Our teens. Our voice. Our world? by Olivia Demmler (center in pic) age 14

Some of you may be offended with what I’m about to say and prepare yourself because I cried when I heard about this. Written by a teen who heard about something unimaginable happen on February 14, 2018. How can this even be our world? What will be different about this school shooting? Is there a way to make a change? Who do we confide in? All of these questions I asked myself when I heard about what happened in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

636542839634075922-AP-School-Shooting-Florida.1I wasn’t at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but I was still affected because most of those kids who sadly passed away were my age. A 19 year old should never have an AR-15 let alone one who’s mentally disturbed. I posted something on Instagram it said, “ We need change. We deserve change. We can’t let innocent people keep on dying we’ve had enough #enoughisenough. There are so many things wrong with the world we live in right now and what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is only the beginning of it.

dab95bd742064c529b292ea44b48cb43.jpgTo spread change I’m no longer asking I’m begging for you to march. March so we know we’re not alone. March so change will come. March because there’s so much more to life than just sitting down thinking about how you could have made a difference. March for every life lost during the school shootings. March because this is somehow our reality. I literally cried while writing this so please I’m begging all of those who don’t feel like they have a voice trust me you do.

Personally I want to have kids and I want them to go to school in an environment they can trust with people they can trust. Seeing how someone can walk into a school with an AR-15 and decide to kill 17 innocent people is unbelievable and to be honest I don’t trust schools that much. Hopefully our future generations never have to go through something like this. Finally, there have been 18 incidents where a gun has been brought on school property like wth. Honestly we need to put the politics aside and focus on public safety. This situation is not red and blue and we can’t point fingers if someone says something we don’t like.

180217-parkland-victims-16up-composite_f28d54947a0ad694bc02699c473e6dc2.nbcnews-fp-1200-800When I heard about this I cried those were kids my and most of our leaders age that ended up dying. I hate to say it but that could’ve been anyone of us. We can’t get through a normal day without hearing that someone’s been shot. We should send thoughts and prayers but we should also take action. I think all of these kids have heard enough of thoughts and prayers.

Capture-5Someone or some group needs to take action and do something. Schools will never be the same. Lives will never be the same. If you saw the CNN Town Hall for the victims. Well Ted Deutch (Representative) for Florida said something very important, “it is not — it is not too soon; it is too late for the 17 lives that are lost.” I completely agree with what he said. Why did it take so many? How many more do there have to be? Another thing is that they want to trust teachers with a gun. How is that okay?! Not to be rude but how many of your teachers don’t know how to use an activboard? Teachers are here to teach us. They shouldn’t have a gun. Protect children not guns.

Olivia Demmler

Valued Girl Talk Marlton Member

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Black History Month by Kenikki Thompson age 11

February is recognized as Black History Month in the United States and Canada. During this month, people are encouraged to learn about African and African American history. Black History Month actually started out as a week. It was celebrated the second week in February because it was between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. They were both important to Black communities at that time.  It was began so that people would not forget about African American culture and accomplishments.  Because of slavery and Blacks not being able to learn to read or write, a lot of the history was not written down.  What a lot of people knew was by memory and stories being handed down from generation to generation. 

In 1970, the week celebration officially became Black History Month. It was especially for kids in school to learn about African American history because most schoolbooks only talked about Blacks as slaves.  The history was much more than that.  There were so many pioneers.  Their stories needed to be told too. There were scholars, inventors, musicians and more to learn about.  Many schools now make sure their students are learning about some of the very important accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month.

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There  are a few things you might not have known. Dr. Charles Drew helped create blood banks. 

 

 

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Marie Van Britton Brown was a nurse who was worried about people possible breaking into her home so she invented the first home security system. 

 

 

 

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Garret Morgan created the gas mask and the traffic signal.

 

 

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The Underground Railroad, which helped guide slaves to freedom, even has history where we live in New Jersey. Harriet Tubman, the most famous fugitive from slavery traveled to Lawnside, NJ, where a home was used to hide escaping slaves.  She also worked as a cook in Cape May hotels during the summers of 1849 through 1852 to help raise money for her Underground Railroad journeys.

Although February is actually Black History Month, you can learn about it all year. There are so many interesting facts and people to learn about.

Kenikki Thompson

Valued Girl Talk Marlton member

Who do you want to be in the New Year?

new-year-resolutionsA new year is upon us and with it, a chance to renew.  Many of us are getting ready to make resolutions to change something about our lives in the new year. The top resolutions for me were always losing weight, eating healthy and getting more organized. As good as my intentions are, by mid-March I usually forget the resolutions and don’t think about them again till years end (or bathing suit season-ugh) only to promise myself, “this will be the year I achieve these goals!”.

01smarter-resolutions-facebookJumboNew Year is a chance to start fresh, so this year I am going to try something different and start the year off right with small, manageable changes to my lifestyle. Seriously, who is this person I believe I will become if I finally organize my house, lose the 40 lbs., join a gym, etc.? These are my LIFE goals and daily struggles not my New Year’s resolutions.  So, I started to ask myself, “Who do you actually want to become within this new year?” And the answer is an impactful positive influencer who is giving and gracious.

newyearresolutions2016-1200x630Here is my plan for achieving my resolutions. I am going to practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon all things I am thankful for.  I will start prioritizing the people that matter most in my life and make more time for them. I plan to remember important dates, be present in the moment, promote positivity by showing others small tokens of appreciation, practice daily acts of kindness, affect change by inspiring others and I will learn to be kind to myself. Whew!

Sixty-and-Me-6-New-Years-Resolution-Ideas-for-Amazing-Women-Over-60Now that I have my plan, I can think of ways to achieve my goals. Volunteering will always be a huge part of my life and can be as big or small a commitment as time allows, but it’s always time worth spending. By donating your time, energy, and money to others, you’re practicing selflessness and kindness. Please consider volunteering for a cause close to your heart at least once a year.  Helping others can improve your well-being and give you a great sense of fulfillment. There is no greater gift than helping others. You’re not just making a positive impact—you’re being positively impacted, too.

new-years-day-open-houseIf you are looking for ways to help others this year and do not have time to volunteer, one of the easiest things you can do is to donate your clothes instead of throwing them out. Donating things that you do not use or have in excess can help many that are homeless, fire victims and in a financial crisis right in your own neighborhood.

960x0Also, make your spare change count. Save up coins and then donate them to a good cause once you’ve accumulated a sizable amount. Our Girl Talk chapter saves our change and donates the funds to children in our school’s lunch accounts. Another suggestion is spending time with the elderly, or helping the disabled or underprivileged. Help combat loneliness by spending an hour a week with someone who needs a friend. We all have a special skill or ability. Share your talents and offer your skills to a non-profit that could benefit from your help.

newyear2018_25As I work on my plan, I hope you will think of your own and how you can improve someone else’s life and make the world a better place. By helping others, being kind and spreading love to those around you, the world would be a much happier place. Happy New Year!

 

~MB

Queen of Wishful Thinkin

Moving Forward After Tragedy

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The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others. After events like this senseless attack, many Americans feel sad, helpless and fearful. We are only human, it affects us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Las Vegas tragedy comes after weeks of devastating stories from storm-ravaged areas across our nation, which can be a lot of tragedy to process all at once. The shock and devastation of any tragedy leaves us feeling stunned and vulnerable. We know that life is fragile, but it is not supposed to be this way.

1506991109747.pngTragedy and grief are devastating.  But it doesn’t have to get the best of you. The news overwhelms us with stories, pictures, videos and interviews around the clock showing every intimate detail of these tragedies. It is like reliving it over and over. Shut it off and regroup. Never underestimate the importance of your mindset. Get yourself refocused in a positive direction.

Don’t forget your children’s feelings and emotions during this time too. When it comes to any tragedy, most adults either feel the need to talk a lot to their kids or think they shouldn’t talk at all. The best place is somewhere in between. First, ask what they think happened. Kids get information from many different sources, not all are reliable. Let your child’s questions to you be your guide. Reassure them of their safety, spare them the scary details and be sure not to lie to them. Don’t allow young children to watch the news. Empower your kids to take positive action in the wake of a tragic event by doing something positive for the victims and survivors. This will help you both heal.

today-las-vegas-140709-vid.jpgLife is unpredictable and uncertain. What we have today can be taken away in a moment. Let’s just accept the fact that life is unfair sometimes.  This, however, doesn’t mean that we give up. When the world is falling apart around us, it’s tough to see the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. But, that is exactly what we must do. Take this time to reflect on the life you have and make any necessary positive changes to your life starting today.

1507054518676Life is for living, not worrying about dying, so don’t be fearful to live it to your fullest potential. None of us know how long our life will be, but we all get to choose what we make of each day. See the beauty, not the darkness. Focus on the good, not the bad. Many things are out of our control but you can control how you will react to situations, how you will treat others and how you will live your day. Make it a great one.

MB

 

You Are Unique – Just Like Everyone Else

We are all alike…we all have hearts and brains. We are all different…we do not think or feel the same way.

51PYQ4J95WL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_An important lesson in a book I came across titled We Are All Alike, We Are All Different – written for children, by children. With its original drawings and words by The Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartners, it shows the perspectives of these 5-year old’s as it celebrates the multitude of differences in our society. The book reinforces multicultural and anti-bias learning and appreciation. Now more than ever, understanding tolerance for others and diversity in our world has never been more important. Everyone can benefit from this beautiful quick read.

There are many factors used throughout your life to forge your uniqueness: your life experiences, individual design and genetic makeup, physical characteristics like height, hair or eye color, or cultural differences, different backgrounds, environmental factors and personal vision. Everyone has a distinct personality, language, lifestyle, and culture. Because of these differences, sometimes we may not always get along with others, and personalities will collide. Even within a family, there are differences in age, gender, opinions and views. But try your best to treat everyone equal, practice patience and have compassion for others. Remember, we are all different, but the same.

IMG_3851-11bydaz.jpgIt is impossible for us to expect that everyone will react and behave just like you would if in that same situation. Some people are optimistic, while others are pessimistic. Some are active and progressive, whereas others are passive and lazy. Some are hot-tempered, while others are gentle and easygoing. Some are stingy and greedy, yet others are generous and charitable. How do we get along with all these different people?

To be happy in life, you must learn to get along with all types of people. We must learn to go with the flow. If we are constantly argumentative, act annoyed, and become resentful, others will reject us. Compassion will help us accept and be accepted by others.

images.pngThe best way to think of people is to view them as being made up of mixtures of ingredients, with different people being made up of different combinations of ingredients. Some are sweet and some are salty. Some are spicy while some are bland. The personality mixture is a set of individual differences that are affected by the development of an individual: values, attitudes, personal memories and social relationships. This recipe is what makes you, YOU.

We waste too much time comparing ourselves to others, wishing to be something we are not. Blue eyes, straighter hair, taller, thinner is just a few of the ingredients I wish I had, but even if I had those, would they make me a better person? We all have different thoughts, skills and opinions to offer that are positive and should be shared with the world. Why not focus on what we DO have. I am unique, but the same.

51wRWG8UscL.jpgOpen your mind and allow yourself to learn more about the people around you. This will help with avoiding personalities to clash. Find out the similarities in others, you may be pleasantly surprised. Encourage and appreciate differing opinions and views from others. Keep the lines of communication open to avoid any miscommunication.  Learn to be a good listener and don’t try to change people. Keep your sense of humor and learn to also laugh at yourself. Be open and honest with others. And remember to radiate positivity and smile often.

The levels of intelligence and morality among people in the world is varied. If we do not treat everyone equally, our words and actions will be misinterpreted by those around us. As the last sentence in the above titled book says, “We are all alike. We are all different. We are a family.” Let’s try our best to coexist.

~Mary Beth

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Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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Happy Dads Day!

Happy-Fathers-Day-Quotes-Images-5 copyFather’s Day is celebrated worldwide to recognize the contribution that fathers and father figures make in the lives of their children. This day celebrates fatherhood and male parenting. The words ‘dad’ and ‘father’ are very similar on the surface and yet, I think to many people, they hold very different meanings. Father’s Day seems to ignite something in a lot of people, as it did with me. I believe there is a huge difference between the word father and dad. Now of course, this is only my opinion, so you may not agree.

father

/’ˈfather/

noun

a reproductive term referring to the male biological parent of a child

A father need only contribute the biological components necessary to reproduce the child. After that, their role and their obligation to the child is over-except financially. I am referring to the relationship bond that will never be developed and the mutual love and admiration that will never be shared. A father is absent.

dad

/dad/

noun informal

a male parental figure that is present and participating in a child’s life

Happy-Dads-Day-D4A dad is someone that is there for his children every step of the way. A dad actively participates in their children’s lives- the good times and bad times. A dad helps them grow up, raises them, nurtures them, attends school functions and baseball games. In one word, a dad is present.

I had a father growing up, a bad one at that. But I met my dad when I was 18 years old. He was everything that I had imagined a dad would be and more. There was a mutual love and relationship bond like I have never known. I felt truly blessed to have him in my life and my children’s lives until his passing a couple years ago. I think of him every day and miss his laugh and hugs. I am forever grateful for my dad and those that shared him with me.1003073_891103107586190_7670757260184381123_n

If you are lucky enough to have a dad (granddad, etc.) in your life, be sure to let him know how much you love and appreciate him- especially on Sunday. If you have a father, have pity on them for their ignorant decision and know that they missed out on something wonderful. I wish all fathers would man up, step up and be dads to their children!

 

Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton