Happy Heart Health Month!

February is American Heart Month, which is meant to bring awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death.

Our Children’s Program Coordinators will complete heart healthy activities with children (and their caregivers!) at the Visitor Centers. If you’d like to see these activities plus many more, check out the education resource section of heart.org.

The American Heart Association website, http://www.heart.org, has information and resources for people of all ages. We encourage you to check it out and share with others.

Remember: 

Research shows that physical and emotional activities directly correlate. When you exercise, endorphins are released and you feel better emotionally. The opposite is also true! When you have a rough day, your body feels tired and broken down. Both affect heart health; for the most part, happier, more physically active people live longer!

Children’s Activities: November 2011

Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.

Preschoolers: Exploring My Pyramid for Kids

 Purpose: To expose children to healthy habits, including a balanced diet and exercise

Materials:

  1. My Pyramid sheet
  2. Butcher or Construction Paper in various colors
  3. Magazines
  4. Glue

Method:

  1. Create a wall sized My Pyramid. Be sure to proportion and label each section
  2. Converse with children about My Pyramid. Ask them what they see!
    1. What types of food go with each group?
    2. What are your favorite foods?
    3. What do the stairs represent?
    4. Why are some portions of My Pyramid larger than others? (MATH CONCEPT!)
  3. Give magazines to children to cut out food items and types of exercise (on-going project…does not have to be completed in one day)
  4. Give children their own My Pyramid to take with them

***Note: if a wall sized My Pyramid is not possible, refer to empty My Pyramid sheet

Result:

Preschoolers love bright colors and group participation. With an on-going project, they can see what their peers before them have charted. They gain an understanding about healthy body habits such as a balanced diet and exercise.

Aside from the nutrition aspect, this is an opportunity for math skills. They will analyze information presented on a chart, conceptualize a complex item as a whole and then as parts, understand symbols, and use thinking skills to categorize.

Teens: Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic

Purpose: To create an Emergency Plan in case of Zombie Apocalypse (or a hurricane, earthquake, etc)

Materials:

  1. Zombie Preparedness Comic
  2. Emergency Preparedness Checklist
  3. Pencils/Pens

Method:

  1. Refer teens to the Zombie Pandemic Comic
  2. Ask teens what their household’s Emergency Plan is
    1. If they have one, help them analyze it against the FEMA Checklist
  3. Give them an Emergency Preparedness Checklist sheet

Result:

The CDC created this campaign to raise awareness through a popular concept. The point is that ANY sort of emergency situation could arise and each household should have a plan on hand (just as each VC does). The goal is for a family to create and practice the plan together.

All Ages: Listening to Communicate and Barriers to Communication

Purpose: To discuss active listening techniques such as Open vs Closed Ended Questions and Paraphrasing

Materials:

  1. None

Method:

  1. Ask children:
    1. How do you know someone is listening to you?
    2. How does it make you feel when you feel listened to?
    3. How do you know when someone isn’t listening to you?
    4. How does it make you feel when you aren’t listened to?
  2. For younger children, try:
    1. Put on Your Listening Ears – Say dramatically “I have something important to tell you. Can anyone tell me what type of ears we need to wear in the museum?” When the  preschooler says “Listening ears” say “OK, let’s put on our listening ears. I think that mine are in my shoe (or some other funny place).” Then dramatically pretend to pull them out of your shoe and put them on. Have the preschooler find their listening ears and pretend to put them on. You can also do this with walking feet or inside voice. The trick is to be as silly and dramatic as possible. If your child forgets their manners during the situation whisper to them “You must have put your listening ears back in your belly button when I wasn’t looking. Let’s find them again and put them back on.”

Result:

Children will recognize active listening skills, which will improve communication skills with others.


Milk has an expiration date and so do your car seats

As you’ve seen lately, car seat expiration dates are quite a buzz. You might be wondering why this issue has come to the forefront suddenly, when expiration dates were a non-issue before.

Let’s set something straight…Everything has an expiration date, whether it is stamped with one or not. Fresh flowers wilt in a matter of days and pictures yellow over the years; even Twinkies only have a shelf life of 25 days! The point being, things change and erode over time.

I remember a time when I was 8 and I learned a hard lesson: don’t leave your MC Hammer Can’t Touch This tape in the car during the month of June. Why? Because it warped and cracked. Think about car seats; they are made completely of plastic and fabric, two things that break down in the UV rays.

Not only can the plastic become so brittle that it shatters and the Styrofoam so degraded that it doesn’t protect upon impact, but best practice and regulations change frequently, meaning that seat may become obsolete.

Wondering what the expiration of your seat it? Expiration and/or manufacture dates can be found on the bottom of the seat or in the owner’s manual. If you can’t find an expiration date, check for a manufacture date. Most car seats have a maximum life of 5 years, though calling the manufacturer is the best way to find out what their schedule is. All-in-one car seats can be a danger here, as children should be in boosters more than 5 years. Keep that in mind the next time you look at convertible car seats.

It’s also important to replace seats after an impact. Seats can become damaged during an accident due to force. California law requires insurance companies to replace seats that have been in accidents, regardless of age of the seat.

Friends Outside Seeks Helps for Kids this Holiday Season

Childhood should be a time of fun, warmth, security, exploring, learning and discovery.

Children with an incarcerated parent may experience stress, anxiety, and fear.  Their lives have been disrupted; many feel as if they do not live “normal” lives. For some children this will be the first holiday season without their parent; for some it will be one in a long series of lonely holidays.

Friends Outside knows we cannot fix all issues related to having an incarcerated parent but at the very least, we can brighten the holidays for a few lonely children.

In 2010, our sponsors brightened the holiday season for over 100 children. The Holiday Wish Program offers organizations and individuals an opportunity to bring some “normalcy” to a child’s life during the holidays. We nurture, support, bring joy, and give hope to children of incarcerated parents by providing gifts and the knowledge that someone cares.

If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring a family and brightening the holidays with food and gifts, please contact Maria T. Rocero at 209-955-0701 or mrocero@friendsoutside.org for more information or complete the Sponsor Form and return via mail, email, or fax.