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Parents, protectors of the Earth

hand holding small earth

The experience of having a child brings with it an intuitive sense to protect our children from harm. This sense brings with it a set of shared actions that most parents engage in to protect their babies from the outside world. We educate ourselves on the latest and greatest baby-proofing devices. We stand in grocery store aisles reading long lists of ingredients on the backs of boxes. We survey our doctors, friends, and family members to learn about their experiences as a parent to get advice on what to do, and what not to do. We do all of these things because we want our child to be safe and healthy. But, what are we doing to keep the physical world in which they will grow up in healthy?

In the same way that we instinctively try to protect our children, we also must find ways to protect earth from the damage caused by human-made waste. Becoming more aware of how we can reduce our own negative impact on the environment, and remove the waste that we produce in our world will help. This awareness can help our children to understand the role that they can play to help our earth recover from the waste that today’s generation and earlier generations have produced.

It is our responsibility to make our earth healthier, safer, and a cleaner place for our children as well as for the other inhabitants of our planet. Let us thank Mother Earth by becoming good environmental overseers of her.

Some of the ways that new parents can help earth recover from the debris that comes along with having a baby include the following actions.

  • Reduce your use of disposable products
    • Sustainable Baby Steps offers a great set of suggestions in “Over 35 alternatives to plastics
    • Consider using cloth diapers versus disposable ones. A great place to learn more about this change is from Mama Natural.
  • Reduce your refuse impact
    • One quick and easy way is to stop using plastic bags. Invest in reusable tote bags for groceries and other carriables.
    • Check out the article “15 Ways to Reduce Landfill Waste” by Conserve Energy Future to see how you can lessen your load of garbage in landfills.
  • Reuse everyday items
    • Handing down baby clothes and toys to a friend or family member is a great practice that helps reduce your negative impact on the environment.
    • You can make baby toys from everyday household items with this article from Pathways.org.
  • Recycle
    • Recycle Nation lists 15 recyclable baby items.
    • Bright Horizons has some great answers on how to recycle baby bottles.
    • Visit your local recycling center to find out what you can and cannot recycle. If you live around Beaumont Royal Oak, your city may be a member of SOCRRA.
    • Looking to recycle a particular item? Earth911 lets you enter your zip code and material to be recycled to help you find a place that collects it near you.

– Lisa Ball is an intern with the Beaumont Parenting Program. She’s pursuing a degree in social work.

Helping our youth, protecting our future

small brown hand in a large white one

Times are changing and youth violence has become a very serious issue in our communities today. Research has shown the following:

  1. In a nationwide survey of high school students, 6 percent reported not going to school on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey because they felt unsafe at school and/or on their way to and from school.[1]
  2. In 2015, 485,610 young people ages 10 to 24 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained due to violence-related assaults.[2]
  3. On average, 13 persons between the ages of 10 and 24 are murdered each day in the United States.[3]

These facts are sad but true.

Preventing violence/trauma at home could be a key to its prevention outside of the home. Youth who are raised in a home environment that doesn’t promote healthy youth behavior and relationships tend to become a risk factor to others and to themselves. Furthermore, youth who are exposed to neglect, abuse and other risk factors are predisposed to later-life health and well-being concerns. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), through Kaiser Permanente, performed the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.[4] This study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. Ultimately, the study showed a strong correlation between exposure to abuse or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults.

The definition of “youth violence” is when young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years intentionally use physical force or power to threaten or harm others.[5] The CDC named many evidence-based prevention tools that have shown positive effects for preventing youth violence when implemented. These tools include, but are not limited to, the following:

Furthermore, the CDC outlined programs that are beneficial in helping individual families focus on goals. These programs specifically focus on areas that strengthen economic supports to families, change social norms to support parents and positive parenting, provide quality care and education early in life, enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development, and intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk.

In our own community, groups such as the Beaumont Hospital Parenting Program, help prevent violence/trauma at home by providing individual family support, parenting classes and single moms groups to help address and prevent negative concerns at home.

Continuing our advocacy and protection of our youth should continue to be a priority because we all are aware that our children are our future. In the words of author Cindy Thomson, “hunt the good stuff.” I encourage you—along with your family and children—at the end of each day, to think of at least three good and positive things that happened that day. This is helpful because, as Cindy Thomson described, if you hunt the good stuff you will find it, you will bring others to it and you will lessen the pain of the bad stuff.

– Charla E. Adams, J.D., NCC, LLPC, is a former intern with the Beaumont Parenting Program. In addition to being an attorney, she is a couples counselor, teaches Love and Logic parenting classes and is an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing clinician.

Sources referenced:
[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance—United States, 2013. MMWR 2014;64 (No. 4)1-172.
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online].  National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). 2013.
Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html(https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html). [Accessed 2016 March 01.]
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online].  National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). 2013.
Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html(https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html). [Accessed 2016 March 01.]
[4]Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults,” published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998, Volume 14, pages 245–258.
[5] David-Ferdon, C., & Simon, T. R. (2014). Preventing youth violence: Opportunities for action. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/opportunities-for-action.html(https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/opportunities-for-action.html).;
and
Dahlberg, L. L., & Krug, E. G. (2002). Violence: A global public health problem. In E. G. Krug, L. L. Dahlberg, J. A. Mercy, A. B. Zwi, & R. Lozano (Eds.), World report on violence and health (pp. 1-56). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

Kindness counts

"be kind" in chalk

Sunday marked the beginning of “Random Acts of Kindness” week. Knowing it was coming up, I decided to run a two-week experiment in our household; I’ve heard it takes two weeks to make something a habit.

Our family dinners always include a report of the day by each family member. My husband and I ask our kids to share a banana split (something good about their day) and a banana peel (something hard). A few weeks ago, my husband decided to also ask the kids, “What was something kind you did for someone today?” In theory, this was a great idea! Unfortunately, we sometimes got side tracked by our banana splits/banana peels and forgot to follow up with the kindness question.

For the past two weeks, my husband and I recommitted ourselves to asking our kids every evening at dinner, “How were you kind today?”

Here are some highlights:

  • By the third night, the kids were reporting their kind act without being prompted by the adults.
  • The gestures progressed into more authentic acts of kindness as the two weeks progressed. For example, “I held the door open for my teacher” became “I asked John to sit with me at lunch because he looked unsure about where to sit.”
  • One act of kindness became several acts of kindness throughout the day.
  • By participating ourselves, we modeled a variety of kind acts and that encouraged our kids to show kindness in different ways (to a friend, to a stranger, to themselves, to a pet, etc.).
  • The kind acts began — and I use that term lightly 🙂 — to filter into the kids’ relationships with each other.

In our house, kindness counts. It’s a family value and now it’s become something we all practice daily.

– Andree Palmgren is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Westport, CT. She is also a mom to a 15, 13, 10 and 5-year-old.

Beaumont’s Big Brother – Big Sister Class

big brother holding baby brother

The Big Brother – Big Sister Class continues to be popular among families year after year. Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education department offers approximately one or two classes per month at Beaumont Royal Oak, Troy, and Grosse Pointe.

This lively, interactive class is designed for children ages 3 to 8 years old (although 9- and 10-year-old children are also welcome). During the class, your child will learn what new babies are like and how to prepare them for their new role as a big brother or big sister. We use dolls and an educational DVD to keep your child interested and engaged.

Your child will learn the day-to-day care that a new baby needs. Children also learn how they can help mom and dad when the new baby comes home. Safety is discussed and stressed to the young child. Hand hygiene is another component taught.

A parent joins the child for the class. As your child learns about his or her new baby sibling, we will share written information with you on how you can prepare your child for the new baby’s arrival and how to help the big sibling adjust to the newest member of the family. Techniques are discussed to help the sibling understand the normal range of emotions during this time of family transition and how to express these feelings based on their age.

The Big Brother – Big Sister Class should be taken approximately four weeks before your new baby arrives.

Click here for more information or to register for an upcoming session.

– Maribeth Baker, RN, LCCE, HBCE, Program Coordinator, Beaumont Health Prenatal and Family Education

More summer fun in metro Detroit

boy at splash pad

Cropped image. Matt Molinari, Flickr. CC license.

Earlier this week I shared some fun activities to do with your family, offering tips for families with kids who have special needs. That post featured new-to-the area ideas as well as some suggestions for a “Day in the D.”

Today, I’m focusing on other great options for a memorable summer in the metro Detroit area.

Quick reminder: If you have someone in your family with special needs, I suggest calling ahead to discuss your child’s needs and asking what accommodations, if any, can be made. If crowds are a problem, ask about the best times to come.

U-Pick farms

What’s the best way to get a kid to eat his fruit or veggies? Probably by picking them. Next time you’re at a strawberry field, look around, and most likely a number of the pint-size pickers will have berry stains on their hands and faces.

U-pick schedules in southeastern Michigan are generally as follows:

  • Strawberries: Mid-June to mid-July
  • Blueberries: Mid-July to mid-September
  • Cherries: Mid-June to mid-August
  • Raspberries: July and September
  • Apples: Mid-August to October

Read here for a list of local u-pick farms.

Take me out to the ballgame

  • Nothing says summer like a night at the baseball park. Creating memories at Comerica Park has to include an obligatory photo in front of the giant tiger statue in front of the stadium and a ride on the carousel and Ferris wheel. But the Detroit Tigers aren’t the only game in town.
  • If a Major League Baseball stadium is too overwhelming, there are other smaller and equally exciting baseball venues. Last year marked the inaugural season for the United Shore Professional Baseball League at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica. Each of the four teams is composed of top-level college athletes from around the country. Ticket prices start at $6 for lawn seats and go as high as $35 for front-row club seats.
  • Located a stone’s throw from the Michigan Capitol Building sits Cooley Law School Stadium, home to the Lansing Lugnuts. The stadium seats over 10,000 fans and is considered one of the most handicapped accessible stadiums in the country. The Lugnuts, a Class-A minor league team affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, have their own team song “Go Nuts” and a team mascot, Big Lug. Ticket prices start at $8 for lawn seats and go as high as $35.
  • Of course we can’t forget about the Toledo Mud Hens, a minor league team affiliated with the Tigers. Tickets prices start at $15.

Beat the heat

Tired of visiting the same splash pads each summer? If you’re willing to drive a little, there is no shortage of places to get wet.

  • KLR Splashpad
    • 2795 Seymour Lake Rd., Oxford Township
    • Non-resident fee $4
    • This is an inclusive park for kids of all abilities. Aqua wheelchairs are available.

Festivals

Festivals and summer are synonymous. Michigan weekends are packed with events centered around art, food, music and outdoor activities. Here is a comprehensive listing.

What are some of your favorite summertime activities?

– Jen Lovy, Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer

Summer fun in metro Detroit: Helping kids with special needs enjoy summer outings

boy in kayak simulator

Summertime in Michigan quite possibly makes the rest of the year in the mitten state that much more tolerable. The only downside to June, July and August is the fact that there aren’t enough days to experience all the local fairs, festivals and outdoor activities.

Venues such as Greenfield Village, the Detroit Zoo, and the area’s many parks and pools, are tried-and-true destinations but there are so many more ways to make the most out of what will hopefully be another glorious Michigan summer.

Since I happen to be the parent of a child with autism, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to accommodate my son while enjoying the next 11 weeks of vacation. Because this time of year can be particularly challenging for a child with a disability, included are some options and suggestions for kids like mine.

Today we’re focusing on activities that are new this area, as well as a fun “Day in the D.” Then, check back on Thursday this week for some other creative options!

New to do

  • Last year we saw the opening of several great family friendly venues, including the LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Great Lakes Crossing. The Detroit Zoo debuted the eagerly awaited Polk Penguin Conservation Center, and the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center brought a taste of the great outdoors to an indoor facility downtown.
  • This year, after more than a decade of planning, the much-anticipated QLine streetcar system along Woodward Avenue is finally open! Kids under 44 inches can ride free with an adult. A single-ride pass, good for three hours, costs $1.50 and an all-day pass is $3. Riders have easy access to the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Michigan Science Center, Comerica Park and Campus Martius Park.
  • What else is new? How about free movies at Emagine theatres? On select Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m., participating locations will screen popular kids films such as “Kung Fu Panda 3,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Trolls” and “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.” Admission is free for kids 11 and under and $2 for moviegoers 12 and up.
  • Need a sensory friendly film option? AMC Theatres offer the perfect venue on the second and fourth Saturday of each month with a family friendly movie. Tuesday evening movies offer options for more mature audiences. Participating Emagine theatres also have a lineup of sensory-friendly films for the summer.
  • Also relatively new, and unlike any place around, is Play-Place for Autistic Children. This 25,000 square-foot facility, located in Sterling Heights, houses a computer café, art studio, carousel, LEGO castle, laser light chalk room, calming rooms and so much more.

A Day in the D

In addition to a ride on the QLine, there is so much to do in Detroit. See why the rest of the nation is calling Detroit the comeback city.

  • The Detroit RiverWalk stretches several miles along the Detroit River. In additional to great views, there are plenty of places to explore. Highlights for the little ones include a splash pad, play park and river-themed carousel at Rivard Plaza. There, visitors will find a granite map of the Detroit River, a glass sculptured map of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the RiverWalk café, and Wheelhouse Detroit. This bike shop offers tours as well as bike rentals in a wide variety of bikes, including large tricycles (great for those who need an adaptive set of wheels) and kids bikes.
  • Also located at the Plaza is Diamond Jack’s River Tours, a company offering public tours and private charters along the Detroit River.
  • Elliott Park, located on the East Riverfront, features a Great Lakes themed play area with water cascades, cannons, wind chimes and other kid-friendly, interactive features. The newly renovated park was designed to be accessible to users of all ages and abilities.
  • When’s the last time you visited Belle Isle? There is so much to do on this 987-acre island. Here are seven things your family can enjoy during your visit.
  1. See the James Scott Memorial Fountain
  2. Visit the Dossin Great Lakes Museum
  3. Go to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
  4. Check out the oldest aquarium in the United States
  5. Swim at the Belle Isle Beach
  6. Ride the giant slide
  7. Enjoy the small, but free, nature zoo

A few general tips to an enjoyable summer include calling ahead to discuss your child’s needs and asking what accommodations, if any, can be made. If crowds are a problem, ask about the best times to come.

– Jen Lovy, Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer

Hair today, gone tomorrow

before and after pics of hair donation

Summer is at hand and it is, as they say, time to let your (long) hair down. And while you’re doing that, perhaps you’ll realize that having long hair is really quite sweltering in the summer. Maybe you’ll realize that chopping off the voluminous hair would be really quite refreshing. And perhaps when you realize that, you will consider donating those luscious locks of yours.

“Excellent,” you say. “I’ve heard of Locks of Love”. But wait! Did you know there are other organizations you could choose based on how much hair you have to donate and who you would like the intended recipient to be?

The three most often-used hair donation charities are Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids. Because Google is awesome and I use it to answer all of life’s questions, I used it for some research and found this table included in an article from Business Insider earlier this year (Jan. 6, 2017, to be exact):

comparing hair donation charities

I’ve donated my hair several times now. (I am pleased to report that doing so inspired my niece and my daughter to donate theirs as well!) At first I chose Locks of Love because, like you, I hadn’t heard of any other organizations.

After learning of the others though, I changed over to Pantene. Why? They take the smallest amount of hair; I’ll be honest, it’s really hard for me to have to the patience to grow my hair out enough to create a 10- or 12-inch ponytail. Rather, I have enough hair to create a 12-inch ponytail, but the resulting cut makes me look like Kramer from Seinfeld and that’s, well, not a look I care for. On me.

It’s not necessary to go to a participating salon for the haircut, but having it done at a salon is easier than doing it at home. At a salon, a stylist can section off the hair into ponytails of the required length and gather it neatly for you to slide into a zip-top bag for shipment. Then the stylist can style what’s left behind.

Hopefully you will enjoy the resulting look and the feeling of liberation. Chopping off all that hair is very freeing! But even if you end up looking like Kramer, you can rest easy knowing two things: 1) You helped restore the self-confidence of a woman or child going through a medical treatment who feels lost without hair, and 2) Your hair will grow back. And then you can do it all over again.

Who’s with me?

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and frequent donator of hair.


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