Coaches monitor student progress and goals through regular phone or e-mail check-ins.

The Edge Foundation is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that offers supplemental treatment for students with ADHD. Founded by Neil Peterson in 2005, its mission is to help every child, adolescent and young adult with ADHD to fully realize their own potential, personal vision and passion through personal coaching.

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Positive parent-child relationships lead to better outcomes for adopted children

Georgia State University researchers have found that adopted adolescents who have good relationships with their parents are less likely to get into trouble and are more likely to do better in school, compared to adoptees growing up in more distant families.

Kathleen Whitten, visiting lecturer of psychology, and Scott Weaver, assistant professor of psychology, analyzed data from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

In their study, to be published in the December edition of Adoption Quarterly, they found that adolescents with better relationships with their adoptive parents were less likely to skip school, to be suspended, or to have trouble with law enforcement or substance abuse.

They also found that the teens, aged 13 to 17, had higher achievement in language arts and reading.

“Historically, there was a view that children couldn’t grow up as healthy in an adoptive family as in a biological one,” Whitten said. “Our findings contradict that, and are also consistent with more contemporary studies that have found that adoptive parents may spend more time with their children, and there may be less conflict in those families.”

The measures for the parent-child relationships include questions about how often the child is affectionate or tender with the parent, and whether the parent trusts the child, for example.

Additionally, Whitten and Weaver found no differences in these outcomes for children who were adopted by parents of a different race.

“Some thought at one time that parents of a different race couldn’t provide racial socialization, therefore leading to worse child outcomes,” Whitten said. “We analyzed a group of transracially adopted children to see if there were any differences, and there’re not.”

Like adolescents in the broader sample of adoptees, transracially adopted children with positive relationships with their parents had better behavioral and school adjustment.

The National Survey of Adoptive Parents is the first nationally representative sample of adoptive families in the United States, and it’s providing a wealth of data to investigate adoption. Data were collected during 2007 to 2008, and it provides information about the health and well-being of adopted children, as well as information about their families’ experiences and reasons for adoption.

Investing time and resources in establishing and strengthening the parent child relationship bond is very important, Weaver said.

“A positive parent-child relationship can be established regardless of whether the adoption is transracial or not,” he said.

Whitten recommends that social service agencies prepare prospective parents to establish ties and prepare for challenges.

“Agencies should teach parents to expect the best and to prepare for the worst,” she said. “By preparing for the worst, they need to be able to monitor their own emotional reactions to their child’s behavior, need to be patient, and need to be able to attribute positive motives to their child rather than negative.”

For example, if a child is misbehaving shortly after he or she is placed with the parent, parents should see this not as an attempt to control the parent or parents, but as a miscue for emotional distress, she said.

“So rather than responding with more control, and with a more authoritarian, punitive response, parents need to be able to stop and calm themselves, and to help the child do the same,” Whitten said.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Company GrandCamp Adventures has Grandparents and Grandkids Playing Their Way to Better Relationships

Stories Come Alive Through Books, Games, Music and More In Time For The Holidays

For the first time ever, a company will launch this holiday season especially for the grandparent/grandchild experience. Through a mix of storybooks, backyard activities, games and music, GrandCamp Adventures will help grandparents and grandchildren form lasting memories and meaningful connections. In essence, they play their way to better relationships.

Widely recognized by developmental experts as vital to a child’s life, the grandparent/grandchild relationship faces pressure from increasingly busy parents and geographic challenges. Yet, today’s grandparents – numbering 70 million in the nation – are younger than ever before, very active and engaged, and they want to spend time with their grandkids. Company co-founders, Patricia Babuka and Scott Schaefer, saw a need to create interactive experiences to “create the space” to nurture and grow this relationship.

“We realized through our own experience as parents the importance of building a strong relationship between our children and our parents,” said GrandCamp Adventures CEO Patricia Babuka. “Distractions like high tech toys and expensive vacations contribute to the gap between these generations and push away the magical moments and memories that occur when you’re really interacting and just having fun together.”

Babuka and Schaefer created GrandCamp Adventures with their own parents in mind. For 20 years, Babuka’s in-laws have hosted an annual themed-family retreat for all the grandchildren that has become a highly anticipated bonding experience for the family. It was this retreat that inspired her to create the company.

Here’s How It Works
In a GrandCamp Adventures experience, both grandparent and grandchild embark upon a backyard “adventure” centered on a storybook. This storybook, written by award-winning author Walter Sorrells and animated with the help of former freelance Disney animator Victor Tavares, breaks through the page and turns real-life into an “adventure” through activities, games and music that support the central story. Each story and accompanying activity are carefully constructed with the help of developmental experts to ensure the child’s imagination takes center stage while grandparents get the quality time and exposure they so deeply desire.

The First Adventure
The first storybook; “Here We Go! – Around The World Family Adventure,” is complemented with the release of the company’s first music CD (by the same name) that helps grandparents and grandchildren easily add dancing and singing to the fun. The CD features songs that can be played throughout the adventure and contains a variety of styles and genre including jazz, bluegrass, reggae and more. The theme for this first adventure is all about exploring your own family and other families around the world. The story unfolds as a pair of intrepid grandparents who’ve just returned from traveling around the world only to find that their plane had sprung a leak and their precious treasures have fallen out across the land. They quickly enlist the help of their three grandchildren and, along with a magic compass invented by Papa, set out to retrieve all the lost items. Before long, the story crosses over into real-life, much to the surprise of the grandchildren following along.

After the holidays, GrandCamp Adventures will roll out additional exciting and fun products nearly every month that bring the “Here We Go!” story to life. The next phase in the rollout includes GrandCamp Adventures digital games and activities that Grandparents and Grandkids can enjoy online.

Learn more: 

Editor Note:
Read the review by the Fayette Front Page's own Ann Eldredge.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Inspire a Girl, Change Her World

(NAPSI)-When girls feel bad about their looks, 70 percent disconnect from life—avoiding normal daily activities like attending school or even giving their opinion—which can put their dreams on hold and jeopardize their potential as future leaders, decision makers and role models.*

Everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in a young girl’s self-esteem. That is why Dove launched the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem, inviting all women to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. The nationwide effort encourages women to take simple actions that help build self-esteem and inspire all women and girls to reach their full potential by caring for themselves and each other.

Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, psychologist and self-esteem expert, offers simple tips for parents and mentors to help girls develop a positive relationship with beauty.

1. Embrace Your Real Beauty: Challenge your inner critic and engage in healthy behaviors so that she can see that by taking care of herself, she can look and feel her best. Girls often model the behaviors of important women in their lives, so treat yourself well! Eat healthy, be active and see your doctor regularly for checkups so you can be a model of physical health for your daughter or a girl in your life. This will help her realize that feeling good about her body is not about being a certain weight or shape but about taking care of herself.

2. Share Inspiring Messages: Ban negative talk about your own body or her body. Instead, let her know that you love and value her because of who she is, not how she looks. Compliment her on character traits that reflect positive self-esteem, such as how she looks people in the eye as she shakes their hand, or on how you love listening to the ideas she shares about current events. She needs to know that you are proud of the person she is becoming.

3. Help Her See Her Full Potential: Girls need to know who they are, what they value and what they want out of life to experience the self-esteem that comes from taking charge of their own lives. Guide her to set goals and help her develop the skills necessary to turn a vision into a reality. Encourage her to focus on working hard and doing her personal best, rather than on being the best at everything she tries.

4. Build Positive Relationships: Teaching respect and empathy is important to help her create meaningful and positive relationships with her peers. Encourage development of healthy relationships by exhibiting mutual respect and empathy in your own relationships. To help her develop empathy, encourage her to view events from another person’s perspective. For example, you might ask: “How do you think your friend was feeling when she wasn’t invited to the sleepover?”

5. Stop the Scary Sit-Down: When parents or mentors need to discuss serious issues, they may believe that the best way to do this is to tell her that they “need to talk.” Rather than saving serious conversations for a single important session, build a stronger relationship with your daughter or a girl in your life by creating a consistent, predictable time when you are receptive and available to listen-for example, riding in the car, taking a walk or watching movies together. A strong, consistent connection will increase the likelihood that she will feel comfortable seeking your help and support when times are tough.

Visit to join the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem and download free self-esteem building tools for girls, moms and mentors.

*Dove, 2006

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Friday, October 29, 2010

CPSC Reminds Parents How to Prevent Halloween Costume and Decoration-Related Injuries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants parents of trick-or-treaters to know that there is nothing scary about preventing Halloween-related injuries. By taking a few simple safety precautions when selecting costumes and Halloween decorations, consumers can prevent burn, fall and laceration injuries.

Parents who make their kids' costumes can send off their little ghosts, goblins and superheroes safely by using inherently flame-resistant fabrics, such as polyester and nylon. These materials will resist burning if exposed to an open flame. When purchasing a costume, look for "Flame Resistant" on the product's tag or packaging

Lighting the night also is made safer when children have no access to open flames. Flameless candles, light sticks and flashlights provide a safe lighting alternative in jack-o'-lanterns and areas where children will have access.

"Uncovering Halloween's hidden dangers is simple with CPSC's safety steps," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Thoughtful costume selection, care with candles and careful placement of decorations and lighting will help ensure your Halloween is safe and enjoyable."

In addition to providing safety tips, the CPSC works to keep children and families safe during the holiday celebration by enforcing the Flammable Fabrics Act and recalling hazardous costumes and products at Halloween and throughout the year.

Make this year's holiday a safe one by following these safety tips on costumes, treats and decorations:


* When purchasing costumes, masks, beards and wigs, look for flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester, or look for the label "Flame Resistant." Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves, large capes or billowing skirts.
* Purchase or make costumes that are light colored, bright and clearly visible to motorists.
* For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light-colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
* Children should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
* To guard against trips and falls, costumes should fit well and not drag on the ground.
* Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Oversized high heels are not a good idea.
* Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes and obstructing their vision.
* If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.
* Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.


* Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering.
* Carefully examine any toys or novelty items received by trick-or-treaters younger than three years of age. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use and present a choking hazard.


* Keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.
* Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
* Indoors, keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other items that could ignite. Do not leave burning candles unattended.
* Indoors or outside, use only decorative light strands that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.
* Don't overload extension cords.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jacob’s Turn, An Inspiring Documentary Short Film To Raise Awareness and Money For Down Syndrome, Wins Hearts Across The Country

Editor Note:  What a great story to share.  Little Jacob is a star and is the perfect candidate to bring his story and that of all special needs children to the spotlight.  Well done, Jacob and his awesome support team.

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the midst of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the newly released heart-warming documentary short film, “Jacob’s Turn,” is gaining momentum and attention across the country, raising awareness and money for Down Syndrome charities.

Jacob’s Turn is a mother’s story of Jacob Titus, her four-year-old boy from the small rural community of Floyds Knobs, Indiana. Jacob loves to play T-ball, like thousands of kids across the country. Jacob also happens to have Down Syndrome. The film shows how Jacob’s “turn” at bat and on the field was a thrill for him, but more importantly, an event that transformed the hearts of everyone in his town.

Jacob’s mother, Patricia Titus, wrote an article about his experience - and the way the town came to embrace his triumph. This article would soon stop the busy, constantly on-the-go Nick Nanton in his tracks, touch his heart and those of numerous high profile business people, and inspire them to executive produce the extraordinary documentary short film based on Patricia’s story.

As Executive Producer, Nick Nanton worked with his extended network of marketing experts to create awareness of “Jacob’s Turn,” through a method of marketing that is usually applied to commercial ventures, but for the first time was used to launch a charitable campaign - one which will help benefit children not only with Down Syndrome but a wide variety of special needs. The goal of everyone with an emotional and financial investment in the film is to raise people’s awareness and generate charitable donations that will help these kids receive the assistance they need to lead the best lives they can—to get their “turn.”

At its heart, however, “Jacob’s Turn” is designed to inspire - to let special needs children and their parents know that the unique challenges they face need not limit the potential to achieve dreams, even small ones that start out on a baseball field in a place like Floyds Knobs.

Others contributing to the project are Nanton’s partners, JW Dicks & Lindsay Dicks, along with Mike Koenigs, Preston Ely, Baeth Davis, Mark Richter, Bill Gough, Richard Seppala, Dr. Scott Schumann, Darrin Mish and Jared Bonshire.

Learn more at

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Monday, October 25, 2010

National Cyber Security Radio Re-Airs Show Topic: 5 Ways to Reduce Cyber-Bullying by 80%

/PRNewswire/ -- National Cyber Security Radio, by LIGATT Security International (OTC: LGTT), an online computer security radio show, will re-air last week's topic "How to Reduce Cyber-bullying by 80% Immediately" today at 3pm EDT on

During this week's show, Host Gregory D. Evans will educate his listeners on the legalities and long lasting effects of cyber-bullying. According to, children have killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyber-bullying incident. Cyber-bullying is usually not a onetime communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm.

"Cyber-bullying is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed," comments Evans. "I want my listeners to understand that cyber-bullies are cowards. The sad part about the Internet is people can portray to be whoever they want to be and hide behind a keyboard."

Tune in every Monday from 3pm-5pm to listen to World Renowned Cyber Security Expert, Gregory Evans. For more information about Gregory Evans visit, or follow him on Twitter @GregoryDEvans. For more information about National Cyber Security visit, or follow them on Twitter @NCSbyLIGATT.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Contest To Celebrate Wonders Of Chemistry

(NAPSI)-If your kids have ever watched a movie or TV show and asked, “Wow, how did they do that?” they may be interested to learn that many seemingly magical special effects are really chemistry at work.

You can help children learn more about chemistry and special effects by participating in National Chemistry Week (NCW) 2010. As part of this year’s celebration, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is hosting a national poster contest for kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. Invite students to create a poster that celebrates the theme “Behind the Scenes with Chemistry.”

The poster should be fun, motivational and inspire students to learn how costume designers, makeup artists, graphic artists and special effects technicians use chemistry to create the special effects that make movies and TV shows so much fun to enjoy!

First- and second-place prizes for the best posters will be awarded in the following categories: grades K to 2, 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 12. The first-place prize is $100 and second-place is $50.

Contest Rules

All entries must be original works without aid from others and must be no larger than 14 x 22 inches. Entries must be hand drawn using crayons, paint, colored pencils or markers.


Entries will be evaluated based on artistic merit (use of color, quality of drawing, poster design and layout), poster message (should be fun, motivational and promote chemistry’s important role in life), originality, creativity and neatness.

Anyone can join in the celebration of NCW 2010 and get ready to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) by visiting

Here are some simple things children can do at home or in the classroom. Using household chemicals, they can create:

• Fake snow or fog that will fool their friends

• Paper that changes color before their eyes

• Fake blood that looks real.

To find out how to make these special effects, go to

Families can also attend a Science Café to learn more about the wonders of chemistry and how they are used to produce movies and TV shows. Go to to find a Science Café event near you.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Study Finds Bullying and Cyberbullying are Parent's #1 Fear More Than Kidnapping, Domestic Terrorism and Suicide

/PRNewswire/ -- Whom do parents fear more, Stranger Danger or a Facebook friend? According to a national survey commissioned by, Inc. (, bullying and cyberbullying have eclipsed kidnapping as the greatest fear parents have regarding their children's safety.

Nearly one in three (30%) parents of children 12-17 years old fear bullying and cyberbullying over kidnapping, domestic terrorism, car accidents, suicide or any other incident. And of parents whose children are under 12 years old, more than one in four (27%) parents say they are most afraid of bullying and cyberbullying, with kidnapping only slightly higher (30%)., Inc., the premier source of trustworthy family care options, including profiles of hundreds of thousands of babysitters, nannies, and senior caregivers, found that parents are taking the issue seriously. In response to recent news coverage of teens being bullied or cyberbullied across the country, 75% of parents are now monitoring text messages and social media activity. They report also now speaking with their children about the dangers of bullying.

Is Technology to blame? Parents clearly feel that it is. Almost two out of three (62%) parents agree that increased use of texting, social media activity and the playing of more violent video games are resulting in meaner behavior among kids. This concern increases in the South (71%) and Northeast (67%), but decreases to half (50%) of parents in the Midwest.

Parents want their children's schools to take action. More than one in three parents surveyed, report encouraging their schools to create anti-bullying programs and have teachers address bullying as well. Nearly half (46%) feel that the schools are listening, giving their children's schools a grade of A or B. However, one out of five parents (19%) feel that their schools are doing a poor job or simply failing their kids when it comes to this issue.

"Mean kids and bullies are not new, but the access to social media networks and cell phones that can make bullying both anonymous and seemingly innocuous is the new danger. And parents are genuinely afraid," said Wendy Sachs, editor-in-chief of "Our study found that parents are also stepping up and want their schools and communities involved."

The failure increases in the West where more than one out of four parents (29%) give their children's schools a poor or failing grade. By comparison, more than half (57%) of parents in the Northeast believe their schools are doing a good job at handling bullying. Other findings include:

* Fathers fear bullying and cyberbullying the most, of which a quarter of men (25%) cite it as the number one fear compared with a third (35%) of mothers who perceive kidnapping to be the greatest danger.

* In New York, one in three parents (31%) cite bullying and cyberbullying as a greater fear than domestic terrorism (19%) despite the WTC attacks less than ten years ago.

* The Midwest is the most concerned about bullying and cyberbullying, where a third of parents (33%) felt it was the most significant fear for them.

* Western states parents remain most concerned about kidnapping with 43% versus bullying and cyberbullying (20%). However, when asked to evaluate what their child's school has done to educate kids about the dangers of bullying and cyberbullying, one out of four (24%) gave a poor or failing grade (D or F).

* In the South, kidnapping and bullying and cyberbullying are of equal concern to parents with a quarter of parents (24%) acknowledging that they are fearful of them.

The survey was conducted via a national telephone survey among a weighted sample of 394 adults 18 years of age and older living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this CARAVAN Survey was completed during the period October 8-11, 2010.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Award-Winning Author Pens First Book For Kids Concerned About Gulf Wildlife!

SOMEWHERE ON THE GULF COAST: While adults might think that it’s just the locals, the BPers, the fishermen, and the media keeping a close eye on the Gulf Coast oil spill, many, many pairs of concerned eyes belong to local children, children across America and children around the world.

“Kids always care about the animals,” says Carole Marsh, author of a new book, THE GULF COAST OIL SPILL: POOR LITTLE PELICAN + A KIDREPORTS PHOTO-DOCUMENTARY for ages 4 to 8. Marsh, who grew up on the Georgia coast, spent 20 years on the North Carolina coast, and has been a frequent visitor to locations all along the Gulf Coast, believes the concerns of children should be addressed above all.

“After all,” says the author, “they see us make a mess, but what they want to know is how to help, how to avoid such problems in the future, and most especially, how they can grow up and make a difference.” Her book tells a charming, alliterative read-aloud (or read-alone) story of a family of pelicans and their own shocked discovery of the recent oil spill and its aftermath. The pitch-perfect story is followed by a photo documentary by Gulf Coast girl Erin telling how current events collided with the coastal environment and wildlife. Teachers (and parents) will appreciate the crystal clear explanations and graphics, as well as a glossary and reproducible activities.

“On the one hand, the crisis seems almost over to many people,” Marsh says, “but children, teachers, schools, and others will explore this issue for a long time. I want to give them the facts, the background, the science, but most of all, the hope that things will be all right (and how and why and when), and that they can indeed help by learning more and perhaps even considering future careers that could positively impact coastal environments and the wildlife that live there.”

“Learning more” has been the author’s 30-year writing challenge. She has written more than 60 books on each Gulf Coast state, created social studies curriculum-related resources widely used in Louisiana, and also has a series of children’s mysteries, many set in Gulf Coast states.

Marsh is CEO and founder of Gallopade International, a leader in the production of children’s books, curriculum-related resources and supplementary educational materials since 1979. Gallopade products have won many awards, including the Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award, the iParenting Media Award for Greatest Products and the National School Supply and Equipment Association Excellent in Education Award.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Safe Kids USA Launches New National Initiative to Reduce Sports Injuries in Kids

/PRNewswire/ -- Safe Kids USA ( ) has announced the launch of a new educational effort aimed at helping parents, coaches and athletes reduce the more than 3.5 million injuries that occur in youth sports every year in the United States.(1) The nationwide initiative is the latest focus area for Safe Kids USA and its 600 coalitions, which also works to prevent unintentional childhood injury in other areas including drowning, car accidents and poison prevention.

This effort will focus on the most common causes of preventable injuries including overuse, dehydration, heat-related illness, concussion and injuries caused by pre-existing medical conditions and lack of conditioning. Safe Kids USA will supply its coalitions with information to help parents, coaches and athletes in their communities reduce injuries. The initiative is being supported by Johnson & Johnson, the founding sponsor of Safe Kids Worldwide and Safe Kids USA.

"Injuries in youth sports are occurring at an alarming rate," said Mitch Stoller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Risks are often recognized too late or injuries are looked upon as just part of the game. We're here to say it's not always part of the game and there are things that each one of us can do, particularly parents, to help shape the physical and emotional environment for safe and fun participation in sports."

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 38 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports in the U.S.(2) and about 1-in-10 receives medical treatment for a sports injury.(1) Experts say as many as half the injuries sustained by youth while playing sports are likely preventable.(3)

"Encouraging children to play sports is one of the best ways to help them stay fit, develop athletic skills, make friends and learn valuable lessons that they can carry for a lifetime," said John Hurley, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who treats young athletes and is working with Safe Kids USA. "But young athletes have special needs because their bodies are still growing making them more prone to injury. And, if there is too much pressure to compete, they may overexert themselves, play in pain or return to activity too quickly after an injury, all of which could have both short- and long-term consequences."

As part of its educational campaign, Safe Kids USA and Johnson & Johnson have partnered with cable network, Nickelodeon and internet service and media company, AOL to develop and run public service announcements (PSAs) on the prevention of youth sports injury. Nickelodeon will continue airing the PSAs through October on TeenNick, Nick at Nite and other Nickelodeon programming; and AOL will produce web PSAs for online distribution. In addition, Safe Kids USA coalitions have conducted youth sports safety clinics throughout the country for parents, coaches, athletes and community members.

The subject will also be explored in an interactive webcast entitled, "Youth Sports Injury – What Every Parent Needs to Know," on October 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. Pre-registration is required. Speakers include leading experts from the fields of sports medicine, athletic training, pediatrics and child safety. The webcast will be available for future viewing here:

"We are issuing a call to action to parents everywhere to learn more about how they can play an even greater role in preventing youth sports injuries," said Jamie A. Freishtat, MD, one of the speakers for the webinar and a board-certified pediatrician, safety advocate and blogger for Safe Kids USA. "It's more than making sure your kids get to and from games and keeping their schedule. It's about knowing early warning signs, partnering with their coach and making sure you and your kids have the right attitude and realistic expectations about sports."

Is Your Kid Sports Ready? Pre-Participation Physical Evaluations: Safe Kids USA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend every child receive an annual pre-participation evaluation (PPE), which will help determine his/her readiness to play sports and may uncover underlying conditions that could limit participation or increase the risk for injury or a medical emergency. Parents should talk to their child's doctor and ask them to perform the full pre-participation evaluation, which was recently updated by the AAP.

Overuse Injuries: Experts say up to 50 percent of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse.(4) An overuse injury is difficult to diagnose and treat because they are usually subtle and occur over time. Fatigue, burnout or playing while injured can lead to sport-related injuries for children including sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries and repetitive motion injuries. Warming up and stretching before play is essential to preventing sports related injuries. This helps athletes avoid injuries such as muscle tears or sprains by stretching and releasing any muscle tension.

Concussion: Children who do not wear or use protective equipment are at greater risk of sustaining sports-related injuries. Parents can reduce their child's risk of minor or serious injuries such as concussions by making sure their child wears the appropriate and properly fitted sports equipment during practice and play and knowing the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Dehydration/Health Related Illness: Young athletes need to be encouraged to drink water before, during and after practice, and play to prevent dehydration and the risk of heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Athletes should start practice/play fully hydrated, drinking water for every 20 minutes of play.

View the Safe Kids USA sports safety guide online here (

Safe Kids USA Partners for Prevention

Safe Kids USA is coordinating this national campaign through an alliance and collaboration that spans scientific, medical and health professional, non-profit and corporate organizations across the country. The partners include: The American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics – Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Optometric Association – Sports Vision Section Council, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johnson & Johnson/DePuy Mitek, LA 84 Foundation, National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), Safe Kids Worldwide, Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group, and the University of Michigan Bone &Joint Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation Center.

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Just-In-Time For Mystery Month New Titles Scare Children Into Reading

October is National Mystery Month, kicking off with Mystery Series Week October 3 through 9. What better time to encourage children to get immersed in a page-turning mystery adventure? The release of award-winning author Carole Marsh’s six newest mysteries is perfect for celebrating Mystery Month!

“I can’t wait to hear from readers which is their favorite,” enthuses Marsh. “I am thrilled to publish them in time for Mystery Month and to support 2010: The Year of the Children’s Mystery Book. A writer’s most exciting day is the day a new book is in reader’s hands. With the delivery of six new titles to my fans, I am over the moon!”

With interesting (and historic, but never dull) U.S. settings that range from Death Valley to the Smoky Mountains and from Cape Cod to the Lost Colony, these new mysteries from Marsh’s America’s National Mystery Book Series are full of fun facts, mysterious messages, and enticing clues to solve.

The six new titles are:
Carole Marsh Mysteries encompass 78 books in 9 distinct series. These 6 new mysteries build America’s National Mystery Book Series to 40 titles. This series, which won the Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award for the Family, features real children visiting real U.S. places. Kids love these mysteries because they are fun to read, and teachers and parents love them because of their high-value educational content. Plus, each mystery has an Accelerated Reader level, Lexile measure, Fountas & Pinnell level, and DRA level.

Carole Marsh is the national spokesperson of 2010: Year for the Children’s Mystery Book (visit to learn more) and has been named Georgia Author of the Year for Middle Readers. She is the founder and CEO of Gallopade International, a leader in the production of children’s books, curriculum-related materials and supplementary educational materials since 1979.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

1 in 4 High School Students and Young Adults Report Binge Drinking

60 percent of high school students who drink, binge drink

More than 1 in 4 high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in a dangerous behavior known as binge drinking during the past month, according to the findings from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report shows that each year more than 33 million adults have reported binge drinking, defined as having four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time, usually a couple of hours. And the report said levels of binge drinking have not declined during the past 15 years.

The CDC report found men are more than twice as likely to binge drink than women (21 percent compared to 10 percent). It said binge drinking is more common among non-Hispanic whites (16 percent of whom binge drink) than among non-Hispanic blacks, (10 percent of whom binge drink).

"Binge drinking, increases many health risks, including fatal car crashes, contracting a sexually transmitted disease, dating violence, and drug overdoses," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Excessive alcohol use remains the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States and leads to a wide range of health and social problems."

In this report, CDC scientists analyzed data on self reports of binge drinking within the past 30 days for about 412,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and for approximately 16,000 U.S. high school students from the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

"Alarmingly, almost 1 in 3 adults and 2 in 3 high school students who drink alcohol also binge drink, which usually leads to intoxication," said Dr. Robert Brewer, M.D., M.P.H., alcohol program leader at CDC and one of the authors of the report. "Although most binge drinkers are not alcohol-dependent or alcoholics, they often engage in this high risk behavior without realizing the health and social problems of their drinking. States and communities need to consider further strategies to create an environment that discourages binge drinking."

Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 79,000 deaths in the United States each year. Binge drinkers also put themselves and others at risk of car crashes, violence, the risk of HIV transmission and sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancy. Over time, drinking too much can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. Binge drinking can also cause harm to a developing fetus, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, if a woman drinks while pregnant.

Binge drinking varies widely from state to state, with estimates of binge drinking for adults ranging from 6.8 percent in Tennessee to 23.9 percent in Wisconsin. It is most common in the Midwest, North Central Plains, lower New England, Delaware, Alaska, Nevada, and the District of Columbia.

For more information on binge drinking, visit or Members of the public who are concerned about their own or someone else's binge drinking can call 1-800-662-HELP to receive assistance from the national Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service. For state-specific estimates of alcohol-related deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) by condition, visit the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) system at

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Tips For A Healthy Halloween

(StatePoint) Halloween ghouls may give kids a fright, but the buckets and bags of candy that come home can be equally scary for parents. With the abundance of sweet treats consumed on Halloween, not to mention the Thanksgiving pies and holiday cookies to come, now is the perfect time to teach your kids healthy habits, such as nutritious eating and good oral hygiene. 

Here are some ideas for keeping things healthy while still having fun:

Candy Common Sense

Consider offering alternatives to candy on Halloween. Stickers, removable tattoos or bottles of bubbles will be a refreshing change for kids of all ages. Toys like jump ropes, hacky sacks or sidewalk chalk for hopscotch will encourage kids to be active while still having fun.

Of course, you won't be able to avoid candy completely. Let your kids indulge now and then. Enjoying treats in moderation will help your kids learn to savor the moment. 

The Unsweet Tooth 

Half of all American kids will have a cavity by age 10. The good news is that you can play a role in teaching your kids healthy oral care habits from an early age. Be a role model with your own oral health by brushing and flossing every day and encourage your kids to practice along with you. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents supervise children under seven. 

Making brushing fun can encourage interdependence so kids become accustomed to their daily routines. Power toothbrushes, which typically remove more plaque than manual ones, can assist parents in teaching healthy brushing habits. Consider trying a toothbrush like the Philips Sonicare For Kids. It's simple to use and designed with two gripping locations so you can help your child brush. It also has a "KidTimer" to help children reach the dentist-recommended two-minute brushing time and musical tones indicating when it's time to move to a different area of the mouth. To learn more, visit


On Halloween, offer your kids a healthy snack before they go trick-or-treating. Peanut butter and apple slices and a glass of low-fat milk will go a long way in keeping candy cravings at bay. Filling them with protein and fiber will leave less room for sweet treats that offer little nutritional value.

Party Down

Halloween parties are a great new tradition that allows kids to stay safely off the streets while eating a moderate amount of sweets and getting exercise from fun and games. Just make sure you keep lit candles and jack-o-lanterns away from high-traffic areas. Then join in the fun!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

R Ur Kids on Drugs?

/PRNewswire/ -- The text messages on a child's phone look innocent enough. "I want a Ben and Jerry's." "Is Lori in town?" "I'm fixing a BLT." "I want a Bean Burrito." Most parents would assume their teenager is going for an ice cream, looking for their friend Lori, making a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich, but decides on a bean burrito instead. Unfortunately, their assumptions are wrong. The text messages actually mean: "I want ice or crystal meth." "Is there any Lorcet?" "I'm fixing a blunt." "I want Ecstasy."

A 2008 study by CTIA-The Wireless Association showed four out of five teens carried a wireless device and 47 percent of them reported that they can text with their eyes closed. According to Robert W. Mooney, M.D., addiction psychiatrist for Willingway Hospital, it is imperative for parents to have their eyes wide open to code names for illicit drugs as part of their diligence in helping to prevent drug abuse among today's youth.

"Even before electronic messaging, it was difficult for parents to ask specifically about their child's behavior," said Dr. Mooney. "Parents have always been the last to know. But now parents are behind the eight ball because they tend to be fairly naive about electronic devices and technology which adds to the difficulty in addressing this. Parents don't need to be cyber spies or cyber police, but need to continue to be highly involved in their children's lives in an electronic age."

Other translations for common drug-related teen text talk:

* "Has anyone seen tina?" – Another code for crystal meth.
* "What you know 'bout them tree?" – Code for pot, or marijuana.
* "U seen that white girl?" – Code for cocaine.
* "U seen elvis and blue suede shoes?" – Code for blue lorcets, or prescription pain killers.
* "Elvis has left the building." - The drug dealer is gone.
* "Are you coming to pick up the girls or the boys?" – A drug dealer asking if teen wants cocaine or heroin, respectively.
* "The eagle has landed." – Code for drugs are ready for pick-up.

Communities around the country are increasingly trying to become part of the solution to the ongoing drug abuse problem among today's youth. As an example, Willingway Hospital is partnering with the Statesboro Police Department to sponsor a community forum for interested parents, educators, youth pastors and counselors as part of September's National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month 2010. Treatment professionals and representatives from the Statesboro Police Department will educate the community about how teens use mobile messaging to communicate about drugs, the signs of alcohol and drug use in young adults, and trends of drug use and abuse in city.

"Mothers and fathers need to be very aware of what's going on with their child's computer," said Scott Brunson, Captain of the Criminal Investigative Division of the Statesboro Police Department. "In addition to shortcut language and slang terms, the Internet provides ample information on how to make crack, how to manufacture methamphetamines, and how to beat a drug test."

Often though, drugs that are being misused come right from the unknowing parents. "A lot of drugs that are in the home medicine cabinet have a value in cyber space. Social networking provides an avenue to find drugs a lot easier. A child can instantly send out a Facebook message to hundreds of friends to check out other parents' medicine cabinets. This creates a significantly efficient market for pharmaceuticals, as families' medicine cabinets now become part of the drug scene," added Dr. Mooney.

Dr. Mooney advises parents to routinely clean out their medicine cabinet to discard unused drugs and to create an electronic "cone of silence" where TVs, cell phones, laptops and Blackberries are turned off so meaningful face-to-face conversations can take place with children about what is expected of them.

"Parents should feel empowered to 'disempower' the electronics, ultimately helping their children face down the temptations of drug abuse," added Dr. Mooney.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to make your Halloween festivities extra spooky

(ARA) - Halloween is the second most decorated holiday, so it won't be long until ghouls and goblins, witches and vampires, pumpkins and candy corn adornments begin appearing in advance of trick-or-treating and haunting celebrations.

This year, instead of buying your decorations, why not brew a little imagination? Just stir in a few items you already have around the house and a couple of cans of spray paint to create bewitching, inexpensive pieces for your home and yard.

Here are three project ideas to inspire and help you easily put some extra spookiness in your Halloween trick-or-treating.

Ghoulish gravestones
Turn a couple of old boxes into a chilling graveyard to keep the goblins and vampires at bay.

What you'll need: Black granite textured "stone" spray paint, such as Krylon's Make It Stone; spray adhesive; glow-in-the-dark paint; boxes (note: old shipping boxes work well); foam or wood letters; various Halloween decorations; hot or super glue; packing tape; newspaper; large nails or ground stakes; and scissors.

How to do it: Set up a spray paint area in a well-ventilated area by covering a table with newspaper. Assemble a box and tape over folded seams leaving one end open, as that will serve as the bottom of your gravestone. Cut a name plaque to fit the box from the cardboard of another and affix with spray adhesive. Glue letters onto the plaque.

Embellish the top of your gravestone with glued-on Halloween decorations, like a bat or skull. Paint the entire gravestone with two to three coats of "stone" spray paint, letting it dry between coats. Once it's dry, highlight areas with glow-in-the-dark paint. Place a stake in the ground, prop up your box and enjoy scaring the neighbors with your ghoulishly gorgeous graveyard.

Ghostly globes
Add a spooky twist to your outside walkway on All Hallow's Eve - without having to carve several messy pumpkins - by creating glowing ghostly globes.

What you'll need: Round glass votives; newspaper; one can each of white frosted glass, white and glow-in-the-dark spray paint, such as Krylon Glowz; and a black craft pen.

How to do it: Cover your workspace with newspaper. Spray several light coats of white frosted glass paint on the lip of each votive and let dry. Next, add several light coats of white paint to the outside bottom of votives, blending the white seamlessly with the frosted glass. Let dry completely.

Spray the entire exterior with glow-in-the dark paint, which will allow your votives to shine even when not lit. Finally, draw facial features with a black paint pen.

Spooky party servers
Embellish your Halloween party buffet by transforming ordinary terra cotta pots into spooky party servers.

What you'll need: White primer; pumpkin orange, gloss white and gold glitter spray paint; black webbing spray from Krylon; brush-on black paint; repositionable adhesive; assorted terra cotta pots and saucers; metal or enamel bowl; glue; paper; pencil; scissors; and a small paint brush.

How to do it: Wash the pots and saucers. Allow to dry. Spray all the terra cotta with white primer. Let dry and spray with gloss white. Once dry, turn pots upside down and glue the bottom of a saucer to the bottom of each pot. Draw ghosts, tombstones and other scary characters on paper. Cut the shapes out and spray one side with repositionable adhesive.

Position the paper shapes randomly on the pots. Spray the outside of the bowl and terra cotta pieces with pumpkin orange paint. Once dry, spray all the pieces with black webbing spray, then lightly with gold glitter spray. When all the paint is dry, remove paper templates and add details, such as features on the ghosts and words on the tombstones, with black paint. Be sure to not to place unwrapped food on any painted surface.

For more Halloween decorating inspiration, there are a plethora of arts and crafts websites, such as, offering tips, tricks and inspiration to help you spook your family, guests and trick-or-treaters.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Win Up to $20,000 for Your School Plus Another $20,000 for You!

/PRNewswire/ -- Bake sale blockbusters, popular potlucks, teachers' lounge favorites, fabulous finger foods, delicious desserts, good for you goodies... The stomach often rules the mind at school. Now, Taste of Home, the world's most popular cooking magazine, and Books are Fun(TM) have teamed up to put some money where that food goes with the Taste of Home Teachers Recipe Contest.

Books Are Fun will award more than $70,000 in cash and prizes for the best original submitted recipes chosen by the staff at Taste of Home, with $20,000 awarded to BOTH the grand prize winner and the affiliated school.

"Taste of Home is thrilled to work with Books Are Fun to celebrate our teachers and all the wonderful people who help make our schools so special," said Catherine Cassidy, editor-in-chief of Taste of Home. "We've all heard the news stories about budget cuts. This is a chance to do something positive for schools."

The Taste of Home Teachers Recipe Contest has six categories for submissions:

-- Appetizers & Snacks Finger foods are always popular in the teachers'
lounge. Pick the spreads, snack mix, and other savory bites that keep
the staff happily munching!
-- Soups, Salads and Sides What recipe do you grab for your potluck?
We're looking for dishes that travel well and steal the show, like
salads and pasta creations among others!
-- Entrees What's your best main course outside of school? We want to see
your bubbling casseroles, slow-cooked specialties, family-favorite
main dishes and even party subs!
-- Desserts Enter everything from cakes and pies to trifles and tortes in
this tooth-tingling category!
-- Bake Sale Send us your favorite cookies, cupcakes, bars, brownies,
spiced nuts and home-made jams--whatever clears bake-sale tables the
-- Healthy Recipes Healthy is huge in school these days -- submit your
favorite recipe that is so good, no one ever guesses it's lower in fat
and calories.

The Taste of Home tasting panel will pick three winners from all of the submissions. The grand prize winner will win $20,000 and $20,000 for the school affiliated with that winner, plus a free one-year subscription to Taste of Home magazine for all paid full-time teachers and staff at the school. The second-place winner will win $10,000, plus $10,000 for the school. Third place will take home $5,000 plus $5,000 for the school.

Entry forms and rules can be found at or Tell your friends on Facebook about the contest by going to Completed entries must be received by 11:59pm (CT) on November 30, 2010.

An Important Note from 'Home' for all Teachers (and Administrators, Staff, Coaches and PTA/PTO Officers): The World's #1 Cooking Magazine wants you!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Contest, Contest, Read All About It!

Middle school students in 6, 7 and 8th grades are eligible to participate

Prize Money will be awarded to the top nine finalists!

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by CPSC Blogger:

Calling all middle schoolers! CPSC is hosting a poster contest on carbon monoxide safety.

Carbon monoxide is called the "invisible killer." That's because it's a gas that you can't see or smell and it can kill its victims quickly. It gets into homes from:

-- Running a portable generator in an enclosed space, basement or living
-- Running a car in an attached garage
-- Poorly operating fuel-burning appliances or faulty ventilation
-- Burning charcoal inside your home

To help raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide, or CO, in homes, CPSC wants middle schoolers to create a poster and try to WIN prize money. The contest is open to students in grades 6, 7 and 8. Nine of them (3 from each grade) will be chosen to win $250. A grand finalist from the group will receive an additional grand prize of $500.

Each year more than 150 people in the U.S. die from accidental non-fire CO poisoning associated with consumer products and that number is on the rise. The winning poster will be used in CPSC's outreach to get the word out about this danger.

So, don't delay. Get your middle schooler involved. All the details are right on CPSC's contest page at See our new CO video there too. Once your middle schooler has drawn the poster, submit it on our contest site. Posters will be judged on the clarity of the CO message, visual appeal and originality. Be sure to support the challenge and share it with all your friends. And check back to the contest page often. We'll be showing you the posters as they arrive.

 Carbon Monoxide Poster Contest
 September 7 through December 31, 2010

Find out more about the contest and the rules and submit posters at Posters can also be submitted by mail to CPSC Poster Contest, 4330 East West Hwy, Rm. 519, Bethesda, MD 20814

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Operation Military Kids camp teaches coping skills

Through a special camp offered by Georgia 4-H, children of soldiers experience what life is like for their parent during active duty.

Operation Military Kids is a week-long camp designed for children whose parents are currently deployed, soon to be deployed or have recently returned from deployment by any service branch or component. It takes place this summer at Georgia 4-H’s Camp Wahsega in Dahlonega.
Free to military families

The camp is free and funded by a grant from the 4-H National Headquarters and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. OMK is a partnership between 4-H and the Department of the Army. More than 150,000 youth participated in national OMK events across the country last year.

In Georgia this summer, campers visited nearby Camp Frank D. Merrill, an Army ranger camp in Dahlonega.

“If you are an Army ranger, Camp Merrill is one of your stops,” said Marcus Eason, the Georgia OMK coordinator. Camp Merrill is the home of the 5th Ranger Training Battalion and the mountain phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School. “They’ve been doing mountain training there since the ‘50s, and our campers used the repelling wall there and used the wire bridge to cross the river.”

Making new friends with shared lifestyles

Campers learned skills to help them cope with the stress of their parent’s deployment, Eason said. “And they got to spend time making friends with other military kids who are also missing their mom or dad.”

Thirteen-year-old Katrina Petersen’s father, Staff Sergeant Robert Petersen, has served two tours in Iraq. She has lots of friends at Academy of Richmond County in Augusta, Ga. Thanks to the OMK camp, she now has friends who can relate to her home life.

“(The camp) helped me a lot because I got to meet other military kids,” she said. “They all live about three hours away from me, but we keep in touch by texting each other, and we’ll see each other at camp next summer.”

In the past, Georgia guard and reservists have sacrificed time with their families by spending one weekend a month and one training week each summer away from home, barring any state or national disaster.

A need during current times

"With Operation Enduring Freedom and the Overseas Contingency Operations, our country is relying more and more on guard and reservists,” Eason said. "When a parent leaves for duty, it impacts the entire family. These OMK summer camps are designed to help them cope."

Petersen knows this first hand.

“When you are in the military, you have to make a lot of commitments. You have a lot of responsibilities, and so does your family,” she said. “My dad was away from home for a year and then for 15 months. I’m really glad he’s home safe now.”

Most of the children who attend OMK camp in Georgia have parents stationed at Ft. Benning, Ft. Gordon and the Ft. Stewart area. “But there are also a lot of military in our state that aren’t necessarily assigned to a military installation,” Eason said.

The kids experience military life and gain confidence in themselves and their abilities, he said. But they are still at 4-H camps. Campers swim, make crafts, climb the ropes course, play sports and participate in environmental education classes.

Swimming and having fun, too

"The kids get to do all the things we do in every other 4-H camp across our state," Eason said. “Except, OMK campers made a special trip to raft down the Ocoee River and go spelunking in Tennessee. We want these kids to be able to just get away from home and be kids.”

Each year, more than 700 military families and youths participate in Georgia 4-H camping programs specifically designed for military families, like OMK.

To learn more about Georgia 4-H’s military programs, visit .

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

This School Year, Learn About the 3 R’s -- and Your Brain

As our children prepare for the first day of school this fall, they will fill their book bags with the usual paraphernalia; notebooks, pencils, and even laptops. What most of them won't bring to school is an understanding of the most important tool they are going use -- their brains.

As neuroscientists, we are dismayed that we do not give our students the most basic information about the care and use of their brains. Research reveals there are a number of things students can do to improve their performance in both academics and life outside of school. We're not talking about smart pills, expensive imaging or difficult procedures. We're talking about teaching what a student needs to know about his brain, so he can use it properly and perform well.

It all starts with attitude. Other researchers have found that students have one of two basic beliefs, or "mindsets," about their brains. They either believe their brain function is fixed and they're stuck with the capabilities with which they were born, or they can improve their brain function and accomplish harder tasks. The latter group takes risks, not fearing failure, because they know that learning and growth comes from failure. Even if they were not born with exceptional intellectual abilities, these kids tend to be more successful.
The good news is students can learn the "growth" mindset.  Simply letting them know that learning improves with practice and training makes a measurable difference in performance. This belief works well for disadvantaged kids.

There's more good news. Students can improve brain function without a moment of additional study -- no extra books, computer drills or tutoring sessions. They need to make three simple lifestyle changes, each of which is based on findings from modern neuroscience.
First, sleep at least 8-9 hours every night. Sleep deprivation can impair learning as much as brain damage. When you sleep, the brain consolidates what you learned when you were awake.
Second, eat a breakfast with protein (even cereal with a generous serving of milk) to provide a sustained source of blood sugar, which is essential to alertness. This avoids the rush and crash of a high-sugar breakfast.
Third, move every day -- dance, walk, skateboard, whatever. Exercise leads to development of new brain cells and improves memory.
So why not just stop class, tell students what to do, and then give them a brochure to take home to their parents?  Well, because there is much more to learn than these simple lessons.  Change takes knowledge, motivation, time and practice, and the support of the home and community. It can't be done in 10 minutes, but it can be taught, aided by daily messages from parents, teachers and the media. It can even start well before the school years, if parents are taught the basics.
So why don't school curricula and parent training classes include training about the brain? Perhaps one reason is we scientists have not stressed enough the importance of brain health.  If we did this, then educators could include brain information throughout the school environment, from academics to classroom behavior to extracurricular activities.
Also, schools are required to do high-stakes testing for the basic courses, and perhaps they feel there isn't time for something as unusual as teaching about the brain.  We have a solution that should please everyone.
Most school systems are required to teach a health curriculum for all students. We think this is one place to include formal instruction about the brain. We can meet the mandated goals of these curricula while also teaching the basics of brain function and brain health. Almost every goal of current curricula relates in some way to the brain-- exercise, sex, media literacy or substance abuse. Because improved brain function leads to improved school performance, schools should be anxious to teach this lesson, and adopt such a curriculum.
Teaching students about brain health gives them some control over their own learning, is not expensive, and does not add to a school's burden. At a time when our educational system is in crisis, we need to change our mindsets and teach students about the most important tool they have -- their brain.

By Wilkie A. Wilson and Cynthia Kuhn

Wilkie A. Wilson is a research professor of prevention science at Duke; Cynthia Kuhn is a professor of pharmacology and cancer biology. Both are both affiliated with Duke's Center for Child and Family Policy.


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Friday, August 27, 2010

Seven early-semester study tips

Seeing friends again after a summer apart is always exciting, but it's easy to use that as an excuse to put off studying for classes until you're facing midterms. Avoid that pre-exam panic with these study tips to use now while the semester is still new.

* Take and get notes now: The night before a midterm isn't the time to e-mail the class listserv, begging for notes because of a family emergency, whether it's real or concocted. Establish a system to organize notes, whether it's setting aside a different notebook for each class or saving typed lecture notes in separate folders. Be sure to back up your notes using secure wireless Internet. Clearly mark notes with the lecture date and topic that correspond with your syllabus for easier studying later.

* Keep track of reading: Details found exclusively in class readings show up on exams, so make sure to keep up with assigned reading. Once you fall behind in your books, it's hard to get back on schedule. Highlight reading assignments on syllabi as you complete them and write them down on sticky notes to use as bookmarks for the texts.

* Schedule study time: Study and reading time is less of an inconvenience when it's already mapped out in your schedule. Use your high-speed Internet connection to access Google's calendar function and block out hours by subject so you can better judge your free time. Be sure to stick to the schedule and treat yourself to study breaks.

* Pick a study location: Some people thrive in silence while others need background noise. Test which environment works best for you by studying at a library, student center and your own desk. Walking to the library takes more effort than sitting at your desk, but productivity there means more time for fun later.

* Read during down time: Spare time between classes is one of the best times to study because you're already in a learning mindset. Always carry a reading assignment or bring your laptop so those extra minutes can go toward your workload rather than the daily crossword.

* Use online resources: Somehow teachers know which definitions you didn't write down in class and always put them on study guides and tests. When - not if - that happens, use the greatest tool at your fingertips, the Internet. But be sure to check with multiple sources before memorizing anything found online. Also double-check essay citations and formatting using an online guide to avoid unnecessary penalties.

* Practice time-tested methods: Flash cards that worked well for memorizing multiplication tables in elementary school are also great for subjects that rely on memorization, like history and foreign languages. Study groups are also helpful because chances are someone else in the group understands concepts or has notes that you don't. Just try to set a time table for group study time and steer away from chatter.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Parents Shift Behavior to Save More for Their Children's College Education, Says College Savings Foundation Survey - Financial Literacy Education and Targeted College Savings are Key Trends

/PRNewswire/ -- More parents of college-bound students are saving for their children's college education and trying to reduce the burden of college financing from their children's shoulders, finds The State of College Savings, the annual survey of nearly 800 parents across the country and income brackets conducted by the College Savings Foundation.

"As a result of the economic crisis of the last several years, American families are aware of the need to save more, minimize debt and increase their financial literacy. It is clear from the survey findings that parents are shifting their behavior toward greater and more consistent savings," said Peter Mazareas, Chairman of CSF, a leading nonprofit whose mission is to help American families save for their children's college education.

Sixty-five percent of parents are saving for their children's college education, up from 59 percent last year. Conversely, the number of parents who weren't saving at all has fallen to 35 percent this year, down from 41 percent in 2009.

A major survey finding was the increased importance of financial literacy education for both parents and their children. Seventy-six percent of all respondents said that they take the time to teach their children how to be financially literate. Nearly all - 90 percent - said that they believe there is a need to teach financial literacy to children as part of the school curriculum. Of those parents, 82 percent said that they believed that school districts should be required to offer a multi-grade integrated financial literacy curriculum.

As evidence of a stronger savings mindset, parents advocated for financial literacy for their children and a more conducive environment for saving for themselves: 29 percent said that it would be easier to save with "more savings awareness - our society is too revolved around spending." A new finding is that 12 percent said that they have cut back on their discretionary spending.

"A better-educated and financially literate person will avoid the excess of debt and consumption that will have long-term negative consequences on both the consumer and the nation's economy," Mazareas said.

America's college-bound children are the end beneficiaries of their parents' improved saving habits: the portion of parents who expect their children to help with college financing has dropped to 60 percent from 68 percent last year. That drop occurred among parents who expect their children to finance between zero to one-third of their college costs (38 percent this year, down from 46 percent in 2009). Those expecting their children to help finance more than one-third have stayed the same.

Nonetheless, parents' confidence in their ability to reach their college savings goals is improving, with those who are "Completely, Very or Somewhat Confident" rising to 66 percent over 56 percent last year; and those who are "Not Confident" falling to 34 percent, down from 44 percent last year.

Targeted Savings Goals and Vehicles

Among people who are saving, those who are saving specifically for college jumped 14 points to 44 percent this year, up from 30 percent last year. Interestingly, the responses for saving in General and Emergency categories stayed the same as they were in 2009.

"While people are still saving for emergencies, the focus on avoiding student loan debt through college savings has clearly reaped results," Mazareas said.

One in four of all respondents owns a 529 college savings plan, with 56 percent of those employing automatic savings plans to enable consistent savings, up from 49 percent last year.

"Not only are more people saving for college, but they think it is enough of a priority to set up automatic savings plans to do so," Mazareas added.

As in last year's survey, parents using 529 college savings plans were more successful savers than those without them. Those who utilize a 529 saved more: 20 percent have saved between $5,001 - $10,000 (as compared to 10 percent without a 529); 17 percent have saved between $10,001 and $25,000 (as compared to 6 percent without a 529), and 15 percent has saved between $25,001 - $50,000 (as compared to 4 percent without a 529). While every 529 holder had saved something, 46 percent of those who did not utilize a 529 college savings plan had saved nothing at all.

Overall, the survey showed that more parents have increased their savings. Fifteen percent said they are saving more for college this year over last, almost double the 8 percent from one year ago. Perhaps more importantly, those parents are saving significantly more: 24 percent said they were saving between 10-15 percent more than last year - up from 5 percent in 2009. And, 17 percent said they were saving between 15-20 percent more - that's up from 11 percent in 2009.

Those who are saving less dropped to 28 percent, down from 32 percent last year.

The appetite for student loans appears to be waning:
-- 62 percent anticipate using them - down from 71 percent last year.
-- As the primary financing source, student loans dipped to 42
percent down from 47 percent in 2009; but parental loans edged up
to 14 percent from 11 percent last year.
-- Parents are more realistic about the long-term commitment required to
pay back loans: 30 percent expect they or their child to be paying
back loans beyond ten years after graduation; and 69 percent beyond
five years.

Parents would like to see Administration and Congress regulate college costs:

-- 26 percent up from 19 percent last year.

The College Savings Foundation's fourth annual survey of parents, The State of College Savings, surveyed nearly 789 parents from a Zoomerang data base from across the country and income brackets ($0 - $49,999; $50,000 - $99,999; $100,000-$149,999; and > $150,000). For more information see

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Recognize A Dynamic Young Hero

(NAPSI)-If you know a selfless child or teenager who has made a difference in the lives of others, there's a way to reward his or her dedication and determination.

Young people who have accomplished amazing things--both large and small--can win the ultimate summer celebration in their honor. Adults can nominate outstanding kids as part of the Nestlé® Drumstick® brand Heroes Contest. Fifty winning kids will be awarded a celebration complete with enough Nestlé Drumstick sundae cones and a fun-filled party package to host an unforgettable event for up to 50 family and friends.

"Entries will be judged on the child or teenager's accomplishments, as well as the originality and creativity used to achieve their goals," said John Harrison, Official Ice Cream Taster for the brand.

Last year's winners expressed kindness beyond their years. For example, Hannah Tachouet, age 13, from Sebastopol, CA, collected over 25 bags of clothing and $1,100 for a women's shelter. When delivering the donation, she learned that the shelter had no money to purchase breakfast for the week and that many women were going hungry. Struck by the fact that members of her own community were going without this basic need, Tachouet continues to donate to the organization, and to speak to her peers about the importance of giving.

Contest entry forms are available to download at Submit your story (150 to 500 words), along with the completed entry form, describing why the child deserves to be honored. Adults over the age of 18 may nominate children between 6 and 17 years of age who are residents of the United States. Official contest rules are online. All entries must be received by September 15, 2010. Winning children will be notified by phone and/or mail each month throughout the contest.

Creamy, crunchy, chocolatey Nestlé Drumstick sundae cones are available at grocery stores and other retail locations in both full-size cones and snack-sized Lil' Drums™ cones. What's more, the sweet and timeless flavors of S'mores and Caramel are now available in a Variety Pack of 10 snack-size cones. Perhaps even better, each cone is 120 calories or less.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Professor Gives Tips on Handling Cyberbullying, Sexting

/PRNewswire/ -- Parents should be more involved in their children's online activities and know what to do if their child is being bullied in cyberspace or engaging in sexting, according to one expert.

Cyberbullying and sexting have become major problems facing school-age children, their parents as well as school personnel, according to Bridget Roberts-Pittman, Indiana State University assistant professor of counseling.

"With the increase in technological devices, children are now using such to harass and harm other children," said Roberts-Pittman. "Many children have personal cell phones making it very easy to use these devices in that way. Communication in cyberspace also seems more anonymous and seems to require less responsibility on the part of the child committing the behavior."

While bullying has long posed problems for children, it has now moved to cyberspace. Surveys show as many as 25 percent of children are reporting being cyberbullied. Cyberbullying can be defined as the use of technological devices to deliberately harass or harm another person such as through e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, cell phones and Internet social networking sites.

Sexting refers to sending sexually explicit photographs typically via a cell phone. At least 20 percent of teens said they have sent a sexually explicit photo through a cell phone.

"Teens and their parents are not aware of the serious nature of such an act and the potentially life-long consequences," Roberts-Pittman said of sexting.

In responding to cyberbullying and sexting issues, Roberts-Pittman said parents need to be aware of major changes in a child's behavior.

"Behavior change is a part of adolescence. However, a significant change could mean the child is dealing with a serious issue such a cyberbullying," she said. "Parents should be aware of signs such as anxiety, depression, their child not wanting to attend school or making a drastic decision such as quitting a sports team."

Parents also need to be aware of what their children are doing in cyberspace. While 93 percent of parents said they knew what their children were doing online, 52 percent of children said they do not tell their parents what they do online, according to Roberts-Pittman.

"Parents have a right to check their child's phone and Internet use," she said and suggested using software packages such as Spectorsoft or I Am Big Brother. "Parents need to talk to their children about cyberbullying and sexting. Children today are so saturated with technology that they might not even recognize the behavior as a serious problem."

Teens caught sexting can be charged with possession of or distribution of child pornography and be required to register as a sex offender for many years, up to 20 in Indiana.

"The Legislature has not caught up with technology," she said. "The best message for children is 'Don't do it.'"

Roberts-Pittman said parents can take steps to help their children if they are involved in sexting or cyberbullying. The first is to listen.

"It is critical that children feel heard and understood," she said. "Keeping an open dialogue about issues such as peers is not easy, but very important for children to know that they can talk to their parents."

She said children often do not talk to their parents because they are afraid of their parents revoking their cell phone or computer privileges. They also don't believe their parents have the technical knowledge to understand. They also fear their parents will say "I told you so."

A second step for parents to help their children is to know they have options, especially in responding to cyberbullying.

"They can and should talk to the police about harassment," Roberts-Pittman said. "If the information is posted on a social networking site, they can contact the site to have the information removed."

The third step is to save all of the texts and emails sent to the child.

"It seems to be the parent's natural tendency to encourage their child to ignore the information and delete but that is the opposite of what we want children to do," she said. "Information can be tracked and traced."

Also, parents of the child being bullied may want to address the cyberbullying with the parents of the child committing the bullying.

"I only encourage parents to do this if they have the saved information to share with the other parents," she said.

As a fourth step, Roberts-Pittman said parents should share the information with school personnel.

"The collaboration between parents and school officials is critical to address the cyberbullying and sexting," she said.

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