#FindtheWords With Save the Children & A $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Setting Goals Quote

As the school year begins, too many children are already falling behind. I am 1 of 30 bloggers helping #FindtheWords with @SavetheChildren to raise awareness of the need for early childhood education for all kids. I am participating in this social media campaign to highlight 30 words in 30 days—to symbolize the 30 million fewer words that children from low-income homes hear by age 3.

Save the Children provides kids in need with access to books, essential learning support and a literacy-rich environment, setting them up for success in school and a brighter future. Learn more about Save the Children’s work in the US and around the world: http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6153159/k.C8D5/USA.htm

Walking hand-in-hand with my girls into their bustling school buildings last week, we were engulfed in the happy orchestra of welcomes and hellos from teachers and friends. At 9 and 12 they have goals for the school year, whether it be acing a project or a test.

Growing up my mother encouraged me to do and be whatever I set my heart on. The importance of making, and achieving, goals was emphasized my entire life. Now that I’m a mom I try to be a voice of encouragement to my girls. Even before my girls were born I spoke to them, placing my hand on my belly and telling them how much they were loved and what a wonderful world they would experience when they they were born.

My girls are lucky to have a voice and to grow up in a household where their voice matters. They have peers and mentors, teachers and role models, all encouraging them to dream big and live big. My 7th grader is already talking about college and asking me questions about career choices. My 3rd grader is also genuinely curious about school and career and making the right decisions.

I was honored when Save the Children asked me to be part of their #FindtheWords campaign and write about goals.

Not hearing 30 million words by age 3 puts kids lower-income at a disadvantage from the start. Early childhood education is an advantage that every kid should be able to access.

Domestically, if all children had access to early childhood education, we would see a growth of $2 trillion to the annual gross domestic income within one generation

Young children who receive high-quality early education from infancy to age five do better in reading and math [Source: http://www.ounceofprevention.org/about/why-early-childhood-investments-work.php].

Early childhood education can help kids reach their goals in school and beyond.

To me, goals and hope are synonymous. Goals are the belief that you can attain bigger and better things.

Last year I traveled half-way around the world last year to the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, one of the largest slums in the world. Despite the overwhelming poverty and adversity, the teen girls I met who had never once stepped foot outside the slums still had goals. These girls dreamed of being business owners, doctors, lawyers, teachers. They did not let their meager physical surroundings define them. They were determined, not discouraged.

Don’t ever stop setting goals. For as long as we have goals, we have hope.

Save the Children Words

I’d love for YOU to participate in Save the Children’s #FindtheWords campaign and by doing so you could win a $100 gift card. Snap a picture when you see the word goals while you’re out and about, or surfing Pinterest, reading your favorite blog, book or magazine, or take a selfie that defines the meaning of goals for you and post the image or quote, etc., to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Tag your post with the hashtags #FindtheWords #goals and leave a comment here with a link to your post. (One entry per person, please!)

I’ll select a winner at random from all #FindtheWords #goals images posted to social media by midnight CST Sunday, August 17.


Kids And Pets: Friendship, Fur, and Fun

C and Z

If you know me and my family very well at all you know that our three dogs are a special and significant part of our lives. We have two awesome elder male dogs, Jack and Dapper, and one younger female dog, Zoey. Each one of our dogs is a pedigreed mutt and each one has their own distinct, and delightful, personality. For as long as I can remember, pets have been part of my life (I grew up on a farm with an entire menagerie of animals and birds) and now my kids are experiencing the joys of pets. Our dogs greeted us at the back door when we brought our girls home from the hospital and our girls have grown up living alongside their furry siblings.

Pet ownership is not something to be entered into lightly, but letting a dog into your live can teach your child some wonderful life lessons.

wishing well logo

Head over to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Wishing Well Blog for my latest guest post on the joys of owning a dog!

YMCA and Wal-Mart Team Up To Fight Child Hunger

YMCA Walmart Fight Child HungerDisclosure: Sponsored post. I agreed to help spread the word as I think it’s a great program!

Waking up to a big plate of pancakes, enjoying fresh fruit on a hot summer day, and feasting on freshly grilled hamburgers – that’s most kids’ idea of a perfect summer. When school is out, many children are able to relax and enjoy three months of fun activities and full bellies. But for millions, hunger pangs are the coldest memory of the warm summer months.

More than 16 million children in the United States come from households who experience food insecurity – not having enough food to provide solid nutrition. That’s enough people to fill 845 basketball stadiums. For these children – and 15 million more who qualify for free and reduced-lunch programs – school lunches are the main source of nutrition, and when school is out for the summer, they no longer have daily access to meals.

Additionally, teachers are huge advocates for their students, with 10% purchasing food regularly for their hungry students. Many teachers also help families enroll in programs to secure food for their household, and direct them to resources that can help fill in the gaps that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) leaves. The USDA does its part in helping during the summer months by providing the Summer Food Service Program in schools around the country, but of the 30 million who receive free or reduced-cost lunches, only about 2.3 million continue to receive meals throughout the summer. That means a large majority of children are lacking basic nutrition on a daily basis, which can lead to mental, emotional and physical problems ranging from stomachaches to hospitalization.

The YMCA of the United States has long been committed to the health and well being of the children in our communities. This year, the Y has partnered with the Walmart Foundation to provide 5 million meals and snacks to more than 150,000 children and teenagers. The YMCA Summer Food Program is helping children and teens ages 5 to 18 in more than 1,000 communities nationwide by providing nutritious and delicious meals, the summer food program will provide activities and learning opportunities for these children to help them get their fill of food and fun during the summer.

Communities across the country are jumping into the Summer Food Program, providing meals for children in need. The Hopkins County Family YMCA in Madisonville, KY,  provide food from 44 sites, including 18 stops on 4 mobile routes. In Seatac, WA, home of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, the Summer Food Program is able to offer adults supplemental food through other programs, and helps get entire families engaged in summer fun. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis runs a summer camp program to not only help families find food for their children, but provide low-cost and free child care during the summer months. These are just a few stories from Y’s in the US.

To learn more or to find a Y in your community, visit the YMCA Summer Food Program website.

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