Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Intergenerational Program in Enid

Intergenerational mentoring programs are not new, but Enid's recent success is worth adapting.

ELEVATE: Pre-K classrooms inside nursery homes proves mutually beneficial

4-year-olds, senior citizens learn from each other

While distance splinters many extended families, some 4- and 5-year-old Oklahomans have more grandmas and grandpas than they can count. By placing pre-kindergarten classrooms inside nursing homes, some Oklahoma districts are elevating education for their youngest children while simultaneously enhancing the lives of elders in their communities.

Nursing home residents working with children
Thanks to a grant and support from the community, Enid Public Schools began its intergenerational program in 2009. Four-year-old students and senior citizens from The Commons spend time during the day working on academic skills, building social skills and relationships, and enjoying each other’s company. Research indicates there are significant benefits for the young learners and their “grandma” and “grandpa” friends. | Photos courtesy of Enid Public Schools
The children affectionately call the nursing home residents their “grandmas” and “grandpas” and interact with them daily through these intergenerational programs. Residents help the children learn the alphabet, build their self-esteem and assist them with simple lessons in science and math. Meanwhile, the children bring joy, purpose and encouragement to the residents.

The pairing of small children with older adults is mutually beneficial, said Chris Smith, early childhood director at Enid Public Schools.

“For our children, it teaches empathy, social skills and emotional skills, which are so important for 4-year-olds. It does benefit the residents academically as well because the residents read with them. They work with children who are having difficulty, so they get one-on-one attention they might not get otherwise,” Smith said.

Enid’s program, now in its sixth year, allows students from Carver Early Childhood Center to attend school at The Commons, a local retirement home. Enid adopted its program at a time when it did not have the classroom space for the two classes now sharing an adjoining space at the home.

Smith said the program allows residents to feel valuable, some for the first time since they moved to The Commons. By connecting elders with children, Smith said, it helps residents retain or increase their own social and academic skills.

“It’s a perfect blend,” said Smith, “because for so many of those residents, their short-term memory is gone, but they can recall long term. So when the children go in to sing the alphabet song or do nursery rhymes, they sing with them. It mentally keeps them sharp.”
Being around the children is a natural motivator for the residents. In Enid, the home’s physical therapy room recently moved into space next to a pre-K classroom. Physical therapists say they have seen huge improvements in how much the residents are willing to work now that they can watch the children through the three large windows that separate the rooms.

A family affair
Residents’ and students’ families recognize the bond between them, despite almost a century difference in age. Families are invited to an annual Halloween bash and holiday concerts at the residence home. Smith said the family of one resident wrote a thank you note to the school that read in part: “Now that she’s working with the children, this is the first time I have seen my mother smile in three years.”

schoolchildren mingle with nursing home residentsAmber Fitzgerald is the director of human resources and communications at Enid Public Schools. She says her daughter, who was in the inaugural pre-K class at The Commons, still asks about her grandmas and grandpas. She says the individual attention the children receive is invaluable in getting them ready for kindergarten.

“From what I’ve personally witnessed, there is a patience that sometimes someone my age or my 14-year-old daughter’s age doesn’t tend to have with either generation, whether they be our littlest learners or our seniors. I think it’s very special. They just love each other,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald recalled a time when her daughter repeatedly told her about cutting out crafts with a resident. She was concerned about her daughter using scissors. But according to Fitzgerald, “Cassidy said, ‘No, Grandma Lou is working on her fine motor skills.’ You just don’t think about those mutually beneficial things they can do for one another.”

Developing a bond
schoolchildren in classroomIn Clinton, two pre-K classes call United Methodist Retirement and Health Care Center home. Kelly Stephens and Christine Calvert, with a combined 30 years of instruction experience, teach four days at the residence home. On Fridays, they take the kids back to Nance Elementary to reintroduce the children to a traditional school setting.

Stephens said her 4-year-olds are learning a unique set of social skills at the residence home. The children share a special connection with the residents even though they are still learning how to converse with adults and some residents may not be able to communicate as well as they used to.
“It’s important for them to know how to act when students say, ‘I love you,’ or ‘good morning,’ or ‘read me a book,’” says Stephens. “I know they’re understanding. They might not be able to speak back, but there’s that human touch or a smile. Just seeing a small child makes all the difference in the world for them.”

Nance Elementary’s intergenerational program is in its fourth year. In addition to regular paired reading times with residents, the children also join them during recreational exercise time, wiggling fingers and circling their arms just like their older book buddies do.

“It’s good for the elderly, and it’s good for the kids,” Calvert said. “They are comfortable around people in walkers and wheelchairs and people who can’t get up out of their beds. They’ll stop at the doorway on their own and say good morning to them. If an elderly patient starts talking to them, they talk back to them.”

Sunshine and light
In 1999, Jenks Public Schools was the first district in the state to develop an early childhood intergenerational program. Since then, many schools have modeled their own program after Jenks’s success. The district has even had educators visit from as far away as Australia to learn more.
nursing home residents meet with schoolchildrenShan Glandon, executive director of teaching and learning in Jenks, credits Don Greiner, CEO of Grace Living Centers, for inspiring the district to launch the program that includes pre-K and kindergarten students. When Greiner was looking at properties for residence homes, he was drawn to space next to the Jenks Early Learning Center.

“He believes in the philosophy of care and the elderly, which includes lessening loneliness, boredom, loss of initiative or drive,” Glandon said. “They like having that interaction with children. The centers are designed with lots of bright sunshine and light.”

Children and residents connect through dramatic play, a benefit for some who may have lost language or awareness because of a stroke or other illness. Children also learn from the residents, some of whom own pets, which are allowed at the center. The children carry clipboards through the home and interview those elders to learn how to take care of animals and interact with residents through ice cream socials.

“You’ll see a child get a favorite ice cream and come lean on the chair of a grandma or grandpa they know, and they’ll just talk. It’s that natural conversation that’s really great,” Glandon said.

The district even built three raised gardening beds that are handicap accessible so that residents can help the children dig and plant.

“Last spring, a couple of the residents who loved gardening but haven’t been able to do it since they’ve been in the nursing home were quite regular in making sure the three beds were weeded and watered,” Glandon said.

Word of the mutual benefits of seniors working with young children is spreading. In addition to Jenks’s and Clinton’s programs, Guthrie’s intergenerational program is in its fourth year, while Muskogee Public Schools launched its program in August.

Fitzgerald summed up the special connection between young children in pre-K and their much older friends by recalling an exchange with a student and her mother:
“One day, a mom asked her daughter if the grandmas and grandpas called her by her first name or her nickname. The 4-year-old replied, ‘I don’t remember what they call me, Mom. I just know they love me.’”

Elevate | Oklahoma Schools On The Rise
A series presented by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, ELEVATE chronicles the positive, innovative and inspiring things happening in Oklahoma’s K-12 public education.

Ret. 11-11-15

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fundraising Ideas from UK Fundraising

Alistar Johnson, a blogger from Ipswich, England, commented upon one of our fundraising posts and directed us to this one. Click on Tony Charalambides, who authors UK Fundraising, or the link below to see videos of each fundraiser and his original post. Thanks, Alistair, for ideas we can adapt to our organizations.

Screen shot from UK Fundraising

The third I Wish I Thought Of That (IWITOT) – hosted by SOFII and Open Fundraising – took place in the Barbican in the City of London yesterday, with 19 fundraisers presenting some of the best fundraising ideas from the past 130 years.

UK Fundraising tells you who wishes they thought of what.

1. Unicef UK’s association with the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

Joe Jenkins, director of fundraising, communications and activism, Friends of the Earth chose Unicef UK’s association with the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

2. #NoMakeUpSelfie

Catherine Cottrell, deputy executive director, fundraising, Unicef UK chose the No Make-up Selfie phenomenon of March 2014.

Cottrell said argued that not many charities would have been able to take advantage of the meme the way Cancer Research UK did as too many fundraisers are restricted by sign-off procedures and not encouraged to run with ideas themselves.

3. British Red Cross & St John Ambulance ‘Penny a Week’ appeal in the Second World War

Lucy Sanford, direct marketing officer, Unicef UK presented on the British Red Cross/St John Ambulance ‘Penny a Week’ Second World War appeal.
The forerunner of modern doorstep collections, payroll giving and charity shop chains, which all grew out of this appeal. It even resulted in new legislation to facilitate all the new collections – the House to House Collections Act 1939, which is still in use today.

4. Dryathlon

Sinead Chapman, strategy director, Open Fundraising selected Cancer Research UK’s Dryathalon.

5. ANC election campaign

James Nida, account planner, Listen chose the ANC election campaign 1992

6. JustGiving

Meredith Niles, head of innovation, Marie Curie Cancer Care chose JustGiving.
Niles said the “modest” fees levied by JustGiving were a combination of “the best lottery ticket you ever bought and an insurance policy” against coping with a sudden flood of giving that would overwhelm many charities.

7. Payroll Giving

Chris Taylor, head of fundraising, P2P direct, chose payroll giving.

8. The Statue of Liberty pedestal appeal

Aditi Srivastav, supporter retention officer, Plan UK chose the Statue of Liberty pedestal appeal of 1885.

9. ToiletTwinning

John Bird, general manager, peer to peer, Blackbaud chose Toilet Twinning.

10. RSPCA’s Home for Life

Alex McDowell, head of legacy and tribute fundraising, NSPCC chose RSPCA’s Home for Life legacy service with legacy prompt.

11. Asthma UK’s straw mail pack

Jessica Borham, campaign planner, Pell and Bales chose the National Asthma Campaign’s (now Asthma UK) straw direct mail pack from 1991.

12. Oxfam Canada Threads of Change

Colin Kemp, head of individual participation, Christian Aid presented on Oxfam Canada Threads of Change.

13. Rerthink Mental Illness’ Find Mike campaign

Fiona Lishman head of client development, On Agency chose Rethink Mental Illness’s ‘Find Mike’ campaign of 2014.

14. The Big Issue

Ben Nolan, head of membership, the Labour Party chose The Big Issue.

15. Norwegian Cancer Society’s Cold Water Challenge

Kathy Abrahams, director of engagement and income generation, Breakthrough Breast Cancer chose the Cold Water Challenge (Hoppihavet) that benefited Norwegian Cancer Society.

16. Bitcoin

AJ Leon, Misfits Inc chose the value and significance of Bitcoin and similar new technology opportunities.

17. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Beth Thoren, director of fundraising and communications, RSPB chose the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (and its UK spin-offs for MDNA, Macmillan and over 240 other UK charities).
One of the key’s to its success, Thoren said, was that it was ‘anti-commitment’ and that people could take part knowing they wouldn’t be “harassed” for regular donations.

18. Fuck Cancer

Rob Woods, fundaising trainer and coach, Bright Spot Fundraising chose the pithily named Fuck Cancer campaign and resultant nonprofit.

Woods said it showed how bold and confident messaging appealed to the target audience without worrying too much about those who might be offended by it. “We are not in the business of minimising complaints,” he said.

19. Cathy Come Home

Chris Barraclough, creative director, Orchestra ended the presentations with Cathy Come Home, the drama-documentary broadcast in 1966.

The film resulted in the formation of Crisis and a revolution in who homelessness is tackled. Though not itself a fundraising vehicle, Barraclough said that if charities felt they were struggling with their public profile and felt restricted by the “tone of voice architecture and self-obsessed navel gazing that preoccupies many charity marketing departments” then they “need their own Cathy Comes Home moment”.

Screen shot from UK Fundraising

Ret. 11-3-15

Monday, November 2, 2015

Okemah Public School Foundation

When at the Fall Forum 2015 we heard how this local education foundation raised and spent money, we asked Denise Riley, president of the foundation, to share. Congratulations to Okemah, Oklahoma, and its Okemah School Foundation, an outstanding partnership.

Screen shot from the foundation website

The Okemah Public School Foundation was established in 1990 by a small group of concerned citizens. Okemah is a small community of around 3,000 people located in one of the poorest counties in Oklahoma. What should have been an almost impossible job of fundraising has become a true success story for our community and, most importantly, our school system. Loyal alumni and community members contributed the majority of the early funding with a local bank matching donations up to a yearly total of $10,000 for the first ten years. Memberships and donations continue to be a part of financial contributions, but the majority of funding for the past ten years has come from our “Tee Up for Education” golf tournament held each August. It consistently brings in around $20,000 with major donations coming from local businesses, alumni, and community members.  Community support and strong leadership in the form of Marilyn Franklin, our “Tee Up” chairperson, can be accredited with this success. 

The Foundation began funding our Minigrants-to-Teachers program the first year it was in operation. Each grant can be no more than $350 per teacher with the ability to award more money for grants which involve multiple teachers. While this does not sound like a great deal of money, the programs that our faculty and staff have put together over the years have been truly outstanding. During the past ten years alone, the Foundation has awarded over $112,000 dollars to place technology, books, incentives, field trips and many other programs in classrooms in every school in our district.  In addition to these classroom grants, the Foundation also awards a Professional Development Grant to each school.

Early board members soon saw a need to add a local scholarship for our young people and began the Sophomore Challenge Scholarship Program in 1996. After a local workshop conducted by the Foundation, Okemah Sophomores complete scholarship applications. Students chosen receive a base scholarship of $1,000 and are challenged to remain in school and maintain a 3.0 or better grade point average in return for an additional $1,000. Funds are given when the recipient enrolls in the technical institute, college, or university of his or her choice. During the last ten years, we have awarded 67 scholarships for a total of $118,000. We feel that this program serves a need in our community to make our students aware of scholarship opportunities available to them while showing them the need to strive for academic excellence.

With continued growth in membership and the support of our community, we will be able to continue projects as we grow to meet the needs of the students and teachers of the Okemah Public Schools as they strive for success for all students.

Denise Riley
President of Okemah School Foundation   

From the website

To learn more about the Okemah Public School Foundation's Golf Tournament, Sophomore Challenge, or its Minigrants, click upon:

Okemah Public School Foundation

Foundation Facebook page: 

Okemah Public School Foundation attendees at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence's Fall Forum 2015 were Marilyn Franklin, Lyn Franks, and Denise Riley.

Handing out Fall Forum packets and greeting at registration
are Marilyn Franklin, Okemah, and Lynda Barksdale, Okmulgee,
members of the Local Education Outreach Committee,
which plans and executes the Fall Forum.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

By  October 28, 20150 CommentsRead More →

Study shows how “self-distancing” can help teens deal with negative emotions

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.59.14 PM

Teens who can mentally take a step back from their own point of view when thinking about something troubling can deal with negative emotions more effectively and become less upset by them, a new study shows.
Researchers looked at 226 African American 11- to 20-year-olds from a public school in Washington, DC, asking them about a recent event that made them extremely angry, such as a fight.
The teens then reflected on their experiences and why they felt angry, and told researchers how they felt and thought about the experiences.
The researchers assessed self-distancing by, for example, asking the youth, “When you saw the fight again in your imagination a few minutes ago, how much did you feel like you were seeing it through your own eyes versus watching the fight happen from a distance (like watching yourself in a movie)?” and, “When you saw the fight again in your imagination a few moments ago, how far away from the fight did you feel?”
Other experiments, performed primarily with adults, show that self-distancing helps adaptive self-reflection; however, no previous research has investigated whether adolescents spontaneously engage in this process or whether doing so is linked to adaptive outcomes.


Young people who reflected on their experiences from a self-distanced perspective became less upset than those who reflected from a self-immersed perspective, according to the study in Child Development.
In part, this was because adolescents who saw their experience from a distance thought about it differently. These teens were more likely to reconsider the events in meaningful and insightful ways and less likely to simply replay the upsetting events in their minds. They were also less likely to continue to blame the other person involved in the event, though not less likely to forgive him or her. In turn, these new insights were associated with less emotional distress.
“Mentally stepping back from the event didn’t mean the youth were avoiding their problems,” says Rachel E. White, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “In fact, they were dealing with them in a more adaptive way.”
The study also finds that self-distancing strategies seemed to grow more powerful with age. Older young people who self-distanced became even less upset than younger adolescents who did so.
“These results show that teens can use self-distancing strategies in much the same way as adults,” White says. “They also suggest that the teen years could be critical in developing this way to regulate emotions.”
Research suggests that adults could help youth learn and implement these strategies. Previous experiments have shown that even fifth graders can use self-distancing techniques when instructed to do so, and they handle their emotions better as a result.
White led the study with Associate Professor Angela Duckworth of Penn’s psychology department and Positive Psychology Center. They collaborated with Ethan Kross, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.
The John F. Templeton Foundation and National Institute on Aging supported the work.
Ret. 10-30-15

Friday, October 30, 2015

Career Mentoring Need

By  October 22, 2015Read More →

Foster care youth speak: We need career mentoring!

youth-teen-career-mentorHudson, A. (2013). Career mentoring needs of youths in foster care: Voices for change. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 26, 131-137.
Once young adults age out of the foster care system they are more likely than their non-fostered peers to experience homelessness, poverty, incarceration, and a variety of mental health issues. According to previous research, youths in foster care “want and need mentoring.” The purpose of this study was to engage youth in foster care in focus group conversations about what characteristics they prefer to see in a mentoring program. 27 youth participated in four different focus group sessions.
A major theme emerged from the focus group sessions: participants reported pressing need for career mentoring. They stated a desire for an authority figure who acts as a role model (eg. models positive attributes that lead to college and career success: social skills, work ethic). According to Hudson, “career mentoring might support foster youths’ goals for college attainment, reward achievement, and enhance their overall health-related quality of life.”
Incorporating career mentoring into existing programs for youth transitioning out of foster care is essential. These young adults strive for higher education and “the good life,” knowing all too well the difficulties that former foster care youth face. Adults in mentoring roles should continuously engage these young adults in conversations about their educational and career aspirations, in addition to modeling attributes of career success. 
Ret. 10-30-15