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Halloween and Trick or Treat for UNICEF

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Halloween is known for candy, costumes, magic and fun – but giving? Since 1950, “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” has raised more than $170 million to help children around the world.  For over 60 years, this program has been helping kids help kids in small easy ways that make a large global impact.

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, was created to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. The guiding vision of UNICEF is that everyone can, together, advance the cause of humanity.  Some examples of this global organization’s achievements include cutting child deaths by 40% since 1990 and distributing 25 million anti-malarial mosquito nets each year.

“Trick or Treat for UNICEF” connects this global vision with local community activity, and encompasses far more than just Trick Or Treating on Halloween night.  Everything from pumpkin-carving contests to college campus activities can turn fall-themed fun into fundraisers and Making a Difference ®!

To find out how you can start Making a Difference ® this Halloween season, visit http://www.trickortreatforunicef.org/participate to learn more.  Share your story on Twitter by using #TOT4UNICEF!

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Making A Difference® for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Many people call it “Go Pink for October”, supporting those affected by the breast cancer by wearing pink, donating money, getting involved to start or join a fundraising event, or volunteer to help educate women about breast cancer. Even though most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages as well as encourage others to do the same.

During this month, it is important to remain dedicated to educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health, and to remember that it is never too late to start doing so. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point during their lifetime. It is the most common kind of cancer in women after skin cancer. Fortunately, if the cancer is found and treated at an early stage, many women can survive. Mammograms are the easiest way and quickest way to detect breast cancer and can help find it early. Therefore it is important to encourage communities, families, organizations, and individuals to spread the word about mammograms, especially in women over 40. Nonprofits like A Silver Lining Foundation offer free mammograms for women who don’t have access to it.

Hopefully, greater knowledge about breast cancer will lead to earlier detection of it, leading to higher long term survival rates. Money raised for breast cancer awareness will produce a reliable cure, and wearing pink and getting involved in fundraising will provide emotional support for those who are battling breast cancer, as well as cherish the memories of those who lost the battle. Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation website for more information on what you can do to help this month and for a variety of resources for breast cancer prevention.

 

Making A Difference® During Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month

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The last week of September marks the end of Fruit & Veggies—More Matters Month. It’s a time to think about what you have been eating and consider whether you’re getting enough fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. More importantly, pay attention to what your children are eating. The childhood obesity rate in America has tripled in the last 30 years, so this awareness month make a pledge to make sure your kids are eating healthy and staying healthy.

More than 90 percent of adults and children do not eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate, which replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2005.  Most people forget that fruit and veggies come in all forms and count towards your daily intake. This includes fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice.

Fruit and Veggies More Matters provides a list of reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables, including that they are low in calories, may reduce risk of disease and they are rich in vitamins and minerals. Nutrition experts suggest eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables because each contains different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Visit the Fruit and Veggies More Matters website for a list of suggested serving sizes for meals every day. September is a time to think about what you’re eating, but you have the rest of the year to change your eating habits. There is no rule on how much of any category in MyPlate you’re supposed to eat on a daily basis, but remember to balance your meals. Choose several food items from all categories for colorful meals every day!

Making A Difference® During National Suicide Prevention Week

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This year marks the 39th Annual National Suicide Prevention Week, from September 8-14th.  It is a week to reflect and to reach out to people close to you that are going through a rough time in their life.  People suffering from mental anguish that can lead to suicide may avoid speaking about their pain or seeking treatment.  It’s important to know it’s never too late to reach out to someone in need.

Suicide rates have risen in the United States over the past decade.  A study, published this spring, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed an increase in suicide among middle-age Americans, with the rate rising by almost 30 percent for people ages 35 to 64 between 1999 and 2010.  CDC researchers stated that many societal factors, including the long-term economic downturn and the greater access to opioid drugs, can explain the increase of suicide rates.

These seven days serve as a remembrance and a reminder of the lives we have tragically lost to suicide.  If you are interested in taking part of National Suicide Prevention Week, contact your statewide suicide prevention coalition or your local health provider and see their volunteering opportunities or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Making A Difference® During National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

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The purpose of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month is to raise awareness of the obesity epidemic that has swept our country.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese, a statistic that is hard to believe.  The potential health repercussions are serious, such as diabetes, heart disease, and early obesity can cause children to experience these adult afflictions in an untimely manner.

The aim of Childhood Obesity Month is to raise awareness about obesity in our country and then encourage people to take action and make changes that will result in healthier life styles.  Improved diet and increased exercise are important influences in this quest, but healthy habits are not always easy to adopt.

However, since obesity is a multi-faceted problem, there are many things you can do to start making a difference and help the children in your life take charge of their health early on.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Prepare a healthy snack or meal with a child.  Working together in the kitchen is fun and they will appreciate your time and attention.
  • Take a child to a water park, roller rink or on another entertaining, but active, outing.  They’ll have such a great time, they won’t realize it’s exercise (and neither will you!).
  • Girl Scouts has partnered with First Lady Obama’s “Let’s Move!” Initiative , which builds on the Girl Scouts’ tradition of more than a century of promoting healthy living.
  • Help an older child get their bike and helmet tuned up and ready to roll.  Biking to school can be faster and more enjoyable than walking or getting dropped off by parents.

These small things will add up to healthier routines and can get the children in your life up off the couch and in charge of their health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website has even more tips at: http://healthfinder.gov/nho/SeptemberToolkit.aspx

Making A Difference® on Senior Citizens Day

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Today we celebrate Senior Citizens Day and a heartfelt thank you goes out to all of the older adults who have shared their love, wisdom and guidance with each person they meet. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed August 21 as a day to recognize America’s older population saying, “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, over 40 million adults are classified as senior citizens (over the age of 65). So today, there are over 40 million reasons to celebrate! How can you celebrate the older citizens in your life and your community on this day?

The most obvious, but oftentimes the most forgotten, way to celebrate is to spend time with the older adults in your life – grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles. Here are some ideas to consider in order to Make A Difference® in their lives:

  • Place a call: We pick up the phone every day to tend to work and personal matters, but it is often easy to forget calling your relatives, especially the older adults that we can feel disconnected from. Take five minutes to call your grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, etc., just to say, “Hello!” and see how they are doing! These five minutes will bring a smile to their faces that will last hours beyond the end of the conversation.
  • Make a visit: If you have the luxury of living near your relatives, stop by to visit with them. Share and engage with them as these are treasured moments that will not last forever.
  • Plan an activity: Age should not be a deterrent to being active. Invite your relatives for a walk or to accompany you to something as simple as grocery shopping. A stroll around the park or the grocery aisles will keep them engaged and active.
  • Say “Thank you”: A simple thank you speaks volumes! Show your appreciation for the role they have played in your life and your loved ones.

Don’t forget seniors who live in assisted living, long-term care or nursing home facilities! Consider spending a few hours of your day visiting seniors in these facilities or collecting donations to support their needs.

The greatest thing about celebrating this day is that you are not only making a difference in the lives of older adults, but also in your own. Take advantage of the wisdom and experience they can provide to better yourself. Thank you to all the older adults who have done so much for our communities!

Making a Difference® on Fourth of July

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Fourth of July is always a highlight of the summer.  Whether you enjoy a picnic outside with your family or catch a ball game with your favorite team, it is a time to reflect on the many gifts and opportunities we have been given in this great country.

In a day in age where all news stations seem to broadcast the very worst tragedies, it may seem difficult to find stories about the very best of the human spirit.  But, Independence Day is a great time to remember and build on the principles and the drive that founded this country 237 years ago.  The idea of giving back and helping your neighbor during times of great need is something that has been passed down through the generations in America.  The fight for freedom in 1776 gave us a shining example of why we must care for all of our citizens in order to provide “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all in this country.

Each day, American nonprofits are finding ways to ensure all people truly have the opportunities described in the Declaration of Independence.  Whether organizations or individuals are providing food or healthcare assistance, helping to secure a better educational system or assisting the elderly, Americans across the country are Making A Difference in their communities.

There is no greater way to honor the history of The United States, or the brave men and women who defend it today, than by giving back!  This Fourth of July, reflect on the many freedoms and gifts you and your family have been given.  But, think about ways you can contribute to building an even better America for those around you and for future generations.  Consider donating to a charity close to your heart, or volunteer some time with an organization in your community.  No matter how you decide to celebrate this Independence Day, remember that you can be Making A Difference® by living out the words and legacy of our Founding Fathers.