Convierte Lagrimas en Sonrisas – Turn Tears into Smiles

By Whittney Tom

The Burned Children Care Foundation presents us with an example of inspiration and action. Vivian Pellas was directly affected by the painful remnants of burns after a plane crash in Honduras. She was inspired to take action, therefore she founded APROQUEN in Central America to address the global health crisis of burns. Startlingly, fires kill more school-aged children in one year than tuberculosis or malaria. The Burned Children Care Foundation has provided over 300,000 complimentary health services to the burned children of Nicaragua and greater Central America.

In order to exponentially effect Central America’s public health crisis regarding burns, APROQUEN began the “Regional Program for the Treatment, Rehabilitation, Training and Prevention of Burned Children in Central America” in 2003. The Regional Training Program not only brings awareness to the crisis, but encourages local solutions to local problems. A free Regional Meeting of the Central American and Caribbean Burn Association promoted exchange of ideas and knowledge in August 2010. The Regional Training Program draws ideas from these partnerships and continues to put educational focus on rehabilitation, burn reconstructive surgery, nurse training, burn physical therapy, and burn patient pediatrics. The program’s training missions in Nicaragua include participants and medical students from hospitals in Florida, Maryland, Texas, and soon New York.

After the recognition from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, APROQUEN has facilitated more than 35 missions and training activities benefiting medical professionals dedicated to the treatment of burned patients in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic. Act now to support this incredible and region-specific organization to continue to transform lives in Central America!

Profile of Tracy Cosgrove

 

By Sarah Graham-Helwig

Being nosy and prying too far into someone’s business is often looked down upon.  However, hundreds of kids’ lives were saved because Tracy Cosgrove was being nosy.  One afternoon, Tracy was looking at the construction of her new apartment being built in the beach town of Pattaya, Thailand, when suddenly she noticed all of the construction workers squeezing into one van. She proceeded to follow them, because she wanted to learn more about their lives and how they survived on just 5 dollars a day. To her surprise, she saw families living in tiny huts and children playing with empty beer bottles in piles of sewage. There were among 800 men, women and children living in the poverty-stricken area, and Tracy couldn’t believe her eyes.

That image changed Tracy forever, and she decided to act on it and change the situation. Tracy began to construct an on-site nursery for the workers’ kids and brought them toys; this became the first nursery of many. I commend Tracy for her ability to create a short-term solution and later follow up with a long-term solution. This shows her passion and commitment towards helping the kids of Thailand.

Since then, Tracy has renovated an orphanage in Yangon, Burma, and has created kindergartens and nurseries in Pattaya and Bangkok. She also bought 200 bicycles for HIV-positive children in northern Thailand with her own money.  For her independently-funded work, she was named Scotswoman of the Year in 2003.

See the full article about Tracy Cosgrove’s work from The Christian Science Monitor, as a part of its “People Making a Difference” series.

Other ways you can get involved and help the children of Thailand:

-       Volunteer to serve disabled children & their families in Thailand

-       Give confidence to poor children in Thailand trying to thrive in school

-       Direct an orphanage in Thailand

For more ways to help, visit: www.UniversalGiving.org

PROFILE OF CLE ROSS, BUILDER OF A FIELD OF DREAMS

By Kyle Daley

For most kids, summertime brings the joy of youth sports programs; where friendships are born, skills are honed, and life lessons of teamwork are learned. These programs offer an opportunity for kids to get out of the doldrums of a long summer day and become active in a sport they love. But for a majority of those in the inner city, these sports programs are a world away.

That was until Cle Ross came into play. A former professional baseball player with the Texas Rangers, Ross returned to his Kansas City roots and was in despair when he saw Heathwood Park, a field that gave birth to his career, in ruins. Due to cuts, the park was closed in the late 1990s and hadn’t been kept up since.

Nevertheless, Ross was determined to restore the baseball diamond to its former glory from his childhood and with it, the youth baseball program. When growing up, Ross remembers when an anonymous package arrived at his doorstep filled with sports equipment that his mother and he could never afford on their own. This sole act of charity touched the young Ross, who promised one day he would pay it forward.

That day came in 2004.

After arriving back in his hometown, Ross formed a non-profit — KCK RBI, took ownership of the field, built a small battalion of volunteers to repair the park and the facilities. Soon he found himself working with the Major League Baseball again, but this time with their Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.

In 2009, Ross hit a milestone. He was able to organized more than 150 kids into his baseball league. But it didn’t stop there. This season, nearly 500 kids of all ages play on 28 teams.

Ross’s dedication to the youth in his hometown is an inspiring story of how one act of kindness to one person can spread to hundreds more years later. His ability to serve as a role model to the next generation of youth in his community showcases his skills at serving as a great team player. Something he teaches every day.

See an in-depth profile of Cle Ross from the Christian Science Monitor, as part of its “People Making a Difference” series.

If you would like to help with youth sports programs:

  • A $15 donation to Sports Gift will will provide a soccer ball for an impoverished child.
  • Play Soccer helps develop build a holistic year-round sports program across the globe.
  • Donate to Right To Play, an organization that helps disadvantaged through the use of sports.

For more ways to help, visit UniversalGiving.org.

Profile of Pernille Ironside, Protector of Endangered Children

By Bridget Botelho, Marketing Specialist

One of the greatest challenges to modern society is the struggle to resolve conflicts of war and protect those involved.  In certain countries, modern warfare includes the abuse of children, through their involvement as soldiers, military support and sex slaves.

Picture of Pernille from UNICEF.org

Endangered children have been one of the most important global causes being attended to by international organizations and relief efforts. But this crisis has yet to be resolved. Luckily, Pernille Ironside has accomplished extraordinary feats in rescuing child soldiers and other children in areas of need.

Through her work at UNICEF, Ironside worked in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which included leading a team to the release of 150 children from military forces. Additional work in Nepal resulted in rescuing over 2,000 children tied to the army of the United Communist Party of Nepal.

Pernille Ironside works fearlessly while putting her life in danger to rescue children worldwide. Her work continues through her role as UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist in Emergencies, through which she rehabilitates children and returns them safely to their families, while also providing psychological care, educational opportunities, and life skills for a better future.

Ironside’s work is truly inspiring. May we all remember her bravery and nobility when considering how we too can make the world a better place.

See an in-depth profile of Pernille Ironside from the Christian Science Monitor, as part of its “People Making a Difference” series.

If you would like to help improve the lives of endangered children:

For more ways to help, visit UniversalGiving.org.

Little Feet takes Big Kick for Change

By Karis Ingram

I wasn’t always the most athletic kid growing up, but I did love to play. I remember not being able to wait for break in school, so that I could play handball, kickball or double dutch. Once the recess bell rang, I would race my friends to the playground to get first dibs on a ball. I lived for playing and having fun – it was my life. Playing sports and games helped me improve my health habits, and helped me develop socially, physically, and mentally. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like if I had to sit in a classroom all day long without being able to play.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where some kids don’t have this outlet. Many kids around the world do not have access to clean, safe playgrounds or the equipment necessary to play the games that I so looked forward to as a child. Because of this, too many children are not getting the proper exercise and play necessary for child development.

Fortunately, there are ordinary people, like you and me, who seek to change this. Like Trevor Slavick, founder of Little Feet Foundation, is working to create opportunities for kids around the world to have access to soccer balls and healthy play programs. Using the One for One business model, Little Feet Sports matches your purchase of a soccer ball by sending an additional ball to a child in need. For example, if I buy a soccer to try to become the next Mia Hamm (highly unlikely!), Little Feet will send a ball to an underprivileged child in need around the world.

Talk about giving back! This is such an amazing idea, why didn’t I think of it first?

In its first few years, Little Feet Foundation has already donated soccer balls to over 20 countries. They’ve also recently branched out from an online store and have added the sale of Little Feet soccer balls at the national chain store, Sports Chalet. You can now pick up a life changing soccer ball at a California Sport Chalet near you!

Aside from their work providing soccer balls, and developing sustainable soccer programs, Little Feet is also seeking to help local economies worldwide. With the discovery that coffee farmers are only paid less than a penny from a $2 cup of coffee, Little Feet created a unique and sustainable way to help the kids and local farmers. If you want to help Little Feet reach their goal of building 8 soccer fields and soccer programs by 2014, you can do so by purchasing Little Feet Coffee. Buying Little Feet coffee will help local farmers receive better prices for their hard work, while also funding soccer programs and fields!

By purchasing a Little Feet Soccer Ball or Little Feet Coffee, you can do your part too and help kids in need race their friends to their local soccer field in hopes of becoming the next David Beckham. Check out Little Feet’s website and buy a ball for a friend, one for yourself, or your whole family!

World Hunger

By Osprey Brown

It has been said many times that the chronic hunger crisis is staggering.  With close to a billion hungry people in the world—falling slightly over the last year—it seems like an insurmountable task to provide so many people with food.  The World Food Programme, a UN organization, is making significant contributions to decrease world hunger.

The problem of world hunger, on the one hand, is simple, insofar as the solution only requires that people receive the nutrition they need.  On the other hand, however, there are various nuances to achieving this goal.  Chronic hunger is a generational problem which results from undernourished mothers giving birth to children, and also children failing to receive proper nutrition in the first two years of life. These factors produce whole generations which suffer from other health problems in their life time as a result.

These children’s mental and physical development is severely impaired as a result of early childhood malnourishment, and it is more difficult to give them the proper nutrition later in life.  Providing children food at school is one solution that has particular impact.  In addition to providing children with nourishment that will hem the generational problem of hunger, it provides incentive for parents in developing countries to send their children to school when they otherwise might not have.  Children, particularly girls, are more likely to receive some sort of primary education as a result.  Good nutrition is also crucial to proper brain function and improves concentration in school.

WFP School Meals program does just that.  In 2008, School Meals reached 22.6 million children in 68 different countries.  Not only did WFP manage to reach such a large number of children with School Meals, but 48 percent of them also received health hygiene and education packages.  Out of the 22 million that received meals at school 4.3 million boys and girls were given take home rations, 12 million children were de-wormed, and 55 percent were also equipped with potable water and sanitary facilities.  What is similarly impressive about the success of this program is it has provided all these resources almost equally to girls as to boys.

WFP is the largest humanitarian agency devoted solely to fighting world hunger.  Its impact is measured by the millions: men, women, and children all across the world who would have otherwise gone hungry.  Through their influence, strategy, and approach WFP has provided more than 90 million hungry and malnourished people with food in 73 countries, moving on average 3.7 million tons of food.  If you want to find ways to get involved you can give through UniversalGiving, or find ways to participate in World Hunger Week this year—this and other information can be found on their website.

The Power of Play

By Osprey Brown

I am a huge fan of playgrounds as I’m sure many other people are.  In fact, in my adulthood I’ve been known to sneak onto a swing when no one is looking.   When I was small, I was fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood where we had the privilege of having a nice playground.  As a kid I never needed much more than a swing and a slide to entertain myself for hours.  But not all children have this privilege.  Moreover, the role that playgrounds play in our society is becoming even more critical.  In an information age, we need to do more with the play spaces that we offer our children.  One organization which has helped to improve child play spaces and advance playground technology is KaBOOM!.  KaBOOM! is a non-profit that aids community development, childhood health, and education through the power of play by helping to build and renovate play spaces around the country.

The story of KaBOOM! is just as cute as you think it is. Founder Darrell Hammond grew up in a group children’s home in Chicago.  As a child, Hammond always had safe open spaces to play in.  Hammond founded KaBOOM! after reading a news story about two children who died in a car for lack of a better place to play.  Since then KaBOOM! has been building playgrounds, ice rinks, and parks all over the country.  Hammond’s endeavors have been, you know, kind of successful, raising a whopping 200 million dollars and renovating and building more than 2,000 thousand playgrounds and parks since KaBOOM!’s inception in 1995.

This is all nice, but what can a playground really do?  Apparently, the idea of a playground has the potential to do more than provide a new location for toddlers to trip and fall.  Playgrounds and play spaces can be an essential tool in child development if done right.  A tool that can help prepare young people for an information age that requires creativity, organization, and problem solving skills to survive in.

The once simple idea of building more playgrounds has blossomed into a number of different play related initiatives which KaBOOM! organizes.  In addition to the direct benefit that the children gain from having productive play spaces, KaBOOM!’s programming also contributes to community engagement and leadership development through playground building.  Do-it-yourself playgrounds and Community Builds are programs which provide ways for people to get involved in their local areas.  By providing the program resources for people to take action KaBOOM! supports individuals who want to build playgrounds in their own communities.  Do-it-yourself Playgrounds, provides resources such as playground plans, ideas for volunteers recruitment, and guidance on receiving funding.

So after all the success with building playgrounds, what could possibly be the next step in the playground building industry?  Answer: high tech portable playgrounds that increase child creativity and engagement, of course!  Hammond has moved passed just giving your little rapscallions a place to play, but also giving them a place to play that lets them be creative, further preparing them for the challenges of their world.  Another initiative on the website is Imagination Playground, which is a partnership with New York Architect David Rockwell to build concept playgrounds, the specially designed playgrounds aid in the aforementioned childhood development through creativity and learning.  Rockwell’s portable playgrounds are designed around the idea of “free play.”

The idea is that giving children an opportunity to exercise their imagination through unstructured play fosters creativity and problem solving in their developing minds.  The portable playground once unfolded provides a range of different parts which the children have the freedom to arrange in any way that their imaginations dictate.  The environment is completely malleable to their desires and this creates a more engaging atmosphere for children.  Children learn to think creatively about how they might structure their environment for different benefits and functions.

The idea of a playground was so simple.  But Playground master Hammond has elevated the status of your run-of-the-mill playground to an epic architectural masterpiece of infant creativity.  If the children are our future, then we need to think comprehensively about what it takes to develop the kind of mind that is equipped to live and thrive in our new world.   KaBOOM! is helping to pioneer another weapon in childhood education.  You can also read more about KaBOOM! in the Washington Post.  KaBOOM! also has an entire page on their website devoted to research that demonstrates the positive impact of good play spaces.