Thursday, August 29, 2013

Have You Heard...

that cyber bullying starts as young as elementary school???

I was catching up on emails today, and like most days, I had multiple requests to join LinkedIn. The requests come from acquaintances from every aspect of my life- online contacts, personal friends, past colleagues. I am debating if I should start an account...but the only thing that echoes through my head is..."one more social networking site...?" ...can I handle that?

Social networking has become the way of life. So many people I know communicate and catch up with friends via Facebook, or share information back and forth on Twitter. I hear daily of individuals finding recipes or new, creative craft ideas on Pinterest. And now LinkedIn is promoting to teens to encourage online profiles and help with college applications and post-school jobs.

Social networking is a huge part of our daily lives, so it is no wonder that kids as young as 6 years old have jumped on many sites. No, I'm not saying that tons of 6-year-olds are on Facebook. I have no idea if they are or not...they are not supposed to be. Although one study says that nearly 80% of parents help set up their under-aged child's Facebook page and over 7.5 million users are younger than 13 years old. (source)

Regardless of whether or not there are youth on Facebook, there are a handful of other sites out there targeted to young kids. Sites like Moshi Monsters, Kidzworld, and Kidzsocial to name a few. And there are sites that connect students within their school community- such as EdModo which many call the "Facebook for schools." And there are many, many more sites that provide extended learning opportunities. Students are also set up with email accounts and many have cell phones and are texting.

This isn't a bad thing...

There are just as many benefits to social networking as there are negatives. Kids can connect with others including mentors and teachers, increase learning, start to create their own individual brand, connect with extended learning opportunists, schools, and colleges, and so much more.

But clearly there is a downside to social networking. Cyber bullying, privacy, and identity theft to name a few.

The question here isn't whether or not our kids are using social networks-- they are--in school and even out of school regardless of if we know about it or not. The question is...

What are kids really doing on those sites?

And because we probably don't know the answer to that question, I then have to ask- are schools taking online safety seriously enough? Do teachers and staff even know enough about the social online networks students are using? And do we as parents know enough about it to keep our kids safe?

These questions are not easily answered. But the first step has to be awareness. We need to know what is happening. We need to be aware that our youth are online.

Next, there needs to be education. We need to teach ourselves and our teachers before we can teach our children. And we need to learn proper online etiquette and model it. The internet isn't going away, (not unless we have a zombie apocalypse or a Revolutions-type event.) Therefore we need to take steps to keep our youth safe and healthy while online.

The buzz phrase going around schools these days is "21st century learners"...I'm afraid I can't let myself be stuck in my past. Somehow, I have to catch up.

Best to all,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Out Of the Darkness

Every year, I join hundreds of other supports for the South Metro Community Out of the Darkness Walk to promote suicide awareness and prevention. The walk is held locally every September. (Click here for recaps of my past walks.)

Last year, the walk raised over $126,000 with half of the net proceeds benefiting our community by:

  • Providing the suicide awareness training, More Than Sad: Teen Depression to Colorado High Schools
  • Providing funding for  (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)
  • Providing the peer leader/suicide awareness training  - Sources of Strength- to multiple Colorado High Schools
  • Providing community suicide awareness trainings - 
This year, the Colorado Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hoping raise $140,000. All proceeds will go to continued support for the initiatives above and the work of the AFSP Colorado Chapter.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)  is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

The topic of suicide tends to stay silent, but we need to talk about it. Raising awareness and providing prevention programs is important. I hope that everyone can do something, even if just a little, to spread awareness on suicide and suicide prevention in their area. 

The AFSP hosts hundreds of events every year and many walks across the nation during the month of September. To find a walk in your area go to

Here are some pictures from the past Out of the Darkness Community Walks I participated in...

I look forward to the walk each year. It is a great time to focus efforts on raising awareness for an important cause. I will be sure to post an update and pictures of the walk after September 6th. 

For more information on the Out of the Darkness Walk and to find a walk near you please visit

For more information on the AFSP please visit

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spirit in Leadership

I had the amazing opportunity to speak to a room full of high school dance, cheer, and pom girls this past weekend at the Colorado Spirit Coaches Association Leadership Conference.

Colorado Spirit Coaches Association's mission is to support the needs of Colorado coaches in cheer, pom, dance, all-star, and drill teams by uniting, educating, networking, and recognizing the achievements of the athletes and coaches of our Rocky Mountain State.

The Leadership conference educates spirit leaders in developing and maintaining respect between teams in the spirit industry, promotes advocating for the sport, educates how to be an ambassador for the team, school, and entire spirit industry, provides formal training with skills and personal behavior/attitude, and increases development in professionalism within the sport.

My presentation was on Building and Maintaining Relationships in the Spirit Spotlight. I had an amazing group of high school students from all over the state of Colorado. The group was very outgoing and willing to share and ask questions. My presentation was centered on bullying and dating abuse. The girls learned how to recognize if they or someone they know is in an abusive relationship, what the signs of an abusive relationship are, and how to get out of an abusive relationship or help someone who is in one.

At the end of the session, I passed out markers and asked the girls to write what love means to them on their hands or arms. 

I got some amazing answers!

Here are the pictures.

"Love is anything! Love is when someone/anyone will be there for you whenever."

Thank you to all the cheer, dance, and pom girls, and thank you to the Colorado Spirit Coaches Association for having me as a guest speaker at your conference.

Best to all,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Finding Inspiration

When you need to find inspiration, where do you look?

Do you find it...

In nature?

In animals?

During a walk?

On the web?

In a blog post?

In other people?

In a child?

In yourself?

In art?

In photos?

In music?

In anything?

Inspiration is defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. It is the influence of thought or strong feelings on actions.

What is inspiring to one person may not be inspiring to another.

I am inspired by many things. Some days inspiration just comes to me...other days I have to look for it.

What inspires you?

Where do you find your inspiration?