Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Do Not Stay Silent

Speak up, reach out, check in. 

Please, let your friends and family know that they are not alone, particularly this week when the world may be feeling dark, hurt-filled, and more dangerous than it did a few days ago.

Monday, June 13, 2016


Do what ever you can, what ever it takes, 
to help heal our country 
so that our children, and our adults, 
feel safe and are safe. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Capable Kids

"Nine-year-old Hilde Kate Lysiak is the sole journalist of Orange Street News, 
the only publication devoted exclusively to covering the events of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania (population 5,000). 
Hilde’s favorite beat to report on is crime, and she’s written extensively about vandalism, drug use, and harassment in Selinsgrove. 
Regular Orange Street News readers know that Hilde often covers serious subject matter that might seem incongruous with her age, 
but when the nine-year-old was the first reporter on the scene of a murder in Selinsgrove last weekend, 
some local residents were scandalized."
Read more Here.

Some kids like to play with dolls and have tea parties, some kids like to play soccer, some kids like to paint pictures, some kids like to play computer games, some kids like to climb trees, some kids like to report the news. Most kids like to do a bunch of different things. They may or may not end up sticking with some things, they may find something they love doing so much that it remains a passion for the rest of their life.
Our job, as parents, as adults, is not to tell kids what they should want to do, what they want to explore, or how they should be doing what they want to do; our role is that of a facilitator, cheerleader, and mentor. We can expose our children to a wide variety of experiences and opportunities, but we must follow their lead when it comes to what and how they want to take advantage of or explore those opportunities. Our job as a community, society, or world, is to support kids in doing what they are capable of doing, while accepting that different children are ready to do things at different times, while understanding that children's interests and abilities are unique and individual. When I was a kid my dad ran a summer camp with a huge swimming pool. Because I was there all summer, and I loved to swim, I was able to take advantage of the swimming lessons offered to campers. I quickly worked my way up through the levels, until I was told that I could go to the next level because I had to be twelve. It was disappointing, and frustrating. I couldn't take lessons and keep moving up. That was it for me. I didn't go back and pick up where I left off when I was old enough, I didn't keep swimming as anything other than something I did with friends and family. I didn't become a swim instructor when I was older, or a life guard. Now I don't even own a swimming suit that fits and the only stroke I can do with any sort of proficiency is the side stroke, though it's been years since I tried, so who knows. How might things have been different if I hadn't been told I was too young? Who would I be today if I had been encouraged to keep swimming? There's no way to know, but I do know that I stopped doing something I enjoyed because I didn't have support from the adults in my life. I hope that you will join me in striving to support kids in following their interests, rather than discouraging them from finding out how much they can accomplish and how capable they are.

"Who am I being that my children's eyes are not shining?"
- Benjamin Zander, from his TED Talk that you can watch HERE.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Project Dawn: The New Barbie Bodies

It’s true, I am one of those moms who never let her kids have Barbies. There were many reasons for that, for example: I’d never had Barbies growing up, I’d had The Sunshine Family, and so my kids didn’t have Barbies, they had The Loving Family. Barbie really wasn’t my style, I’ve always been rather rectangular in shape, no waist to speak of, and wearing high heels has never been my thing. As a parent I rebelled against toys with tiny parts, like the shoes that fit on Barbie’s permanently disfigured feet. And yes, I didn’t want my kids growing up thinking Barbie’s body was humanly possible, because we all know it isn’t. 

Yesterday the earth shifted on its axis. My oldest child posted a link to an article about the new Barbies on facebook and tagged me in the comments. Ever skeptical, I read the article, clicked a link to read another article, clicked on a video, and there I went down the rabbit hole. 

I have a petite child, a curvy child, and one who is still growing toward being a tall child. My kids have had their hair dyed a bright variety of colors. My kids love fashion in a way I never did. What a crazy day when Barbie has dolls that represented my kids! And not just my kids, but all sorts of other kids who look nothing like my kids. I’ll admit it, I thought it was awesome. My nineteen year old daughter asked if I’d buy her her first Barbie. The idea of a doll that resembled her was cool enough that she wanted one. She felt seen and represented. 

Isn’t that what we all want, in the media, in the world around us? To feel seen and represented? 

As it happens, yesterday, I also came across an article about Lego unveiling a figure that uses a wheelchair. I was reminded of how important it is for children to see themselves represented in the world around them, and that includes in the toys they play with. 

If a child who uses a wheelchair has a toy that represents them, it enables them to express and explore their life experience through play. It also helps them feel seen and validated. If a child has a friend, or sibling, who uses a wheelchair having a toy that represents their friend is also meaningful. 

Children want to look at a toy be able to say "It's just like me!" The "it's just like me!" feeling is particularly important to kids who rarely see themselves represented in the media or in available toys. And, as it turns out, there is an organization, Toy Like Me, that is working toward a better cultural representation of disabled kids world wide. 

You may not be a fan of Barbie, and you may hate stepping on Legos when you walk across a room in the dark, but I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the fact that more kids are seeing themselves represented in the world, even as we work toward expanding the options so that every child can have a toy that brings a smile to their face as they say, “It’s just like me!”