Friday, July 30, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Special Olympics

Watching the Olympics in Tokyo this week made me think of Special Olympics. Although I’ve posted over 450 Feel Good Friday blogs, I’ve never written about Special Olympics – until today.

Many of you may be familiar with Special Olympics, an organization that began in 1960 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver hosted a camp for children with intellectual disabilities in her backyard called Camp Shriver. The first Special Olympics Games were held in Chicago in 1968 and in the 50+ years since, 5,755,056 athletes have participated in 114,888 competitions across 200 countries!
The mission of Special Olympics is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.” You can watch a great summary of all their work in this 3-minute video, Changing the World Through Sport.
In addition to the high-profile sports competitions such as the 2022 World Winter Games which will be hosted in Russia, Special Olympics Unified Sports teams join people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared training and competition experiences. There are also several programs focused on developing Leadership skills for the athletes. 
Because people with intellectual disabilities die on average 16 years sooner than the general population, Special Olympics Inclusive Health programs focus on providing people with intellectual disabilities access quality health care and opportunities that promote fitness and wellness. You can work on your own fitness goals with the exercise videos in the School of Strength.
If you’d like to support Special Olympics athletes there are several ways to do so: become a coach, volunteer or official, make a donation, sign the inclusion pledge and share the love on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @SpecialOlympics and Instagram @specialolympics. #InclusionRevolution

Friday, July 23, 2021

Feel Good Friday - California ReLeaf

This summer in California we’ve already experienced record-breaking heatwaves and are ready for some relief. Since this is Feel Good Friday, it’s coming in the form of urban forests with California ReLeaf.

Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Sacramento, the mission of California ReLeaf is “to empower grassroots efforts and build strategic partnerships that preserve, protect and enhance California’s urban and community forests.” Why, you ask? Trees are important, especially in a drought-prone state like California. They provide shade for the landscape, reducing water needs, and help keep your home cool. They also improve air quality and reduce soil erosion. 


That’s why California ReLeaf promotes alliances with “community-based groups, individuals, industry, and government agencies, encouraging each to contribute to the livability of our cities and the protection of our environment by planting and caring for trees.” Two of the groups they’ve partnered with have been featured in previous FGF posts: San Francisco based Friends of the Urban Forest and Sacramento Tree Foundation.


California ReLeaf programs include: educational outreach and resources to teach us all about trees, Arbor Week celebrations in March, legislative advocacy to raise visibility of urban forestry, and pass-through grants for community-based organizations. California ReLeaf helps smaller organizations meet prohibitive public funding requirements and provides technical assistance to their projects.


Since their founding, California ReLeaf has supported “hundreds of non-governmental organizations and local municipalities in more than 820 projects that have planted and cared for nearly 200,000 trees, engaged thousands of volunteers, and leveraged more than $9 million in matching funds.”


If you’d like to find and support an organization focused on trees in your community, search on this map. To support California ReLeaf you can make a donation and keep in touch on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram @calreleaf and Twitter @CalReLeaf.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Wonderopolis

I was wondering if there were any free summer camps that I could share in today’s Feel Good Friday and that’s what led me to Wonderopolis.

Created by the National Center for Families and Learning in 2010, Wonderopolis is “a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages.” 

Start your exploration by visiting the website to review the Wonder of the Day® - an intriguing question sent in by people from around the world. Recent Wonders of the Day® that have been answered include: Who was Bessie Coleman? How does a dishwasher work? And what happened to Pompeii? For each wonder there is an explanation, a short video, a list of Wonder Words associated with the topic and a quiz to test your knowledge!

You can search through over 2000 Wonders of the Day® here or submit your own question in the Wonder Bank. Top questions get answered and you can upvote any of the 278,387 listed. Right now, there is an exciting three-way tie between: What are Macrophages? How did people learn to read words and phrases? And what is Diwali?

You may be wondering, what does any of this have to do with summer camp? One of the other programs run by Wonderopolis is Camp Wonderopolis, a “free online summer-learning destination that's full of fun, interactive STEM and literacy-building topics boosted by Maker experiments!” You can register for camps that focus on topics such as music, construction and engineering or fitness. In each camp you’ll follow learning tracks, test your knowledge and use everyday items for hands-on maker activities. Because these camps are self-guided, you can start any time.


There is also a network for educators called Wonder Ground which provides classroom resources, lesson plans, correlations to education standards, and real-world applications.


Wondering what you can do to help Wonderopolis stay engaged with the one million users that visit their website every month? Become a Wonder Funder by making a donation and help spread the word on social media by liking the Wonderopolis Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Wonderopolis and Instagram @wonderopolis. 

Friday, July 9, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Little Free Library

It’s summer, time to lie on a beach or sit in your backyard and read a book! But what if you don’t have a book to read? Today’s Feel Good Friday organization, Little Free Library, has you covered. 

Little Free Library is a neighborhood book exchange that began in Wisconsin in 2009 when Todd Bol built a model of a one room schoolhouse, put it on a post in his yard and filled it with books. The idea and the libraries spread and Little Free Library became a registered nonprofit organization in 2012. Their mission is “to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.” Their tag line, “Take a Book. Share a Book.”

The reason the organization focuses on book access is explained on their website. “Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.
The programs run by Little Free Library to achieve their mission of book access for all include: equipping, educating and guiding volunteer stewards to establish Little Free Libraries in their communities; Read in Color, an initiative to bring diverse books to book-sharing boxes; the Impact Library Program, which has provided 1,350 no-cost Little Free Library book exchanges to communities where books are scarce; and the Action Book Club, which combines reading and community service.

If you want to find a Little Free Library in your neighborhood, use this map. There are now libraries in all 50 states and on all 7 continents. Over 100,000 libraries in all with 42 million books shared annually. The impact of these libraries is highlighted on the website: “72% of volunteer stewards have met more neighbors because of their Little Free Library” and “92% of people say their neighborhood feels like a friendlier place because of a Little Free Library.” All that and free books too!

If you’d like to support the work of Little Free Library there are many ways to do so. Start a library in your neighborhood, make a donation, and amplify their work on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @LtlFreeLibrary and Instagram @littlefreelibrary. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Feel Good Friday - California Fire Prevention Organization

Anticipating a summer full of wildfires is what inspired today’s Feel Good Friday focus on the California Fire Prevention Organization. 

The majority of California is in drought conditions and wildfire season has already started. That’s what makes the work being done by California Fire Prevention Organization (CFPO) so important. CFPO is a nonprofit organization that partners with communities and fire departments across the state to educate people about fire and life safety. Their mission is “to reduce the threat to life from fire utilizing technology, education, and localized awareness for the fire service and the general public.

There are a number of educational programs that help CFPO achieve this mission:
  • Ready, Set, Go - education on how to prepare for a disaster and know when to evacuate
  • Fire Smart California – providing guidance on how to create and practice a plan for what to do in the event of a fire
  • My Safe California – installing free smoke alarms for families that are unable to provide them for themselves and partnering with fire departments to deliver fire prevention activities and education
  • Quake Smart California – education and resources for what to do when you feel an earthquake – DROP! COVER! HOLD ON!
Much of CFPO’s educational programming is targeted at children. In the last 33 years, the team has delivered fire and life safety presentations to over 670,000 students, primarily in Southern California.
If you’d like to increase your knowledge on fire prevention you can subscribe to the CFPO podcast. To help them with their work, make a donation and amplify their reach on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @MySafeCA and Instagram @california_fire_prevention.