26 February 2014

Teach Your Toddler To Drive

It feels like yesterday my oldest son, Zack, was a five year old kindergartener and I was busy taking care of him and his two younger brothers. Now, seemingly suddenly, he is nearly 16 years old and the youngest of his three younger brothers is now in kindergarten.

Monday night, Zack, Horatio and I attended a mandatory driver education lesson for parents and kids. The issue that was most stressed during the lesson is that parents are the biggest influence on teen driving habits. I believe this theory 100%. It's like everything else we do as parents. We have to model the behavior we want to see in our kids. It's as simple as having good eating habits, not yelling and losing our temper when we get upset, and making our bed when we get up in the morning. If we want our kids to have positive behaviors, we have to show them how to do it.

As our kids get older, the modeling we did when they were younger, good or bad, will become evident. The thing is, you can't model bad behavior and then suddenly tell your child: toddler or teen, to do as you say and not as you do. Our kids are watching our every move. We are their biggest influence. We can't drink to excess in front of our kids and then expect them to listen when we tell them alcohol and drugs are bad for them, just like we can't practice poor driving habits and expect them to follow the rules. We have to start when our kids are small. It's hard to imagine the adorable two year old as a teenager, but it happens before you know it.

At Monday's driver's education class, the teacher and school police officer both stressed the terrible influences of distractions on drivers, especially young drivers. Among the most dangerous distractions, is a cell phone. Drivers talking on the phone are four times more likely to crash and drivers texting are 23 times more likely to crash! Driving while talking is equivalent to driving while intoxicated. It doesn't feel like we are distracted by talking on a cell phone, but studies have proven otherwise. If a call is important enough to take, it's important enough to pull off of the road to take it.

It is easy to spot the drivers who are talking or texting. They are slowing down and speeding up erratically, they are weaving over the lane boundaries, making sudden stops and missing their highway exits. See this video of a study showing how truly distracting the phone can be. 

The evidence is clear. Turn your cell phones off in the car. Parents can download apps to disable their children's phones in moving cars: www.otterapp.com and www.getizup.com are two good ones.

Texting and driving is severely disabling to a driver. Texting takes the eyes off of the road for 30 seconds, or more, at times, during which a car can travel hundreds of feet, basically making the speeding car driverless!

Please watch this moving video about the real life effects of texting and driving.

Do not let yourself or loved ones be affected by tragedies like these.

A Start teaching your toddlers/elementary schoolers/all children safe driving habits now. It's not too late!

16 January 2014

The Act of Giving Selflessly

To see the act of giving selflessly, one need only look at Lois Pope. After a lifetime of philanthropic efforts, devoting her time, energy, and financial resources to a host of admirable causes, her most recent focus has been on the disabled veterans of America. Recognizing the need to provide recognition for those who have been injured while serving their country, she became co-founder of the LIFE Memorial Foundation. Thanks to her tireless dedication, she has been instrumental in the erection of a Memorial that highlights the service of living veterans who have been disabled through the traumas incurred by war. This Memorial will be completed in thanks for their service and sacrifice, a reminder to every American about the price that has been paid for our personal freedoms. The Memorial is a tribute to all disabled veterans throughout our nation's history as well and any to come.

Ms. Pope has actually given a substantial amount of money, nearing $10 million, to see the Memorial come to fruition, a small gesture when one looks at the big picture of living disabled veterans today that have amounted to a staggering statistic of three million. The Memorial will be a permanent fixture in Washington D.C. and a symbol of great pride for anyone who has taken up the flag of the United States of America only to face injuries that may linger for a lifetime.

A History of Generosity
A look back over the years proves that Ms. Pope has not been idle, exhibiting the true spirit of giving in many ways. Her interest in disabilities can be seen nearly twenty years ago, when she made a generous donation in the impressive amount of $10 million to establish the LIFE Center in her name at the University of Miami. The main goal of this center is to perform groundbreaking research in order to discover a cure for all forms of paralysis. In recent years, Ms. Pope has also demonstrated an interest in the promising field of stem cell research, donating additional funding to this admirable cause as well.

In addition to monetary donations, Ms. Pope has given the gift of her time by serving on various boards to offer her insights and support. From the Colin Powel Center to Florida Atlantic University, she has played a key role in important decision-making. Not content to rest on her laurels, she has also made charitable donations on a global level, looking beyond American soil in order to have a positive impact on the world. Israel has received ambulances thanks to Ms. Pope's efforts and hundreds of thousands of dollars have made their way to women in Sudan by way of the Genocide Response Team.

President G.W. Bush held Ms. Pope in the highest esteem, proving his admiration by granting her the Daily Point of Light Award. She is a shining example of how one person can have such a positive influence on so many, using the advantages of her social position to improve the lives of others.