Giving Back

Posted by Amy Henry on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 11:53 AM

Looking for a great youth charity to give to before the year ends? Our YouthBeat team shared some of their top picks for charities that do good by giving to youth and family causes…

CCACC+R Research supports the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, an organization that provides support to abused children. You can also support this group in their mission, “Uniting public, private, and community partners to ensure the safety, health and well-being of abused children.”

Mary McIlrath, our youth and family qualitative expert, recommends Heartland Alliance. This organization advocates for human rights and responds to the human needs of the worlds’ most vulnerable populations. While their work extends beyond youth, we know that youth are disproportionately represented among those living in poverty, and that early childhood poverty can have lifelong effects.

Paul Metz of KidzEyes supports two organizations that help homeless families get back on their feet: DuPage Family Shelter Services and Bridge Communities.

Brenda Hurley of ParentSpeak volunteers her time with Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.  The charity is named for “Bear” (Barrett), who died at 8 yrs old of cancer. Before he died, he and his mother talked about starting a charity dedicated to eliminating pediatric cancer and to providing hope and support to those who are touched by it.  Brenda sets up “Bear Hugs,” which are customized experiences, like a weekend away or going to an event or show, for youth ages 0-19 who are going through cancer.  

Amy Henry, who heads up YouthBeat, appreciates two charities that tap into the transformative power of sports. Harlem RBI may be about bringing baseball to the inner city, but their tagline, “Play.Learn.Grow.,” show that they take mentorship and personal growth seriously.   

Grassroots Soccer “uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.” 

Finally, YouthBeat’s Rhonda Eviston reminds us that, in the face of events that can make even the strongest adults feel disempowered, there is a way to support the families of Newtown, CT by donating to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund (sponsored by the United Way of Western Connecticut).

Tags: tragedy, Youth, holiday, culture, trends

Just a Few Words

Posted by Amy Henry on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 @ 01:09 PM

We, like all of you, are simply heartbroken over Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We send our love and hope to the families and community affected by this event. The link below offers guidance and resources for talking to children about school shootings in particular and for dealing with stress and anxiety:

The Team at YouthBeat

Tags: Education, kids tweens teens, parenting

The Hidden Message Behind Holiday Cards

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 @ 09:52 AM

Holiday Family PhotosTis the season for many a holiday tradition – new and old. And while holiday cards are nothing new, the way we send them now is certainly different than in previous generations. According to the Greeting Card Association, approximately 50 million ecards are sent every year. And, despite anxiety that the many ways that this cohort of digital native uses to keep in touch might make a paper holiday card obsolete, more than 2 billion boxed and individual Christmas cards were purchased in 2011. But outside the box, more and more companies offer opportunities to customize cards to make them your own. Sure, one benefit of these cards is making it easier to send (upload your mailing list once and these services will save you a trip to the post office!). But more often than not, the holiday card lets today’s families say something about themselves. (Holiday style segmentation anyone?) And, since children and families are so central to this genre of self-branding and promoting, we thought we’d examine what families are really saying about themselves through their holiday cards…

  • “We’re still here!” Or, “we’re here!” Far from holiday greetings being replaced by a wink or a poke on a social network, a yearly check-in might be more important than ever for today’s mobile families. It’s not just a holiday hello, but an annual GPS that tells a broad circle of family and friends where you are and that you’re still seeking connection.
  • “We’re okay.” You know those letters that provide a topline summary of the year that was? They might be brag sheets for some…But they’re also ways to reassure and reaffirm that life is good. That college student whose living in the basement? He’s figuring out what makes him passionate. That unexpected illness? A life event that brought everything else in perspective. These narratives are not only stories to tell others, but ways to bring comfort to ourselves.
  • “Holidays are about home.” And of course, for families, there about the “Wondrous Innocence” that sociologists like Gary Cross suggest are indelibly associated with children and that special moment we think of when we think of Christmas morning. Whether your holiday style is matching sweaters, a casually chaotic snapshot, or a photo from a favorite moment of the year, they all remind us that between sleepless nights for parents of newbies, school slip-ups or pre-adolescent pouting, there are times when everything seems innocent and perfect.

Even with family-life more complex than ever before, the most conventional of holiday cards continues to feel relevant. Something about those check-ins challenges our notion that nothing is the way it used to be.

Tags: internet, parents, holiday, culture, trends