Category Archives: Tween/Teen

#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.

quandary-main-game copy

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.

SAMSUNG CSC

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.

nourish copy

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.

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

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

GAVIPoster copy

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)

 

 

 

 

 

Ensuring Every Baby Survives It’s #FirstDay ; Save The Children’s Report on Newborn Health

Ensuring Every Baby Survives It’s #FirstDay ; Save The Children’s Report on Newborn Health

baby copy

When my first baby was born and handed to me all cleaned, and swaddled I looked up to my Doctor to ask “can I kiss her?” He laughed and said, “yes, she’s yours, you get to take her home”. Suddenly I was responsible for a life! Just like that!

Each time as a mother giving birth I was on edge waiting to know that everything is going to be o.k. Even for baby number four, probably more so for baby number four, since I was of “advanced maternal age”, I was worried. That was here. In the USA, with modern medicine and an ambulance at the end of a  911 call. You might be surprised to learn that despite all that we still fall behind 68 other countries in newborn deaths the first day of life. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? In developing countries however the numbers are far worse. Too many mothers are not getting the pre-natal care they need, and often birthing alone in unsanitary conditions.

The first 24 hours of a babies life are the most critical, and while advances in preventing child mortality have cut that number in half according to a new report out today from Save The Children, Newborn health still continues to lag behind in progress. The report states that nearly half of all deaths of children under five are newborns. The greatest tragedy is that most of these deaths are preventable.

save the children copy

In many rural communities there is a shortage of healthcare workers to aid in safe delivery. With community based healthcare workers in place, with the knowledge to resuscitate a newborn who is not breathing, and teach new mothers techniques such as breastfeeding and kangaroo care, newborn lives could be saved.

Save The Children is calling on both world leaders and private sector partners to join in what is being called the Five Point Newborn Promise in 2014 to save newborn lives. This plan calls to:

  • Issue a defining and accountable declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, saving 2 million newborn lives a year and stopping the 1.2 million stillbirths during labor
  • Ensure that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential newborn health interventions
  • Increase expenditure on health to at least the WHO minimum of US$60 per person
  • To pay for the training, equipping and support of health workers, and remove user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care
  • The private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, should help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions and increasing availability for the poorest to new and existing products for maternal, newborn and child health.

The new report, “Ending Newborn Deaths,” shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife.

newborn save copy

The Save The Children “Ending Newborn Deaths” Report

Read the full report and find out more about how you can be a part of the change by visiting the Save The Children to get involved.

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

global team

Ava Anderson; How A 14 yr Old Is Revolutionizing The Cosmetics Industry

Ava Anderson; How A 14 yr Old Is Revolutionizing The Cosmetics Industry

AvaAnderson copy

GUEST POST BY LISA DAVIS

About 5 years ago I started hearing about Ava Anderson, a 14-year-old girl who at the time lived right in my town of Barrington, RI. She, along with her parents, created a skincare line called Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. The reason Ava decided to make these products herself was that everything she was finding on the market contained harmful chemicals that were unsafe to use.

I recently spoke with Ava’s mom, Kim, and asked her a few questions about Ava and the history of the company. Kim imparted to me the story of how Ava watched a news segment one night in 2009 that exposed how many toxic chemicals are in teenage girls’ bodies from the products and makeup they use (there were hundreds). Ava was so horrified by what she saw that she immediately went through her home and threw out all of her personal care products. When Kim realized everything had been thrown out, she said to her daughter, “I support you in this, but I cannot leave the house without lipstick and deodorant!”

Ava even started a blog that soon had a thousand followers, in an attempt to recommend safer products for people to use.  But to her dismay, there were almost no safe products on the market. Everything contained chemicals of concern. And why were 1,342 toxic chemicals banned in Europe and only 9 banned in the US?

Ava3 copy

Ava2 copy bear copyAva decided to create her own line of safe skincare that contained no harmful chemicals.  After the skincare line, they added the body care, hair care, and home cleaning lines as well. Now, the company is growing exponentially because people are becoming much more aware of and concerned about their exposure to toxins in their environment.  Their mission is not just to sell products, but to share the message of needed changes in chemical policy in the United States.

  Personally, the more I learned about the dangers of what we put on our skin and in our bodies, the more upset I got. Coincidentally around the same time my own skin had become increasingly unmanageable. No amount of facials, medicine, or costly skincare seemed to improve its condition.

When I switched to Ava Anderson products (that contain only organic botanicals) my skin looked and felt SO much better. I started using more of the Ava Anderson line of products (home care, hair care, etc.). I love them, the company, and how good my skin looks. And I love that it is good for myself, my family, and the environment. I believe in the products so strongly that I even became a rep for the product line, and I love the message of living toxin-free. If you would like to learn how to lead a healthy, more toxic-free life or to check out Ava’s products, you can visit my website.

Lisa Davis is a Biologist with a MA in Creative Writing, and a mother of three. She was recently selected by the United Nations Foundation as a Shot@Life Champion.Lisa copy