- 1,303 families served (1,946 children)
- 1,534 developmental screenings
- 2,500+ referrals made to community resources.
I have four nieces and nephews. Being their aunt I have learned a lot. Probably not as much as their moms, but a lot nonetheless. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s great to talk to them like adults. It’s fun to use the big words I know and to hear them use the same words. Sometimes they use them correctly and sometimes they’re way off. Between me and the Word of the Day from Sesame Street they’re learning all kinds of things. But what I’ve discovered is that I don’t know words as well as I think I do. Sure I can use them and I can use them correctly (most of the time) but I can’t always define them. So when I insert a clever and out-of-the-ordinary word sometimes my nieces and nephew ask me what it means. And that’s when you hear the crickets. Whoops! I don’t know how to define it. How does the phrase go? It’s better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it? Wise words. I’d like to take this blog post to help prevent us all from becoming fools.
LIVE UNITED. You’ve heard the phrase, you’ve seen the buses, and you’ve seen the t-shirts. But can you define it? Let me, with the valuable skills of merriam-webster.com, help you out. Here are the best definitions of LIVE UNITED.
1. : to have a life rich in experience
2. : to exhibit vigor, gusto, or enthusiasm in
3. : to experience firsthand
4. : to be thoroughly absorbed by or involved with
1. : made one
2. : being in agreement
3. : relating to or produced by joint action
Combine any of those definitions and you’ve got the meaning of LIVE UNITED. Let me share my top three.
1. made one in exhibiting vigor, gusto, or enthusiasm in a joint action
2. being in agreement to have a life rich in experience
3. to experience firsthand the absorption in producing a joint action
So, now I ask, what do you LIVE UNITED in? Does it fall into the categories of Education, Income, and Health? Personally, I LIVE UNITED in Education. I love learning no matter how it’s done, where it’s done, or what it’s about. Learning follows you everywhere. I took a Sociology class in college and as we discussed the dynamics of social structure I knew education was one of the most valuable tools a person could have. That’s why you see me talk about EveryDay Learners so much. I experience it firsthand, it provides my life (and other’s lives) with a rich experience, and it’s a joint action I believe in. So, what do you LIVE UNITED in?
Vote for Janae! Janae Moss - see below - is Help Me Grow's Parent Champion and was recently listed as Utah Business, 30 Women to Watch! She's been such an amazing support to us and is a source of inspiration and fresh ideas. WE LOVE HER!
As one of the 30 Women to Watch, Janae could win $16,000 for a charity of her choice and she has generously selected Help Me Grow!! You can vote every day until May 16th and help us win! Vote at this link and make sure to give her 5 stars!
Help Me Grow Utah has spent months getting ready for this week's Help Me Grow National Forum, and it's fantastic to see the planning pay off as the forum begins today!
However, we got a little treat last night before all the festivities kicked into high gear. Help Me Grow founder, Dr. Paul Dworkin (see right), Gave a spectacular presentation about the history and purpose of Help Me Grow, reminding all of us of what we're working for.
Dr. Dworkin told the Help Me Grow story by starting at the beginning, reminding everyone that the program was a product of the 90's (the decade of the brain). This was because child development was beginning to enter the national dialogue in a way it never had before. It set the stage for the Help Me Grow system to launch in 1998 and expand across the country. Help Me Grow is currently active in 18 affiliates. (There are hints we might become 21 soon!)
Dr. Dworkin transitioned from talking about Help Me Grow's history to discussing key concepts in child development. He connected those concepts to organizational practices. For example, one key concept is that there are critical periods within development that should occur in sequential order and determine later outcomes. This relates to how organizations focus their resources to fit developmental trajectories, meaning that organizations aren't just serving developmentally delayed individuals, but at-risk individuals as well. This leads to the understanding that society needs a "comprehensive, community-wide approach" to give every child a chance at reaching his or her optimal development.
Then, Dr. Dworkin reconnected to Help Me Grow's history by pointing out that the system was designed to provide this community-wide interdisciplinary approach through four major platforms:
- A centralized telephone access point (Dial 2-1-1; ask for Help Me Grow.)
- Community and family outreach (Check out one of our family events sometime!)
- Child health provider outreach (We'll work with health care providers to keep everyone in the loop of a child's health.)
- Data collection and analysis (This is one of Help Me Grow Utah's strong points.)
These four platforms serve as connecting points, linking families and providers to cross-sector resources, information, and each other. The Help Me Grow system has evolved quite a bit since 1998; however, those key components remain the same.
Help Me Grow Utah sends a special thanks to Children with Special Health Care Needs for hosting the presentation, specifically MykioSaracino and Dr. Harper Randall. It also thanks Jonell Murray for her help in making the presentation a CME event.
This presentation was the perfect way to kick of an already exciting week. We're off to take a seat at the opening session, but stay tuned, we'll be sure to post again tomorrow with even more updates!
And thus it begins....the 4th Annual Help Me Grow Forum! Help Me Grow Utah became an affiliate of the national Help Me Grow Network back in 2010. We've attended each forum since they began and this year are pleased to host all the affiliates who are traveling from 18 different states to attend.
What is Help Me Grow you ask? And why do I even care?
To help answer that question, proceed to the following infographic to understand what Help Me Grow is and how to connect. We've seen some amazing impact as we've been working with families over the last few years. So if YOU know of any family, family health care provider or organization that would like to learn more about this amazing program and how we can connect them to resources, visit our website!
Thank you to all the affiliates who are coming! We look forward to an amazing forum!
On Monday I sat in the office kitchen eating my lunch and wondered what to write for this blog post. Ideas came and went but nothing seemed interesting. I wanted to find something in my life that screamed LIVE UNITED and it dawned on me.
Last weekend I was doing my regular blog check. We all have them. I was catching up on some friends and learned some things. The first thing I learned was that my friend and her husband are still working on their house. They purchased their first home and have been renovating it ever since. The sweet woman who owned it before wasn’t a fan of natural light and did some of her own handiwork to keep that natural light out. My friend was hoping they’d be able to move in by now but alas, they are still working. The blog pictures neighbors and family helping along the process and it hit me, I can help. Why, in the months they’ve been renovating have I never offered to help? They don’t live too far and it would be a great Saturday activity. So I texted her and arranged a day to come and help.
The next thing I learned happened when I was reading another friend’s blog. She recently finished getting her Master’s degree and her husband started a new job. Lots of exciting things are going on in their lives. Some things are not as exciting. About a year ago her husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and they have been “kicking Crohn’s” ever since. They’ve done many things to try and keep the flare ups of Crohn’s to a minimum. One thing was starting an intense change in diet. They call it the SCD diet and there are many restrictions for what they can and cannot eat. However, it has been working and he’s felt the best he has in a long time. However there are occasional flare ups and recently there has been a bad one. This friend’s mother spent an entire day with her daughter making 14 freezer meals that are SCD diet approved. With leftovers, this will provide my friends with almost a month worth of meals. I realized something, this friend also lives nearby. Why don’t I help her make meals? Or clean her house for her so that she can just relax. “Kicking Crohn’s” is a full time job and everyone could use a break.
So, what does this have to do with LIVING UNITED? Well, how often do you dream of all the ways the world can be a better place? There’s an old saying, “you can’t help others until you’re in a good place.” Okay, so that may not be the old saying. I paraphrased/made it up based on the gist I could remember. But you get the idea. I think the same goes for the world. You need to help your neighbors before you can save the world. All these people around me are LIVING UNITED by helping renovate a house or cooking meals. I wanted to LIVE UNITED but forgot to look around me. Please, take my seasoned advice, if you want to LIVE UNITED, look around you. The possibilities are closer than you realize.
Education is important in my family. I’m not really sure how this understanding came about. I don’t feel like we were bombarded with academic goals and expectations. It was just understood that we, as the children in my surname family, were capable to succeed in school and a lack of our best effort was unacceptable. And books are all over our home. On the last day of school my mom would take me and my siblings out to lunch to celebrate the start of summer. We would then get a gift. It was always something cheap and silly but also included 2-3 books. I now realize they were books for us to read in the summer.
So, as I grew older college was a given to me. I like to credit this to a family trip to my parent’s alma mater for a walk down memory lane and the best ice cream around and the fact that my sister is 8 years older than me. This means when I was 10 she was going to college which meant the topic of college came up years before that. College was discussed as exciting, fun, and a natural step to work hard towards. So as I planned my high school classes I took the path that the school counselors declared the “University Path”. This meant extra years of math, language and honors English.
It was my sophomore honors English class that was my favorite. It was here, during my required summer reading, that I found my favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was here that I discovered I do not enjoy the romantic time period. I mean really Jane Austen, get to the point! I learned how to understand Geoffrey Chaucer and to enjoy his humor. And I shared countless memorable experiences with my mom. One in particular stands out to me. The class was reading “A Separate Peace.” I don’t remember the assignment exactly, but periodically we were supposed to answer questions about what we had read up to that point. They were questions about symbolism and drawing parallels to my own life. This wasn’t my strong point. I don’t naturally think deeply about the books I’m reading. My mom decided to read the book with me. She had her own copy (not surprising considering all the books in our house) and hadn’t read the book in years. She thought it would be nice to read it again and something fun to share with me. She was right. Throughout my assignment we discussed the variety of topics, similarities between the character’s lives and my life, and the motivations for the characters. This may be why I enjoyed this book so much, because I shared it with my mom.
This is what we call an EveryDay Learners experience. It was a more time intensive activity but not out of the ordinary. It’s not uncommon for my mom to read with her children and now grandchildren. It’s not uncommon to point out the details of the pictures in the books to help us learn from more than just words. It’s not uncommon. It’s the lifestyle she created in our home. I’ve started to internalize this. When my nephew complains about the loud fire drill they had to do in pre-school I tell him about the fire drill grown-ups do to teach him that it’s important. When my niece wants to learn how to cook my sister lets her. Slowly they work together and before you know it, there’s a 7-year old in the home making dinner once a week. She picks the meal, finds the ingredients and makes dinner with the trusting supervision of her mom. It may start with reading. It may start with gardening. But you can find something to do with your children or the children in your neighborhood to teach them every day. You can change their lives by showing the importance of learning and education. This, is being an EveryDay Learner and this, is LIVING UNITED.
There is so much research around that shows that reading to/with your child 20 minutes a day is important. This seems like a simple task, right? Well, imagine this. What if your child is in a French dual immersion program and brings home a book in French that they have been assigned to read with you? Your child sits down and reads the book to you, but you don't understand anything that is said. Then your child wants to talk about the book with you, but you don't know what was read. What do you do? I know that I would simply tell my child to read it on their own. However, there is something to be said about the child's interaction and discussion with you about the book. It is important.
Many of the families in our community face this same issue every single day. The parents do not speak English, but their child is going to a school where they learn in English every day and bring books and homework home in English. What a challenge for those parents!
I posted previously about the reading program that has been established at a local 7-Eleven. If you missed that post, learn more about it here. This program sees a large amount of families where the parents only speak Spanish, but they have very few Spanish books available. Let's help these families have a literate home!
Research shows that "Having a literate home doesn't mean that parents have to be literate in English. Reading and writing in one's native language sends every bit as strong a literacy message as reading and writing in English. The important point is that parents value literacy, no matter what language they read and write" (To read this entire article, click here).
We are in need of Spanish books in order to make this possible for them. Donations must be new or very gently used and in good condition. They must be geared toward children or early teenagers. If you are able to donate Spanish books to this program, please call United Way of Utah County at 801-374-2588. Click here for a Spanish collection of children's books available at Barnes and Noble.
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