MK 354 Spring 2010

April 12, 2010

And The Award Goes To…

Filed under: blog #9 — Jackies blah-g @ 12:25 pm


                Many charity organizations are constantly vying for donors to give monetary gifts to support their cause.  These gifts come from people and organizations that enable organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy to provide programs and services to the surrounding communities.

                United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern Connecticut was awarded a grant by the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund. The $6,000 award will help fund its disability support program to support the mission of the organization: advancing the independence and full citizenship of people with disabilities.

                Founded in 1947, UCP of Eastern Conn. originally operated as the “Little White Schoolhouse” for children with disabilities. As of 1992, UCP of Eastern Conn. has expanded and began providing services and programs for adults as well. Programs include: community outreach, an adaptive toy library, residential services, and advocacy for people with physical and/or developmental disabilities.

                The Frank Loomis Palmer Fund was established in 1936 quality educational, cultural, and human services for underserved populations.  The Palmer Fund specifically serves the New London, Conn. area and applications for the grant are available through Bank of America’s philanthropic management department.

                In addition to the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund Award, UCP of Eastern Conn. was also awarded $5,000 by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut.  As the spirit of “life without limits for people with disabilities” rings strong, UCP of Eastern Conn. works towards being the premier organization advocating and enhancing independence by providing quality, cost effective and community based services for individuals with disabilities.

                 More information available at:

Blog Post 9

Filed under: blog #9 — csomerville @ 11:48 am

There has always been a stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and the people who are living with it, one that doesn’t exist around other diseases such as cancer. Regardless, the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS have undoubtedly been negatively affected by societal perceptions of the virus. However, how has this stigma affected the people who aren’t living with it, yet are still at risk of contracting the virus?

When it comes to HIV/AIDS, people have a certain image in their minds as to who is afflicted by it. The problem is that some people who are engaging in risk behavior are not getting tested because they don’t believe they are the “type” of person who contracts HIV because of their gender, race or choice sexual partners. Of course these people are wrong because HIV doesn’t discriminate based on these factors, but the stigma around HIV/AIDS may be preventing some people from taking care of themselves. Working to erase the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS and continuing to educate people about HIV/AIDS will encourage them to make safer sexual decisions and get tested more frequently. The HIV contraction rate will decrease and the environment that people living with HIV/AIDS live in will be much more comfortable if we stop putting a negative connotation on this disease.

blog 9 – the dangers of bullying

Filed under: blog #9 — marissagkelley @ 11:24 am

When my parents were in grade school, bullying on the playground was essentially a right of passage that everyone dealt with. For Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old student at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts, bullying led to a gruesome suicide. In a story that has swept the nation, six teens, including four girls and two boys, are being charged in a bullying case that authorities claim led to the death of Irish transfer student Phoebe Prince.

Prince’s apparent offense, according to the court records: She had gone out with boys who also dated two of her bullies. Over the few weeks before her death, tormentors called Prince a “whore” and “Irish slut” and taunted her in the classroom, halls and outside of school. On the day that Prince hung herself in her parents’ apartment, she had been loudly berated in the library and had a can throw at her while walking home from school.

Anyone who has attended grade school, junior high or high school can understand the widespread presence of bullying. It has been a classic theme in American school systems, even represented in television shows and movies. It is clear that bullying is dangerous and can have deadly consequences…so why aren’t school administrators doing anything to stop it? At South Hadley High School, administrators claim that Prince “was apparently a very private person, she bore a lot without talking to friends or with parents or with anybody at school.” They blame Prince’s privacy for their lack of knowledge about the bullying, despite reporting two incidents witnessed by teachers in January.

At neighboring Chicopee High School, adult hall monitors patrol each corridor, in addition to an armed police officer and surveillance cameras. At the end of each academic year, a bullying questionnaire is sent out to parents to seek their opinion on the school’s anti-bullying policy. Whether their strict anti-bullying methods are responsible or not, Chicopee has remained untouched by tragedies like the death of Phoebe Prince.

Will Phoebe Prince become a martyr to teens all over the nation who wake up every morning in fear of bullies waiting at school? Should all schools adopt strict anti-bullying policies like Chicopee High School? The months to come in the trials of the six teen defendants will no doubt change the course of bullying in American schools. For the sake of Phoebe Prince’s family, and millions of other tormented teens, I hope that the judges and jurors can look past the young age of the defendants and understand the gravity of their actions.

How Boston Can Get Rid of Millions of Plastic Bags

Washington, D.C. has a new program to clean up its rivers and improve the environment. At the beginning of the year, the local government instituted a bag tax on all bags, both plastic and paper, given out by convenience stores, grocery stores and liquor stores.

If a customer chooses to take a bag, he or she will be taxed five cents per bag. One cent goes to the business, and four cents go to the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund and will finance cleanup efforts, installation of garbage traps, planting indigenous plant life that will naturally clean up the river, environmental education programs, and the continuation of the program.

The program has already earned $150,000 in revenue and decreased the number of bags used monthly 50 to 80 percent—that’s about 18 million bags a month.

While some people are unhappy about the tax, authorities continue to reiterate the many benefits of the program. It will not only clean up the Anacostia river, but the number of plastic bags strewn around the city will decrease exponentially, and tax payers will save millions of dollars on state-sponsored cleanup programs.

It’s high time for other cities to follow suit. I’m sure nearly everyone has seen plastic bags blow around his or her local parks, or float down neighborhood streams. The Charles River, for example, is a pretty clean river that typically gets water quality ratings good enough to boat in, and sometimes even good enough to swim in. But lately, those numbers have fallen, and neither boating nor swimming is safe.

There’s been no talk about instituting a similar bag tax in Boston, but if you think that needs to change, contact your local city councilor through this link.

Social and Academic Success and the Arts

Filed under: blog #9 — jlptzld @ 9:25 am

Through the organization’s art programs for children and teens, programs that make up the majority of the available classes offered for children by United South End Settlements, the organization appears to recognize the importance of media and arts in childhood development. USES offers multiple classes each season that promote creative development in children of every age group from infancy through high school.

According to the Liane Brouillette article “How the Arts Help Children to Create Healthy Social Scripts: Exploring the Perceptions of Elementary Teachers,” in order for “all children to have an equal chance of success in elementary school, educators must have the tools to help all students develop social-emotional competencies…. The arts provide an arena for fostering these competencies” (18). It is generally assumed that the arts positively affect children and their interactions with their peers and communities; Brouillette attempts to study this assumption through the observations of inner-city art teachers.

Through her research Brouillette comes to understand that exposure to arts such as drama, dance, visual arts and music provide children with space to explore the interactions in their life and move towards “greater character understanding, comprehension of character motivation, increased peer-to-peer interactions, increased conflict-resolution skills, and improved problem-solving dispositions” (16). According to Brouillette, the arts aid children in their comprehension of social expectations and the development of their own social self. However, Brouillette takes her observations one step further when she hints that a child’s academic success can be significantly affected by their social capabilities. “Children who experience greater peer acceptance and more positive peer relationships tend to feel more positively about coming to school, participate more in classroom activities, and achieve more in the classroom” (Brouillette 18). The article appears to imply that exposure to art, analyzed interactions and creative expression affect a child’s social and, consequently, academic development.

Brouillette’s article is one argument among many assumptions, studies and popular discourses that promote the belief that artistic expressions in drama, dance, visual art and music enhance a child’s ability to achieve social acceptance and academic success in their earliest and most rapid stages of development.

Don’t cha know who’s comin’ to town?

Filed under: blog #9, Uncategorized — marringoodall @ 9:17 am

Everyone has exactly two days to brush up on their northern accents and tired SNL jokes because Sarah Palin is coming to town! This Wednesday Palin will be making her last stop on the Tea Party Express nationwide tour on the Boston Common for a rally organized by the Boston Greater Tea Party. In 2009 nearly 1000 supporters gathered on the Common to rally for “no taxation without representation-” or something like that.

This unique group, which has sprung from fiscally conservative activists, will absolutely draw a large mass of people. However, recently elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown will not be one of the faces in the crowd. Although he owes much of his victory to the GOP and the newly formed and enthusiastic Tea Party, Brown will not be at the rally on the Common in the attempt to “mainstream himself before the election,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. This poses the relevant question of whether or not elected representatives are truly listening to their supporters and voices on a local level.

This event will most likely end in a chaotic and ineffective manner due to the celebrity (both positive and negative) that Sarah Palin has become. Facebook groups and events reveal plans to humorously crash the event by rallying with sarcastic Daily Show-esque signs and moose costumes. This event will most definitely be something that the media is going to cover for the chaos factor alone.

I think this would be a great opportunity for Press Pass TV to cover a story that has local roots in a much larger issue. The locale of the event also serves as a great opportunity for students who are acquiring professional skills to witness such a significant political (and pop culture) gathering.

How Computer Engineering Can Become Glamorous

Filed under: blog #9 — ElizabethOstebo @ 7:00 am

I never expected to see my beloved childhood toy on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, but then I remembered that Barbie can do anything—a trait her numerous careers can attest to. In January, Mattel Inc. let people vote on Barbie’s newest occupation and gave the public five career options for the doll: an architect, an anchorwoman, a computer engineer, an environmentalist or a surgeon. Who knew that Barbie’s future co-workers would choose her 126th career?

According to Ann Zimmerman’s article, Revenge of the Nerds: How Barbie Got Her Geek On, female computer engineers created a viral online movement on the blog to make sure that the doll would become a computer engineer. The computer engineers won the popular vote. Zimmerman points out how the viral campaign “speaks volumes both about the power of the iconic Barbie doll and the current state of women who work in computer and information sciences,” referring to how far more men than women work within computer engineering.

Although women voted for computer engineer Barbie and won the popular vote, girls around the world voted differently. The majority of young girls voted for Barbie to be a news anchor. Mattel plans to launch both an anchorwoman and a computer engineer Barbie in response to the girls’ and women’s demand. Meanwhile, when thinking about why girls chose the news anchor doll critical WSJ reader Mike Parise asks, “Is it any surprise that they chose the one who gets on TV? Like a celebrity?” Parise brings up a valid issue. Girls seem to desire what appears to be a glamorous lifestyle. If girls want glamour, should we portray computer engineering as glamorous? It looks as if Barbie is a means to do just that: to make young girls want to be computer engineers or at least give them the career option.

Filed under: blog #9 — kathrynflynn @ 6:59 am

Five years? What can happen in five years? Well, apparently all homelessness in the veteran population can be eliminated. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how a certain senate hearing was interrupted after the health care reform bill passed. United States Senator, Daniel K. Akaka, a democrat from Hawaii, who is the chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held that senate hearing. It was to address the VA’s five-year plan to end veteran homelessness.

Over the past few days, many international news sources have had a heyday reporting on the large number (greater that 100,000) U.S. veterans on the American streets today. The fact that anyone who has served this country in uniform is homeless is such a tragic problem. “VA is so concerned about the problem it has implemented a program to eliminate it – in the next five years. The association doesn’t just want to provide beds for the veterans, but wants to tackle the root cause of homelessness among former U.S. troops, and extend its reach to education, healthcare, and the provision of jobs.” (Pakistan)

The causes of homelessness in veterans are complicated. In order to eradicate them, veterans must be provided with adequate healthcare and also education. “85% of VA’s budget request for the homeless program will go toward medical services to confront substance abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other issues linked to homelessness.” In addition, “The new Post-9/11 GI Bill signed into law in June will make education more accessible for more veterans, as well as a broad range of other VA-funded educational programs.” (Pakistan)

This is an exciting proposition for both veterans, and also those who have been working to eliminate homelessness in the veteran population. The most successful institutions working on combating veteran homelessness address the same issues that the VA is focusing on. Successful centers for homeless veterans are more than emergency shelters; on top of providing veterans with a bed, a warm shower, food and clothes, they offer clinical services and an educational program. They aim to end the cycle of homelessness by addressing the factors that led to homelessness in the first place. My fingers are crossed that the VA will succeed in doing this on a massive scale. “More than 100,000 homeless U.S. soldiers roaming streets” April 9, 2010.

Common Ground Community

Filed under: blog #9 — mtamayo26 @ 2:30 am

As long as there have been homeless people sleeping in New York City, there have been social workers and city officials trying to persuade them to leave. Workers of nonprofit organizations such as Common Ground Community help those without a home find places to live. According to the New York Times article “Times Square’s Homeless Holdout, Not Budging,” Heavy is the only homeless man left in New York City, and he’s well…not budging. He has been living in the streets of Times Square and day after day is offered a place to stay by social workers, which he declines. While he is not open to any interviews, in the past he has said he wants to stay because he protects the streets of his neighborhood. No one is pressing Heavy to leave because he’s seemingly harmless; he has become iconic in the neighborhood. “He is a sweetheart,” said an 82-year-old woman who gave her name as Nanny and stopped to talk near her home on 48th Street, where she has lived for 44 years. “He sees me coming and says, ‘Hi, Mommy,’ and I say, ‘Hi, honey.’ And I give him his quarter, and I go on with my business.”

While Goodwill does not provide housing for those individuals in need of homes, it can provide them with the tools necessary to build future careers. Had Heavy accepted the offer for a place to live 15 years ago when Rosanne Haggerty, President of Common Ground Community, offered he could have been in his own home with a job today. Nonprofit organizations such as Common Ground Community and Goodwill help less fortunate individuals in two very unique ways, however, both share a common goal, of helping those less fortunate are able to lead healthy and thriving lives.

Early childhood education faces another battle as states battle to reduce budgets

Filed under: blog #9 — ajblack029 @ 12:00 am

                Each time I go to look for something to write about, I find yet another article stressing the importance of children receiving proper early childhood education. Unfortunately, many of these articles are the result of impending budget cuts on these important programs. A recent article in the Topeka Capital-Journal by Barbara Hollingsworth, “Early childhood dollars targeted,” explains that Kansas’ state-funded preschools are in jeopardy. While the article states that the programs have had bipartisanship support in the past, both the state’s House and Senate have proposed cuts for early childhood education as a result of the state’s budget shortfall exceeding $400 million.

                As expected, educators in Kansas are extremely worried about the impending budget cuts. Tom Krebs, a governmental relations specialist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, explained to the Capital-Journal that having “school-ready” kids in kindergarten makes K-12 education much easier on the state. The article explains why early childhood education is so important by citing a study conducted by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University that explains during a child’s early year is the “most active period for establishing the neural connections that comprise our brain architecture—700 new connections form every second in the first three years of life. As it emerges, the quality of that architecture establishes either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all the capabilities and behavior that follow.” Without trying to sound too drastic, this study implies that the preschool years of a child’s life can really be a make-or-break situation.

                Luckily for students, there is help outside of private preschools and state-funded programs. Jumpstart is a national nonprofit organization that is devoted to helping students in these early years of development. Jumpstart shares the same belief as most educators that it is vital that students enter kindergarten prepared to succeed in both school and life. The program stresses the importance of this first step for children to enter school at the proper literacy and social level. Stephanie Mullholland, a communications director for Kansas Action for Children, explains that state-funded early childhood programs and programs such as Jumpstart can have lasting effects on children that ultimately save the state money: “They’re less likely to have criminal problems… They’re less likely to be on welfare as adults. All of these things result in cost savings down the road.”

                It is impossible to argue against the logic that early childhood programs are beneficial to students; however these programs are often some of the first up for cuts in the state education budget. It is important for those in states with proposed education cuts to speak to their state representatives about the significance of early childhood programs. For more information regarding the benefits of early childhood education and the Jumpstart program, visit

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