Category Archives: Lifestyle

#QuandaryGame Teaches Ethical Thinking Skills

#QuandaryGame Teaches Ethical Thinking Skills
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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.

ORIGIN Magazine & The SOULSHINE Tour With Michael Franti

ORIGIN Magazine & The SOULSHINE Tour With Michael Franti

When I met the publisher of ORIGIN Magazine, Maranda Pleasant, at the Social Good Conference in New york City last October I never imagine that seven months later I’d be IN one of the issues of ORIGIN! OK, so this is my Mike Wizowski moment, and I’m merely a thumbnail on page 74, but I’m just so excited to be in the same magazine as Giselle (and not as a fashion don’t)!!

Yoga. Art. Music. Conscious Lifestyle. Humanitarianism. Sustainability. One Platform.

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The new issue just hit  newsstands nationwide , and highlights the SOULSHINE Tour with Michael Franti launching in June. The tour will be coming to a city near you, and it is going to be incredible. SOULSHINE brings music and yoga together like never before, and  I’m thrilled to be the Rhode Island Ambassador for it! When I found out I needed to submit a photo I immediately asked my talented friend Rebecca Stearns of Rebecca Stearns Photography to take it for me. Maranda asked each ambassador to answer the question;

What Makes Your Soul Shine?

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If you have ever experienced ORIGIN Magazine then you already know what a pleasure this high quality publication full of amazing content for mind, soul, and body is to dive into. Maranda Pleasant, pours her seemingly boundless passion and energy into every issue with features on all of the things I love to read about.   Topics such as social good, the environment, yoga, music, global issues, mind/body health, and art, are explored through interviews and stories with celebrities, and leading experts in their field. To me ORIGIN magazine is the evolution of what magazines should be, a vehicle for inspiration and positive impact in our lives and our world.

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*All photos courtesy of ORIGIN Magazine

#GlobalMoms at Moms+SocialGood in NYC

#GlobalMoms at Moms+SocialGood in NYC

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For the second year in a row I told my husband in advance what I wanted for Mother’s Day, it was the same thing I requested last year. My wish was not for a thing, but an impactful experience. My Mother’s Day gift was to help me coordinate, wrangle, and cover the needs of our four kids while I took two days away from home to attend what I consider the ultimate celebration of mothers.  Organizing my four kids crazy schedules for two days without me is a generous gift I assure you, as some of you other moms might understand. It is no small task.  That said, to be present at the Save The Children’s launch event of the State of The Worlds Mothers Report at the UN on one day, attend the second annual Moms+SocialGood conference the next, while spending quality time with my dear childhood friend in between, was the type of gift that fed my soul.

Posing with fellow Global Team of 200 member Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama

Posing with fellow Global Team of 200 member Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama

The Moms+SocialGood event celebrates the power we all have as mothers to change the world, and highlights the amazing actions extraordinary mothers are taking every day to do so.  It is the culminating event of the Global Mom Relay that has run for the past two months, passing the baton between stories and causes shared daily through social media. Johnson & Johnson generously donated $1 per shared post to support the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child Initiative. These donations will be used to help improve global maternal and child health, and welfare through the Girl Up initiative, Shot@Life campaign or MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action).

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New mom Olivia Wilde, Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

Held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City the Moms+SocialGood event was hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenterTM, The Huffington Post and the 92Y.  The day was filled with celebrities turned activists, like Padma Lakshmi, and new mother Olivia Wilde, and every day women turned heroes like Elizabeth Smart and Hlengiwe Lwandle. Hlengiwe, is a mother living with HIV, who avoided passing the virus on to her baby by taking anti-viral medication during pregnancy. She now mentors other HIV positive mothers with Mothers2Mothers.  All of the speakers and performers of the day use their voices to amplify their message towards meaningful change, and serve as examples of how each of us can make an impact.

Moms+SocialGood  highlights the role of social media, technology and philanthropy as a means for progress.

Padma Lakshmi, Endometriosis Foundation of America Co-Founder Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

Padma Lakshmi, Endometriosis Foundation of America Co-Founder Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

One of my favorite moments of the day came at the introduction, when Kathy Kalvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and Pat Mitchell President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media took the stage. Pat Mitchell immediately addressed the missing Nigerian school girls. She issued a call to action for social media influencers to keep the focus on the return of those girls, and not to let up until they return safely. Kathy Kalvin also opened by reminding us of the great progress that has been made so far in terms of maternal and child health, but there is much work still to be done.  She reminded us that we have many of the solutions, weather it’s vaccines or bed nets, we know how to solves the problems, we just have to get it done.

Speakers and panelists such as Kathryn Bolles, Director of the Health and Nutrition Global Initiative with Save The Children gave a stirring presentation on the important work they do towards saving moms and kids in crisis.    HRH Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan joined the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandra Hassink and Leith Greenslade UN Special Envoy on the MDGs on a panel on investing in mothers and newborns, and improving global health. Amazing panels continued throughout the day and included, moving performances by Saul Paul, and spoken word artist Sarah Kay:

They are all are worth watching, and you can do so via the Livestream videos that were watched globally during the event. Prepare to be inspired.

One of the last speakers of the day was Elizabeth Smart, activist and author who brought the day full circle by offering words of wisdom to the still missing Nigerian schoolgirls. She said that she would give them the same advice her mother gave her when she was rescued from her own abduction experience.

Elizabeth Smart, Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

Elizabeth Smart, Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

You can not be devalued by someone else, if you are abused you still have worth. It does not make them less in any way, it can’t destroy them.

Her message to them was hope for their futures.  Her message to society was to shatter that shame in loss of virtue idea that is so destructive. This is a crime that happens everywhere in the world and we should use our voices to make it an ongoing conversation until it ends.

Join the Global Moms Challenge of taking up action, using our voices for positive meaningful impact.

Happy Mothers Day!

Shot@Life Champions w/ President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandra Hassink

Shot@Life Champions w/ President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandra Hassink

Behind The Scenes Look At The Making Of A “Sexy” Ad Campaign

Behind The Scenes Look At The Making Of A “Sexy” Ad Campaign

Hey Fashionistas! This behind the scenes making of a “sexy” ad is eye opening t say the least !

 

#SOWM

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.

Langevin's office

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