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Visiting to Make a Difference

July 27th, 2016

by Lydia Suggs

lydia

Since I was little my family and I have always gone to nursing homes in my community

to visit. We would sing songs to them, rub lotion on their hands, bring them cards, and just visit

with the elderly. I think it is a problem in society today that no one really cares or wants to visit

them and it breaks my heart.  Last month, my mom and I drove to the Ridgetop Nursing

Home in Ridgetop, TN intending to visit with some people there. As soon we walked in there

was a little elderly lady sitting in the lobby not doing anything. I walked up to her and gave her a

card I had made and talked to her for a while. As soon she noticed me her face lit up and she said

that she was happy to see my smiling face, she the card I gave her and kept it like it was a

piece of gold. After that me and my mom walked around in rooms and talked to some residents

there and I gave out more cards. Another highlight was that my mom got to pray over one of the

residents there who had been sick for the past 6 years.

Just being there was extremely humbling.  I thought it was amazing that they are in there

for years but they never complain. They are precious in Gods eyes therefore they should be in

ours. Jesus loves them and we should too and it is the right thing to do. To think that the little

card I made them made a difference in their life was very encouraging.  They are so lonely

because the majority of their families do not visit them and it is so disheartening. The smallest

things whether it is a card or a flower or even a smile can always make a difference in someone’s

life. I definitely hope I have empowered you to make a difference in your community.

The Best of Both Worlds: Thoughts on Being Latina and Raising Bi-Cultural Kids in America

July 22nd, 2016

By: Susan Ragsdale

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

It’s National Hispanic Heritage month, and I can think of no better way to celebrate than by honoring my friend, Carol, and asking her for her insights and perspective on what it means to be Latina in the United States. As Carol and I talked for an hour over coffee, I asked her about where she grew up, her home now, her family and her work. Here is Carol’s story.

Carol grew up in Costa Rica where her dad owned and ran a grocery store. Ten years ago, she moved to Nashville, TN, where she currently runs the YMCA Latino Achievers program. At home, she and her husband have a 14-year-old son who spent four years of his life in Costa Rica and 10 in Nashville.

What was it like to move into the United States?

When I came here, I was suddenly identified as a “Latina,” a label, a check-mark on a box. I had to check it; there was no other option. That check-mark shocked me – it tried to define my identity and denoted me as separate, not a part of the whole. I never thought I could be limited to fit into a boxed description. I stopped being recognized as Carol. I felt disconnected and sometimes I didn’t even feel like I was a person.

When you are told you are something so many times, when you are constantly asked to check that box, it begins to imprint in your mind that you only fit in this box along with a limiting definition. And if you aren’t careful, you might begin to believe that.

Coming here turned out being a great opportunity to discover and define who am I today. I learned to reframe my internal dialogue (the way I thought about myself) so I wouldn’t lose who I really was. I had to question myself constantly: “Is this my truth?” “Is this who I am?” “Is every Hispanic stereotype true about myself?” I started analyzing the information bombarding me. I sorted through everything so that it was ME who was defining my dreams and my reality.

What’s your experience like now?

For the most part, I am treated with respect. There is much I enjoy about my work and the opportunities around me, but I still encounter those instances where I feel that people hear my accent or see the color of my skin and assume things about my intelligence or personality. I know those first 5 minutes in meeting someone creates impressions so I am conscious of giving the best of myself in every interaction and especially in those first 5 minutes.

What’s the gift of being Latina in the United States?

Latinos are “Citizens of The World!” I am bi-cultural. I am able to recognize how the beauty of both cultures, where I grew up and where I live now, have enriched my life with gifts and challenges. The trick to living well with both is to accept yourself and both worlds. It is a great gift in my eyes.

Empathy. I feel I am able to understand people a little better because of my experiences. When you travel, I believe you develop a more empathetic point of view because you learn to recognize and are more aware of what makes people uncomfortable or vulnerable, and you can connect with them.

Being Latino opens a window to the world. I have discovered that as a Latina I ignite curiosity: “You’re from where?” I can open a window to an unknown part of the world to others. In this BIG world, there are other perspectives to think about or see on any given issue. For example, here at 3:00 p.m., people are at their desks. In Costa Rica, people are sitting with friends drinking coffee. This difference is an opportunity for me to share differences and let other people see through my eyes the world I have known.

What does it mean to be a “Citizen of the World?”

Our philosophy is that we’re world citizens who happen to be born in particular places. We are here to be part of and take care of the whole world. We are here to experience the WORLD God created for us – all of it. We have a great opportunity to enrich our lives by knowing, learning from and experiencing other cultures and friends. Being world citizens is how we live. We try to be curious about everything that is around us not only in this moment and in this space because we know that everything we do affects the world globally. We are interconnected.

How do you pass along your own cultural traditions to bi-cultural kids?

In my work, I want to pass on the message to be proud of who you are, take advantage of the best of both worlds, and use your gift for the betterment of your community. Know that your existence can make a difference in someone’s life.

What does it mean to “be Latino/Latina?”

Family: Being Latino means traditions. Stories about heritage and family live together. It’s important to know those stories–like how your grandparents worked the lands, or what they had to do to bring the family together. Being Latino means knowing what a cup of coffee symbolizes: to sit down, connect, and check in. Coffee is the only thing that all of Latino America has in common. The values and traditions may differ from country to country but everybody has coffee, drinks it, and connects over it. This is a rich part of who we are.

Embracing your roots: I want bi-cultural youth to know their roots and history and to [connect with and be inspired by] their rich history. Our history includes very smart people who built pyramids, contributed to art and music, and so much more! There’s a whole legacy that comes from the culture.

Embracing where you live: I want youth to reconcile the American side with the Latino side. I believe we are a beautiful result of genetics and environment. I want our kids to embrace our country’s organization, structure, our quest for achievement. America was built on people who came from all over the world and managed to work together. Unity should not just be another word in our vocabulary but a motto for life. I want youth to make a plan and work their plan for the betterment of all.

Embracing your story: More than anything, I want everyone to personally embrace his or her story and love who you are, because at the end of the day, it’s just you! You are with yourself 24/7. You might as well love yourself.

My son is able to translate two ways. He has perspective and is able to find the middle ground. He is aware of intrinsic things–things he didn’t learn from a textbook. He learned these things for himself, from being immersed in both cultures. He has flexibility of thought; he can see solutions in ways that maybe his dad and I don’t. This is part of his story of being bi-cultural (and awesome).

What would you share with other parents to help them embrace some of what you’ve talked about?

1. Listen to your kids. They are transitioning; they are switching on and off and living in a complex world trying to define who they are and what they believe in and what their values are and what they believe is true for themselves. To be able to listen to them and their opinions – the war in Iraq or the neighbor next door – is essential. What do they think? What are they feeling? If they are also navigating a system at the house and a system at school, then they are switching back and forth in two systems. Be patient but persistent to make connections with your kids; listen and guide according to your core principles.

2. See the challenge of living in two systems as an opportunity for your kids. Kids have a greater capacity to navigate two worlds. They are flexible. They can bring understanding and unity to help things move smoothly between different systems. Try to be open to learn from your kids and be open to new ways. We want them to be better than we are. Be patient with yourself, your ways, and the ways that push back from other systems. Hold onto your values, but also be open to new expressions and new ways. When you’re wiling to learn, you put your guard down: “I want to understand what you are saying and where you are coming from.” That willingness is key for growth and understanding to happen within the whole family.

Share your stories. Your history and YOUR story is important. How were you raised? Where did you come from? What about your parents? What lessons have you learned? Parents should make a conscious effort to share learned lessons with their kids.

Remember: Society is made up of families. Families are miniature versions of a society. We can make society better by making the family stronger and more aware as we share what we’ve learned.

Carol Cubillo-Seals is Director of the YMCA Latino Achievers program in Nashville, TN. She can be reached at programcseals@ymcamidtn.org

Go and Do

July 20th, 2016

Reading Hershey, Here! At Saddle Up! or making an onsite visit to a similar program in your area can help your youth follow in Jesus’ footsteps by

  • becoming more aware of persons with special needs;
  • being more willing to reach out and include those teens;
  • looking for ways to serve such individuals either now or later in their lives;
  • embracing opportunities to be advocates for people on the margins.

Your youth may also wish to volunteer in such a program. What might that look like?

Talk with your local center (http://www.pathintl.org/path-intl-centers/find-center) to find what they need. At Saddle Up! youth groups (including college students on alternative spring break) have trimmed or planted trees, weeded, cut new trails and maintained established ones, removed rocks from arenas, washed horse blankets, cleaned grooming tools, painted fences, and, yes, flung poop! (That one is a favorite!) Flinging poop away from fence lines out to where the field harrow can take care of it is definitely a service! Plan for two to three hours. Be sure to contextualize the fun with the larger goals.

Some centers also welcome individual youth as volunteers. At Saddle Up! youth can be on their own at 16. If a parent volunteers with the student, he or she may start as young as 12. You can help by identifying the opportunity, encouraging the support of parents, and inviting your youth volunteer to talk with you—and also with the group—about the experience. Most centers require training and a commitment of some period of time.

The benefits of connecting your youth to these programs are great. In addition to the goals listed above, young people gain community service hours, which are often required in high school. Individuals who serve consistently have received references as they apply for jobs, especially as camp counselors. Some have also discovered not just a career choice but a calling related to issues around disabilities.

Hershey says to tell you he’s here to help!

Hershey Here!

 

—Crys Zinkiewicz, today’ s guest blogger, is the author of Hershey, Here! and is also Hershey’s Pony Pal, one of her various volunteer jobs at Saddle Up! Crys’ career was as an editor of resources for youth ministry. To contact Crys or to order the book, visit hersheyhere.org.

 

The #growildchallenge

July 18th, 2016

By Caleb Boss

The #growildchallenge started when I was assigned to create some ideas for a service project that I would later carry out.  While I developed ideas the thought of how much the wild is neglected popped into my head.  The thought that a lot of the wild areas today are being cleared to make way for buildings.  Thoughts about how many animals are dying from pollution we create.  So I decided that I was going to make a service project that helped the wild.  I started thinking about service projects like cleaning up the highway or making awareness signs but then I realized that that would only affect a small number of people.  That got me brainstorming about how to affect many people, the immediate answer was social media.  That was when the basic idea of the #growwildchallenge was formed, and then it developed into this:

 

As you now well know the one of the main reasons I chose to create this challenge was because of buildings taking over wild areas.  I now hope that by issuing this challenge we can help grow back the wild.  Also I helped plant three bushes and some flowers to help kickstart the challenge.  So I challenge you to go do your part in growing the wild by participating in the #growwildchallenge and telling friends about it too!  The more people we reach, the more good we can do!

 

A Horse, of Course!

July 15th, 2016

Look around. In your youth group are there any teens with disabilities? More likely, not, for two reasons:

  • Only 5–7% of young persons, ages 5–17, have special needs. Although seemingly small, it’s definitely a significant number.
  • All too often a disability leads to social isolation, especially in the teenage years. Those youth become increasingly “invisible.”

In church we talk the talk about being inclusive, about accepting others; but we expect people to come to us. You are in a position to help your youth walk the walk, to reach out to young persons who are otherwise marginalized.

You have a surprising helper—horses!

Hershey Here!

Hershey, Here! is a book about Saddle Up!, a therapeutic riding center that serves children, ages 2–19, who have disabilities. Hershey is one of the horses. He’s the main storyteller, but, of course, since he is a horse he needs a little help.

Look around! In your area there may well be another “Saddle Up!” Across the world there are more than 850 similar centers. Some serve adults and some, “wounded warriors,” as well. Here’s a link to see where in your area such programs may be: http://www.pathintl.org/path-intl-centers/find-center.

You might begin a conversation with your youth group about ways to connect with persons of all ages, but especially other teens, who have special needs, by introducing the group to Hershey, Here! or to one of the programs in your area.

Many youth admire horses; some are passionate about them. Let the horses open your youth to

  • becoming more aware of persons with special needs;
  • being more willing to reach out and include those teens;
  • looking for ways to serve such individuals either now or later in their lives;
  • embracing opportunities to be advocates for people on the margins.

 

—Crys Zinkiewicz, today’s guest blogger, is the author of Hershey, Here! and is also Hershey’s Pony Pal, one of her various volunteer jobs at Saddle Up! Crys’ career was as an editor of resources for youth ministry. To contact Crys or to order the book, visit hersheyhere.org.

Clean up at Treasure 2 Farm!

July 13th, 2016

by Calli Carroll

I have been going to Treasure 2 Farm since I was 7 years old, taking riding lessons. I love being around horses and love hanging out with my friends. At Treasure 2 Farm I can do both! So it only made since that I should help out there. Treasure 2 Farm has been doing renovations for a while now to make it look nicer, and it is going great, but there was a need for organization. I decided to take it upon myself to fulfill that need.

On May 2nd, I went to Treasure 2 Farm and I organized all of the medicine and bathing supplies. I then cleaned the rest of the tack room! It was important to have the medicine organized and put up on a high shelf.  You need to be able to access the medicine quickly when needed for any of the horses. You must also have it high so that small children cannot get into it.

The owner of Treasure 2 Farm, Lindsey Carney, has 4 children. She is fun, but strict when needed, she is also very funny! I learn a lot there and she helps me improve on the skills I already know. Treasure 2 Farm is located in Chapmansboro,TN. I feel like me helping, impacted the farm in a way that it helps everyone to be able to get to things quicker and more easily to keep the horses they ride healthy and clean! In the meantime I got the privilege of being the help that was needed! In doing this project it makes me want to do more to help the community and inspire others to do the same.

Treasure 2 Farm “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”   Matthew 6:21

Who’s That Guy Riding The Subway In His Underwear?

July 11th, 2016

Charlie Todd choreographs bizarre, hilarious and unexpected public scenes. He explains how his group, Improv Everywhere, creates these moments of urban whimsy to bring people together. Read this story

Discover Your Child’s Personal Love Language

July 8th, 2016

By: Susan Ragsdale

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

There’s a new holiday on the horizon—Valentine’s Day! While stores around us try to focus our attention on roses, chocolates, cards and potential dinner dates, I want to suggest that families focus on the “heart” of the holiday by reflecting on how love is expressed in the home.Read more >

Dr. Gary Chapman has identified 5 distinct, universal “love languages” that give insights into how our children (or spouses, family members and friends!) are wired to perceive and receive emotional love.

Knowing your child’s love language can help improve your relationship with your child, ensure a sense of security, and strengthen communication once you learn to speak his or her love language. The key is to understand how your child interprets love.

The five love languages® include:

1) Physical touch – hugs, holding hands, pecks on the cheek and physical presence
2) Quality time – undivided attention minus outside distractions and multi-tasking
3) Acts of service – anything done to ease the burden of chores or work
4) Receiving Gifts – thoughtfulness and effort put into choosing personalized gifts show you are truly known and cared for
5) Words of affirmation – words impact: insults can shatter and unsolicited comments can make your heart dance

After reading about these love languages, my friend, Ann, created her own game of either/or questions to ask her children about. She gave her kiddos scenarios like:

  • Which would you rather do with mommy: 15 minutes of snuggling (physical touch) or 15 minutes of playing games (quality time)?
  • Which makes you happier: to receive an encouraging note (words of affirmation) or to get a surprise present (receive gifts)?

Now, she incorporates their particular preferences into her parenting strategy for each one.

If you’re not quite as creative as my friend, Ann, you can visit Dr. Chapman’s website, which provides assessment tools that support the power of positive parenting. Parents can play theLove Language Mystery game with their children to unlock their secret love languages.

In honor of this month of love, why not spend time learning your child’s primary love language and what you can do to help him or her feel genuinely loved? Assess your love language, then ask yourself: How does my child interpret love? How do I? Are our love languages different from each other? How does that impact our communication?

Tell Us:—->Have you read Dr. Chapman’s book? What did you learn about your (or your child’s) love language?

Baking the Way to Alabama

July 6th, 2016

by Kendall Hitchcox and Ellie Williams

Ellie and I did a bake sale in my neighborhood.  My parents and Ellie’s parents helped us by taking us to buy the ingredients and taking us around to try to raise money. We baked all day Friday and went out on Saturday. Some of the people were rude and said that they were not interested, and then they shut the door in our faces. There were a few people who were super kind as well as nice, and they were all so happy to hear that we were raising money for our best friend to go on a mission trip this summer. Some of them asked about where we were going for our mission trip. Each of them gave an extra donation. We raised about eighty- two dollars.

We chose this project because we wanted our friend to go on the mission trip this summer, but we also chose this project because we wanted people to see that it’s important for young teens to go on mission trips and proclaim the gospel all around the world as well as in our own communities. For this mission trip, we will be going to Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The mission trip is in July. On the mission trip we will be rebuilding a few houses, organizing a Vacation Bible School for the kids, and possibly building a playground at the Higher Ground Baptist Church in Alabama.

This project impacted our community by bringing about awareness of missions. This project will also impact the community in Alabama because without Ellie and I doing this project our best friend wouldn’t be able to go, and with our best friend going to serve, the Higher Ground Baptist Church in Alabama will see that there is another loving person wanting to help them get back on their feet and proclaim the gospel to everyone down in Bayou La Batre. This project has impacted us by showing us that there are so many loving people out there that will support worthy causes as well as the mission fields. We are so excited to go with our church to Alabama and that our friend is now capable of going with us too!

Why Parents Should Encourage Kids to Volunteer and Ideas for Getting Started

July 1st, 2016

By: Susan Ragsdale

originally published at parentfurther.com

Can families volunteer? Can I? What age do you have to be to volunteer here? These are the same questions that pour forth every year from 13 eager girls, ages 9-12, involved in my local YMCA’sone-week summer volunteer camp.

The questions aren’t new. They pop up every summer as we take girls out into the community to explore the many opportunities they have to touch lives and make a difference. Our program helps young campers find their place in the world through service. We also aim to help young people explore their sparks – those moments, activities or places that make them light up with joy, energy and a sense of purpose.

Why Volunteer?

The WHY behind volunteering has been extensively covered in various research studies that show the impact of serving on academic grades, personal development, enhanced leadership skills, and more. Search Institute research has shown that volunteering builds Developmental Assets; it aids in the development of key skills needed to live and thrive in the 21st century, and it has been linked to health benefits as well.

Providing opportunities for kids to volunteer alone or as part of the family is a smart strategy to equip children with life skills, values and help engage them with a broader sense of purpose and connection to community.

So, each year, when young people ask me, “Where can I volunteer,” I turn to some wise insights I’ve picked up from a few literary characters and one famous civil rights leader. When it comes to serving others, The Berenstain Bears, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Martin Luther King Jr. all said it best.

In the Berenstain Bears book series, there are several stories through which the bears teach their cubs to give like, “Think of Those in Need” and “Lend a Helping Hand.” The stories show how “human” cubs can take their old games, puzzles, and the books or clothes that they don’t use anymore to share with others in need and make helping others a way of life (a lesson they learn from a neighbor). These stories show how giving and volunteering can begin at home early in life. Clifford the Big Red Dog encourages acts of service through the BE BIG campaign, and then there’s Dr. King who said, “Anyone can be great, because anyone can serve.” Anyone is inclusive.

Get Started Serving—at Any Age!

Different organizations will differ on their policies about when a young person can start volunteering on his or her own (sometimes it’s 14, sometimes it’s older). That doesn’t mean you have to wait until that age to start exposing your child to volunteer opportunities. Try these ideas:

  1. Participate in an upcoming Global Youth Service Day activity in your city or town.
  2. The MLK Day website provides a comprehensive list of a variety of service ideas. Check it out.
  3. At Free Rice, you can play games, and for every correct answer you get, rice is donated to help end hunger.

Try volunteering based on family interests. Try different things and watch for moments when your children get really engaged. I’ve engaged kids in:

  1. Serving and preparing food at a homeless shelter.
  2. Collecting Christmas cards to a mentally challenged charity that recycles them into new cards.
  3. Collecting pennies or loose change for the Society of St. Andrews.
  4. Delivering meals to home-bound elders.
  5. Cleaning and pick up trash on trails at the park.

Each of these activities are distinctly different so they didn’t necessarily appeal to each youth. After you’ve gotten your kids involved in service moments, take time to talk about the experience. It’s a great way to see what your child did, learned and thought about the whole thing.

Reflect on Your Volunteer Experience

As you volunteer, reflect on your experience with your child. Ask your child:

  1. What did you do?
  2. How did you make a difference?
  3. What was the best part of the project?
  4. What was the hardest?
  5. Would you do it again? Why or why not?
  6. If you did do it again, what would you do differently next time? Would you want to do the same thing or try a different task?
  7. What do you want to do next? Where else is there a need that you can do something about?

Using Tech Talents to Make the World a Better Place

June 29th, 2016

Submitted by Riley Anderson

I came up with the idea for theDesktop 2016-05-02 14-17-20.png “Grammar mistakes we all make | How not to look stupid” video idea when I made a spelling mistake. I had prior experience from playing Minecraft with lazy people who don’t take the time to spell. But when I got a chance to do a video about it, I saw it as a huge opportunity to make the world a better place by correcting common mistakes people make with their grammar. In the video I cover five mistakes people make. Those including there, their and they’re, its & it’s, proper apostrophe usage, proper capitalization and comma placement. These are some errors I have noticed are plentiful.

I wasn’t able to get into detail because the video wouldn’t get as many views as it did because people don’t want to watch a long video about mistakes. I could have made a video with long explanations and a really boring video but as I stated before nobody would have watched it. I got an amazing three views in the first twenty four hours. I was able to do this service project because I built a gaming computer back in the summer of 2015. I wouldn’t have been able to do it as well or easily if I haven’t built my own computer with the proper hardware and capabilities.

Here is the video

 

An Interview with Betsy Ross: Tips for Family Fun on July 4th

June 27th, 2016

By: Susan Ragsdale

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

This Independence Day, families across the U.S. will be on holiday and celebrating with cook-outs, baseball games, waving of flags, family reunions, all types of outdoor fun, and fireworks. To help get your family fired up to celebrate the day with a little more “oomph,” I thought a mock interview with historical figure Betsy Ross might shed some light on why the 4th is such a memorable moment in our family history as a country.

Betsy is widely credited with making the very first American flag. She is going to fill us in on what every family needs to know about this important day in American History.

Susan: Besty, what’s the story behind the 4th of July?

Betsy: In 1776, we were in what is known as the American Revolution. On July 2nd of that year, we declared independence from Great Britain. It was a huge decision! We considered ourselves as independent states, no longer part of the British Empire, officially on that date.

To help explain the decision, our Congress scripted a Declaration of Independence. It covered the reasons for pulling out from the British Empire as well as asserting what we believed to be certain natural and legal rights that we all held. I think today you call them “human rights.” The Declaration was signed on July 4, 1776, and it is the primary document in the founding of our country.

Susan: Can you relate to us a “human” moment during all this excitement?

Betsy: (laughs) Well, I remember John Adams told his wife Abigail that July 2nd would become the most memorable date in history, since that was the day that independence from Britain was declared. He missed it by two days!

Susan: That’s really funny! How did everyone celebrate the 4th? How did families remember this history-making moment during the next several years?

Betsy: Well, to continue to quote John, he thought it should be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by acts of devotion to God. And, he thought it should be “observed by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and fireworks, from here on out.” So, he may have missed the date, but he was pretty close on predicting how the event would be remembered from year to year.

Susan: He was almost right on target, wasn’t he? Two more questions: First, is there anything else we need to know about what was going on during that time? And second, what would you suggest that families do today to commemorate the 4th?

Betsy: Glad you asked! As far as honoring our history, why not include a little quiz in your family’s celebration to remember what went on during those exciting times? That’s a great way to honor our heritage and to have fun together. Perhaps families might do a game show –Family Feud style or whatnot. Here’s a link to a fun quiz that you can do on-line together or print off to use with others.

I would recommend that you follow John’s ideas for celebrating the 4th and think about how you can make the time together meaningful. Here are some tips to help guide you!

Actively honor the day. Attend a parade; talk to a veteran; do flag crafts where you draw pictures of the flag and write freedoms you have that you are grateful for in the stripes; re-read the Declaration and talk about how it served as a code then create your own family code; visit those who don’t have the day off (policemen, firemen, etc.) and take them treats – lunch, brownies or healthy snacks and thank them for their service; or, hang the flag.

[Downlad: Activity – Create Your Own Family Code!] Pictured above: An example of a “Freedoms List” activity

Spend time together as a family. Grilling, picnics, making homemade ice cream (one family I know has a homemade ice cream competition), going to a movie or playing in a community baseball game – spend time together and remember to be grateful for the freedom you have to be together and that you are free to do as you like.

Play games. Use a red, white and blue theme for games. Consider a game of tug-of-war with red, white and blue bandanas marking the middle. Use the game’s title to talk about the “tug” the colonists must have felt in their desire to be free and independent and then relate that to today (what freedoms are we still working on?). Create your own ring toss game with the colors. Have a relay race where participants run to a designated spot, tie on red bandanas, put on blue gloves and a white hat, run back, disrobe and the next person puts things on, runs, disrobes, runs back and so forth until one team wins.

Light up the skies! Put on your own fireworks display or watch someone else’s. Bang pans, make noise or have a bonfire.

Tell Us:–>What are some of your favorite Independence Day traditions?

Happy Birthday!

June 25th, 2016

Our Great Group Games book is officially nine years old, and it has remained on the publisher’s bestseller’s list since its first year. It’s been a big hit with schools, camps, youth organizations, churches, and businesses all over the country. We’ve been SO blessed to hear stories about the ways YOU are using our games. You are PLAYING WITH PURPOSE – using games to shape values, relationships, skills, and leadership styles.

THANK YOU for all your support in this project. If you were here, we’d give you a slice of birthday cake! So why don’t you go have a Hershey’s Kiss, and celebrate with us!

Welcoming Flowers

June 22nd, 2016

By Emily Jo Justian

Inglewood neighborhood in Nashville Tennessee has had quite a few new people move in, so I thought it’d be nice to do something for four of those people.  Now growth rate was I found too high and so that’s the reason of me picking four new people to give the notes and flowers to take to everyone (I also don’t have that much money).

The plan was to write out three simple notes (seen is photo one) on April 25th but that plan was pushed to April 29th.  The notes would then be attached, using twine, to a small arrangement of flowers that were picked from my mom’s garden.  My mom drove me around the neighborhood and helped me figure out who is new to the neighborhood.  We tied the flowers to the mailboxes with their notes attached.