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 yourholidaystyle.com, 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 www.tasteofhome.com/teacherscontest or www.teacherscontest.booksarefun.com. Tell your friends on Facebook about the contest by going to TasteofHome.com/ShareTeachersContest. 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 http://www.challenge.gov/cpsc. 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 www.challenge.gov/cpsc. 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 www.georgia4h.org/omk .

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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