Category Archives: Family

#QuandaryGame Teaches Ethical Thinking Skills

#QuandaryGame Teaches Ethical Thinking Skills
Sponsored Postquandary-captain-choice copy

Quandary:

a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

Kind of like what us parents face in the digital age our children are growing up in! I am loath to admit how much time my kids spend playing on their electronic devices. We truly try to limit their screen time, but it has become increasingly difficult as their games travel everywhere they go with their mobile devices. With four kids it’s like whac-a-mole redirecting them away from their screens. In the time it takes me to get one reading on the couch, one of the others has gone down the rabbit hole into cyberspace somewhere else. We understand that this is the culture our kids are growing up in so we use their screen time to our advantage as much as we can. On the weekends for example, while our rules drastically limit video games during the week, the kids can play all they want on weekend mornings if they let us sleep in!  I am also always on the lookout for games that are educational or enriching as alternatives to the many mind numbing ones out there.  Research shows that well-designed digital games can be effective learning tools, and that they can be especially effective in the development of social and ethical skills.

I was thrilled to learn about and try the 2013 Games for Change Game of the Year award winner Quandary out with my kids when we were asked to do a review. Now here is a game that I can support as a parent! I actually think it could be great in a classroom setting as well.  Quandary was designed to reinforce the learning of new skills as opposed to knowledge. Specifically, ethical thinking skills, the type of learning that, as a parent, I hope will last a lifetime. The game provides a learning experience that assists players in reasoning and understanding ethical issues. When kids learn how to approach situations with the type of reflective attitude they need to play the game of Quandary, they learn how to tackle important decisions in life by weighing the possible outcomes.  While playing Quandary with my kids I watched them make decisions based on hearing facts and opinions from the community members in the game.

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It was no surprise that my 13-year-old son tore through the three levels as I assisted my 9 year old through the scenarios, and prompted him to think things through along the way. I liked the challenge the free online game presented my kids in taking in and considering concepts or statements, and then responding to feedback from other characters in the game. In playing the game multiple times and making different choices along the way, they could see how the the outcomes for the planet could vary.

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The Quandary player is a member of a new human colony on a far away planet.  Players shape the future of their new society through dealing with the ethical issues and challenging situations they come up against. There are no clear-cut right or wrong answers, but there are consequences for each decision made. those decisions impact the player, their community, and the environment of the planet, so although players are able to exhibit free choice, it comes with a responsibility. The scenarios presented to the player in the Quandary game support two core ethical thinking skills; perspective taking that gives players understanding of others beliefs and preferences, and critical thinking which is associated with ethical reasoning.

Perspective taking is something I am constantly trying to reinforce in my kids, I think it is tough to do, and personally credit years of travel to very different parts of the world with helping me view things through different lenses. We can’t exactly travel the world with our kids right now, but playing Quandary is a good place for them to begin to hone those skills that will help our kids cope with the world as they grow up.

We can’t wait for new episodes of Quandary to come out now that we have been through all three levels that exist so far (with different outcomes I may add). Meanwhile when my kids ask if they can play a game online I love that I am armed with an option where I can say “yes”, and feel good about it.

Follow #QuandaryGame on Twitter & Facebook for information and fun updates and try the game.

 This is a sponsored post, but as always all opinions are my own or those of my children.

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women
Photo by Bob Packert

Photo by Bob Packert

These days I’m walking around with a tightness in my chest. The feeling that something is missing that stays with me all the time. A very slight deep underlying melancholy, and I hope every mother gets a chance to feel this way at some point.  It sounds cruel, I know, to wish this on others, but my post on Mamalode today explains why I do.

On my trip to Ethiopia this past summer to report on newborn health with the International Reporting Project, and through the work I do with the local non-profit Edesia that nourishes children around the world, the theme of #Nourish struck a chord with me. Especially at this moment in time when my own baby was going off to school as a teenager for the first time. I realized that as mothers this is truly our ultimate goal, to see our children grow up to be healthy and happy and productive. At the same time this is the most difficult part of motherhood. The letting go.

I can not grow a garden, though lord knows I’ve tried, and each of my houseplants clings tenaciously to life each day, but somehow, someway it seems, I grew a human. And I am amazed.

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Source: Mamalode

I am honored and  thrilled to be published on Mamalode today as part of the #nourish theme sponsored by the ONE Women & Girls campaign. My travels to Ethiopia mentioned in the post were with The International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship this past June.

#MakeWomenMatter

#MakeWomenMatter

She would never tell her family. They could never know.

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I was amazed that the young woman was brave enough to tell her story at all.

With a teary smile she explained that she was telling us because she was just so happy that her life was not over as feared.  She was just so relieved to have found someone to help her.  The week before she had called her friend to say goodbye. Read the rest of this entry

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

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Our pediatrician explained that the reason the Whooping cough outbreak was happening with the 10, 11 & 12 year olds in our town was because it was right around the time those kids were due for their booster shots.  Pertussis, known as the Whooping cough for how it sounds, is highly contagious, and presents as a persisting cough in older children and adults, but it can be deadly to babies. Pregnant women at risk of exposure are advised to be vaccinated against it.  The outbreak in the schools in my town were just another reminder to me this year of how fortunate we are to have access to vaccines that protect our children from such harmful viruses.

Shot@Life Champion

The author advocating on capitol hill in 2013

As a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion I advocate for global vaccines year round, but seeing vaccine preventable diseases popping up so close to home this year reinforces my mission to spread awareness to other moms here and abroad.  Less than an hour from where we live there was also recently a measles outbreak.  In the year 2,000 measles had been declared eliminated from the US, but it’s back, and that is a scary thing for a parent.   Measles is a highly contagious disease, and in other areas of the world it is still one of the leading causes of death in young children.   According to the CDC the past two years have seen the largest measles outbreaks in the US since the year 2,000.  Communities choosing not to vaccinate are opening this country up to a resurgence of diseases that we have previously worked very hard to eliminate as risks for our children.

There are countries where vaccines are not widely available, as they are here, and mothers will walk for days with their children, and wait in long lines to get their kids vaccinated. Those mothers know first hand the deadly risk of not vaccinating their children, they see it every day. In fact every 20 seconds a child dies in this world unnecessarily from a vaccine preventable disease.  We are fortunate enough to have access to vaccines in this country to protect our children from most of these diseases, yet with that security comes complacency and the urgency to vaccinate gets lost on some.  What those parents need to realize is that their choice not to vaccinate their own child, unwittingly puts all other children at risk.   One case of measles can quickly spread to 20 to 40 more cases, and can be deadly to some.

It is not just about keeping our own children healthy; vaccines have proven to be the best investment in global health out there. By preventing disease through vaccinations governments can save billions of dollars on the otherwise repercussions of health care costs.  Healthy communities are more productive, which is good for the economy. A good economy prevents social unrest, which prevents global unrest. In other words, investing in vaccines and global health is in the best interest of us all, no matter where we live. Remember in this ever shrinking world every deadly virus is just one plane ride away.  That is why World Immunization Week matters to us all. My fellow Rhode Island Shot@Life Champion Lisa Davis and I visited Congressman Langevin’s office during #WorldImmunizationWeek to ask him to support global immunization programs.  You can let congress know how important funding global vaccines is to you and your family by contacting them here.

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Advocating at our congressional office in Rhode Island (Polio & measles are in our Congressman’s representative’s hands)

 

 

 

 

 

A Way To #HonorYourMom This Mother’s Day

A Way To #HonorYourMom This Mother’s Day
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Photo of my sister-in-law, my mother, and me.

Mother’s Day  is coming up on May 11th, and I have to admit that it brings a tinge of  bitter-sweetness for me.  My own mother passed away just three months before I first became a mother myself, so of course I think of her, and miss her on that day of the year more than all others.    I say just a tinge though, because the bitter of  missing her is nearly obliterated by the sweet immense joy, chaos, and love my own four children bring to me each day.  Still, for that reason Mother’s Day is an emotional one for me.  As anyone who has lost a parent knows, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how prepared you believed you were. It is an acutely felt loss, where the umbrella of the generation before you is closed, exposing you to the world in a new unsheltered way.  Granted I was an adult when she passed away, and so I am grateful for the thirty-three years of my life that I had her, I know how fortunate I am to have had that.

Children need their mother; they need their mother’s love and protection, the devotion above all else that only a mother gives.  I know I was blessed to have grown up with that, but I don’t think I knew how much I truly needed her until I gave birth to my own first child. Like most of us I had just lovingly taken for granted that she was there. Quite suddenly when I gave birth to my own daughter, I understood.  As a new mother I felt I needed her more than ever, really it was not that I needed her more, but that I wanted her more than ever.  It is impossible to register what your own mother went through with pregnancy, birthing, nursing, caring, and nurturing, the scope of physical, and emotional outpouring that motherhood demands, until you are in the midst of it yourself.

Photo by Michelle Amarante

With my own little people , Photo by Michelle Amarante

I can no longer express that gratitude to her in person, but I think, and hope that I did well enough when she was still alive. Instead I know that I can honor her by being the best possible mother that I can be to my own children. I try to pass on her legacy of love, and compassion.  That is why I think Samahope’s #HonorYourMom campaign resonates with me so deeply. It gives me the opportunity to honor my own mother while giving another mother the opportunity for her children to grow up under the umbrella of her love by providing a safe birth.  So if you are thinking about ways to #HonorYourMom that would be truly meaningful this Mother’s Day, check out the Samahope #HonorYourMom campaign page and see the beautiful tributes that have already been posted.  Here is how it works:

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1. Pick a photo of you & your Mom – Upload a childhood picture of you and Mom on the #HonorYourMom website, and write what makes her so amazing to you. (You can also add an Instagram video.)
2. Donate in your Mother’s Name – Make a donation to support safe births and life-changing medical treatments for other moms in need.
3. Your mother will get a gift she’ll cherish – A special dedication page is created for your mom, and she’ll get a personalized gift in the mail for Mother’s Day.

 

Those of us fortunate enough to know our mother’s love, and to be able to pass that on to our own children, can’t take those gifts for granted. Too many mothers still die in childbirth; too many children are forced to grow up without their mother.  This can often cause them to end up stuck in the cycle of extreme poverty. No mother should lose their own life-giving birth, and no child should have to grow up without their mother’s love. Samahope hopes to provide 1,000 safe births to mothers in need with the #HonorYourMom campaign. What better way to honor mothers everywhere this Mother’s Day.