Fun

Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Summer Love

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Salty sea air . . . the wind blowing in your face . . . aah, there’s nothing like summer. Summertime is like a rite of passage for sun, fun, and relaxation. There are lots of reasons summertime is the best—including:

  • Beach time
  • Pool parties
  • Grilling and picnics
  • Outdoor gardening and greenery
  • Walking/running weather
  • Ice tea—and other cold beverages
  • Longer days
  • Summer clothes
  • And MORE!

We talked to your family at NSPN and here are what summer loves were shared:

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “Grilling out and pool or lake time.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “Summer breezes.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “What I most enjoy about summer is gently floating in an inner tube on the lake with a lemon shandy until the sun beats down with such heat that I have to slip in the water to cool off.”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “What I love most about summer is the full bloom of trees as they sway in the wind, colorful fragranced flowers, and beautiful butterflies.”
  • Sherry Casey, Operations and Administration Manager: “Flip-flops.”
  • Lindsey Collier, Human Trafficking Specialist: “The heat!”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “The long days, sitting outside and watching the sunset after working all day on the farm.”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “The days are longer.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “I love the long, warm days and being able to sit out on my porch enjoying the day.”
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: “I love that the hours of daylight are so much longer and the sun is brighter. It makes me so much happier. I really love going to the best beach in the world, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “Spending time outdoors—especially, on the water somewhere. During my childhood, I spent many summer weekends boating on Lake Cumberland. I have and always will be a water child!”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “Watermelon, swimming, and the Florida heat. Call me crazy, but when I go to my car from being in a cold store, I love getting in my car and just sitting there for a moment. I eventually have to turn the AC on, but I ‘soak up’ the heat when I can.”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “Long and sunny days.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team.

What do you love most about summer? Feel free to let us know by commenting below.

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Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Geek Pride

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

What’s a geek to you? According to Wikipedia, “the word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit . . .” Yada yada yada . . . There it is! “A geek is an enthusiast or person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit!” So, wouldn’t that make all of us geeks? I mean, we’re all obsessed with something. In case you’re stuck on the word obsessed—To obsess about something is to “preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually . . .” Yada yada yada. So who doesn’t have something that preoccupies our minds—continually? Now that it’s settled—we’re all geeks, and it’s time to let our geek flags fly!

Did you know there’s actually a day for geeks to unite and celebrate geekiness? This day is known as Geek Pride Day and it’s held on May 25. There are lots of ways to celebrate Geek Pride Day. For instance:

  • Have a themed party.
  • If it’s a movie or television show that you are interested in—plan a marathon—live tweet it if you’re really proud!
  • Throw a game night—in costume.
  • Join a meetup and get together with like-minded geeks.
  • Share some fun photos of your obsession on social media—make sure to use the hashtag #GeekPrideDay.

Now that you’re up to speed about Geek Pride Day, take a look at what your NSPN family geeks out about.

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “Accounting—if that is possible.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “Office supplies—the dream of being organized is fantastic.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “I LOVE data analysis!!!”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “I’m easily entertained; however, I geek out about animals in the wild, fun childhood memories, and Las Vegas partying.”
  • Lindsey Collier, Human Trafficking Specialist: “Horses . . . and dogs and cats too!” I also geek out about preparing and enjoying delicious food (gluten-free of course!).”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “I’m a sucker for time-travel books/movies. Watching Primer with someone who has never seen it before is great fun.”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “Movies, cooking, and social justice.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “I geek out on old houses and buildings that have been preserved and/or repurposed. I also geek out on people saving materials out of buildings that are being torn down—as opposed to sending it all to the landfill.”
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: “Science fiction anything—TV shows, movies, books.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “Live music. My dad has been performing in a rock band since I was a little girl (sometimes even in my house). There’s nothing better than listening to great live music and watching the performance unfold right before my eyes.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “I geek out about a lot of things, but I think I geek out the most about planning and being organized. My favorite time of the year is November and December—not because of the holidays (although I like them), but mostly because it’s time to get a NEW planner for the next year!”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “Softball.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share what makes you a geek.

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Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Earth Day Is More than Just a Day

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Earth Day is just around the corner (April 22). The observation of this day has generated awareness of personal responsibility and the effects individuals can have on the climate. Each person leaves what’s called a carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is defined as a carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by an individual or event, expressed as CO2e.

Have you measured your carbon footprint lately? Are you taking steps to decrease your footprint? You might be doing so without even realizing it! Small things, such as those listed below, will help reduce your CO2:

  • Turning down your thermostat on winter nights
  • Turning up your thermostat in the summer
  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR lights
  • Replacing your windows and appliances with ENERGY STAR models
  • Washing clothes in cold water
  • Performing regular maintenance on your vehicle(s)
  • Recycling newspapers, glass, plastic, aluminum and steel cans, and magazines

How do you think your NSPN family members rank in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint in their personal lives? We asked them: “What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint?”

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “At my house, we recycle. We grow food in our garden and we do some amateur composting.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “I recycle.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “Definitely not enough.”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “I turn off—and sometimes unplug—unused lights and electronics. I also recycle (most of the time), maintain a steady, yet comfortable temperature setting, wash full loads of clothes, cover door and window cracks during the winter, look for multiple uses of plastic containers and paper towel rolls, and carpool when possible.”
  • Lindsey Collier, Human Trafficking Specialist: “Not enough I’m sure! I do try to keep lights off when not in use.”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “We try to carpool and use public transportation when possible. We also try to buy local goods when available.”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “I recycle.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “I recycle a lot! I use real cloth napkins and try not to use paper products too much. I also try to buy things that don’t have a lot of packaging—large containers instead of a bunch of small ones. I could go on!”
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: “I recycle at home and work. I wear lots of sweaters in the winter in my very cold house.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “I recycle and reuse anything I can.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “Sadly, my carbon footprint is fairly large. I’m oh so guilty for funding the Styrofoam plate makers and the plastic cup and cutlery makers. I also hate to sit in the dark so I always have lights on. But, I do recycle and I drive a hybrid car.”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “I drive a fuel-efficient car.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team.

If you want to see how big (or small) your family’s carbon footprint is, take a look at this calculator:  https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator. Feel free to let us know what steps you take to help the earth by leaving a comment below.

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Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Read Across America Day

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Today is Read Across America Day—also known as Dr. Seuss’s Birthday! Dr. Seuss is best known for his wonderfully whimsical children’s books, including The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; Horton Hears a Who!; The Lorax; Oh, the Places You’ll Go!; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; and so many more. These books have inspired youth and adults to read since his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was published in 1937. Dr. Seuss’s favorite book was There’s a Wocket in my Pocket!

Here are the favorite books of your NSPN family:

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “I don’t have one favorite. I love, love, love cookbooks—so I have many.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “Jane Eyre—Have loved it since childhood. I have lots of favorites that reflect my different moods, but this one stands out above the rest.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “I love the imaginative world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry along with its characters and relationships. My favorite among the books is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s an extraordinary story of adventure, danger, strength, and hope; a lesson that people aren’t always what they seem; and a quintessential demonstration of positive youth development!”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “The Bible—best stories of intrigue . . . love, hate, death, drama, miracles, free will, temptation, togetherness, divide, character, salvation, etc. It reflects the in-between phase of life, death, and even beyond.”
  • Lindsey Collier, Human Trafficking Specialist: “Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas. (You’ll have to read it to discover why. J)”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “I find myself re-reading Slaughterhouse-Five every year or so. So it goes.”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “The Stand, Stephen King.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “I really like The Shack, by William Paul Young.”
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: “A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L’Engle; Anne of Green Gables; and Pride and Prejudice.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “I don’t really know. I recently read Me Before You and it was brilliant, funny, and heartbreaking.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “I pretty much like any book—as long as it’s on a shelf. I receive no joy from reading. I’d rather be designing the cover of it—and other pictures—who doesn’t love pictures in books?”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “The Bible.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team.

Feel free to share your favorite book by leaving a comment below.

 

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Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Did Someone Say Pie?

pies

January 23 is National Pie Day – not to be confused with Pi Day which is in March. This day has nothing to do with a continuous number that goes into infinity and everything to do with a continuous deliciousness that goes into infinity!

As a way to celebrate this day and to help you get to know your NSPN family, we’ve asked NSPN staff members the following question:

“What is your favorite pie (and why – if there is a specific reason you’d like to share)?”

  • Laurie Jackson, President / CEO: Cherry
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: My grandmother’s chocolate pie – There isn’t one thing about it that was good for me except that it always made me feel better. Love is always the most important ingredient.
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: Hot apple pie with streusel crumble and vanilla ice cream
  • Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy: I’m really an equal opportunist when it comes to pie, though I tend to lean more toward fruit and chocolate-nut pies instead of creamy or meringue pies.
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: It was hard work as a child cracking bags and bags of pecans. Our hands would sometimes bleed but there was no stopping us because we knew that the sweet, gooey pecan pie would soon sooth any bleeding hands and messes to clean up; it would make the tummy very happy.
  • Sherry Casey, Operations & Administrative Manager: Pecan or buttermilk
  • Lindsey Collier, Human Trafficking Specialist: Cherry pie is my favorite!  My grandmother always made it and it is the first pie she taught me how to bake. When I eat cherry pie, I always think of her.
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: Pumpkin pie – It reminds me of Thanksgiving and family.
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: Apple (double crust if that’s an option) or the Chess pie from Homemade Pie & Ice Cream Kitchen.
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: Either coconut custard (my mother used to fix it) or Dutch Apple with caramel icing (just because I like it).
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: My favorite pie is none. Why would you have pie when you can have cake?
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: Fudge pie from The Fresh Market
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing & Events: My favorite pie is sweet potato pie, but not just any sweet potato pie! It MUST be from Mothers in New Orleans, LA. Mothers has the best sweet potato pie in the world. If I can’t get sweet potato pie from Mothers, I tend to lean towards custard and meringue pies, but not lemon or key lime – I’m allergic to lemons, limes, kiwis, oranges, and pineapple.
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: Apple pie

Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know your favorite pie!

Biking with Ninja Turtles: Exploring Boundaries with Kids

Written by: Lisa Tobe, Executive Director, Wildflower Consulting

I lost my six-year-old son Mateo under a yellow helmet with a face-cover. I could see his little hands and knee knobs stick out from what looked like black Kevlar body armor. My friend, Thea, stood beside him explaining the gears, throttle and brakes on the blue four-wheeler their seven-year-old son Trey rides. Mateo nodded gravely. I watched the side of his helmet bob up and down in slow, short movements. She had his rapt attention, but I wondered if he’d absorbed the directions. I hadn’t.

Instead, I thought, “Oh crap, am I really going to let him ride that four-wheeler by himself?” I’d been flooded with panic about the idea of broken bones, concussions and spinal injuries. Up until then Mateo had only ridden a bike attached to mine, a three-wheeled Green Machine that could do a wicked skid at the bottom of a hill or a red, battery-powered, plastic race car that barely moved across our gravel driveway.

Thea lives outside Nucla, a rough and tumble Colorado outpost with a great view of the LaSal Mountain Range. Kids run around outside unsupervised starting at a young age, the outdoors their only playmate when not in school. Unlike their urban/suburban counter-parts, these children have hayfields instead of soccer leagues and ponds instead of spray parks. When we first arrived, Mateo did not want to ride the four-wheeler period, so Trey proudly walked him around his family’s 22-acre ranch. We told them to be back before dark. By then, Mateo and I were several days into our cross-country trip to Quincy, California, a small town I lived in for almost a decade before returning home to Kentucky. Thea and I hadn’t seen each other since before we became moms. We sat on their porch catching up while the boys explored.

I’m a parent-in-training. I had Mateo when I was forty-one. I have been reading books about parenting since before he was born; books that told me how to be pregnant, how to give birth and how to raise him. They talked about attachment, strong-willed children and the whole-brain approach. The authors provided advice about how I could make Mateo happy, smart and compassionate, among other things. I read these books in what we in the south call ‘fits and starts’ whenever I got overwhelmed with his behavior. I thought if I followed their guidance, Mateo would be this perfect, happy child that turned into an amazing man. But I’m learning that parenting is as individualized as our DNA.

Mateo helmet
Mateo wearing his bike helmet. Photo credit: Melissa Simmons

I raise my son in a little village of helpers, which includes my parents. My dad has much more patience with Mateo than he ever did with his kids and perhaps counter-intuitively seems more afraid of bad things happening to Mateo than he did with us. My brother, Artie, and I grew up in the relative freedom like most children raised in the seventies. We scuttled up trees and scurried around the streets and woods in our neighborhood with impunity. We had few rules:

  • Tell our parents where we were going;
  • Stay within a one-mile radius; and,
  • Return home for dinner, when it got dark or when dad whistled.

My parents warned us about cars but never about people. We biked over a mile to school alone as young as seven, and by eight we were allowed to go on solo hikes around our cabin in Western Kentucky. During these excursions, I imagined being an Indian Princess hunting for food or a race car driver flying around the speedway. I felt fearless.

While my parents follow my lead, we have complex generational and personal differences about raising children. They placed a television in Mateo’s room at their house and give him desert after every dinner, often consisting of ice cream with multiple toppings. Both are remnants of my childhood.

Both my parents and I want Mateo to be independent. We know that everyone thrives in the I-can-do-it moments when Mateo learns sometime new. It’s just that we have differing opinions of independent, which have become increasingly divergent as Mateo gets older.

My parents worry about losing Mateo. They asked me to nail Mateo’s first-floor bedroom windows shut. I let Dad drill holes, but kept the nails on the window sill. I wanted Mateo to feel the breeze moving through his room.

As young as two, I took Mateo traipsing through the creeks by my parent’s house. He loved playing in the water and chasing elusive creatures that squirted past his chubby legs. At first I held his hand, afraid he might drown in the 6 inches of tepid water that made up our latest playground. But eventually I let go, following closely behind as he rambled and fell among the brown and green algae covered rocks. The water splashed around him before soaking through his blue shorts. Mateo cried at first. But when I extended my hand, he let me pull him up and tumbled uncertainly forward trying to offset his waterlogged diaper. When Mom saw our appearance, worry lines deepened around her mouth.

Before our trip, I had started giving Mateo a little more room. I exercised during his swim lessons or went biking during his soccer practices. I’d let him go to public restrooms without supervision. At first I hovered outside the door. Eventually, I had him meet me back on a certain aisle or rejoin me at a restaurant table. I admit that each time I saw him walking back, I felt relieved. I also started feeling less trapped by the crushing public perception that a child always has to be supervised.

Mateo and I have never had a long conversation about physical boundaries, just to stay away from the street and ponds. He also has some natural fears that keep him in our yard. I work at home and can often see him from my office window, where a collection of ramshackle fences border our acre in Louisville. Gaps have begun to emerge in the black wooden fence that folds around the side and back of our yard. Several poles lean in or out pulled off center by time and weather. Some slats, held in place by a stubborn nail or two, scatter at odd angles. A wire fence runs half way up the other side of our yard, separating us from a pond and horses. Cars and trucks rush past on a busy street in front of our house, parents running errands or construction workers expanding a subdivision that used to be woods. I’m told that our eighty-year-old house used to be a school and that the fields that surround it were filled with trees before a new owner decided they would get in the way and cut them down.

I mow about 1/3 of our yard. Tall grasses and wild plants grow in the rest. My mom calls them weeds. Mateo pretends they are a rain forest, although I have to admit he’s hardly ever in that part of the yard. Mostly, he stays around his play set and trampoline, beside the house where the grass is cut. I don’t worry too much when he roams out of sight. Like my outdoor cats, I figure he’s not far.

I could only imagine what my mom would do if she’d been standing there when Mateo got on the four-wheeler. After giving him directions, Thea threw her legs over the seat behind Mateo holding onto the steering wheel. She gently coached him. Then she let him drive alone at the top of her driveway where he hopscotched across the gravel as he got used to the engine and the brakes. After about three wide circles, Mateo stopped in front of us, his learning energy depleted. He wanted Trey to take him on a ride. They headed off in dust covered cloud energy. He came back sweaty and ecstatic.

“Mama, mama,” he said tumbling in the house.
“Yep.”
“I’m going to ask Santa for a four-wheeler.”
“Oh?” I grinned. “You’d better tell him to bring 22-acres with him too. There’s nowhere to ride a four-wheeler at our house.”
“OK, I’ll ask.”
“I don’t think it will fit in his bag.”
“But Mama? Maybe Santa can have someone else drop it [the land] off, and then he can bring the four-wheeler.”
“You can always ask.”

More and more lately, I have noticed that Mateo wants both me and his independence, a complex need that we have been sorting out in increments. Still there’s this complicated mix of teaching Mateo to ask for help and letting him just go for it. When we stopped at my friend’s place just off Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mateo made himself home in the wood-covered lot. He scrunched himself up the house-sized granite boulders.

“Do you think I can get down that way?” Mateo pointed down what appeared to be the equivalent of a straight-edged cliff.
“I think you might. If you miss, it will hurt. It’s your choice.” This is standard refrain when I’m unsure.

Mateo peered over the granite face before heading back down the same way he’d come up. I never know what he’ll decide. Thus far his biggest injuries have been scratches and bruises. It probably works this way because of two reasons, he actually does have a pretty good handle on his limits and I won’t let him do anything that seems like sure death. I really like this natural check-in process he has developed. I feel safer because of it, so I continually push all our boundaries, the adult comfort and the child’s will. He has done these new things alternating between wild abandon and mild trepidation.

I watched for a few minutes. “Don’t kill yourself,” I told him before I walked into Seth’s house to sort our laundry.

After two weeks, we finally reached Quincy, a town of 6,000. My neighbor offered him the use of any of their bikes, a balance-bike without petals, one with training wheels or a two-wheeled bike. To my surprise, Mateo picked the big-boy bike.

Last year, he’d tried to learn to bike on our gravel driveway in Kentucky. It had been a hot late spring day. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing, me teaching him to learn to ride without training wheels or him learning. I only vaguely remember learning how to do this. I might have been five or six, no helmet, no knee or elbow pads, just a pile of dusty skin and determination. I’m sure my brain had been flooded with all those confusing chemicals that told me to be excited and afraid.  I’m sure there was blood and Band-Aides before the triumph. Mateo wore full riot gear including wrist guards. When he pushed down on the petal, Mateo lurched sideways and threw out his leg to try to catch himself. He missed. I missed. The red bike landed on Mateo. He wailed. I pulled him up.

“Let’s try again.”
“I can’t.” A small sweat droplet slid down the back of his jaw where one day he’ll sprout facial hair.

I’m not sure what had changed since last year, but now Mateo gets up when he crashes. He still blames me for the falls, but I see that as progress. He told me that I’d held on too long or not enough or … Truth be told, I didn’t’ mind, because his words guided me as I tried to help him find his balance.

“You’re pulling me,” Mateo said in a soft, frustrated voice. I had been running beside him in a sports bra, holding onto his bike with one hand and the shirt I’d stripped out of earlier with the other. At the end of the day, I found myself covered in a dust bath and Mateo able to ride a bike. By the second day, he was a pro.

In many ways, this little rite of passage opened up both our worlds. He wanted to ride to the end of our road, so I let him alone. When Mateo came back, Eli, a six-year-old from the corner, tagged behind him riding an oversized pink bike, his fresh crew cut covered by a bright yellow dirt bike helmet. Book-ended by two single mom’s, who live down the street from each other, these two boys disappear for hours now, somewhere in the expanse between our house and Eli’s. My neighbor’s two grandkids, both boys, have recently joined the fray. As I wrote this, I could hear them urgently creating story lines where their bikes become race cars, horses and Ninja Turtle dirt bikes.

Kids do not have as much freedom to roam today, for a number of reasons. Some families live in areas with high crime rates; schools are farther away; traffic seems more congested and quite frankly our society’s perception of risk does not align with reality. A  University of New Hampshire research center report published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that the rate of crimes against children dropped between 2003 and 2011.[i] As cited in a 2007 Pediatrics’[ii] article, several studies has shown that unsupervised and child-driven play enhances imagination, resiliency and confidence, as well as teaches negotiation and decision making skills.  I can see these things in Mateo. Somehow we have negotiated the boundaries that feel safe to both of us, and this has allowed him to center himself more in this world and himself.

The night Mateo learned to ride his bike, I typed as he related the story to me. He described his fear and new-found confidence.

“I had trouble. Sometimes I couldn’t really start myself. Then my mama helped me, so I thought I could do it and I did. Mama held the back of my seat. Then when I said I was ready, she let go, and I could do it.”

Mateo Bike
Mateo riding his bike.
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[i] JAMA Pediatrics. April 2011.Trends in Children’s Exposure to Violence, 2003 to 2011 David Finkelhor, PhD; Anne Shattuck, MA; Heather A. Turner, PhD; Sherry L. Hamby, PhD

[ii] Pediatrics January 2007, VOLUME 119 / ISSUE 1 The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Kenneth R. Ginsburg. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182

Preparing for Summer: Youth-Friendly Activities

By: Danielle White, Executive Administrative Assistant, National Safe Place Network

As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to find opportunities for keeping youth engaged during the summer months. As we all know, relaxation can be fun, but it’s only a matter of time before boredom kicks in. Chase away the mid-summer boredom blues with some of the activities listed below and be sure to let us know how much fun you have!

Make your own ice cream: Beat the heat with homemade ice cream—no fancy machines required! Find out how here: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/cooking-activities-recipes/make-your-own-ice-cream

Create a variety of flavors in under 30 minutes and then add toppings for homemade sundaes. If that sounds like too much exertion in the heat of summer, try popsicles instead (http://www.myrecipes.com/kids/healthy-kids/homemade-popsicles).

Explore local activities: Find community partners to sponsor zoo or museum trips or get tickets to the local fair. Check out your community’s free festivals and other summer activities (but be sure to provide adequate supervision)!

Grill out: Who doesn’t love a cookout?! The possibilities are endless—burgers, hot dogs, brats, grilled veggies, and more! Don’t forget the ice cream and s’mores for dessert! Bonus points if you have a campfire and live music.

Competitions: Bring out the competitive side of your young people. Field days, mini Olympics, basketball/volleyball/badminton games, Top Chef style competitions, and more will keep the youth in your program active and engaged. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone!

Arts & crafts: Tie-dye, chalk, paper mache, balloon animals, painting, drawing, and so much more! There are crafts for every interest and skill level. Give your group a theme or just let them do their own thing. More ideas here: http://www.babble.com/home/10-awesome-summer-craft-projects-for-kids-teens/.

Fireworks: Fireworks are an iconic summer activity. Grab some discounted fireworks for the Fourth of July and go to town! Just be sure to discuss firework safety before the fun begins (http://www.fireworkssafety.org/safety-tips/).

Game night: Game night is fun for everyone. Board games, card games, video games, and more make for an easy and entertaining night! Snacks are a must.

Learning is fun: Help fight summer brain drain by engaging in educational activities. There are plenty of science experiments that can be done with household objects (http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/HomeExpts/HOMEEXPTS.HTML). Games like Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit, and others will teach new information in a fun environment. If your community has a zoo or other animal-related activities, those can be great learning events. Be creative and remember that learning is fun!

Book club: Keep young minds active during the summer months with a book club. Not everyone wants to spend their time off reading, so keep it fun with movie tie-ins like the Divergent or Hunger Games series or The Fault in Our Stars. There are plenty of movie adaptations being made all the time, so take advantage of them and watch the movies as part of the discussion.

Movie night: Get tickets to a movie theater or a drive in. If those aren’t an option, host your own! Bonus points for using a projector and having an outdoor movie night. Don’t forget the snacks!

Cook together: Choose a theme for the week and learn how to make different parts of the meal each night. At the end of the week, have a feast! For Mexican week, each night could be homemade tortillas, tacos or taco salad, enchiladas, nachos, homemade salsa and guacamole, and dessert. Make each part of the meal on a different night and watch it come together!

Garden: Plant flowers and/or vegetables. Let youth have a say in what is planted and encourage them to tend to the garden regularly. If you grow vegetables, be sure to use them in the kitchen.

Go swimming: Find a local pool to donate swim time and lifeguards for a pool party. Be sure to bring snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and good music. Water parks with diving boards, slides, and wave pools kick the party up a notch! This is also a good time to go over basic water safety (http://www2.redcross.org/services/hss/tips/healthtips/safetywater.html#general).

Whatever you do to beat the heat, have fun, stay safe, and let us know how it turns out! We love to hear about all the fun that NSPN agencies have.

Time for a Brain Break!

It’s Tuesday and it’s been a while since we have shared a Brain Break with you. We get it… Brain Breaks can be “Downright Distracting”! BUT who doesn’t need one every now and again? You can do a number of things while taking a Brain Break!  Brain Breaks can be energizing, social, productive, they can even benefit your career!

“Take Five” and check out these 51 things to do when you need a break at work.
https://www.themuse.com/advice/take-five-51-things-to-do-when-you-need-a-break-at-work

Remember when you were a kid and you used to stare at optical illusions?  Ok, well maybe you still do… we won’t judge because quite frankly, we do too!  Here are some fun illusions that might help relieve some stressors of your day.  Go ahead, take a brain break! You deserve it.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/samjparker/optical-illusions?sub=2170023_1108271#.naA0Ppvny

Ain’t got time for that? (Because of March Madness of course!)  Check out some fun March Madness party ideas!
http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/holiday—celebration-recipes/march-madness-party-ideas-with-game

We hope you enjoyed this Brain Break today! Don’t forget to pop back by NSPNsights and check out some useful information we actually write about and post.  We have some exciting topics coming up and even some awesome guest bloggers! 

It’s time for a Brain Break!

On NSPNsights, we are excited to provide you with a “Brain Break” from time to time. Brain Breaks can be fun tips, trivia questions, games, recipes, or the like. Today, we have a recipe from our new Director of Research, Education and Public Policy – Katie Carter. We look forward to “serving” you lots more Brain Breaks!

NSPN Brain Break

 

Any Fruit, Easy Summer Cake – This Brain Break was brought to you by: Katie Carter, National Safe Place Network – I love cooking and reading about cooking. I gobble up food blogs and new recipes as a hobby. I came across the recipe (from Big Girl Small Kitchen at ow.ly/zRO2d) after a weekend of overly enthusiastic fruit-shopping and a lot of cherries to consume. The wonderful thing about this recipe is you can make it using just about any fruit and nut combinations. Enjoy!