Halloween Safety

Tips for a Safe Halloween Night

Halloween, which originated from ancient traditions and religious rituals some 2,000 years ago, is observed around the world as a celebration of candy and mischief, dress-up and dark adventure – and for some the supernatural. It is most popular in the US, Canada and Ireland where it originated.

Tonight millions of children and adults will go out dressed as their favorite hero, or most dreaded villain, to trick-or-treat. Here’s are some basic safety tips to keep in mind while out having fun.

  • Use reflective or lighted materials and items in your costume to increase visibleness at night.
  • Choose makeup over sight obstructing masks for costumes.
  • Trick-or-treat in groups and keep younger children closely supervised.
  • Use sidewalks and crosswalks and make eye contact with drivers before crossing to insure they see you.
  • Put your devices away. Our biggest distractors become more dangerous on a night like Halloween.
  • Drivers, be alert, driving slowly through residential areas and where trick-or-treaters are present.
  • Turn the headlights on early.
  • Turn the cell phone off on this night while driving.

Keep these points in mind to keep the fun safe. Happy Halloween to all our friends celebrating today.

National School Backpack Awareness Day

Practice Backpack Safety

National School Backpack Awareness Day is observed every year on the third Wednesday of September. The awareness day was launched by The American Occupational Therapy Association in 2001 with the goal of encouraging proper backpack use by students. Improper use of backpacks can result in back pain, injuries, and bad posture as well as circulatory and other health issues. This is a great opportunity – now that school is in full swing in the US – to review proper backpack use with the students in you life. Here are some basic tips.

  • Always us both of the straps on a backpack. Slinging a backpack on just one shoulder can lead to pain, injury and bad posture. If the backpack has waist and chest straps, use those too. The waist and chest straps help to distribute the weight of the pack and keep it stable on the body. Well padded straps help to avoid cutting off circulation to the arms.
  • Ensure that the backpack’s size is appropriate for the child. Straps should be adjusted so the pack fits snugly against the child’s back and the pack should be worn high on the back (one or two inches above the hips).
  • A packed backpack should weigh no more than 10% of the child’s body weight. Heaviest items should be packed closest to the back of the pack (near the child’s back) with lighter items toward the front. Check periodically to ensure only essential items are in the backpack.
  • Backpacks should be picked up and put on by bending and lifting with the knees, not the back. If the child is having trouble lifting and putting on the backpack, it is likely too heavy.

Signs of Improper Use

  • Difficulty putting on and taking off the backpack
  • Pain while wearing the backpack
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms while wearing the backpack
  • Red marks on the shoulders where the backpack straps rest
  • Slouching or bad posture while wearing the backpack

The American Occupational Therapy Association has made a comprehensive checklist available for download. You can find it here.

Interesting Fact:

The modern backpack was invented by Gerry Outdoors in 1938 as a recreational tool for hiking and camping. In 1968 JanSport went into business making lightweight nylon backpacks which made them popular with students around the country. Today JanSport is the largest backpack maker in the world.

International Youth Day

International Youth Day

Today is International Youth Day, a day to consider the many difficulties that children face all around the world. From poverty and hunger to war and displacement, children face a wide range of hardships. Children are often the most vulnerable and unable to help themselves. At The BNI Foundation we have spent twenty years doing all we can to help children have access to education. The Business Voices initiative was designed to get business leaders to take action and help students and educational organizations in their own communities. Today there are Business Voices teams in cities all over the globe.

Established in 1999, International Youth Day grew from a United Nations program to bring awareness to the plight of children in need. It began with the first International Year of Youth in 1985 and the implementation in 1995 of the World Programme of Action for Youth which established broad guidelines to improve the world for children. Some of the primary goals of the United Nation’s program are to build a better world for children by focusing on fifteen priority areas including education, armed conflicts and health;  raise awareness about poverty and hunger;  and to encourage creative thinking to approach these problems.

Transforming Education

The theme of International Youth Day in 2019 is “Transforming Education,” which is perfectly aligned with the vision of the BNI Foundation. The United Nations is tying this effort with its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which in part calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Education is essential to achieving sustainable development and can play an important role in eradicating hunger, improving health, increasing gender equality and more.

In observance of International Youth Day and the beginning of classes this month throughout parts of the world, we encourage BNI chapter members and others to participate in activities to benefit students and educational organizations. The Business Voices initiative is an excellent way to organize with your business colleagues and make a real difference in your own community. Visit our website for information and a toolkit that will help you get started and provide ideas for charitable programs. Students and schools all over the world need your help, and that means right in your community as well.

Nelson Mandela, Champion of Education

On July 18 – Nelson Mandela’s birthday – we recognize Nelson Mandela Day. It is a day to reflect on the accomplishments of one of the greatest philanthropists and human rights activists in modern history. Mandela is remembered for his nonviolent anti-apartheid activism (which led to his imprisonment for 27 years) and for becoming the first elected black president of South Africa. In 1993 Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – along with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last president to serve under the apartheid system – for his work in ending apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was also a great champion of education, believing that it’s power could change the world. His passion for education was a result of his own experiences growing up, and later struggling against, the inequality faced by blacks in South Africa under apartheid. One of his legacies is the founding of the Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development. The institute was set up to help provide quality education for children in impoverished rural areas where infrastructure does not support it. The institute works with communities to refurbish schools and train teachers.

After his time as president – he stepped down in 1999 – Mandela founded the Nelson Mandela Foundation and partnered with UNICEF to create Schools for Africa, a campaign to support education initiatives in 13 African countries. The partnership builds schools, provides supplies to teachers and students, trains teachers, and facilitates access to schools to disadvantaged children. Since it started in 2005, Schools for Africa has helped over 30 million children receive a better education.

Nelson Mandela Day means many things to many people. At the BNI Foundation we honor his commitment and contributions which continue to strengthen the role of education in disadvantaged areas around the world. His work and life are an inspiration to our own mission.

Nelson Mandela on Education in His Own Words

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education. Those who do not believe this have small imaginations.

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.

National Teacher Appreciation Week

Gifts Ideas for Your Children’s Teachers

The history of National Teacher Appreciation Week starts in 1944 when a Wisconsin teacher named Ryan Krug lobbied political and educational leaders to designate a national day to honor teachers. March 7,1980 was designated the first National Teacher Day by the US Congress. However, they did not make it an annual event and instead set aside just that one day to honor teachers. The National Education Association (NEA) continued to observe National Teacher Day on the first Tuesday of March.

In 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) designated the first full week in March each year as National Teacher Appreciation Week. The National PTA sponsors events on the national, state and local levels to recognize and celebrate all of the hard work teachers do.

Teachers play an important role in the lives and development of our children, often inspiring a love of learning and readying them for success. This is the time to think about ways to show our appreciation, and that is often expressed in the form of a gift. This year give some thought to what your children’s teachers would actually like and present them with a gift that communicates your appreciation. Here are a few ideas to help you think outside the box and go beyond the usual pencil holder or “World’s Best…” coffee mug.

A Letter of Gratitude

Take the time to write a letter about how much your child has learned and grown under their care. Use examples of the ways that your child has become more excited about learning, happier, more confident, etc. Hand write it for a bonus personal touch.

Classroom Supplies

It is no secret that teachers must often reach into their own pockets to make sure their students have the supplies they need to learn. Help ease some of the burden by gifting supplies for the classroom. It is probably a good idea to find out what the teacher needs most ahead of time. Your child may be able to help.

Coffee

Unlike the typical corporate office, not every school makes coffee available for their employees. Coffee shop gift cards are great. Also consider quality coffee beans or pods.

Contact Your Former Teacher

This one is not necessarily about your children’s teachers but is definitely in the spirit of appreciation that National Teacher Appreciation Week encourages. Most teachers would love to catch up with an old student and learn about how they may have influenced a life. You can encourage your kids to do the same. If a visit is impractical, write a note or an email.

These are just some general ideas. Use them as a starting point to come up with the perfect thank you gift for your kids’ teachers. Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Inspiring Films

Inspiring Films For National Volunteer Week

With National Volunteer Week (https://www.pointsoflight.org/nvw/) running from April 7-13, we thought it would be a good time to suggest some inspiring films about giving and charity. The late film critic, Roger Ebert, called movies empathy generating machines for their ability to help viewers connect with others. The films listed here all deal with kindness and the act of giving. They range from an obvious, not to be missed classic, to a couple of less familiar titles.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) has spent years putting his dreams on hold to help others in his town of Bedford Falls. Due to a mistake and the machinations of the film’s antagonist, George finds himself in a desperate situation and contemplating suicide. That is until the angle Clarence appears to show home what the lives’ of his friends and family would have looked like without his generosity. There is a reason this one is a Christmas classic.

Pay It Forward (2000)

Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) is a young boy who becomes inspired by his civics teacher’s assignment to think of something to change the world and put it into action. He comes up with the idea to “pay it forward.” Instead of repaying a good deed, he will do three good deeds for three new people. His project goes on the change his life as well as those of the people close to him.

Millions (2004)

Seven year old Damian is obsessed with Catholic saints and their good deeds, even believing that his deceased mother may have been one herself. When a duffel bag filled with millions of British Pounds crashes into his backyard cardboard fort it puts in motion a story about the power of caring for others. The film occasionally steers into magical realism but is sincere and has an important message.

The Blind Side (2009)

The true story of Leigh Anne and Sean Touhy who take in homeless teenager Michael Oher. Michael was fatherless and his mother was a drug addict. The Touhy’s made sure that Michael had every opportunity they could provide him to succeed. Michael Oher ultimately played NCAA Division I football on a scholarship and became a first round NFL draft pick.

Batkid Begins (2015)

In November, 2013 the Make a Wish Foundation was ready to grant 5 year old cancer patient, Mike Scott’s, dream. He wanted to be Batman for a day. After a few calls were made to get things rolling, the project continued to grow as more and more people got involved;  from the San Francisco mayor, police and Giants baseball team to a Hollywood effects studio, President Barack Obama and more. Ultimately, the event became a city-wide roleplaying narrative game the had Batkid running around the city, with an adult Batman sidekick, fighting crime.

Each of these inspiring films reminds us of the power of giving of ourselves to benefit the lives of others. Queue one this weekend and get inspired to do some good during National Volunteer Week, and beyond.

World Teacher’s Day

World Teacher’s Day Celebrates Contributions, Recognizes Challenges

“Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.”

Aristotle

Celebrated annually on October 5th since 1994, World Teacher’s Day was created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to commemorate the adoption of the 1966 “Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers.” The 1966 Recommendation set benchmarks for the rights and responsibilities of teachers as well as international guidelines for the recruitment, employment and training of teachers around the world. World Teacher’s Day has become a day to recognize and celebrate the contributions of teachers and to encourage mobilization around the challenges teachers face every day.

This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher,” chosen to reflect the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognized education as one of humanity’s fundamental rights. In the 70 years since the Declaration, UNESCO has worked toward ensuring every child has access to quality education. The primary challenge to this goal is a continued worldwide shortage of teachers, most pronounced among vulnerable populations like girls, refugees and migrants, and the poor.

World Teacher’s Day is observed in over 100 countries throughout the world. Events include community celebrations that honor teachers and conferences and symposiums concerning issues facing teachers and education.

Business Voices on World Teacher’s Day

This yearly celebration, and the awareness it creates, provide an excellent opportunity for Business Voices teams to mobilize and help schools, teachers and students in their communities. Projects can be geared to help teachers as well as the schools where they work and the students they teach. The Business Voices toolkit includes charitable project ideas including school beautification days, supply drives and even using your business knowledge to coach teachers and school staff. Take advantage of this day that honors teachers around the world to create excitement and support for the teachers in your own community.

Mentoring

Mentoring Benefits Children from all Backgrounds

The benefits of mentoring young people have been widely documented. Increased confidence, improved attitudes about school and learning, strengthened interpersonal relationships, reduced risk of drug use;  these are all likely outcomes when a caring and devoted adult takes on a guiding role in a child’s life. Mentoring can have a strong positive impact on development and has the potential to change a life for the better.

Mentoring has been shown to be particularly beneficial to disadvantaged children. A 2014 study by the National Mentoring Partnership found that an at-risk child who is mentored is:

  • 130% more likely to become a leader at their school
  • 81% more likely to participate in extracurricular activities
  • 78% more likely to volunteer in their community
  • 55% more likely to go to college

However, regardless of income level or available opportunities, the mentor/mentee relationship has been shown to foster intellectual, emotional and interpersonal growth.

What Makes a Good Mentor?

Being an effective mentor requires more than knowledge and experience. A mentor of children also needs patience and a fair amount of generosity. Here are some other traits that children respond to in a mentor.

Supportive – One of a mentor’s most important roles is being supportive and encouraging when the mentee is experiencing problems and obstacles in their life by listening to their concerns and reinforcing their belief in their own abilities.

Good Listener – Young children and teens often feel that adults do not listen to them in a meaningful way. A good mentor validates their mentee’s ideas and concerns with thoughtful listening.

Encouraging – Although children do not always respond well to pressure, they do respond to having high expectations set for them. Mentors should push mentees outside of their comfort zone and help them achieve goals they may have imagined were out of their reach by helping them trust their own instincts and abilities.

Business Voices and Mentoring

The BNI Foundation’s Business Voices initiative provides opportunities for mentoring school aged children to business professionals that would like to share their knowledge and experience and help children reach their potential. The Business Voices toolkit includes everything one needs to get started helping students and schools in their community including instructions on running a speed mentoring session at a local school. Speed mentoring is a group activity gives students and business leaders a taste of the mentoring relationship. Take a look at the toolkit for even more ways to become involved and make a positive impact in a student’s life.

Help Children Flex Their Charitable Muscles

Help Children Flex Their Charitable Muscles – Books that Encourage Empathy and Compassion

Just as children are guided by parents and caregivers to be healthy, productive, independent and strong, their sense of charity should be nurtured and encouraged. We are all born with an innate impulse to help others, and like other personal traits, the impulse can strengthen or diminish over time.

Although it can be difficult to reconcile with the overt selfishness that may sometimes rear its ugly head, children do routinely, and naturally, express empathy and take actions to help and comfort others. It can be discomforting to witness a child throw a public tantrum over something they want and cannot have or aggressively snatch away a toy, seemingly oblivious to their playmate’s feelings. However, given the opportunity to observe a child, one will inevitably witness acts of kindness and compassion. Notice how a child will soothe a crying, baby sibling or rush to aid a friend who is hurt. When provided with positive encouragement, empathy will thrive in a child. If we consider that sense of charity as a muscle, it must be flexed often to make it strong.

Nourishing a child’s empathy and impulse for charity can have a tremendous positive impact on the child and those around them. A healthy desire to help others can offset the familiar “mine” impulse and can have a significant effect on self esteem.

Join the CLUB

We recently witnessed a powerful example of children’s impulse to care for others within  the BNI community. Miami elementary school teacher, Jennifer Stay – who is the wife of BNI Executive Director and Chairman Emeritus of the BNI Foundation Board, Jeff Stay – showed her nine-year-old students a film that explained what the BNI Foundation is and what it does. When the students realized how many children around the world need help they decided to do something collectively. Since then each student has brought $1 to school each month. With Mrs. Stay matching every dollar, the fourth grade class became a BNI Foundation Monthly Hero. This incredible expression of charity led to the Join the CLUB program which encourages Business Voices teams around the world to follow the lead of Mr’s Stay’s fourth graded class.

Children’s Books that Inspire Generosity

Books are an excellent resource to further encourage the giving spirit in children. Below we have compiled a short list of books that will inspire children to give their time, talent or treasure to a worthy cause.

The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein – This enduring classic tells the story of a tree that gives all of itself to a growing boy as he becomes a man. The Giving Tree is a favorite that has been teaching the value of selfless giving to generations of children.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed, Emily Pearson – When Ordinary Mary picks some blueberries for her neighbor, her act of kindness starts a chain reaction that spreads around the entire world. This is a wonderful story that illustrates how even a small gesture can make a huge difference.

Beatrice’s Goat, Page McBrier – Another great book about the power of a single kind act and how basic needs are met in different parts of the world. Beatrice, who lives in a small village in Africa, cannot go to school because her family cannot afford the expense. When a charitable organization donates a goat to here family, it changes their lives in unexpected ways.

Maddi’s Fridge, Lois Brandt – Sofia looks for a snack in her best friend’s Maddi’s fridge and realizes that Maddi’s family goes hungry some days. This book shows children that great need is sometimes found close to home.

A Kid’s Guide to Giving, Freddi Zeiler – This comprehensive guide is a great starting point for kids that want to give. It covers donating money and goods, volunteering, organizing events and includes information on charitable organizations children can get involved with.

These books are a great place to start a conversation with children about giving to others. Items on the evening news and the needs of those in your own community can further the discussion and provide ideas for kids to get involved and help. Making children aware of their capacity to make a difference can plant the seed of a life of charity and good will.

Giving Tuesday Kicks Off Season of Giving

Five years ago, the good people of 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (92nd Street Y) , a community center in New York City, came up with the idea of a day of giving to kick off the holiday season. Social media blog Mashable used their incredible reach (6,000,000 Twitter followers, 3,200,000 Facebook fans) to help spread the word. With the help of founding partners Skype and Cisco, Giving Tuesday was born on November 27, 2012. The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving would become a day when people would reach in to their pockets and donate to a worthy charity. The first Giving Tuesday was a tremendous success.

In 2013 Google entered the partnership and Giving Tuesday received extensive media coverage. Charitable giving on that day was twice what it had been the year before. By 2014 Giving Tuesday was being observed in 68 countries and resulted in an estimated $45.7 million in charitable donations. There was still plenty of room for the movement to grow as a survey that year revealed that only 18% of Americans were familiar with Giving Tuesday, compared to 93% familiar with Black Friday.

Last year Giving Tuesday broke records again with an estimated $168 million in donations worldwide, and this year is looking to be even bigger. Meanwhile, it has morphed from a single day of giving to the kick-off for a season of giving.

Join the CLUB

After being awarded a Givers Gain® Grant, which went toward a class library, a class of fourth graders in Miami were inspired to form a Monthly Hero Club by donating to the BNI Foundation. Teacher Jennifer Stay, wife of BNI Executive Director and Chairman Emeritus of the BNI Foundation Board, Jeff Stay, explained to her students what the BNI Foundation is and what it does. The students were so touched by the needs of children around the world that they decided they would each donate $1 a month to become a collective BNI Foundation Monthly Hero.

BNI Foundation co-founders, Beth and Ivan Misner were impressed by the social responsibility and initiative exhibited by the students. They deemed the group Mrs. Stay’s 4th Grade Class CLUB.

This Giving Tuesday, and during the season that follows, the BNI Foundation is asking BNI members around the world to Join the CLUB. If each member of a chapter donates just two or three dollars a month, we could have Super Hero Chapters all over the world. The more chapters that participate, the more schools and students we can help with our Givers Gain Grants of $1000 each.

As further incentive, the region with the highest percentage of Chapters who Join the CLUB between November 28, 2017 and January 15, 2018 will receive a personal visit from BNI Foundation Co-Founder, Beth Misner, and BNI Foundation Board Chair, Kevin Barber. Beth and Kevin will participate in both an outreach project with a community school and a social event with the regions’s members.

Please consider showing the kids how much their efforts mean by Joining Mrs. Stay’s 4th Grade Class CLUB today!

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