What is Autism?

Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with autism? Are you left confused, afraid and wondering what exactly this condition is? Are you stuck with media stereotypes about an autistic person’s lack of functioning? If so, keep reading. This article will explain what autism is, without invoking any of the stereotypes commonly associated with the condition, stereotypes which are not true for all or even most autistics while giving a plain-English definition of the features and symptoms of the condition. Do not give up hope. A diagnosis of autism is not a tragedy, though it may feel like it at first, and it is not the end.

 

Definition and Symptoms

When people talk about autism today, they are generally talking about Autism Spectrum Disorders. According to the DSM-IV, the Autism Spectrum Disorders are a set of five developmental disorders that effect the person’s ability to engage with others. These deficits in social interaction can vary in severity from very mild to extremely severe, and in type as well though all people with autism will have some of these core symptoms. People with autism tend to have trouble with developing or using nonverbal social cues. They do not like to make eye contact, for example, and may find it very overwhelming. Autistic children may also not want to make friends with children of the same age, or have any desire to share interests and achievements. People with autism also have delays in development of speech or never develop it at all. As many as forty per cent of autistic individuals never talk. Some people with autism also deal with echolalia, which is the repetition of a phrase they have previously heard. They will repeat this phrase over and over. Other symptoms of autism can include sensory integration difficulties and problems with processing stimuli, as well as atypical movements and fascination with sensory stimulation. These symptoms can make social contact very overwhelming and draining for them.

 

Diagnosis

The mean age of diagnosis for autistic individuals used to be between five and eight years. However, due to more sophisticated methods of diagnosis and the creation of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule by Catherine Lord, Ph.D the age at which autism is diagnosed has been significantly reduced. Most children are now diagnosed near their second or third birthday. This earlier diagnosis means that parents can be more aware of what is going on and can then help their children better adjust to their limitations and the expectations of the world around them. This early intervention to help these children can mean that the child gets the early education they need.

 

Causes

Over the years, many things have been thought to cause autism, everything from drinking milk to getting your children vaccinated. However, none of these is the real cause, and as of yet no one is sure what the cause actually is. The most prevalent theory seems to posit that autism is a very strongly inherited genetic disorder, probably with several genes being affected.

 

Autism may seem like a nightmare. The person with autism may seem unresponsive and hard to reach. However, with some learning on both your parts, and understanding of the person’s abilities and limitations, this condition does not have to be a nightmare.

The Origins of Earth Day

The origins of Earth Day are not very well known. The history is not taught in schools as it is for Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Columbus Day, and children are not expected to make little clay globes or plant seeds in honor of the holiday. In fact, it usually goes rather unnoticed overall. This article seeks to change that lack of education as Earth Day is just as important as any of the other holidays and worthy of just as much publicity. If you are curious about the origins of this often under-represented holiday, read on as we cover its origins and history.

 

In the Beginning

The year is 1970. It is the height of the counter culture in the US. Environmental concerns are not mentioned often. Americans are driving gas-guzzling V8 cars and industry is belching black smoke into the sky. Smog is considered a sign of prosperity and not a concern. Offenses against the environment are not punished, but things were about to change.

 

Setting the Stage

The stage for environmental change had been set by the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962. This book, which was very controversial at the time, detailed the introduction of DDT, a very popular pesticide into the world’s food supply. It also showed how it accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals including humans, causing cancer and genetic damage. The book also stated that DDT remained toxic in the environment even after being diluted by rainwater. DDT had been banned. However, Americans still remained relatively oblivious to the problems at hand.

 

Earth Day

In 1969, there was a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson saw this oil spill and the destruction that had been wrought on the environment and wanted to do something about it. Taking a cue from the student anti-war movement, Gaylord knew that if he could infuse that energy with the knowledge of environmental issues, the issue of environmental protection would be forcibly pushed onto the political stage. Gaylordproposed the idea of a national teach-in on the environment to the national media and coaxed a conservation-minded Republican, Pete McLoskey to be his co-chair. He also hired Dennis Hayes as his national coordinator. Hayes then built a staff of eighty-five to coordinate events across the country. April twenty-second was chosen as the day, as it fell between spring break and finals at many colleges. The first Earth Day mobilized twenty million Americans and by the end of that year, the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts had been created. In 1990, Earth day went global, mobilizing two hundred million people in one-hundred forty-one countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world political stage.

 

Earth Day is a very important holiday. Without it, we might still be using harmful pesticides, using leaded gasoline in our cars, and treating our environment as if it were invincible. Next Earth Day, take a moment to stop and remember the good work that Gaylord Nelson did for the environment, and be thankful he had the wonderful idea he did.

The Benefits of Paleo

As far as diets go, paleo is both very new and very old. At first, this may seem like a contradiction, but people have been eating in this fashion for millions of years, ever since the first hunter-gatherer tribes appeared on Earth. However, it was only just recently that we became aware of the health benefits of this historical way of eating. Whether you are planning on embracing the paleo lifestyle or just curious about the health benefits of this type of diet, then this article is for you. Here we will outline the health benefits of paleo so that you can decide whether it is for you.  Paleo, for this article’s purposes, is the act of eating as our hunter-gatherer ancestors did. This means that you are allowed to eat foods which could be gathered from the ground or pulled from trees as are free-range, grass-fed animals. Gluten is prohibited, as are all processed foods as much as possible. This more natural way of eating of course promotes a number of health benefits.

 

Real Food Vs. Processed Food

Processed foods contain a lot of additives, preservatives, colorings, sodium and hidden sugar. These chemicals are not good for our bodies, causing everything from allergic reactions to sluggishness to high blood pressure. If you eat a paleo diet, which contains only whole, organically produced foods and some natural but packaged sauces and ingredients, you eliminate a large number of toxins from your body as well as the salt which raises your blood pressure and the hidden sugar that can increase your risk of diabetes and becoming overweight. Eliminating additives, preservatives and other unnecessary chemicals from your food also helps you feel much better, both mentally and physically, helping your body work at peak performance.

 

Get Your Nutrients

Along with the benefit of removing preservatives, the paleo diet also removes nutrient-void carbs. People eating in this manner tend to replace the filler carbs with fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. In fact, a person eating a paleo diet can get all the required nutrients for a day from plant-based foods, meat and fish. They eliminate grains and legumes, which also leads to increased gut health. Increased gut health, in turn means that their bodies digest food much more efficiently.

 

Weight Loss

Paleo diets promote a long-lasting weight loss and muscle growth when paired with a healthy lifestyle. Better stress management techniques as well as an improvement in sleep and a good balance of Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids help to burn off stored fat. Also, eating a paleo diet will increase your energy, which will allow you to exercise longer without tiring.

 

Lose the Bloat

Many people eating a Western-style diet find themselves experiencing chronic bloat and gas which can be very uncomfortable. Eating a paleo diet reduces these symptoms, as paleo diets contain a lot of fiber. Fiber allows waste products in the body to be broken up more effectively and carried away, thereby eliminating constipation which can lead to much worse issues such as compaction. Those on paleo diets also drink an adequate amount of water and decrease their sodium intake. This both flushes out the waste and prevents water retention, which can lead to bloat.

 

Avoid Blood Sugar Crashes

If you have ever been in an important meeting at work and have suddenly found your mood plummeting as you got hungrier, then you have experienced a blood sugar crash. Eating a paleo diet can be very helpful in preventing these crashes and the accompanying spikes that occur when we eat because they are very rich in protein, fats, and slow-digesting carbs. Meals with a lot of protein and fat are very energy-dense and satisfying. This means you feel full sooner than if you were eating something like a bag of chips that was unbalanced. Carbs all raise your blood sugar a bit, but slow-digesting carbs do not raise it nearly as much. Nor do they let it drop as quickly. Slow-digesting carbs take a long time to be metabolized. This means that you will become hungry more slowly and without the irritabality and mood swings you might normally experience.

 

There are many benefits to a paleo diet. These are only a few. Paleo diets are rich in healthy fats, proteins, fruits, vegetables and slow-digesting carbs. This makes them the exact balance of the foods your body needs and people have been eating this way for millennia and still do in other parts of the world. These people are living happy, healthy lives, free from most of the health problems that face the Western world. Would it not be nice to live a life in which you had less of a risk of most of those problems? If you agree, then paleo just might be the right lifestyle choice for you.

A Guide to Vegetarianism

The choice to go vegetarian is a personal one. Sometimes it is for medical reasons, sometimes ethical, sometimes both and sometimes neither. Whatever the reasons for your choice to go vegetarian, you

The choice to go vegetarian is a personal one. Sometimes it is for medical reasons, sometimes ethical, sometimes both and sometimes neither. Whatever the reasons for your choice to go vegetarian, you will have to make some very large changes and to pay much more attention to the foods you eat. Would it not be great if there was a guide to help you through the change, a road map of sorts that you could use to point the way? Well, now there is. This article will serve as your tool kit and provide the information you need in order to make the transition to vegetarianism easier.

 

What Is A Vegetarian Anyhow?

Before you choose a vegetarian diet, you need to answer this simple question. What kind of vegetarian diet are you going to follow? In the broadest sense, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, poultry or seafood. But in reality, that definition is not nearly so clear-cut as it seems to be. There are several types of vegetarian diets. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will not eat meat but will eat eggs and drink milk. They will also consume cheese and other dairy products. This is the most common type of vegetarian. Ovo vegetarians eat only eggs, but do not consume dairy products or eat any meat. Lacto vegetarians consume dairy products but do not eat eggs or any type of meat. Vegans will not consume any dairy, eggs or meat. They will not also wear leather or use any other animal products whatsoever. Research is the key here. Read up on the types of vegetarian diets. Pick the one that best fits your needs. Talk to your medical professionals. Your doctor may know of reasons that a vegetarian diet would not work well for you, and they will most assuredly have information on how to more effectively transition from your normal diet to a vegetarian one.

 

Make Menus and Find Recipes

Going vegetarian is not easy if you do not have a game plan. To these ends, making menus can be very helpful. A menu works as a road map of sorts. It provides a framework with which you can build the week’s meals. Be sure to check your grocery store to find out what vegetables and fruits are in season, as well as if they have vegetarian-friendly versions of your favorite products. For example, there are delicious tofu-based versions of many meat-based dishes, for example hamburgers, chicken nuggets and deli sliced turkey. These foods can make your adjustment to the vegetarian lifestyle far easier. Also, good recipes are a must-have. There are many vegetarian cookbooks out there. Chances are your local library or bookstore stocks these cookbooks. The Internet is also another good source of recipes. Aim to try a new recipe once weekly. That way your pool of vegetarian-friendly foods is always increasing and you will feel far less burned out.

 

Make Substitutions

Just because you are embracing a vegetarian lifestyle, it does not mean you have to give up your favorite foods. As mentioned above, there are a number of vegetarian options for dishes in most supermarkets. If your supermarket does not have these vegetarian options, they could very easily stock them for you. Many vegetarian versions of meat-based dishes are made with tofu. Tofu on its own is pretty flavorless. However, the lovely thing about it is that it soaks up the flavors of anything you cook with it. This means if you like spicy foods or sweet foods you can simply season the meat alternative you choose as you would normally and the tofu will suck up all the flavors. As a bonus, many of the vegetarian tofu products have almost the same consistency as meat. Chances are, you may not even miss meat at all.

 

Start Out Slowly

When adjusting to vegetarianism, it is important to start slowly. Cutting out red meat first is probably the best place to start. Of all the kinds of meat out there, red meats such as beef are the most unhealthy. Clearing these out of your diet will drastically improve your health as well as making the rest of the adjustment process easier. When you have grown accustomed to the lack of red meat, you can wean yourself off of other types of meats as well.

There are many reasons to become a vegetarian, some medical and some personal or ethical. Whatever your reasons are, a vegetarian diet can be much healthier than a diet which contains a lot of meat. No matter which vegetarian diet fits your needs best, there are still several steps you need to make to adjust to being a vegetarian. Now, with this article as your guide, you are fully ready to embrace your new, exciting lifestyle and all the challenges and rewards that come with it.

 

 

There are many reasons to become a vegetarian, some medical and some personal or ethical. Whatever your reasons are, a vegetarian diet can be much healthier than a diet which contains a lot of meat. No matter which vegetarian diet fits your needs best, there are still several steps you need to make to adjust to being a vegetarian. Now, with this article as your guide, you are fully ready to embrace your new, exciting lifestyle and all the challenges and rewards that come with it.

Fats: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Stop! Put down that donut. Unhand that candy bar. Before you take another bite, there are some things about fats you need to know. Did you realize that not all fats are bad for you? Some fats, eaten in the proper proportions can help keep your body healthy. If you did not know this small but important fact, do not worry. Many people do not know. It is far easier to think of all fat as evil that needs eradicating, but this article will disprove that notion. We will discuss the difference between good fats and bad fats, and the ways both affect your body, as well as steps to help you make better choices in what types of fats you eat. We will also clarify some of the tricky terminology surrounding the subject of fat, giving you a road map forward. If you are curious, then please keep reading. Oh, and you can pick up the donut now.

 

The Good

It is a common misconception that all fats are bad for you and go straight to your hips. This is completely untrue. Some fats, in healthy quantities pose a benefit to the body and are actually necessary for good heart health as well as other bodily functions. However, not all fats are created equal. Unsaturated fats are known as good fats, and they come in two types, mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated, based on their chemical composition. These types of fats help protect your heart, lower blood cholesterol and help insulin work more efficiently, which is particularly useful if you have Type II diabetes. As a bonus, unsaturated fats are really easy to add into your diet. Chances are good that you already get your recommended daily allotment of these fats, especially if you like any of the following foods: avocado, olives, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, natural peanut butter, fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel and pumpkin seeds. There are also unsaturated oils. However, be careful with these. There are two types of unsaturated oils. The first type are cold-pressed oils such as peanut, sesamae and extra-virgin olive oil. These oils have been used in Asian cooking for hundreds of years and support your good health. The other type are more recently developed industrially manufactured oils such as soybean, corn, canola and safflower. These oils are manufactured generally using genetically modified crops and in a way that damages the fats, turning them into dangerous trans fats.

 

The Bad

As we have discussed before, not all fats are created equal. Just as there are good fats, there are also bad fats. These fats are saturated fats and trans-fats. These are the fats which do all the bad things that people have attributed to fats in general for so many years. They clog your arteries, add to your waistline and cause heart disease. Perhaps surprisingly, even a good fat can become a bad fat if it is damaged. Some fats, such as flax seed oil, must be stored in the refrigerator in an opaque container. If they are not properly stored, they will turn into saturated fats, and nobody wants that. Also, if you are going to use nuts and seeds, please be careful. Never eat or cook with nuts or seeds after they start smelling rank or tasting bitter.

 

The Ugly

We have briefly touched on the effects of bad fats, like the ones found in a lot of donuts, candy bars,  and potato chips, but we feel it is a good idea to discuss these effects in greater detail. Saturated fats and trans fats can cause plaques to build up in the arteries. These plaques are sticky like super glue, and they actively haul in proteins, more fats, and other types of molecules. Eventually, a plaque could even rupture, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke as the blood vessel holding the plaque will be blocked. These bad fats can also lead to fat deposits around the waistline. These fat deposits, in turn decrease the efficiency of insulin which may lead to Type II diabetes or worsen it in those who already have it. In short, saturated fats and trans fats can make your health vastly worse than it would otherwise be.

 

Fats are very important to your health. However, they are not equally healthy. Unsaturated fats can benefit the body in a number of ways such as improving the health of your heart as well as increasing insulin efficiency for Type II diabetics. Saturated fats, however, will damage your body in various ways and can undo your healthy choices. Think of that before you eat your next donut.

Nutrition 101: Getting Started

Going to the supermarket can feel like walking into a car dealership if you are trying to eat nutritiously. Every item on the shelves claims to be nutritious in one way or other, even things that you likely know blatantly are not, such as candy bars and potato chips. Every product is screaming at you from the shelves like a used car salesman hawking his wares, using all the buzz words. Every food claims to be low fat, low carb, high in protein, low in trans fat. If you do not know what these words mean, or the names of the chemicals you are shoving into your mouth, it will be hard to make the important, healthy choices you need to make. This article will serve as your guide through the labyrinth. We will discuss everything someone just starting out on this journey of healthy eating should need to know in order to not be duped by all the sales claims. This way you will know what nutrients you need, what quantities you need them in, and you will not overspend on the latest fad. If you are just beginning on the journey of healthy eating, just stick with us, and we will get you out the other side.

 

Too Much, Too Little

Multivitamins can be very useful in enhancing the amount of those nutrients you get too little of in your regular diet. However, taking more than one multivitamin can lead to overdoses of some of them. This overdose can lead to illness as your body attempts to cope with the excess. Furthermore, some vitamins are rendered useless if they are not in a harmonious balance with others. That is why it is so important to make sure that your nutrient intake is in balance as much as you can. There are many ways to insure a correct balance of nutrients. Do not take more than one multivitamin. Make sure to always pick foods from the five food groups at every meal. Check for your serving size based upon your height, weight and activity levels.

 

Balancing Act

There are five food groups. It is very important to eat a good balance of foods from each group to maintain good health. Many diets insist that you cut out or cut down on certain nutrients such as protein or carbs. However, this is not a good idea. If you cut down on carbs or protein or any other form of nutrition, then chances are likely that the only thing you will succeed in doing is unbalancing your metabolism. The key is balance and moderation. Each food group requires a person to eat different amounts of foods from that group.

 

Drink Water

The last helpful nutrient is water. Water is necessary for every single process within our bodies. It cools us off, carries nutrients throughout the body, is a major component in most of our organs and cells and helps flush out waste. Humans can live for a couple of weeks without food. However, it is impossible to live more than a few days without water. Some water comes from the foods we eat. However, that water is not nearly enough to power all your body’s processes. To gain the necessary water to maintain healthy, it is important to drink enough of it during a day. The average person needs six to eight glasses of water per day. Many of us, however, do not drink nearly that much and instead fill up the defecit with sugary soft drinks and coffee which can lead to dehydration, issues with blood sugar, and weight gain.

 

Watch Out For Refined Sugar

Many foods contain refined sugar. It is very important to look out for this sugar in your diet as it can lead to a lot of problems in the long-term. Perhaps the biggest of these problems is diabetes which, if untreated can be fatal. There is no cure for diabetes, and treating it may involve several painful needle pricks a day on top of the needle pricks necessary to test your blood sugar. One would think refined sugar would be easy to spot if you avoid candy, soda, cakes and pies but that isn’t the case. Refined sugar exists in every sort of food from fried rice to potato chips.

 

Good nutrition is very important. If your nutrition is poor, your health will suffer. Poor nutrition also leads to several diseases, including heart attack, heart disease, stroke, various cancers and some forms of Diabetes. These conditions, though they can be managed are incurable. This means if you are diagnosed with one, you will have it for the rest of your life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those whose health is bad  report symptoms as diverse as chronic fatigue, irritability and bloating. This is just scratching the surface. Now, however, you have the keys you need to unlock good nutrition and change this grim prognosis. It is never too late to make healthier choices. And you do not even have to make all the changes at once. Every small change you make has a cumulative effect on your health and can make you happier and less ill. With these simple keys, you might even shut up the used car sales talk of the choices at your local supermarket.

20 Ways to Spice Up Your Kids Lunchbox

 

Providing lunch for your children can be a challenge. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches quickly get old and they are not the most healthy option. Packaged lunch alternatives often contain additives and preservatives as well as unnecessary amounts of trans-fats, salt and sugar. So, as a health-conscious parent who is attempting to provide a fun, unique lunch for their child, what can you do? You could spend the whole day researching ideas. However, in this article, we have saved you the trouble. Below are twenty ideas for spicing up your children’s lunches they are sure to love and will not want to trade to their friends.

 

Celery Stick Paintbrushes

Veggies are not generally something any child wants in their lunch. However, they will soon change their tune with these celery paintbrushes. Take celery sticks. Cut the ends so they flare out like paint brushes. Then include tiny cups of mayo, mustard and ketchup to serve as the paint. Also include a classic ham or turkey sandwich, allowing your little artists to paint designs on their sandwiches before they eat them.

 

Carrot Pencils

To get your children to eat carrots, simply trim down one end, shaping the carrot into the shape of a pencil. These would also be wonderful to include along with the celery paint brushes as another artistic medium for your sandwich topping artists.

 

Octopus Weenies

Octopus weenies are a favorite of both children and adults alike in Japan and they will be a favorite of your little ones too, especially if they love sea life. Start with a cocktail weenie. Cut little slits in the weenie till they are about halfway up. These become little dangling legs. Fry the weenies and the legs will curl up, giving you a perfect octopus.

 

Pigs in a Blanket

Pigs in a blanket are not generally considered the most healthy lunchtime choice, but children love them. To make your pigs in a blanket more healthy, use turkey sausages or cocktail weenies. Cut down on the amount of cheese the recipe calls for. Serve these sparingly and they become a lunchtime treat your child will be delighted to see in their lunchbox.

 

Pizza Pocket Puffs

These alliteratively-named snacks are a wonderful treat. Simply roll out filo dough or crescent roll dough into thin sheets. Then put a bit of cheese, some mini pepperoni, or your child’s pizza toppings of choice inside. Fold into a little pocket, crimp the edges and bake. These are just like having pizza for lunch, but with none of the mess!

 

Kebabs

Everything is more fun on a stick. So why not pack your children fruit skewers or meat and veggie kebabs on small, flat skewers. They are quick and easy to make, easy to eat and mess-free and even better, they are not the typical sandwich.

 

Quesadillas

Most children love cheese. Instead of packing your child a grilled cheese for lunch, why not pack a quesadilla? Your children will be happy you did.

 

Spring Rolls

Children and adults in Asia often eat spring rolls. You can make these delicious rolled up meals using rice paper wrappers or lettuce leaves. Fill them with grilled pork, chicken or shrimp and vegetables for a well-balanced lunch.

 

International Lunches

Help your children learn about the cuisine of other countries by preparing international foods for their lunch box. Start on Monday, and prepare a simple dish from a country of the child’s choice. Each day of the week, pick another country.

 

Cookie-cutter Sandwiches

If you have to make a classic sandwich, do something special with it. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes into the sandwich. This way your child can punch out the shapes. For more fun, make the shapes fit a theme, and see if your child can guess what the theme is.

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Apples

Why make a peanut butter and Jelly sandwich when you can do the same thing with a delicious, crunchy apple. Cut the apple in half, carefully remove the core, and then fill with delicious peanut butter and jelly.

 

Ants on a Log

While not an entire meal in itself, ants on a log is still a good way to spice up your child’s lunch box. A celery stick is your log, to which raisin “ants” are attached with peanut butter.

 

Roll-ups

If you have to use lunch meat in your child’s lunch, why not make a roll-up? Take deli turkey or ham. Then put a slice of cheese on it. Then put a lettuce leaf in the middle and roll tightly. Your children will never think of lunch meat the same again.

 

Miniature Hamburgers

Hamburgers are always a favorite. Grill small hamburger patties on an indoor grill the night before, and then pop them together the next morning. Your little ones will love it. You could also make baked French fries to go with it.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Slices

Instead of including boring old apple slices in your kid’s lunch, why not give them cinnamon sugar apple slices instead? Simply put a bit of cinnamon and sugar in a baggie. Add apple slices and shake to coat.

 

Ocean Lunch

An ocean lunch is easy to make. Start with fish sticks. To accompany these, give your children blue Jell-o. Add gummy sea creatures for the ocean look.

 

Holiday-themed Foods

Is there a big holiday coming up? If so, holiday-themed foods are a great way to get the kids excited. Be creative! Boiled eggs with dyed shells are a great idea for Easter, for example.

 

 Sports Lunch

If your child loves sports, use that to your advantage. Make them a stadium-themed lunch. Turkey hot dogs, homemade nacho dip and tortilla chips for dipping make a perfect lunch.

 

Tortilla Stars

Instead of serving your child boring old tortilla chips, make tortilla stars instead. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut two or three-inch star shapes from a tortilla. Top with cheese and spices. Bake cheese side down on a baking rack till golden.

 

Vegan Lunch

For those of you with children who are vegan/vegetarian, tofu nuggets are an excellent option. Include a few small cups of your children’s favorite dipping sauce, some carrot sticks and a healthy drink option, and you are good to go.

 

School lunches do not have to be boring. In fact, they can be quite unique, as the list above proves. Use your creativity and imagination, and the sky is the limit.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Fundraising

Deciding to fundraise is a brave and important commitment. But aside from selecting your cause and receiving donations….what else do you need to know?

Here are a few tips of what you should and should not do while fundraising. Follow these tips to get you off to a great start and ensure that you pull your fundraiser off successfully!

 

Don’t:

  • DON’T be afraid of asking people for contributions – your cause needs them!
  • DON’T take no for an answer if a person’s reason for declining is because they don’t think it’s a worthy cause. Instead, take te opportunity to challenge their perceptions.
  • DON’T just ask for money – you will need all kinds of contributions from people whether it is their time, goods or money. Be willing to let people help in different ways.
  • DON’T get stuck in old ways – regularly re-evaluate your methods and what is and isn’t working.
  • DON’T try to fix the whole world in one day – focus on smaller goals and the tangible changes that reaching these goals will bring about.
  • DON’T put forward false positivity if things are not going well. Be straight with your contributors if you reach a bump in the road. You never know – this may even further motivate your donors to act!
  • DON’T get distracted or tire from the main goal – make the fundraiser your primary focus until the targets you set have been reached.
  • DON’T try to do everything on your own. Fundraising takes a lot of work so delegate some tasks to the other committee members, or rope in your friends and family.
  • DON’T use a one-size-fits-all approach. Try something…if it doesn’t work, try something else.
  • DON’T hesitate to ask the same contributor’s again – people get busy and need reminding. They may also have different circumstances than they did when you asked the first time and may be able to offer something else.
  • DON’T forget to consider the costs you will need to cover and incorporate it into your fundraising goals. The last thing you want is for everyone helping out to start feeling out of pocket because they had to cover all the expenses.
  • DON’T become greedy about donations – every penny counts.
  • DON’T be unrealistic about what your fundraiser can achieve in the time that you have – you have to set targets based on the resources that you have.
  • DON’T sit back and wait for the money to come to you…it won’t. You will have to work for it.
  • DON’T spam your contributor’s or overwhelm them – they are your biggest asset!

 

Do:

  • DO ask your donors to support your cause. If they don’t know about it, they can’t help.
  • DO keep emphasising the positives and the tangible effects that raising this money will have on your cause.
  • DO acknowledge and thank each and every contributor for their donation – whether large or small.
  • DO keep an open mind as to how people can help – if someone can help in a way that you hadn’t thought of, hear them out.
  • DO involve your donors – keep them informed with a newsletter, social media pages or phone calls. Keep donors informed along the way – what progress has been made and what goals are still active.
  • DO check that your fundraiser is legal. This might mean checking local by-laws and guidelines before setting your fundraiser in stone.
  • DO build your database by keeping accurate records of names and contact information and continuing to build on it.
  • DO streamline your approach to fundraising. Ensure that all of your fundraising work is in keeping with the goals and missions of the organisation and is working towards the overall objective.
  • DO be specific about donations – tell people how much you need and how they can contribute.
  • DO take advantage of the resources you have available, particularly free ones.
  • DO utilise social media by opening fundraising pages and spreading the word through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • DO put your money where your mouth is. Even those volunteering their time should lead by example by contributing to their cause.
  • DO set a specific target so that everyone can see what you are aiming for.
  • DO give your donor’s several options for contributing by offering a mailing address for cheques as well as internet banking options and ‘Pay Now’.
  • DO remember to have fun!

Cancer: Managing Emotionally

Often people underestimate the emotional toll that cancer can have. Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event – no matter which stage you are at.

Dealing with these life changes as well as undergoing treatment and side effects can be just as hard on a person emotionally, as it is physically.  From the time you get the diagnosis to the time you finish up with your treatment, cancer can bring about a broad range of feelings – ones that you are often not prepared for. Cancer can be disruptive to almost every facet of a person’s life including relationships, home life and hobbies or interests. Depending on how serious the diagnosis is and what sort of treatment will have to be carried out, it can make you re-evaluate everything in life, from relationships, to working situations, to the future.

During this difficult time, a person may experience a range of different emotions including depression, anxiety, a sense of isolation and even anger. Whether you are currently experiencing these new feelings, or are watching a loved one experience them, it’s important to read on, and realize that these feeling are normal and that everyone deals with their emotions differently.

 

Feeling Overwhelmed

When someone first learns that they have cancer, they may feel overwhelmed.

They may be overwhelmed by thoughts of their future and whether or not they are going to live, by the changes and disruptions in their normal routines, by the amount of medical information that they are suddenly being exposed to or by the feelings of losing control that they may be experiencing.

Though it can be a lot to take in at first, the best thing to do is to try and organise your thoughts and then begin to understand your condition as best you can. Try to learn as much as possible about your cancer and ask lots of questions at medical appointments. This will help to ensure that you are comfortable talking about your condition and are well informed and able to make decisions about your treatment.

 

Feeling Angry

It’s completely normal to feel angry about cancer. People who have been diagnosed with cancer often feel anger or resentment toward themselves, their loved ones or even their health care providers. While this type of anger normally surfaces when a person is diagnosed, anger can surface at any time throughout the cancer journey – even after treatment has finished and survivorship has begun.

It is helpful for people experiencing these feelings to know that this anger is a common response to have for someone living with cancer, and is completely natural.  When one considers the toll that cancer-related symptoms and treatments can take on the body it is understandable why even these things alone would cause someone to become angry.

While most people associate anger with negative connotations, anger is not necessarily a bad emotion – and sometimes, it is one that people need to feel. If anger is expressed in a healthy way it can be a safe, positive thing to experience and can often motivate people with cancer to overcome the obstacles they are facing.

The best way to cope with feelings of anger is to recognise them – identify anger for what it is and acknowledge that you are struggling with it. Once you have recognised it, it will be easier to identify when you are feeling angry, making you are less likely to confuse your emotions or take anger out on others without realizing it. Once you have identified your feelings, find a safe and healthy way to express it. This might include talking about it, undertaking a physical activity such as kickboxing, beating on a pillow or just having a good yell and cry to release some of your frustrations.

 

Feeling Stressed or Anxious

Cancer can be one of the most stressful experiences in life – for both the patient and their loved ones. Cancer can put strain on every area of life – from financial to work. It is completely normal to experience feelings of stress or anxiety when you are diagnosed with cancer. Often this results in feelings of tenseness, and can include many symptoms such as an increased heart rate, aches and pains, changes in diet, weakness or dizziness or an inability to sleep.

It is important that these symptoms are not simply overlooked, as stress and anxiety can actually inhibit the body from undertaking its natural healing processes, making your recovery longer. Studies have also shown that chronic stress can be detrimental to the immune system and affect overall wellbeing. If you are concerned about stress or anxiety, consult your doctor and consider the following tips for reducing stress:

  • Stay organised. Keep track of your appointments and activities using a day planner or a suitable app. Avoid overbooking yourself and try not to book too many appointments in one day or week. Know your limits and how much energy you have and be sure to prioritise – some things can wait.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for help. People will likely offer their support so think about specific tasks they could help with and take them up on the offer.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed. If you have large tasks that need to be completed, try breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This might seem silly, but it makes otherwise overwhelming things seem easier to handle. If you need to clean the house, do just one room at a time, and have a break in-between.
  • Get on top of your finances. Cancer can hit your wallet hard, so be sure to manage this as soon as possible. Organise any insurances you have and how you will manage the cost of your cancer care before the bills start piling up.
  • Try to get some exercise in. When you have the energy, incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your day. This can lower stress levels and give you time to regularly reflect and clear your head.
  • Consider what other support you might need. There are lots of other people going through the same journey so if you are finding yourself feeling stressed or anxious consider joining a support group or talking to a counsellor or social worker.
  • Make time each day to do something that relaxes you – this might be reading a book, listening to music or taking a bubble bath. It is important to set this wind-down time aside to destress each day. You may want to consider incorporating some relaxation techniques into your day to lower your stress levels – this might be deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
  • Talk to your doctor about medication. If you are finding that your stress levels are becoming out of control, speak to your doctor about whether or not you would benefit from medication. Ensure that your doctor also knows what cancer related medicines and treatments you are taking so that they don’t prescribe a medication that could interact with them.

 

Feeling Depressed

As well as experiencing anxiety about your cancer, you may also experience sadness or depression. Depression can occur at any stage of your cancer – from the time you receive the news, till after treatment is finished, and is a completely normal response to the onset of any major health problem.

Depression can affect many facets of physical and mental health including energy levels, eating, emotional feelings, mood, concentration, sleeping and can even lead to thoughts about hurting yourself or others. Like stress, depression can lower a person’s quality of life and make it difficult for them to go about daily activities. Though it is common for people to experience depression during or after cancer, it should not go untreated as it can undermine the strength (both emotional and physical) needed to get through the cancer journey.

You will need as much support as you can get from your friends and family, and may also want to consider what other support you may need. Tell your doctor what you are feeling and talk to them about what else might help – whether it is support in a group environment, some medication or other treatment such as counselling. Most importantly – don’t bottle up your feelings. Talk to someone you can trust about how you have been feeling and be open about your struggle.

 

Feeling Guilty

A common emotion suffered by cancer patients is that of guilt. You may feel guilt over getting cancer and how that has affected your friends and family, you may feel as though you are a burden on those around you or you may be feeling that your lifestyle choices are to blame for your cancer and are experiencing guilt for this reason. You are not alone – many people with cancer have these feelings.

Guilt can be experienced by those with cancer – and by those surrounding them. Often loved ones also experience guilt for many reasons. It is important to express these feelings of blame or regret with those around you. Feelings of guilt can come in many forms:

  • Guilt for not having noticed symptoms or seeking medical attention earlier
  • Guilt for feeling like a burden to your family
  • Guilt over not being able to cope with a normal schedule or workload due to your health
  • Guilt over the financial costs of your cancer treatment
  • You may even have ‘survivor’s guilt’ which is associated with feelings of guilt related to why you survived your cancer when other’s did not

Whatever the guilt is that you are experiencing, it is important to let go of it. A lot of the guilt that you might experience may be misplaced. Even if the guilt is justified, it is not healthy to dwell on these feelings and it is detrimental to your wellbeing to continue to be drained by them. Try to remember that cancer is nobody’s fault. There is a lot about cancer that even doctors and scientists are yet to fully understand so let go of any mistakes you think you have made and focus on what’s ahead.

 

Express Yourself!

The most important thing to do is speak up! Research has proven that those who express their feelings are able to let go of them more than those who choose to bottle them up. If you are comfortable, the best people to talk to are family and friends. If this is not possible, then talk to another survivor, a counsellor or consider joining a support group. Here are some last minute tips to keeping your chin up during this turbulent time in your life:

  • Stay Positive. Easier said than done, but making a conscious effort to be hopeful and positive can help. Try and redirect your energy to focusing on what lies ahead and getting well.
  • Accept Bad Days. You will have your bad days, and sometimes you need to just put your pyjamas back on and wallow. This is okay – if you can’t be positive and life is just getting you down then just declare it a ‘cancer day’ and crawl back into bed. People will understand.
  • Be Open About Your Cancer. It can be difficult for many people to talk about your cancer so talk about it , if you are comfortable doing so. People will want to support you but may not always know how to. Make them, and yourself, more at ease by discussing it and being open about what you are going through.
  • Control What You Can. Cancer can make you feel like you’ve lost control of everything. Take some of that control back by being actively involved in your health care, keeping yourself informed, setting and keeping your appointments and making changes in your life that will help you to manage while you are having treatment. These little things will not only help you to manage your care better, but will also give you back your sense of control over your life.

 

Just remember: there will be good days, and bad days. Try to let the good ones be more frequent than the bad and focus on what you can control and what is good in your life: family and friends.

 

Shakespeare Made Fun

 

You’ve likely heard your students complain about Shakespeare before. Every teacher has. He is hard to read. His work is boring. His work is not easily relatable. As a teacher, you know these complaints are quite untrue except perhaps for the difficulty in reading Shakespeare’s English. But how do you share the joy of Shakespeare’s work with your students while still making it fun? This article will explore several Shakespeare-themed activities which you and your students can do, and at the end if they still do not like Shakespeare, at least they will be able to say they had fun and learned about this brilliant wordsmith anyhow.

 

All The World is a Stage

Set the stage. If you are going to study Hamlet, for example, turn off the classroom lights, and set LED tea lights on tables and desks throughout the classroom to give the feel of a dark, slightly spooky night. Be sure to set the tea lights somewhere where they are not a distraction to students. You could even create a night backdrop. If you are going to teach Romeo and Juliet, you could create a scene that looks like the iconic window. Use inexpensive props, and your classroom will look like a Shakespeare set in no time. As a bonus, students will realize something is different, and will likely pay more attention.

 

Playlists

As you study the sections of a Shakespeare play, make sure to ask your students their thoughts on the characters. Discuss the character’s motives and personalities so that your class gets to know the characters. Then ask them to do a 3-5 song playlist of their favorite characters. With each song choice, ask them to include a two-paragraph mini essay explaining why they chose the song they chose. If you wanted, you could even ask them to properly cite song lyrics. Your students will much more easily remember that Justin Bieber was Romeo than simply answering questions about who Romeo killed on a reading quiz.

 

Hamlet’s Father

If you are studying Hamlet, you could have a discussion of the various ways to create Hamlet’s father’s ghost. Have your students discuss various ways of creating the ghost, including puppets, bedsheets ghosts, and anything else your students think up. Then discuss how the ghost was created in Shakespeare’s time. Be sure to discuss what makes the ghost foreboding.

 

Perform a Mini Play

A full play would be difficult to perform in a small space, but you could perform one scene from the play you are studying. Assign each student a character part. If you have more students than characters, assign some to make sound effects, flash the lights to make lightning or raise and lower backdrops. This way, your students can feel as if they are part of the Shakespeare experience.

 

Your lessons on Shakespeare do not have to be boring! They can be fun, informative and memorable. With the above activities, you can teach your class Shakespeare in a way they will never forget. Also, these are just a few suggestions to get you started. Use your imagination and creativity, and you can probably come up with many more. Believe us, your students will thank you.