A TOP 10 list that can save lives! I hope that you decided to read past the title because you are a fan of David Letterman’s famous TOP 10 lists. All kidding aside, I really am hoping that I piqued your interest because you are curious about the last part of the title – “save lives”
It is no secret that much of what as I do in media is examine topics related to communication, education, and safety. I often have penned blogs spotlighting disaster preparedness and response, often citing personal experiences. In fact, earlier this week I re-posted an article giving general resources to help families in the event of a disaster. I had written that article shortly after visiting many areas in Oklahoma – from cities to rural areas – that were devastated following a series of tornadoes in 2013.
In addition, I have been involved with several specific media campaigns that focus on helping families and schools to be prepared for disasters, including earthquakes. Currently, I am a member of a social media team that supports ShakeOut – the world’s largest earthquake drill. ShakeOut is much more than a practice drill as it entails an interactive educational component that is dedicated to increasing awareness about how to prepare for earthquakes. ShakeOut spotlights teaching how people should DROP – COVER and HOLD ON when an earthquake happens. At first, this three-step protocol surprised me! I thought if an earthquake happened I should run to a doorway and stand. I also recalled believing that it would be best to run outside away from buildings. (I am fairly certain I am not alone in assuming this was the correct procedure and am glad that I have been corrected in my thinking!) But, thanks to ShakeOut and their considerable due diligence of garnering information from rescue teams, there is much available information and instruction on the best practices for earthquake safety.
Why shouldn’t we run to door jams or outside during an earthquake?
Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognized “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protocol to protect lives during earthquakes:
- DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
- Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
- HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.
Read more about DROP – COVER and HOLD ON!, including what to do if you are not able to take cover, are in a wheelchair or other special circumstances. (For me, it was interesting to learn what to do if in a stadium during a sporting event!)
Special Note: Mark your calendars for the 2015 ShakeOut drill: October 15th at 10:15 a.m.
I have spent considerable time perusing the ShakeOut site and I came across some great features that I thought would be of interest to families, homeschooler and educators. Here is my list of the ShakeOut “Top 10″!
#10- REGISTER your family, business, school, organization or individuals for the ShakeOut drill via this LINK. When you are all finished with the very fast registration process let others know by clicking the social media platform share buttons.
Note: Fans of social media don’t miss the weekly Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety chats by following on Twitter @ShakeOut
#9- Play BEAT THE QUAKE – a game that uses loads of action and interesting questions to spark the interest of any child or adults who are kids at heart.
#8- What’s in your disaster kit?
Do you have a disaster preparedness kit? Does it include all the essentials that are recommended by disaster preparedness specialists, such as the Red Cross and Earthquake Country Alliance.
Don’t forget to add the whistle!
#7. Let others know you are safe!
An app made available by the Red Cross allows you to communicate to loved ones that you are safe or in need of assistance during the “after” stage of an earthquake. (Note: Similar apps also are available for other disasters such as Hurricane or Tornados) Click here for information about the Red Cross App. (The image below also will take you to the Safe and Well Website.)
#6. Materials for Schools/ Educators . Teachers don’t miss this opportunity for a “learning moment” contrasting the reality of actual earthquakes with the fiction presented in the 2015 Summer movie San Andreas. While entertaining, San Andreas was largely a fictionalized version of the “real deal”. To highlight the salient facts, the Earthquake Country Alliance has made available this movie parody and supplemental materials that clearly explain the fact vs. fiction about earthquakes in a child – friendly and entertaining manner! Both the image and this link will take you to the movie!
#4. Key Earthquake Safety Tips for People with Disabilities and Other Access or Functional Needs (Regular readers of this blog will know that this is a subject near and dear to my heart) Read these materials and much more here
#3. In fact, there are so many other resources that I would need to make a Top 20 list! Note: the resources are downloadable and are visually very attractive for posting. Consider laminating if you work or live with young children.
#2. Don’t speak English? No worries. The ShakeOut site is also in Spanish.
#1: Share YOUR ShakeOut with a photo or story!
Here is link to upload your story or picture! How fun is this feature?!
But wait there is a bonus to the Top 10 list!
Want to follow some fun social media posts? Simply track the hashtags #ShakeOut and #DropCoverHoldOn. You never know which friends of Where Learning Meets Laughter will be posting! Feel free to tag me in your post as @LouiseASL (Twitter) or @LouiseMasinSattler (Instagram).
AND…I just uploaded the FAMILY and SCHOOL DISASTER RESOURCE PAGE on this blog. Please add to the comment section any additional resources you feel would be helpful within our communities to keep all safe!
In closing, it is now time for popcorn as here is a great video clip to watch and share with others!
About a month ago I spotted on my Twitter-stream a photograph of a young boy who had created a bicycle using a toy called Qubits. (I took the liberty to crop the photo to disguise the identity of the young lad). At first the boy reminded me of a little boy I worked with more than two decades ago who had developmental delays and significant visual impairments. While it was the boy who caught my interest in the photo, it was the bicycle he made from plastic shapes that piqued my curiosity! Within minutes I was engaging online with @Qubits_Toy and learning more about this real product for learning that is the brainchild of Mark and Lisa Burginger.
As a School Psychologist who has worked years within the realm of special education, I asked the creators if they wouldn’t mind sending to me a set of Qubits for closer inspection and review. So, thank you to the Burgingers for satiating my curiosity and sending to me a lovely pack of Qubits who has made “snap happy” for several days!
The first thing that struck me about Qubits was its’ many educational applications. For example, the toy itself could help with the development of visual motor planning, organizational and processing skills. Advocates of STEM will love that this toy incorporates fundamental concepts necessary for the foundations needed for careers such as engineering or architecture.
The basic pack I received came with scores of brightly colored shapes that snapped and connected together. Frankly, I could have played with them for hours! I also couldn’t help but think that Qubits may not be “just for kids” as it could be of great value for occupational therapists working with adults. Imagine seniors who are having memory / dementia issues being occupied by this stimulating product. And while this product may be similar to Legos because they both are toys that “connect” and are made of plastic, I truly think they are complimentary and not competitors.
Today, I had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite toy store owners. She was searching for any games or toys that a child with visual impairments could play without supervision or help from someone with sight. I immediately answered, “Qubits!”
I connected with Mark Burginger and asked him questions about the development, marketing and future of his company.
Q1- What inspired you to start Qubits?
The California school system cut art/design/music in the 90’s, so Lisa and I would occasionally volunteer at the local elementary school for free to soften the lack of these classes – Well at that time I had already designed this geometric shape that I developed during my college architecture days, anyway we looked at it (the Modular Form Building Element – patented) and we thought it would make a good concept for a creative children’s construction toy. A toy that would introduce kids to art/design while they played at home.
Q2- What is your background?
Lisa is a graduate from a Fashion/Design College in NY
Mark is an architect registered in the State of California
Q3- How do you envision this toy for children with special needs?
We have visited autism schools, gifted schools, charter schools with special needs, Christian schools and Chabad schools. We are currently trying to arrange for a presentation at the Florida School for the Blind. Each time we do this we find that the challenges presented by Qubits helps kids focus on problem solving their geometric design. The time spent carefully positioning pieces allows many kids to “chill out” from the activities that over stimulate them such as video games.
Q4- What is your next project for the company?
Video, we have not captured the essence of Qubits in a video yet. It’s a tough task since we value childrens privacy and rarely bring a camera into the play area while we are working with Qubits.
Q5- How do you market Qubits
We pay for the display of millions those little click ads you see on web sites, via Amazon – thousands of people click on them and hundreds buy each month. We are just now reaching out to the small speciality stores that are just now rebuilding themselves after the severe recession.
Q6- Do you work with educators?
Yes since 2007 we have visited close to a 70 different schools, libraries, street fairs, after school facilities, childrens day care facilities, hospitals and museums. Have entertained over a 2 thousand of kids in the process. A middle school teacher introduced us to STEM back in 2007 and we have focused on it ever since.
Q7- Anything else to share?
We are proud that we were awarded the Chase Bank Mission Main Street Grant during the year 2014, with that award we have been able to spend more quality time on the improvement of our toy. We have worked hard to produce this toy right here in the USA and we hope that we can market it correctly and grow our company and improve our brand.
DISASTER SAFETY TIPS FOR FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS – 2015 updated post with additional safety resources
An update of my 2013 post with additional resources
Originally posted on Where Learning MEETS Laughter...:
Update: Sadly tornado “season” has been wicked during 2015, therefore I am re – blogging this post that originally posted in 2013. At the bottom of this post is additional safety resources including for earthquake, flood, hurricane, tsunami and wildfire preparedness.
Today there have been a series of tragic tornadoes that have ripped through the heartland of America causing severe devastation, including loss of life. Some of the families impacted who have been impacted have family members with special needs.
In an effort to help families and communities who may have some unique challenges during disasters here is some information:
BEFORE A DISASTER
Be prepared. Alert your local fire department if you have a family member with special needs of any kind, such as physical, sensory, cognitive or other. Included would be family members with dementia, Alzheimer’s or medical problems.
Have a family…
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There are a number of professionals who are dedicated to early childhood brain development. Deborah McNelis, founder and owner of BrainInsights is one of my favorites! Not only does she have a wealth of experience with how children grow, feel and behave – but she has been a well sought after speaker and entrepreneur for years. That is why when her latest product – the NEW Early Brain Development Box Set was delivered to my door this past week, I leapt at the chance of reviewing it and sharing it with readers.
Deborah has been known for her creation of user friendly cards that are chocked full of ideas and activities for people who live with, care for and love young children. This new box set is full of bright photos adorning cards with amazing ideas for engagement and learning. Each one is meant to stimulate developmental milestones including socialization, motor development, communication and skills needed as building blocks for formal learning situations. The unique aspect of this set is that the cards are written as if from the perspective of the child. Give Me, Show Me, Cheer with Me and etc.
As a School Psychologist who works with training staff on developmental and educational issues, I found that this product aligned nicely with Early Head Start and Head Start goals. There is enough involved with this product to make anyone who specializes in child development or pediatric neuro-psychology happily satisfied.
I had an opportunity to ask Deborah what was her main objectives with her latest addition to her already successful product line. She replied: “The main point I am trying to promote is that this set is ideal for parenting programs, teachers, homevisitors, therapists, and pediatricians. It makes it very easy and affordable for them to provide insights and ideas to parents, if they can’t afford to provide brain packets for each family.”
I would have to agree, at under $50 for the ENTIRE set this is almost a “steal”. I would deem the NEW Early Brain Development Box set perfect as a baby gift or an addition to any early childhood centers or schools.
Pre-order information can be found here: BrainInsightsOnline
Note: I received a set of cards gratis from my colleague via 411 Voices, Deborah McNelis. They were donated to a young family following the completion of this blog.
After a very busy week, Hubby and I decided to have a relaxing dinner with a friend. Little did we know that our meal would come with a spectacular “show” – compliments of “Mother Nature”. Enjoy the beauty of Southern California where the slightest change in weather is considered a huge “event”. These photos were taken over a time span of 45 minutes. A new “scene” every 15 minutes!
Each year thousands and thousands of dogs are placed in shelters for a variety of reasons. Some owners cite allergies while others indicate their dogs have behavioral problems – regardless the number of canines that are “given up” is astounding. Over the past few months I have visited a number of shelters in the Southern California region. It had been years since I walked in to a shelter as we had stopped fostering and adopting dogs once we had welcomed Bingo and Tess in to our home. Now that Tess is a senior and Bingo has passed, it seemed the right time to add to our family and save the life of a furry friend. First stop the Devore Shelter in San Bernardino County. I had heard about this shelter as having a “high kill rate”. I have been following the Friends of Freddie Facebook group dedicated to broadcasting the shelter’s daily list of available dogs. They also posted those with sadder outcomes with captions reading “RIP”.
One day I spotted on their Friends of Freddie Facebook wall a photo post of a little black and tan shepherd puppy. The Facebook followers were certain that the puppy would be a “goner” so off I drove with hubby for nearly two hours to come upon one of the saddest shelters I have ever seen. After walking up and down I decided the puppy wasn’t a good fit for a variety of reasons. It obviously was a dog that had a lot of interest – and indeed was adopted out the very day it was able to be released from the shelter. As for the other dogs sitting in the over two dozen kennels- many who were pit bulls or seniors of mixed breed – it would be hard to say if they all found homes or were at least had their care sponsored. Unable to handle a dog as strong as a pit bull, mastiff or doberman – we drove home sans a dog. But, we made sure that we left a donation – to help sponsor care for those who didn’t have a list of potential adopters – like the little shepherd we came to see.
Next stop was a much nicer, cleaner, and amiable shelter in San Pedro via the LA County system. There I spotted an adorable dachshund mix. But again- a lot of interest and it seemed he wanted to be an “only dog”.
Third time is the charm…
For many years I have seen comfort dogs that help children and adults post- disaster work magic! I have longed to adopt a dog that could become a comfort dog to those who need to feel safe and emotionally more stable when their world is topsy – turvy. Hence the reason I started to search direct my search for breeds that would be people friendly and could deal with a little “stress”. Via PetFinder I spotted Sparky and the Gang / West Coast Animal Rescue from Long Beach, California. They had a dog that was purportedly a retriever mix, but had survived one of the worst cases of malnutrition I had ever seen. Off I went (again) to visit this survivor only to spot in a nearby kennel a young rhodesian ridgeback- shepherd mix that had just weaned eight puppies. Yes, I said eight.
All the pups were quickly adopted and little “Annie” was left alone in a kennel that once housed nine. When I passed her she rolled over – did a little wiggle and seemed to be quite the energetic little gal. After a nice time playing and snuggling in the yard I was in love.
“Annie” was to become Bayla (Hebrew for beautiful) and with not much issue settled in to our home. Quiet as a mouse not a peep for five days. She was fine in a crate, walked well on a leash and seemed to be getting along fairly well with Tess. Then all hell broke out on Day 6! OMG – she became a teen-age dog overnight! Chewing shoes, bouncing like a kangaroo, barking like a crazy dog and gulping her food as if there was no tomorrow. Plus, she went from docile Bayla to a prize fighter in a blink! What on earth happened!?!
Quickly I searched “what to do with dog aggressive and food aggressive teen/ young adult dogs”. So much advice so I took a step back and decided to “see life her way”. First, she was a stray in Mexico and a young mom. Then was an empty nester before she even was an adult! Finally she lands in a home where she has everything she would want except for a lot of limits. Unsure of herself – she is testing her boundaries and trying to be the one in charge. Our mission – to make sure she understands that this home has a hierarchy and she is not the Queen! Secondly, she needed to feel safe, secure and that we weren’t going to “dump her” – as we suspect had been the case before.
Daily walks, quiet voices and lots of rewards at intermittent times (yes I used people psychology on her!) – she seems to be going in the right direction.
So, while we are now in “Operation Bayla” in order to seek some peace in our home – I would like to open up this blog for any helpful hints, discussion or words of encouragement.
In the meantime – we are sure progress will continue to be made as she already has come so far in such a short amount of time. Thanks to social media I have found some wonderful resources and even plan on taking her to a group doggie trot where guidance for dogs and their humans is given!
And please remember – adopt, don’t shop – there are too many shelters full of dogs (and other animals) that need homes.
Here are some of the scores of dogs that are available for adoption via the West Coast Animal Rescue. Please note that they are available the date of this post and you should check out this link for updates and to obtain information about adoption or fostering.
Thanks for reading!
The Campaign continues – Imagining a Better World – please check out this amazing story of human survival