Preventing Bullying on the School Bus

About a third of students ages 12 to 18 in the United States reported being bullied, according to the Department of Education. Children who are bullied experience depression and anxiety, reduced self-esteem, changes to eating and sleeping patterns, and decreased academic achievement.

But the negative impacts of bullying don’t stop there. Bystanders who witness bullying are at increased risk of drug and tobacco use, have increased risk for depression and anxiety, and are more likely to skip school. Bullies are more likely to abuse drugs, engage in earlier sexual activity, drop out of school, and abuse their spouses, children and others later in life.

Bullying is a serious issue that impacts everyone involved. Addressing it early and working to create a bully-free environment can positively change students’ lives.

Where Bus Drivers Fit in to Stop Bullying

Bullying isn’t limited to the classroom or the schoolyard. Of those who reported bullying, 8 percent said the bullying took place on a school bus.

According to a survey of education support professionals (ESPs) by National Education Association (NEA), bus drivers consider bullying to be a bigger problem than many of their ESP peers. Bus drivers are more likely than other ESPs to witness bullying, and many said they witnessed it several times a month.

What’s more, even when bullying did not occur on the bus, bus drivers were 36 percent more likely to receive reports of bullying, from both students and parents.

Clearly, bus drivers have a significant role to play in creating an environment that does not tolerate bullying. And according to the survey, they’re ready to step up: 92 percent of bus drivers surveyed indicated they feel it’s their responsibility to intervene when they witness bullying.

And yet, while most drivers were aware their school districts had bullying policies in place, 56 percent said they had received no training on it. In fact, more than two-thirds of bus drivers expressed they would like more training on how to address various bullying scenarios.

NEA recommends bus drivers take advantage of online training courses, and ask their school district for training on current bullying intervention and prevention policies.

Here are some tips to set a foundation for a safe, bully-free bus:

Intervening with Bullying

  • Maintain an assertive and calm demeanor
  • Start with verbal warnings, using the name of the student doing the bullying
  • If the behavior continues, call the school or dispatcher to report it
  • If you feel you must, stop the bus to address the situation
  • Never argue with a student who is bullying, or try to convince them
  • Move affected students to new, safe seats
  • Talk to other school staff about the incident

Preventing Bullying

  • Establish a positive environment on the bus by being clear, fair and consistent about rules
  • Learn students’ names and get to know them (even students who bully). Introduce yourself to them so they know yours, too.
  • Notice when students do something positive, and recognize them for it
  • Submit positive bus referrals

Together, we can work toward a bully-free environment

Bullying is a serious problem that has serious consequences for all who are involved. But by working together to establish a safe and positive school experience for all children in every space they inhabit, we reduce bullying and work toward bully-free educational environments.

10 Healthy Living Tips For Winter Health

In winter, holiday spirits may be up, but general health tends to be on the decline. It’s not hard to see why—between the freezing weather, increased travel, and busy schedules, most of us aren’t making self-care a priority at this time of year.

But to get through the coldest months in good health, it takes a little extra effort. Keep yourself happy and healthy during the winter with these 10 tips:


  1. Boost your Vitamin D
    Vitamin D is known for its powers to bolster heart health, mental well-being, immunity, and even the condition of your skin. But as the sun gets scarce in winter, it gets harder to soak up this vital nutrient naturally.

You can take a supplement, but getting your vitamins naturally is best. One option is to eat more fatty fish such as wild salmon (farmed varieties pack less vitamin D punch). Or, look to improve your health by losing five percent of your body weight to get your body to boost your vitamin D for you. Exercising or lowering your cholesterol will also help you make up your winter D-ficiency.


  1. Get vaccinated
    There’s enough fear of needles that many are more afraid of getting the flu vaccine than they are of getting the flu. But consider this: In 2014 in alone, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated the vaccination averted about 7.2 million illnesses, 3.1 million doctor’s visits, and 90,000 hospitalizations.

If you’re afraid of needles, consider the nasal spray, which is just as effective with out the prick. And remember—getting the vaccine doesn’t just protect you, but it helps promote herd immunity, which protects everyone around you, too.


  1. Wash your hands frequently
    Winter is a season where people travel more, spend more time cooped up together, and immune systems are down. Washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself from getting sick or passing germs on to those around you.

Always use soap when washing your hands, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. If you want an extra line of defense between washes, consider an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


  1. Exercise
    It may be harder to motivate yourself to exercise in winter, but it’s especially important this time of year. In addition to the obvious fitness benefits, exercise can boost your vitamin D, keep your mood up, and strengthen your immune system.

So get up and hit the pavement in the morning. Or, wait for the rest of the family to wake up and hit the ice skating rink together.


  1. Eat a healthy breakfast
    Starting your day with a healthy meal can help stave off winter cravings—as well as the temptations of holiday parties.

A bowl of balanced carbs like oatmeal or porridge is especially good for winter, as it loads you up on healthy starches and fiber that can boost your energy while helping you feel fuller longer. Avoid sugar, and flavor your bowl with fresh or dried fruit and nuts instead.


  1. Make time to de-stress
    Winter, particularly the holidays, can be an especially stressful time for many. But it’s also the time of year that stress can hurt you the most, lowering your immune system and weighing down your mood even more than the cold weather alone.

To combat stress, take fish oil supplements (proven to reduce anxiety by up to 20 percent), be sure to give yourself downtime, and consider adding meditation to your regular routine.


  1. Stay hydrated
    Getting your eight glasses of water in each day can help address many of winter’s big health issues, from stress to fighting off disease, and even helps to keep your skin looking great.


  1. Consume more dairy
    Go-to dairy staples like milk, yogurt and cheese offer a strong foundation for winter health. Get your daily servings in for craving-stifling protein, bone-strengthening calcium, and a germ-battling army of vitamins and minerals.


  1. Fighting the holiday blues
    A lot of people get down during the winter months. Often, it’s simply hard for reality to live up to the romanticized holiday vision society builds up for us. On top of that, the end of the year prompts people to take stock of where their lives are—and where they’re not.

To lift yourself out of a case of the blues, focus on what you’re grateful for, take good care of yourself, and consider volunteering for a cause. Even better, plan a vacation. The anticipation has been shown to improve moods as far ahead as two months.

But if you suspect you suffer from clinical depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), talk to a psychologist.


  1. Catch up on sleep
    Though we’re supposed to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, most of us get an average six and a half.

But in the darker, colder months of winter, our bodies naturally crave more sleep than usual. Go with it, and let your body catch up on missed REMs.



A Little Self-Care Goes a Long Way

Winter is a season with its own set of challenges … from the stress of the holiday bustle to the latest round of the flu. But a little self-care can go a long way to keep you healthy all season long. Make the effort to stay healthy and you can enjoy all the fun winter has to offer.

Start Green Fundraising

Schools and non – profits have to raise money to keep themselves running. One tried and true way to do it is by selling products throughout your community. But the standard wrapping papers and cookies are not exactly green—or healthy. Besides, everyone else is pushing these same products too.

Instead, consider standing out from the crowd and extending the positive impact of each buy with environmentally friendly products.

These days, there’s plenty of eco-friendly twists on this traditional fundraising model, and options range widely, from chocolates to cleaning supplies to green equivalents of classic fundraising staples.


Take a look at these great green fundraising options:



Green fundraising company Nature’s Vision offers environment and wildlife-themed jewellery, along with a slew of other accessories, tees, and bags. Order using the forms and helpful promotional materials on the website, and collect a percentage of every sale you make.



Among its many product offerings, Greenraising offers a line of environmentally friendly personal care products. Just encourage your community to shop on the website, and designate your organization as the beneficiary of their purchases.



Treats can be guilt-free when they’re Fair Trade. Irresistible options include Divine Fair Trade chocolates or Grounds for Change Fair Trade coffee.


Wrapping Paper

If you want a more traditional fundraiser, take a look at Mother Earth Fundraising’s 100% recycled wrapping papers, gift bags and cards. Your loyal customers won’t even miss your old standbys.



If pushing products is not your organization’s style, you can still earn by taking environmentally friendly actions. For example, Terracycle lets organizations profit for collecting and recycling waste items such as empty product bottles, baby food containers, and much more. Earth Tone Solutions lets organizations profit for recycling empty printer cartridges.


Go Green, Make Green
With so many organizations in a constant battle for those fundraising dollars, a unique green product can help you stand out from the crowd, while offering an extra incentive to give. These are only a few great options for running your own green fundraiser—there’s plenty of ideas out there to meet any need. Get out there and take your organization green!

How To Thank Your Contributors

In a study of 50 nonprofits and 2 million contributors detailed by, as much as 70 percent of nonprofits had not followed up with contributors a month after their donation. Thirty-seven percent never even emailed a thank-you at all.

When your nonprofit sends a timely thank-you, it stands out in a compelling way. It also motivates contributors to develop a bond with your organization.

According to, 65 percent of first-time contributors never give a nonprofit a second donation. However, 80 percent of those one-time contributors said a prompt thank-you could have persuaded them to give again.

Those two simple words, “thank you,” are very powerful. But it’s not enough to know the value of a thank-you. How you thank contributors matters, too.

Here are some tips to make sure your thank-you’s to contributors resonates. 

  • Send a card
    When selecting stationery for a thank you note, get away from the organization’s letter template and opt for a card instead—it implies a personal message instead of a business one.
  • Use the person’s name
    This is another important way to be personal with your message. Avoid blanket terms like “donor” or “friend,” and use contributors’ names instead to show people that they matter to you.
  • Show the impact
    In your note, briefly share a success story or recent accomplishment the organization has reached to show how the person’s donation is making a difference. Put the spotlight on the contributor—they have made this accomplishment possible.
  • Extend an invitation
    Encourage the contributor to get more involved by inviting them to an upcoming free event or for a tour of the organization’s work site—but avoid anything that involves additional donations. You could also encourage them to follow you on social media. 
  • Acknowledge past gifts
    If a contributor has a history of giving to your organization, be sure to recognize that. It can be as simple as thanking the contributor for another gift, or you can get creative and show how the person’s cumulative donations have added up for a greater positive impact.
  • Sign from a specific staff member
    Sending a thank-you from an individual in a leadership position at the organization makes the note personal. 

Saying “thank you” to contributors matters—and so does how you say it. To keep contributors motivated to support your cause long-term, send prompt, personal thank-yous within a month of every donation. It’s not just a matter of savvy business practices—it’s also the polite and kind thing to do.

Relay For Life


The Relay for Life is a cornerstone fundraising event organized by the American Cancer Society. This overnight walk/run event is sure to challenge and inspire.

It’s also a great way to support the fight against cancer.

Relay for Life brings 4 million people together each year across 20 countries to fight against cancer with funds to promote awareness, research and treatment.

What to expect
Relay for Life is an overnight event, often stretching for 24 hours in total, and usually takes place on a running track. Teams work together to keep a representative walking or running on the track at all times during the event—because cancer never sleeps.

Meanwhile, participants and supporters camp out along the sidelines as they celebrate survivors, remember those lost, and fight back by raising awareness and funds for the cause.

Take a lap
Every Relay for Life event starts with three walks around the track. The first lap is a Survivor Lap—cancer survivors are invited to walk together around the track to celebrate that they have overcome the disease. For the second lap, caregivers for cancer patients are honored as they walk together. In the third lap, all team members are invited to take to the track to kick off the Relay together. 

Other traditions
The Relay for Life is more than a fitness accomplishment—it challenges and inspires. Throughout the night, teams and others support the walkers while partaking in family games, activites and entertainment.

One popular activity that often takes place during a Relay for Life event is a Luminaria Ceremony. During this nighttime activity, participants light candles and/or luminaria bags to remember those who passed away from cancer, as well as those who are fighting it now.

The event closes with the Fight Back Ceremony. During this closing ceremony, All team members take a final lap together, and pledge to take action to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, treatments and prevention.

Help fight back against cancer
With events in more than 5,200 communities all over teh world each year, Relay for Life raises over $400 million annually for American Cancer Society’s life-saving work to prevent and treat cancers of all kinds.

Are you ready to Relay? Find a Relay for Life event near you here.

Most Common Summer Allergies

most common summer allergies
Image by Alex Graves

For most of us, summer brings bright sun, hot days, and great times at the beach and neighborhood BBQs. But for some, summer can be prime allergy season.

To help you battle unwelcome stuffed noses, itchy skin, hives, and more, here are some of the most common allergies that aggravate people during the summer season:

1. Pollen
One of the most infamous allergy culprits out there, many of pollen’s worst perpetrators flourish in the summer. While in the spring pollen mostly comes from trees and flowers, in the summer, it’s from weeds such as ragweed.

If you’re allergic to pollen, you’re likely to experience symptoms including congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, and/or coughing at this time of year.

2. Stings & Bites
Bees, wasps and other bugs come out in this season. No one likes to get stung, but for some of us, a stinger can cause a much bigger problem than for others—for some, it’s life-threatening.

To reduce your risk, limit your time outside. Don’t linger outside with uncovered food, especially sugary ones like soda that will draw bees and other bugs in. Those with very serious or life-threatening allergies should carry a self-care kit (such as an Epi-Pen) at all times and wear a MedicAlert bracelet.

3. Mold
If your reactions kick in later in the summer or early into fall, the trigger might be mold. This summer-to-fall transition time is when some types of mold spore—in fact, it can be an even greater allergy issue than pollen.

Mold allergies trigger symptoms very similar to pollen—if you’ve got an itchy eyes, nose or throat; sneezing; or congestion, it could be a mold allergy.

4. Poison Ivy
Leaves of three, let it be—this helpful Boy Scouts mnemonic device can help you avoid poison ivy’s itchy and highly spreadable rash.

Reactions to poison ivy can be very tame or quite extreme, and can take from a few hours to a full week to show. But most people are at least a little allergic, and you won’t know how much until you’re experiencing it.

If you get it, wash the exposed area immediately with soap and water. Contain the rash by resisting the urge to scratch, applying hydrocortisone cream to it, and keeping the rash covered with a bandage.

If touching poison ivy leads to difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling, or the rash covers most of your body, get to the ER immediately.

5. Sunscreen
Sunscreens are essentially a combination of chemicals, so it may not be not surprising it could trigger an allergy. It’s actually a fairly rare allergy, but certainly a good one to know about, if you do.

A sunscreen allergy can be caused by blocking agents in the sunscreen, or even a fragrance that has been added to it. Regardless of the cause, look for symtoms such as itching or a rash/blisters on the skin. If you experience these kinds of symptoms, try a hypoallergenic formulas. If the reaction still persists, see a doctor.

Bear in mind that sometimes the reaction only occurs when the formula touches the skin and there is also sun exposure—so if you applied on your shoulders and then put a t-shirt on, you may only get a rash on your forearms.

To address this kind of allergic reaction, wash the area with soap and water to remove the sunscreen. Then, apply a cortisone cream or oral antihistamine to help relieve itching and swelling. Avoid the sun until healed.

Don’t Let Allergies Hold You Back
Summer allergies are common, but they don’t have to stop your fun! Most allergies treatable with simple over-the-counter treatments, but always talk to your doctor before self-medicating, and make sure you fully understand your risks.

Climb Stairs For Cancer Awareness

What burns twice as many calories as running and offers a more complete body workout? Climbing stairs.

Many are finding the challenge of a stair climb race to be more exhilarating than a typical run, and it’s rising in popularity as a competitive sport around the world—it’s even in the Olympics.

What to give it a try? Nonprofits are jumping on board to take advantage of this growing trend for fundraisers. As a result, there are stair climb events popping up all over the place that not only offer a great fitness challenge, but also let you give back to a great cause. Among them are many that nonprofits dedicating to fighting against cancer.

Here are a few of the most popular and most interesting:

Fight for Air Climb
If you’re looking for an opportunity close to home, the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb takes place at locations all over the country. Hosted in skyscrapers, stadiums, and arenas, Fight for Air Climb events raised over $7 million last year for health education, research and advocacy for lung-related diseased, including lung cancer.

Outclimb Cancer Challenge
Huntsman Cancer Foundation organizes Salt Lake City’s annual Outclimb Cancer Challenge at the 24-story Wells Fargo Center. A great event for both competitive climbers and beginners, this event lets you scale the event to your fitness level by letting you decide how many stories to climb (and how many times you want to reach the top!).

Big Climb Seattle – Climb. Conquer. Cure.
The Big Climb Seattle event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is an extremely popular one—the 2015 event sold out in just nine hours! It takes place at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle, which boasts status as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Stair Climbing Australia Race Series
If you want to get adventurous, consider the Stair Climbing Australia Race Series. These races for competitive stair climbers will take you all over the country, with challenges like climbing 100 flights of stairs at the Sydney Tower Eye and the Sea to Sky Challenge at Australia’s tallest building. Each race supports a good cause, including cancer.

Hustle up the Hancock
This race up Chicago’s iconic Hancock Building, known for its stellar views of the city’s skyline, offers a great incentive to hurry up all 94 floors. But if that’s just too many steps for you, there is also a half-climb option that stops at the 52nd floor. Each step helps support research and education to fight against lung disease via the Respiratory Health Association, including lung cancer. At the 2015 event, participants collectively climbed an estimated 1.5 million steps.

Step Up for a Good Cause
Are you ready to step up to the challenge of a stair climb for cancer? It’s a sport that’s on the rise, and a challenging alternative to the usual fundraiser run that’s sure to whip you into shape. To get started, check out these training tips. Then, get climbing!

With stair climbing’s rising popularity, odds are there’s one near you. But if not, consider starting your own.

Cancer Awareness Dates for Fall 2015

Right now, the sun is bright and the temps may be sweltering, but fall is just around the corner. As you pull out those trunks of sweaters and shop for kids’ back-to-school supplies, don’t forget that fall is also a season full of awareness events for important causes.

(Click Here to Download the Cancer Ribbons pdf)

Make note of these important dates now so you don’t miss the chance to contribute to these important awareness initiatives! Follow the links to learn more about each cause and what you can do to spread the word.


Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
The loss of a young life is utterly heartbreaking. And yet, relative to other causes, childhood cancer is often pushed aside from the limelight, and research is largely underfunded.

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month
This initiative focuses on the five types of cancer to women’s reproductive organs. All women are at risk, and that risk increases with age.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month
Both cancers of the blood and bone, these two cancers are responsible for an estimated 21,000-plus deaths each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Perfectly in line with Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, this initiative focuses specifically on cancer of the ovaries.

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Men’s cancer issues need awareness, too. Prostate cancer is complex and has many subtypes.

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month
In 2014, the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., announced a record number of 62,980 thyroid cancer diagnoses.


National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Possibly the most popular awareness initiative of the season! But this important cause still needs your support.

There are several one-day events connected to this awareness initiative during the month:

  • October 16: National Mammography Day
    Mammographies can catch breast cancer early and save lives. This event lands on the third Friday of October each year.
  • October 13: Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day
    Metastatis is when cancer spreads from one part of the body into others. This is what causes deaths from breast cancer.

Liver Cancer Awareness Month
Cancer of the liver is the fifth most common type of cancer in the world.


Lung Cancer Awareness Month
The Lung Cancer Alliance expects this year’s initiative to include over 125 events in three continents.

National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
With almost a million new cases of stomach cancer diagnosed each year, it’s the second leading cause of cancer death, according to No Stomach for Cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
In the United States, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just six percent.

Fall is a busy season with many good causes to get behind. Take a little time to explore each, and spread the word to help others do the same. Together, we can all learn more, prevent and reduce the impact of cancers of all kinds, and save lives.

Help Your Special Needs Children Get Back to School

The back-to-school season can be a rough transition for any child—especially when they’re headed for a new school. But when your child has special needs, a new environment can cause extra anxiety.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to prepare your special needs child for a new school now to lessen your child’s stress when that first class bell rings.

Talk About It
It’s important to discuss the new school and any feelings caused by the change with your child. Let them know they’re not alone—it’s normal to feel nervous when making a big change like this, and even to feel sad if there are old friends they won’t see every day anymore.

But also talk about the positive opportunities ahead—a new school is an opportunity to learn new things and meet new friends. By focusing on the positive, you can help your child ease anxieties and get excited.

Get Teachers On Board
It’s also a good idea to talk to the teachers and support team that will help your child at the school, if possible. Take advantage of these conversations to make expectations and needs for your child clear up front, and establish a line of two-way communication to remain open throughout the year, so that you can your child’s teachers can work together for your child’s interests throughout the year.

Explore Early And Often
Do all you can to familiarize your child with the new environment early – play on the playground, walk the halls, and spend time in the classroom if possible. Return to these spaces frequently in the weeks before school starts so they become familiar for your child.

Much less overwhelming when the halls are crowded and bustling that first day if they already know how to get from their locker to home room.

Get On Schedule
If the new school’s schedule will require significant changes to what he or she is used to—such as getting up significantly earlier—why not transition to that schedule a few weeks ahead of time? By reducing the amount of change he or she faces on that first day of school, you can make the overall experience easier.

The anticipation of a new school can be intimidating for anyone, and for special needs children in particular. But there’s a lot you and your child can do before the year starts to reduce the challenges and stress. Take these proactive steps now and help your special needs child take on their new environment more confidently.


Staying Out of the ER During Heat Waves

Summer is usually a season for fun in the sun. But when the heat gets extreme, it’s anything but.

Heat waves can cause serious health risks that can put you in the emergency room or even cause death. But fortunately, there is a lot you can do to reduce the impact of heat waves on your health.


Stay cool and safe during heat waves with these tips:

Stay Informed
Pay attention to weather forecasts each day so you know what temperatures to expect, and what the heat index will be. With this knowledge, you can plan appropriately for the weather. 

Keep An Emergency Kit
In case of a power outage, an emergency kit ensures you have what you need to get by. This list from the American Red Cross will keep you and your loved ones ready for this and many other emergency situations.

Avoid The Heat
Limit your activity outside as much as possible, especially during peak heat hours in the middle of the day. Try to spend your time in the coolest and lowest parts of your house, such as the basement. Keep your curtains and blinds closed to keep the sun out.

If you don’t have air conditioning at home, find places that do where you can spend time during the day, such as libraries, schools, community centers, or malls.

Reduce Outdoor Activity
If you must work outside, keep your activity low and take frequent breaks. Always work with someone else, and drink plenty of water—at least two to four eight-ounce glasses per hour.

Avoid drinks that dehydrate, especially beverages which include caffeine or a high sugar content.

Dress For The Heat
Wear clothing that will help you stay cool—loose, light-colored garments. It’s better to cover your skin rather than expose it, as it protects you from sunburn and encourages perspiration, which will keep you cooler. Outside, wear a hat and sunscreen.

Never Leave Children In Vehicles
It’s never safe to leave a child in an enclosed car, but it’s especially life-threatening during a heat wave. Leaving a child in an enclosed car during a heat wave could kill him/her. This also applies to pets.

Know The Symptoms
Signs of heat exhaustion include headaches, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps and excessive sweating. If a person starts exhibiting these symptoms, move him/her to a cooler place to rest. The person should drink something with electrolytes, such as a sports drink, fruit juice or milk.

Don’t ignore these symptoms! If left untreated, the person’s condition can escalate to heat stroke, which can cause organ failure, comas or even death.

If you observe signs of heat stroke—including an extremely high temperature, redness on the skin, changes in consciousness, a rapid and weak pulse, shallow breathing, vomiting or seizures—call 9-1-1. 

Taking Precautions Can Minimize The Impact
The intensity of summer heat waves push the human body beyond its capabilities. They are a serious threat that can lead to health risks, expensive emergency room bills, and even death.

Fortunately, if you take the precautions seriously and protect yourself and your loved ones, you can minimize the impact of a heat wave on your summer fun.