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Give Your Kids A “Wordplayful” Summer with YouthWrite®

2021 YouthWrite® Camp Theme – Voyage to the Great Unknown

Who is this camp for?

  • Youth in Alberta
  • YouthWrite®, a camp for kids who love to write…just about anything!©
  • Youth 8yrs all the way through 20!
  • Youth can choose in-person or online!

What is YouthWrite?

  • At the camps, young creators can explore new pursuits such as yoga and writing, drumming and words, songwriting, illustrating, cartooning, scriptwriting, improvisation and writing, body percussion and words, and more.
  • They also focus on traditional poetry and fiction – so there really is something for everyone!
  • YouthWrite Society Canada is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a non-profit, charitable arts organization.

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5 Podcasts That Inspire Me As A Mom

I spend a LOT of time in my car. Driving to work, then from one place to the next and so, I have the opportunity to listen to things like podcasts. Specifically parenting-esque podcasts because who doesn’t like a little learning when it comes to this “job”. There’s no manual and you can take the advice or leave it. For me, I feel that I’m getting a free injection of optimism, point of view and some general tips. Often it’s even just knowing that other people have gone through a similar situation.

Here are the 5 podcasts I’m following right now, including a few with my favourite episodes.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting on
October 3, 2017

Technology is just a Tool

By Alisa Taylor

Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games using a wooden stick. He was the best hockey player because of his skills, not because of the equipment he used. In order to achieve greatness, we need to hone our skills and commit to the goal. The tools we use to succeed facilitate that journey, but do not guarantee achievement.

If I want to become a faster runner, my new shoes and cute running shorts may motivate me to get outside, but will not get my legs moving faster. I need to put those shoes to the pavement and make some tracks. And I cannot just run once nor can I run 3 times a day everyday. Neither situation will get me the results I desire.

The same can be said for technology. If a child is given a device, their intelligence level does not suddenly increase. Downloading Minecraft or Tynker won’t turn them into architectural or coding geniuses, but perhaps it will get their attention and peak their curiosity.

Devices are tools and when used appropriately, act as a gateway into a world of creativity. They can open a door into endless learning possibilities and ignite that passion for exploring further. But, those tools, the devices, must be managed by parents. Children are not capable of navigating and managing technology on their own and rely upon their parents for guidance. It is no longer an option for parents to hand over the iPad and turn their heads the other way. By doing so, the child is unknowingly up against some dangerous vulnerabilities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends consistent time limits placed on media for kids aged 6 and older. In addition, ensuring media is not replacing adequate sleep, physical activity and other healthy behaviours. So, if a child is spending endless hours on their iPad, is that the fault of the iPad? The iPad is the tool. It must be managed appropriately. Establishing time limits, ensuring age appropriate content and demonstrating good technology habits are parents’ responsibilities.

When managed appropriately, technology can spark an interest in creating and learning new content and ideas. Kids are comfortable with technology and so may appear to be capable of managing it themselves. However, if parents are providing the technology, they must also provide guidance and support. Empower your kids to access that world of creativity and watch the excitement as they conquer something new.

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” – Bill Gates

Alisa is a former Criminal Intelligence Analyst and has worked in law enforcement for the last 15 years. She is passionate about keeping kids safe and kind online and ensuring they thrive in our digital world. When Alisa isn’t online, you might spot her in the YEG river valley with her dogs, husband, and daughter or escaping the city for a weekend of camping.  You can follow Alisa on her blog The Lotus Pageas well as on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
In Lifestyle, Parenting on
September 18, 2017

Ground Rules for Kids Receiving their First Phone

By Alisa Taylor

Back to School brings new backpacks, paper, pens and electronic devices. Many kids will be receiving their first phone this school season and eagerly connecting with their friends after an exciting summer. Before parents provide their children with a device that can connect them to millions of people, it is important to lay some ground rules. Keeping your child safe online is not a one-size-fits-all approach and every family needs to do what works best for their circumstances. But, there are some basic guidelines that are important when allowing your child to first connect to the online world:

  1. Keep private information private. Birthdays, full names, addresses, phone numbers, even email addresses can lead to identity theft and fraud. Children are especially susceptible to identity theft because years can go by before the crime is actually discovered.
  2. Do not share your location. Social media and other location-based apps allow users to share their exact whereabouts. When kids do get their first phone, they are likely at an age when parents can leave them at home alone for a short time. Kids do not need to broadcast where they live, go to school and spend their time to the wrong people.
  3. Only allow people you know to friend/follow you. When your child receives a friend or follow request on social media, if they don’t know the person in real life, they should not accept the request online.
  4. Use privacy settings. Ensure accounts are set to private instead of open to the public. Some social media platforms default settings are public, so when creating a new profile, ensure your child’s profile is private and is not available for everyone to view.
  5. Be Kind. With the ability to be anonymous online, kids may feel braver to make a comment online they wouldn’t normally make in real life. Mean and hurtful comments have far reaching effects and if taken too far, can lead to criminal charges. Ensure your kids know that remarks made online should always be respectful and kind.

This last one is for parents! Stay involved. Once you hand over that device, you must stay involved and show genuine interest in your child’s online activities. Studies show that by establishing rules with respect to web activity, kids are less likely to engage in risky online behaviour. Keep those conversations going about what apps, games and social media they are interested in. Support your child as they explore the digital world and enable them to learn, create, and connect safely online.

Alisa is a former Criminal Intelligence Analyst and has worked in law enforcement for the last 15 years. She is passionate about keeping kids safe and kind online and ensuring they thrive in our digital world. When Alisa isn’t online, you might spot her in the YEG river valley with her dogs, husband, and daughter or escaping the city for a weekend of camping.  You can follow Alisa on her blog The Lotus Pageas well as on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

In Health, Lifestyle, Parenting on
July 21, 2017

How Kindness Leads to Happier Healthier Kids

By Alisa Taylor

It seems so simple. Just be kind to each other. Mean comments online have far-reaching effects and can be devastating for our kids. What starts off as something meant to be funny or a joke, can quickly escalate into something embarrassing or hurtful. A child’s fragile self-esteem can be shattered in one disparaging remark or one unassuming photo. With so many kids fuelling their confidence through their online personas and the reliance upon “hearts” and “likes” for self-preservation, it is not a surprise that self-esteem is falling. In a recent UK study, researchers found that just 33% of 14 and 15 year old girls felt good about themselves. Researchers suggested that the decline in girls’ self esteem was linked to their online activity.

With the ability to share messages and pictures now, cyberbullying, hurtful comments and the pressure to “act” a certain way online is a new dimension our kids have to navigate. These online pressures spill into real life for them. As parents, we didn’t have this online world to navigate growing up. The mean words ended at the school yard or in a note we could tear up and throw away. They didn’t follow us home and spread to our safe places. But there is something we can encourage and model for our kids that will not only contribute to a healthier and safer environment both online and offline, but will also improve their well being. Kindness.

Random acts of kindness are scientifically shown to help us lead longer, happier, more energetic lives. That feeling we get after performing a kind act or doing a good deed is often referred to as the ‘Helper’s High’. The term was coined by Allan Luks and is described as “the powerful physical feelings people experience when directly helping others”.

Acts of kindness contribute to the release of the hormone oxytocin which plays a role in lowering blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health. Oxytocin also assists in reducing inflammation, which contributes to the aging process. In a study in the Journal of Social Psychology, a group of participants who performed a daily act of kindness for 10 days reported a higher boost of happiness compared to the group who did not. And possibly the best side effect of kindness? The fact that it is contagious.

One kind, thoughtful comment or gesture has a ripple effect that can positively influence the recipient, those who witness the act as well as the kindness provider. Those feel-good emotions that are stimulated, tend to reinforce the power of a good deed and motivates us to keep it going.

Our kids don’t have to be friends with everyone they meet or talk to online, but we can encourage them to be kind to everyone. The spread of mean messages can be prevented by a movement towards kindness and the upward spiral that follows. Encourage your kids to choose kindness and they will live a happier, healthier life because of it.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   – Maya Angelou

Alisa is a former Criminal Intelligence Analyst and has worked in law enforcement for the last 15 years. She is passionate about keeping kids safe and kind online and ensuring they thrive in our digital world. When Alisa isn’t online, you might spot her in the YEG river valley with her dogs, husband, and daughter or escaping the city for a weekend of camping.  You can follow Alisa on her blog The Lotus Page as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram