Posts tagged with "Children"

Mental Health Awareness illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Mental Health Awareness

Many people, including children and adults across diversity backgrounds, can struggle with social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health. These challenges can be situational, present for a season of life, or be a struggle across a lifetime. The symptoms may also turn on and turn off, be persistent every day, or resolve just to pop back up again.

Even though having complications with mental or behavioral health is common, it does not necessarily mean a person is functioning at their best or the symptoms should be left unaddressed. Early intervention can be more effective, than the choice to put off addressing a mental health concern for another time.

Awareness of mental health signs and symptoms are important. The first step is recognizing when we need support. Let’s set aside labels such as depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors, and disorders for a moment. Instead, let’s consider observations. Below is a clustered list of commonly experienced struggles we can lookout for to monitor our mental health:

Socially

  • Noticing a pattern of withdrawing or avoiding friends, family, or activities
  • Having interpersonal conflicts with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, or even strangers
  • Having a difficult time understanding and/or relating to others or common life scenarios
  • Feeling disconnected from others or struggling to get close to others
  • Feeling lost about knowing who you are

Emotionally

  • Experiencing sadness, despair, distress, prolonged sorrow
  • You or others noticing changes in your mood from high to low
  • Enduring excessive worry, fears, or discomfort with the unknown
  • Experiencing extreme guilt, self-blame, or negative self-talk
  • Having bouts with excessive or persistent anger

Cognitive/Thinking

  • Noticing thought patterns that are confused, conflicted, indecisive, repetitive, or forgetful
  • Having a lowered ability begin or maintain focus
  • You or others noticing a disconnect between your thoughts and the world around you
  • Feeling fearful such as paranoia
  • Having repeat unpleasant or worrisome thoughts or images
  • Hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not truly there
  • Thoughts of hurting or killing yourself or someone else

Behavioral

  • Having a reduced ability to cope or resolve daily living complications or stress
  • Struggling with adjustment to life changes
  • Experiencing problems related to alcohol, tobacco, and/or legal or illegal substances
  • Noticing changes in eating habits such as too much, too little, overly focused on eating
  • Observing patterns of overexercise
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Having episodes of violence towards others, yourself, animals, or objects
  • Challenges with impulsive decisions or risk taking

Physical

  • Seeing trends in energy level such as significant tiredness or grand amount of energy
  • Struggles falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up, or low quality of sleep
  • Having physical symptoms such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, heart pounding, shortness of breath, or other unexplained physical symptoms
  • Experiencing medical providers do not take your symptoms seriously enough

Experiencing one or a few of these symptoms at one time may be a part of life based on the amount of lemons life just handed you. However, there may be a mental health concern worth seeking proper care for if you experience one or more of these symptoms for a short or an extended period of time. Due note, some symptoms are more serious than others, such as harm to yourself or someone else, that should not be ignored and need care immediately.

Another element we can use to monitor our mental health is awareness of how our mental health symptoms interact with our daily lives. Sometimes mental health struggles can become disruptive to daily life such as negatively impacting relationships with others, how you think or feel internally about yourself, employment, housing, finances, and/or legal issues. Other symptoms are manageable and do not cause a large disruption; however, beware some symptoms can fly under the radar, but that does not necessarily indicate all is well.

If you are unsure if you are experiencing mental health concerns and would like a better understanding, then consider completing a screener. Mental Health America provides a free, quick, screening tool that provides mental health you can use to make decisions about next steps for care. The results can also be used to start the initial discussion with a mental health provider.

There is hope! In most circumstances, symptoms can be managed, reduced in intensity, and relief increased when working with a mental health provider. There are various forms of care, and you can find the right fit for you such as talk based therapy in-person or online, activity-based therapy, and collaboration with medical providers for mediation as needed.

If you are ready to take the next step, then there are multiple resources available to help you find the right provider. In emergency situations such as thoughts of harming yourself or someone else as well as severe mental illness, then calling 9-1-1, going to a local emergency room, or contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or using live chat on Suicide Prevention Lifeline  may be the best routes.

In non-emergency situations there are options such as contacting a primary care provider for a referral, reaching out to loved ones, connecting to your religious or spiritual community, or finding a professional provider. Below is a list of resources for locating a provider in your area:

Mental health is just like it sounds….health. It can be scary or there can be a stigma to seek out care. However, removing the stigma, overcoming fear, seeking care, and taking steps to improving life takes courage. But you are worth it, and you deserve a better tomorrow.

Michelle Perepiczka, PhD, LPC (CO), LMHC (NY), RPT-S, NCC

Core Faculty

University of Phoenix

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Child illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Child Friendly Faith Project

Child Advocacy Group Highlights Abuse in Religious Institutions for Child Abuse Prevention Month

With National Child Abuse Prevention Month underway, the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), a national nonprofit that educates the public about religiously enabled child maltreatment, is raising awareness of crimes against children perpetrated in religious institutions.

The CFFP is also drawing attention to a dangerous court decision that could prevent abusive institutions from being held accountable and offering a valuable resource to parents and guardians to help them determine whether they should enroll or continue to enroll their children in certain religious institutions.

The little-known ecclesiastical abstention doctrine (EAD) guides courts in deciding First Amendment, religious matters. While historically the EAD has been raised in cases relating to claims of wrongful termination, in recent years religious schools facing lawsuits involving allegations of child harm have pushed courts to interpret the EAD very broadly to get cases dismissed. In one recent case, the Episcopal School of Dallas was permitted to ignore its own legal contracts with parents and the emotional harm suffered by a child never came to light.

Given this alarming legal precedent, parents and guardians of children who have been harmed by private institutions could lose their right to seek relief in court, while the institutions might never be held accountable.

Parents who have children enrolled in private, faith-based schools (or are considering enrolling them) should be aware of the potential harm posed by the EAD. With this in mind, CFFP’s campaign is offering parents valuable tips on how to determine whether they should enroll (or continue to enroll) their children in private, faith-based schools:

  • Determine whether the institution your child is enrolled in (or might be enrolled in) could claim to be faith-based. Some private schools have stretched the meaning of “faith-based” as a way to be shielded by the EAD in court. Even if an institution seems to operate in a way that appears secular, as long as a facility, school, program, or daycare operation can claim that it has some sort of faith-based or spiritual component, it could convince a court that it should be protected by the EAD and cannot be sued for child abuse or neglect.
  • Read the school’s contract carefully. Many schools specify in their contracts how legal issues must be resolved. For example, some require parents to agree to mediation. It’s important to know what legal recourses you’re agreeing to. However, be aware that if a case goes to court, the EAD does have the potential to make contracts of religious school’s moot.
  • Ask to see a school’s child-abuse prevention policies & procedures. Those that take abuse seriously and proactively develop and enforce comprehensive abuse-prevention policies are usually open to making these policies available and may even post them on their websites.
  • Research whether the school has a history of abuse allegations. Conduct an online search using the name of the institution and words such as “lawsuit,” “sued,” and “abuse” to determine if it has been accused of abuse or of covering up cases in the past. Be extremely wary if you find a pattern of abuse allegations, even if you do not find information about final court decisions.
  • Explore the educational programs of secular private or public schools. Children can receive a high-quality education and experience at many different types of schools. Consider the offerings of private secular schools or public schools, which would be unable to raise the EAD in court.

Recent abuse cases

The CFFP has previously exposed issues of religious institutional child abuse and offered support to survivors and affected families. An example is its efforts to make public the decades-long, egregious abuses perpetrated at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. Recently, other cases have also made the news:

  • Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — Last February, the SBC’s executive committee voted to expel two member churches for employing pastors who were convicted sex offenders. One pastor, who had been with his church since 2014, had pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape of a minor in the 1990s. The other pastor led his church since 2018, despite having been on Florida’s sex offender registry since 1993. In 2019, the SBC published a report on preventing and responding to cases of sexual abuse and later launched its “Caring Well Challenge” that calls on all SBC churches to adopt the report’s recommendations. Unfortunately, the program is voluntary.
  • Circle of Hope Girls Ranch — The owners and operators of this faith-based boarding school in Missouri face more than 100 criminal charges of sexual, physical and mental abuse of girls in their care. Their arrests came after their estranged daughter, Amanda Householder, posted social media videos of former residents talking about the abuse they endured. In an interview with a Missouri TV station, Householder said that victims had been speaking out since 2007. “Why did it take ten years for anyone to do anything?” she asked.

A dangerous court decision

While it’s heartening that these cases are receiving public attention, it is possible that they, and many more like them, could be dismissed thanks to a legal precedent set by a Texas appellate court in 2018. The case involved the Episcopal School of Dallas which invoked a common-law doctrine known as the “ecclesiastical abstention doctrine” (EAD). The EAD provides guidance to courts when weighing in on First-Amendment, religious matters. However, in the Dallas case, in which a father alleged that his son had been wrongfully expelled and in violation of school policy, it was applied very broadly and used to shield the school from being sued.

In another case involving Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston, Texas, a district court, in recognizing the EAD, threw out a lawsuit filed by a mother whose son had endured repeated racist bullying by other students. The mother wanted the school to hold the perpetrators accountable after the school had only demanded a written apology and suspended them for one day. Despite emotional trauma suffered by the victim, the judge agreed with the school’s claim that a court should not “intrude upon a religious institution’s management of its internal affairs and governance.”

“The EAD allows courts to prioritize a religious institution’s desire for secrecy and avoidance of accountability over the wellbeing of children,” said CFFP founder Janet Heimlich. “In cases in which organizations invoke the EAD, the public may never learn what abusive or neglectful actions took place, and parents may unwittingly enroll their children in those schools.”

To schedule an interview with a representative of the CFFP, an affected parent or a survivor of religious institutional child abuse, contact Jeff Salzgeber  through email or (512) 743-2659 cell.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP) is a national, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to end religious child maltreatment by raising awareness of this issue through educational programs that benefit the general public, survivors, professionals, and faith communities.

Eyelinerz illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Importance of Eye Contact

THE ALL-IMPORTANT SUBJECT OF MAINTAINING EYE CONTACT DURING VIRTUAL CONVERSATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

Did you know that we have oxytocin receptors in our eyes? When we make eye contact with someone (researchers say about 30 seconds of maintained connection should do it), the receptors tell the brain to produce the hormone, which travels through the body, hits the internal organs, and ends in the heart. Each time the eye contact is maintained, the reaction repeats. The result? Our breath and heart rate slow down, we feel calmer, we feel… happy. Even better, research shows that this effect is achieved when we make eye contact virtually as well as in person.

The Dangers of Losing Human Connection

Connecting with others doesn’t just make us happy, it can apparently also make us better people. In one study, researchers found that individuals who felt connected to others were more likely to want to volunteer in their community or do kindness for strangers. Researchers are now trying to determine how our wellbeing and connection to others is being impacted by spending so much time distanced from our social groups.

Some studies seem grim. One extensive study out of the UK analyzed over 80 research articles on loneliness indicates that as children experience increasing levels of loneliness due to being away from school and friends, they’re at increasing risk of depression and anxiety.

But the good news is that we are getting really creative (and effective) at keeping our human connection going despite the social distancing.

Connecting Creatively

For children navigating distance learning and time away from friends, doctors from the University of Michigan encouraged parents to see this time as an opportunity to teach children new skills that focus on kindness, resilience, and flexibility, while reminding parents that children are incredibly resilient as long as they are in a supportive and loving environment.

Kids can find social connections in lots of creative ways, from Zoom playdates to video game challenges with friends’ half-way around the world.

Technology also helps adults maintain — or form — meaningful connections. More than ever, meeting online is leading to meaningful, romantic relationships despite (or maybe because of?) couples waiting longer to meet in-person. Apparently, flirting via video chat is incredibly effective, despite the fact that you’re never quite really looking each other in the eye.

We are also connecting deeper with our coworkers, as Zoom happy hours have brought socializing into our homes, making for more relaxed conversations. There’s something about seeing your colleagues sipping seltzers from their kid’s playroom that really ups the camaraderie.

Connecting Effectively

Research has shown that the key to virtual connection is the same as it is in person — eye contact. Now we just need to get better at forming that connection during video calls.

The best way to do this is to look into the camera intermittently as you would someone’s eyes when meeting in person. I know, easier said than done! Our instinct is to look at the person’s face on the screen. But one solution to make maintaining eye contact with a camera more natural is having a tool like Eyelinez around your lens. The fun designs will grab your attention and remind you to keep looking into the lens.

What Are Eyelinez?

Maintaining proper eye contact with a camera is not a new challenge.  In fact, the challenge has existed ever since anyone had to stare into a cold dark camera as if they were engaging with a smiling human.  An “eyeline” is where the speaker is looking and Eyelinez is the solution to enable you to maintain a natural and engaging eyeline with the camera.

Toys for Tots illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Toys for Tots × Good360

Toys for Tots teams up with Good360 (again!), to Distribute One Million Toys, Games and Books to Families-in-Need

Toys for Tots announces the expansion of their year-round efforts to support those less fortunate by distributing one million toys, books, and games to families in need NOW.  While Toys for Tots is primarily known as a Christmastime charity, the organization recognizes there is still great need to provide emotional support and doesn’t want to wait until the holiday season to deliver hope to children in need.

As a Nation we’ve all been hopeful that the Coronavirus pandemic would be in our rearview mirrors by now, but the sad reality is that COVID-19 has had a long-term impact on just about every sector of our society.  Less fortunate children likely suffered the greatest learning loss by not being able to attend in-person classroom instruction, and in order to help combat that Toys for Tots has decided to distribute one million toys this spring and summer with a focus on toys that teach providing STEM-related toys.

We realize the importance of reminding children that there is still joy to be found in simple gifts every day, no matter how difficult things may be right now. That is why we are once again partnering with Good360, the global leader in product philanthropy and purposeful giving, and providing them with one million toys to distribute via their network of nonprofit organizations across the United States to DoGoodNOW.

“Toys for Tots is more than a Christmas charity—that is why we want to DoGoodNOW and expand our partnership with Good360,” said Lieutenant General Jim Laster, USMC (Retired), President and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.  “Without the assistance of Good360 and their vast network of non-profits throughout the country, Toys for Tots would not be able to distribute the one million toys we’re providing to families who are struggling outside of the holiday season.”

“With so many families struggling during the pandemic, Good360 is proud to continue the great work of our Marine Toys for Tots partnership,” said Matt Connelly, CEO of Good360.  “We’ve seen firsthand how toys, books and games bring joy to children and their loved ones served by our nonprofit partners and expanding our efforts will significantly increase the impact of our program.”

Toys for Tots and Good360 have complementary strengths, and this partnership will generate greater impact. Together we are more than just the sum of our parts—together we can DoGoodNOW.  The two organizations launched their collaboration in April of 2020 and since that time have distributed 1.8 million toys, games, and books.

If you’d like, you can donate to Marine Toys for Tots here

Popcorn illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Entertainment at Home: How to Spend Lockdown with Benefits?

The lockdown has ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. It is the perfect opportunity for you to be able to pick up a new skill. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are able to use the lockdown wisely, then you can surely benefit from it a lot. Use this to your advantage and spend a little more time with yourself. Who knows? By the end of this lockdown, you might evolve into an even better version of who you are now. Read on to find out all the various ways to spend your time productively during the lockdown.

Spending Time Productively in Lockdown

Learn to Cook

This is the time when you find yourself in close proximity to the kitchen the whole day. Ordering in might be a risky bet considering that it might provoke the spread of COVID. So, instead of ordering food from a delivery app, cook it yourself. Start with the simpler things at first like making tea, boiling eggs, etc. As you learn more every day, you can eventually take up cooking initiatives that you never imagined before.

Try New Things

This lockdown, try something that you normally wouldn’t. Spend your time picking up a new skill. There is an endless world out there. Take online gambling for instance. You can get 100 free spins no deposit in UK if you visit online casinos. In this pandemic, as people spend more time at homes, the popularity of online casinos has skyrocketed. More and more people are exploring the world of online gambling because it is thrilling and fun. So, go ahead and explore.

Read More Books

This is the ideal time to read a book. If you are not an avid reader, you might be depriving yourself of one of the most beautiful experiences in life. We all receive books as gifts on our birthdays. On most occasions, those books end up getting dragged to one corner of our shelf and keep collecting dust. Now is the time to get those books out and experience the beautiful stories they tell.

Bond with Family

We live in an age of preoccupations. Everyone is preoccupied with something or the other. Children are busy studying; parents are busy working. We are hardly able to make time for each other. However, the lockdown has changed it, even though temporarily. In the lockdown, a unique phenomenon has taken place. Every member of the family is under one roof. Children are getting to attend online classes and parents are getting to work from home. So, start spending more time with each other. Begin with the simpler things like eating at the dinner table together or watching a movie.

Exercise

You don’t necessarily have to go to a gym to work on your fitness. A free hand workout is the best form of fitness routine. The best thing about it is that it can simply be done at home. So, this lockdown, use the opportunity to work, on your fitness, from home. Go to the terrace, do some stretching. Do some crunches and push-ups. Use the extra time you get at home to improve your health because it will not only help you physically, but also mentally.

Meditate

A lot of people turn out to be rather skeptical when it comes to meditation. However, experts certify meditation to be a genuinely helpful habit. It can result in profound improvement of your mental health and stability. Even more so, in the stressful situation of the global pandemic, you need to calm yourself down. So, practice meditating. It can do wonders.

Watch TV

In the age of Netflix and Amazon Prime, we have gained access to a seemingly endless plethora of interesting shows on TV or computers. Some of the shows have thousands of episodes, each having a running time of at least an hour. Normally, you don’t get the scope to fully watch your favorite shows in the middle of work. Also, by the time you return home, you get too tired. Nevertheless, this is your chance. Switch on the television and watch something with your family.

Do Chores

Use the free time in your hand to perform household chores. Usually, we see the mothers and daughters of the house taking up this crucial responsibility, but why should the men be left out? Pick up the mop and duster. Go ahead and clean your place up. Get into all those remote corners of the room that you have never even looked at before. Reorganize the furniture. Give your humble abode a refreshing new look.

Make a Garden

Gardening can be an extraordinarily soothing way of passing the time. Plants take time to grow and flourish, but when they do, they teach you so much about how delicate life is. Gardening has proven to have hugely positive effects on mental health. An added benefit of doing this is not having to shop for fruits and vegetables outside. After all, you are locked down. You can’t visit the marketplace for buying your cooking ingredients. So, rather grow them at home.

Plan for Future

Since you have more time in your hand, you can concentrate on drafting a course of action for your future. Our lives revolve around various aspects. We have a family to take care of. We have careers to build. We have our own dreams to fulfil. This is the perfect chance of working them all out through meticulous planning.

Try Art

Have you ever explored the artistic side of your personality before? This is the ideal occasion for that. Pick up a paint brush and go ahead. It is also a highly beneficial mental exercise because it helps you work on your precision and focus. There are so many things to take inspiration from. Maybe, try your hand at some glass painting too while you’re at it.

Detox

Enough of indulging in vices, let this lockdown be a detox phase. Rid your body of all the toxins. No smoking and no drinking because, after all, you can’t even if you want to. All the stores are closed. So, might as well use this as a way of benefiting yourself. Use this lockdown to quit your bad habits.

Conclusion

So, we told you about many different ways of using your time productively in the lockdown. However, we saved the best for last. Here it is. As we said earlier, this lockdown offers you the chance to spend some time with yourself. That is very important. So, use this time to write a letter to your future self. When you spend time with yourself, there are thoughts and ideas that you stumble upon which you would normally never even comprehend. Before you end up forgetting them, write them down as a letter for reminding yourself in the future. Make yourself promises. Make your memories immortal. Get a pen and a piece of paper. Then, write your heart out. You will cherish it when the time comes.

Bike Ride illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Bike4Tourism × Cycle the World

Bike4Tourism Invites Would-Be Travelers to Cycle the World, Virtually

Seeking a Global Community to Bike Together While Apart and Share Images of Each Other’s Routes

Missing international travel?   Wishing you could host some out-of-town friends to show them your most beautiful locations? Then Bike4Tourism has an inspiring global event tailor-made for you this Memorial Day weekend, on Sunday, May 30th.

Bike4Tourism aims to promote healthy living and sustainable tourism. The goal of the event is to have as many participants as possible, in every country, riding bikes and sharing photographs to the global community of the most beautiful places near their homes.

In sharing each other’s images, cyclists will virtually visit cities, countries and continents, without need for a passport — just a helmet and the will to discover or rediscover the places that surround us and show them to others.

Organizers are hoping for more than 115,000 participants around the world to break the current record.  Proceeds will support environmental conservation charities and aid tourism businesses in financial need following Covid-19 travel restrictions.

It’s hoped that participants are left with even more desire to travel, sustainably, with a huge selection of photos of beautiful places from which to choose their next journey.

All are welcome to participate, and free tickets will be made available for children to encourage family bike rides.   Early bird tickets are available from April 20th.  For more information, visit Bike 4 Tourism, and Facebook.

Transgender illustration by Heather Skovlund (Original Photo Credit: Pixabay) for 360 Magazine

Parents Open Letter to Lawmakers

1,500+ Parents of Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Expansive Youth Condemn Anti-Trans Bills in Open Letter to Lawmakers

More than 1,500 parents of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth — from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — signed a letter imploring elected officials to oppose anti-transgender bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country.  

The letter — organized by the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council — was sent to elected officials Monday morning.

The letter comes in response to a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are currently more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of these discriminatory bills, 106 directly target transgender people, including efforts to ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity and prohibit evidence-based, life-saving health care for transgender youth.

“Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: ‘You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are. Your existence is dangerous to the other kids around you. We are okay if you feel lonely, isolated, and unwelcome. We are willing to take away even the smallest concessions that have been made for you because we have power and you don’t,’” the parents wrote. “Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society.”

“Transgender children are children. They deserve the ability to play organized sports and have access to medically necessary care, just like all children. These bills are cruel — and parents are not going to be silent when elected officials attack their children through discriminatory legislation,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “Transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth impacted by these bills are among the most vulnerable to experience depression and engage in self-harm, including suicide. Legislators must realize the seriousness of this issue and remember that they were elected to lead — not call into question whether certain children have the right to exist, to be happy, or to live authentically.”

“As a trans person, I know what it means to have lawmakers try to write me out of existence — imagine being a trans child trying to cope with this reality. There is a coordinated attack on transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth being waged in state legislatures across the country and it is having a devastating impact on the mental health of kids, who just want to be kids,” said Jay Brown, Senior Vice President, HRC Programs, Research & Training. “Parents will not back down when it comes to protecting their children, and they will not tolerate their elected officials using their positions of power to harm and further oppress them. We will never give up hope that if people — including elected officials — hear from people at the center of the policy debate, and their loved ones, that their hearts will open, and their minds will change.”

The full letter is below.

April 12, 2021

Dear Elected Officials,

Many of you are sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or considering voting for legislation that would force transgender children to participate in sports based on a letter on their birth certificate rather than who they are – or not participate at all. Some of you are also sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or considering voting for bills that would criminalize best-practice, evidence-based, life-saving health care that transgender youth need (and deserve!) to thrive. 

Parents of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth like us have called you, sent you emails, and have showed up in the midst of a global pandemic to testify about how devastating these bills are…not only if or when they pass and become law, but also right now because, by whipping up a firestorm of attacks on our kids, they have already caused damage to our families.

Parenting during a pandemic is hard enough. The fact that these bills exist at all—that the lives of our children are up for debate in any state in this nation—adds a layer of worry to an already fraught time. Let’s be clear: the impact of these bills goes far beyond sports and medical care; they call into question whether our children have the right to exist, to be happy, to live authentically. The answer is yes. They absolutely do.

We have shared studies with you explaining that trans youth are more susceptible to struggle with anxiety or depression, not because they are transgender but because of stigma and discrimination. You have heard that being able to participate in sports and being on a team with friends and classmates can improve their mental health. You have heard adolescents tell you how afraid they are of experiencing the wrong puberty or how terrified teenagers are of having their medically-prescribed hormones denied to them. 

This isn’t the first time. We tried telling you all of this a year ago before the pandemic thankfully cut many legislative sessions short and these bills floundered. After hearing some of these concerns last year, a senator in Missouri was quoted dismissively saying “We can’t be responsible for everyone’s mental health.”

We are pointedly telling you now that you actually are responsible for the mental health of these kids. We are holding you personally responsible for the amount of stress, anxiety, and fear our precious children are currently struggling with. We are holding you responsible for how some of our children are crying themselves to sleep every night, asking why so many people hate trans kids and want them to suffer. You are the reason they are asking to move somewhere where they will be protected, because their home doesn’t feel safe anymore with you in charge of creating its laws.

You were elected to your positions to lead. And leaders understand that in our great but imperfect system of government, we favor the concept of “majority rule, minority rights.” Leaders do not use their positions of power to harm and further oppress a struggling and hurting minority.

Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: “You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are. Your existence is dangerous to the other kids around you. We are okay if you feel lonely, isolated, and unwelcome. We are willing to take away even the smallest concessions that have been made for you because we have power, and you don’t.”

Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society. 

Here is a powerful quote from Nomi Ruiz, a Puerto Rican trans woman, artist and performer, that we’d like you to take time to think about…

“The outside world will never truly understand the magnitude of the trans experience, especially that of a child who has an undying need to live in truth despite being ostracized for it. The only way for trans children to thrive is to allow them to live freely in the face of a society that abuses them for it.”

Stop abusing our kids by creating legislation that targets them. Kill these bills now and leave our kids alone.

Justifiably angry,

Parents of Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Expansive Youth

Child with phone illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Children and Screens Announces Grant

­CHILDREN AND SCREENS ANNOUNCES $100,000 GRANT SUPPORTING NEW RESEARCH INTO DIGITAL MEDIA USE AND BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant of $100,000 to Marc Potenza, Ph.D., MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, Yihong Zhao, Ph.D., member of the Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies at Rutgers University, and their interdisciplinary, interinstitutional team, in support of their research exploring the associations between screen media activity and brain development in school-aged children. 
 
“It is vital to investigate what ever-increasing digital media engagement means for developing brains, especially in middle childhood when children’s devices and brains are working on overdrive. Technology is advancing rapidly, and we hope to do our part to help science keep up; we are delighted to create opportunities to advance scientific research on this topic through the Institute, which I founded 13 years ago.” Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development 
 
Drawing on longitudinal data from the NIH’s landmark Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, Dr. Potenza, Dr. Zhao, and their associates intend to utilize state-of-the-art statistical methodology and predictive modeling to investigate the relationships between digital media use and changes in brain structure and function, as well as the associated clinically relevant behaviors. The study, which was proposed following the Institute’s March 2020 Digital Media and Developing Brain Research Retreat, will examine the effects of a variety of specific media-based activities and will focus on children from ages 9-12. The results of this research will yield benefits and insight not only for the research community, but also for families, clinicians, and policymakers.
 
“The advances in ‘big data’ approaches have led to an unprecedented increase in our understanding of how brain structure and function relate to specific behaviors. With the support of Children and Screens, we aim to apply novel and innovative big data approaches to ABCD data to understand how brain structure and function relate to, and importantly may be impacted by, types and patterns of screen media activity. Dr. Martin Paulus and colleagues used a portion of the first wave of ABCD data to identify patterns of cortical thinning associated with screen media activity. We hope to build off and extend this work by examining the full initial sample and subsequent waves of ABCD data to determine brain-behavior relationships with respect to youth screen media activity. We hope to communicate these findings in order to advance prevention and policy efforts that promote healthy childhood development in environments increasingly involving digital technologies.” – Dr. Marc Potenza, Grant Recipient
 
Bridging the medical, neuroscientific, social scientific, education, and academic communities, the Children and Screens’ interdisciplinary scientific research grants program was conceived as part of a larger research program to advance and support study, knowledge, and scientific collaboration. Developed in 2017, the grants program provides researchers with access to the early-stage financial support necessary to pilot worthy new projects studying the impact of children’s engagement with current and evolving technologies.
 
In addition to the research funds awarded as part of the retreat program and those granted to explore the impacts of digital media during the current health crisis, Children and Screens’ regular Tips for Parents newsletter provides evidence-based, practical advice for families coping with the unprecedented realities of the pandemic, including changed economic circumstances, health concerns, lockdowns, social distancing, remote learning, and working from home. Each newsletter features insights from world-renowned experts, who share tips and advice about managing screen time, social media use, gaming, technology addiction, privacy, parenting, and more.
 
In addition, our popular, bi-weekly Ask the Experts virtual workshop series features dynamic conversations among international, interdisciplinary experts in the field of digital media and child development. Each discussion explores a different digital media challenge associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and presents families with current scientific research, clinical advice, and practical, evidence-based advice. Panelists include leading parenting experts, former AAP Presidents, top child and adolescent psychiatrists, high-impact journal editors, leading researchers, well-known authors, and others. To date, the series has reached parents, researchers, educators, clinicians, government agencies, and public health professionals in over 30 countries and all 50 states.
 
About Children and Screens:
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness.

Heather Ann illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Heather Ann

Dreaming the Impossible and Accomplishing the Unbelievable

Her name is Heather, and she is a statistic. Since the age of sixteen, she has been a statistic due to becoming pregnant with her firstborn son, Zachary. Heather had always believed that she would only be known as that: a teenage mom. She worked hard and graduated high school a semester early to entirely focus on being a full-time mother. Heather then put off college and any thought of childhood dreams because she felt they were unattainable. She worked minimum wage jobs to try and raise her son the best that she could.

Heather’s daughter, Tyanna, came along when she was 21 years old.  In that time, Heather found herself in an unhealthy relationship. She fought hard to pull herself and her children out of the situation; she eventually did. However, she found herself turning to alcohol to cope with the pain she had endured through the years. Alcohol became Heather’s best friend for over a year, and she was faced with losing her children and eventually becoming pregnant with her youngest son, Jaxson. He was her saving grace. An angel sent from above to remind Heather that she was worthy of love and that she was stronger than she had ever known. It took her a few months to get back on her feet for herself and children, but she did it with her head held high.

Fast forward to 2011 where Heather was working as a cashier at Walmart, barely making ends meet for her family. She met her now-husband, Joshua. In 2013, they became a big, blended family with six children. Heather gained three more beautiful children: Emmanuel, Lyric, and Benjamyn. Their children now range in age from ten years old to 22 years old! Also, Heather is a proud grandma to two beautiful grandchildren – Lydia and Jaxton, a.k.a. her Sweetpea and Monkey.

It hasn’t been an easy road, but it has been full of love and memories. Heather’s husband has been the sole provider for their family, sometimes working over sixty hours a week. It was decided that Heather stay at home with the children for many reasons. The most important reason was due to the emotional abandonment that Emmanuel, Lyric, and Ben went through due to their biological mother. Although they have learned coping techniques, it has been a stressful and emotional journey. It was always best for the children if Heather was available at all times for them.

In addition to the chaotic life they live with a large family, Heather’s oldest daughter was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in 2016, which led to an emergency brain surgery to better Tyanna’s quality of life. This is a lifelong disease with no cure, so there have been quite a few struggles for her to find her new normal. She will never lead a “normal” life; however, she is doing her best to make life fun, and that is all Heather can hope for. Heather also has these health conditions, but they are nowhere as severe as Tyanna’s are. Heather also suffers from a dead talus bone in her ankle, along with two collapsed joints surrounding that ankle. This has contributed to continuing on as a stay-at-home parent as well. Heather’s family is big and unique, but they are full of love, and that’s the best thing she could ask for.

Heather has spent years being unable to provide for her family financially. As a parent to six children, this has always weighed heavily on her. She has watched her husband work from four in the morning to close to midnight in the same shift. He is hardworking and very dedicated to providing for his family. In 2018, Heather decided to start exploring the idea of college. She knew that she wanted to be in something art related. Art has been a coping mechanism throughout life; sketching, painting, and inks are her mediums of choice. She believed that the career she landed with should be something that she loved and would be proud to do. This led Heather to enroll at Independence University to obtain her associate degree in graphic design. This career choice allows Heather to share her art with the world and also contribute to her family.  She has worked hard to keep an impressive grade point average while learning as much as she can about graphic design.

Heather will officially graduate in January 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. She decided after a year into her associate degree that she wanted to pursue her bachelor’s degree. Obtaining this degree would open opportunities for Heather to work within public relations, publishing, and digital media businesses.

Heather had been asked by quite a few people why she wanted to pursue her bachelor’s degree so soon after graduating with an associate degree. Many assumed that she wanted to stay focused on her education; that is true. However, that was not the decision-maker for Heather. This decision comes from a life-changing situation that her family encountered at the beginning of 2020. You see, Heather’s father was taken away from her when she was three years old. She found him again when she was sixteen and had not been away from him since then. Her father, Mike, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, in March of 2020. This disease has continually cursed her family throughout the years. It has taken her great-grandmother, paternal grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, a distant cousin, and now her father. Heather always doubted that she would be able to attend college and succeed, but Mike was always the voice telling her that she could and that he was so proud of her. Mike was an amazing person and had always been Heather’s biggest cheerleader in life. She has many reasons to continue creating art; however, her passion comes from wanting to pursue more for her family, especially her father. She would love the opportunity to make him proud continually, even though he has been watching her from heaven since November of 2020.

In February of 2021, Heather took a big breath and reached out to Vaughn Lowery, President of 360 Magazine, in hopes of obtaining an internship through the magazine. 360 Magazine stands out from other magazines on many levels. 360 is an edgy fashion, lifestyle, and culture magazine. The founding members have over 30 years of collective experience both as notable talent and uber professionals within fashion, music, art, design, and entertainment. They are an LGBTQIA-friendly publication. Quality art content is the constant goal – No magazine like it is available today, constantly celebrating racial and sexual ambiguous talent and artists. Interning with 360 Magazine was definitely an opportunity she was ready to take on!

The morning Heather interviewed with Vaughn, she was battling the flu that was running its course through her household – she nailed the interview and started the next day! Heather continues to learn every day during her internship and through her classes. She has become increasingly more confident in her illustrations with Vaughn’s guidance. In addition to her internship with the magazine, Heather is also the Communications Director for her school’s AIGA Student group. She was recently nominated and is looking forward to learning her new role within the group!

While Heather stays really busy with art-related things, she really does enjoy doing other things! Her family has five dogs (Beethoven, Duchess, Ruby, Lucky & Alaska) and six cats (Pepper, Chewy, Tom, Jerry, Ebony & Dolly) that fill their home with fur and love. Heather and Josh try to hop on the ps4 a few times a week and play some Warzone. They have always been gamers! They enjoy having game nights, outdoor experiences, and hiking. Her husband is in the process of finishing their home gym – which they are pretty excited about it! Oh, can’t forget reading! Heather has a ton of books that she has bought over the years or have been given to her. She loves being able to curl up and spend an entire day just reading. Music. Music is her saving grace as well! Heather has such a unique playlist(s) – pop, country, r&b, hip-hop, rap… the list could go on!

Heather has a new mantra that she tries to tell herself daily: Keep going until YOU’RE proud. Heather has always doubted herself…but she needs to remember – like many others – that she needs to keep pushing and straighten her crown!

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Teletubbies illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Teletubbies Launch Tubbycoin

Teletubbies Launch New Cryptocurrency Tubbycoin

Share BigHugs! with hashtag TubbyCoin

To mine TubbyCoin, all users need to do is share Big Hugs! tokens on social media with anyone who needs a hug, accompanied by the hashtag TubbyCoin. Then, sit back and let HugTech do the rest, as your TubbyCoin grows in value by collecting good vibes from being so nice.

As part of the initial offering of TubbyCoin, WildBrain will be making a base donation of $5,000 CAD to Kids Help Phone, and for every TubbyCoin shared or liked on social media, we’ll add one additional dollar to our donation, up to a total of $10,000 CAD. Be sure to use the hashtag TubbyCoin. Kids Help Phone gives millions of youth a safe, trusted space to talk over phone or through text or in self-directed support in any moment of crisis or need. In 2020, Kids Help Phone had 4.5 million connections with young people, reflecting a 137% increase over 2019.

HugTech – harnessing the power of Teletubby antennae

The result of years of research at WildBrain Labs, HugTech is a unique, proprietary technology that harnesses the value of the Teletubbies’ trademark BigHugs! through a nascent technology that marries the secret power of the Teletubbies’ antennae with cutting-edge cryptographology.

Dr. Rolf P. Solia, Principal Scientist and Head of Cleverness & Fabrication at WildBrain Labs, said: “We have finally arrived at the unachievable! Everyone knows the Teletubbies spread joy and delight across the world. But until now, few outside WildBrain Labs knew those special powers emanated from their antennae. Now, through the magic of cryptographology WildBrain Labs has harnessed that power to offer people around the world the opportunity to share the ebullience of the Teletubbies through TubbyCoin.”

Teletubbies spokestubby Tinky Winky added: “Eh-oh! Big hugs!”

Gotcha! Happy April Fools’ day!

Michael Riley, Chief Brands Officer of Teletubbies owner WildBrain, said: “I’d like to wish everyone a Happy April Fools’ Day! Although TubbyCoin is not really a cryptocurrency, our hope is that you’ll still enjoy sharing TubbyCoins with friends, family and anyone who needs a hug – all to bring some very real smiles to faces. And the part about WildBrain’s donation to charity is no joke. To help ensure kids have the assistance they need in these difficult times, we’ll be making a $5,000 donation to Kids Help Phone and adding one dollar to our donation for every TubbyCoin shared on social media up to a total of $10,000. So, share those virtual BigHugs!”

About WildBrain Labs

At WildBrain Labs we strive to break free of the constraints of imagination and reach for the unachievable. Based in a secure, state-of-the-art facility in a region of the Coachella Valley so remote that even we sometimes have trouble remembering where it is, WildBrain Labs is home to an advanced team of rock star scientists, programming wizards, ninja futurists and various other less outrageous people who keep the lights on – all of whom are laser focused on deploying cleverness and fabrication to make the world a better place or at least a bit less boring.

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support in English and French to young people. As the country’s virtual care expert, we give millions of youth a safe, trusted space to talk over phone or through text or in self-directed supports in any moment of crisis or need. Through our digital transformation, we envision a future where every person in Canada is able to get the support they need, when they need it most, however they need it. Kids Help Phone gratefully relies on the generosity of donors, volunteers, stakeholder partners, corporate partners and governments to fuel and fund our programs. Learn more at Kids Help Phone.