Sunday | November 17, 2019

Crestwood Gives – Providing for Families in Need

December is often a month filled with paradox ­

  • Warm spirits in cold weather
  • Extreme loneliness hidden among celebrations of love and friendship
  • Lean poverty amid bountiful generosity
  • Hunger and sorrow overshadowed by feasting and celebration

Though many of these challenges face Canadian families all year round, they usually come to the forefront of our minds around the holidays. Charitable organizations have but four to six weeks to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of those more fortunate.

Give from More than Your Wallet

It takes more than just donations to organizations like the Salvation Army, Daily Bread Food Bank or the The Hospital for Sick Kids Foundation. It takes activism, volunteering and advocacy from all Canadians. Working on a build for a local Habitat for Humanity, or spending time with seniors at a nursing home can be inspiring all year

Making a pledge to dedicate yourself to a cause at this time of year is good for the heart. Keeping that pledge will be good for your soul.

All too often, we pass a mother and her child in a grocery store, and we don’t know she could barely gather enough money for a few days worth of food.

Maybe you and your children meet someone who has just received long term disability status. They could have been denied insurance coverage, or can no longer work because of pain, or injury. Reaching out with support to people in crisis extends beyond that individual to their loved ones.

These people in need, and many others in dire circumstances, may be calling out for help, though we miss their calls. We are often distracted by stories in the media about celebrities, our own material pursuits, or we’re distracted by other trivial matters which seem important at the time.

How to Make a Difference

There are many examples of people paying their good fortune forward which we hear about every day. Small gestures from children can bring joy to an elderly person’s life. Forgiveness between loved ones or friends. Giving of your time, in circumstances like working with special needs children or adults can go just as far as financial donations, in the right spirit.

Communities like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada not only helps boys and girls by providing role models. They, like all organizations that care for children, provide needed respite for mothers and fathers who need time to work, rest, or learn better ways of parenting. Volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister or even for a Junior Achievement class and make a difference in a young person’s life, and that of their family.

It Takes a Village

As the saying goes, it takes more than just a mother and a father to raise a child to adulthood. Providing moral guidance and support, not judgement, is in the best interest of a person growing up.

You won’t likely find many legitimate opportunities to help families on your own. Crestwood has partnered with a number of service groups and charities which cater to the well being, safety and security of the most vulnerable Ontario families among us.

Talk to your child about the benefits of being active in their community, and the role of Crestwood in it.

Encourage your children to learn about power of activism such as:

  • Volunteering for charities which focus on family
  • Donations of food, clothing, toys or other goods which would benefit their less fortunate peers
  • Befriending someone at school who has trouble fitting in, is new to the school or just needs a companion
  • Participating in groups that keep the city safe, clean and free of bullying

The opportunity to learn about helping others when a child is young can translate to a lifetime of service, support of community, and engagement in making Canada a better place to work, live and play in. Together with Crestwood, let’s help families in Toronto, and across Canada.

 

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Devices and Your Teen’s Developing Brain

We all know that too much screen time is bad for little kids. This includes time spent using iPhones, iPads, video games and computers. Many studies have exposed that too much screen time for little kids can cause permanent damage to their brains. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to focus, concentrate and communicate as they grow older.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                      “over use of social media can lead to anxiety“[/pullquote]

But do high-tech devices have the same impact on our teenager’s brains, or is more screen time okay for teenagers? It seems to all depend.

​Some screen time is important and even essential for teens. Using a computer is a great way to conduct research or type up school assignments. Phones are an important method of communication and have become increasingly important as a way of interacting with peers. Video games and time spent playing on an iPad are fun and can be a great way to unwind with friends.

But moderation is the key. This is especially important since a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This means that too much screen time can definitely negatively affect a teenager’s developing brain. Here’s how:

Too much screen time can lead to dangerous addiction. According to one 2013 study, addiction is linked with depression, impulsiveness and traits associated with autism. It occurs when addicts turn to technology to experience a rush, which is what happens when dopamine floods the brain. The need for this pleasurable sensation fights with the brain’s ability to think rationally and use restraint.

Though you might not think getting a rush from technology is a particular problem, it can actually be deadly. What happens when a teenager is so addicted to their phone that it interferes with their ability to drive safely? They might text and drive or check their phone while behind the wheel, which is dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on where you live.

Technology is not only addictive to the teenaged brain, but over use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression and a loss of interest in socializing face-to-face. Experts have seen an alarming rise in tech-related mental health issues. Parents are being called upon to limit their teen’s time spent on social media, to enforce tech-free family time and eliminate phones from their teenager’s bedrooms at night. It’s all in an effort to ensure their teenager has a healthy balance of socializing, exercise and interaction outside of the virtual world.

Too much screen time can also affect a teen’s ability to sleep. Sleeping and dreaming are essential to developing and maintaining long-term memory. When a teenager is on their phone late into the night, they aren’t getting the sleep they need for their brains to properly function.

In addition to its impact on the brain, over use of technology can have negative physical side effects as well. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, tendonitis of the wrist and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

While technology can have negative impacts on the developing teenager’s brain, we must also recognize it’s an important part of life today. In fact, we can’t live without it. The key is to ensure our teens have balance in their lives. It’s important they socialize with friends, interact with real people, get enough sleep, and not let technology interfere with their physical safety and mental well being.

February 19th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Organizational Tips for College Students

The key to succeeding in university is being organized. It’s important, especially when you’re living on your own for the first time, to stay on top of things. You won’t have anyone reminding you to wake up and get to class on time. You’ll have to remember where you put your keys. And since you’ll likely be living in a smaller space than you’re used to, you’ll want to make sure you have all the essentials—and that they are in their proper place.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few tips to help you get started:

Have an agenda. Whether you have a physical book or use your online calendar, get in the habit of using it every day. It’s a great tool to help you remember everything from deadlines to birthdays to appointments. If you’re using your online calendar, be sure to schedule reminders that pop up in advance so you’re never surprised or late when you have something important to remember. You can take this one step further by writing yourself notes on a notepad or sticky tabs. This is a great way to keep a grocery list so you don’t waste time making several trips to the grocery store when one would do.

Set your alarm. If you have to get up at a certain time on a certain day, using your smartphone to set an alarm is a helpful way to make sure you’re awake on time. It’s a simple thing to do, but easy to forget. Once you have your school schedule, set your alarm right away so it goes off when you need it most.

Organize your room. Do you need storage boxes? Closet organizers? File folders? Hooks to hang things on the back of your door instead of tossing them on the floor? Go to a store that has items to help you make sense of your new space. This can include an office supply store, Ikea, or a store that specializes in home organization. Speak to your friends and parents to see if they have any tips for items that may be especially useful or practical. Have fun with it and buy the colours and decor items that make you feel comfortable and happy in your new space.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Take a few minutes at the end of each day to tidy your room and desk.[/pullquote]

Get a backpack. It’s important to be organized on the go as well. Choose a backpack that is sturdy, durable and feels comfortable on your shoulders when it’s loaded with books. Does it have a special compartment for your laptop? A place to put a water bottle or gym shoes? Look around and find one that is practical for your needs. You will be using it a lot on campus.

Get all the supplies you need. Do you have a printer that works? What about extra paper and ink? Are all your cords untangled and organized so you can keep your phone and laptop charged? You’ll need a few other desktop essentials. This can include notebooks, lined paper, binders, a stapler, pens, pencils, highlighter, whiteout, a three-hole punch, garbage can and bulletin board with tacks. Often these products are on sale during the summer, so shop wisely and make sure you have everything you need to get your year off to a good start.

Colour code your work. It’s often helpful to colour code binders or file folders. That way you can visually see what notebook to put in your bag on what day. It’s a great way to easily keep all your work for a particular subject in the right place. Once you’re organized, don’t be lazy. Make sure you’re using this system to its full potential.

Tidy up. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to tidy your room and desk. It feels great to wake up to a clean, organized room. It’s an automatic fresh start to a new day. You’ll be happy that you took the time to do this.

Have fun. School is also about socializing, exploring different interests and trying new things. It’s great to be organized and on top of things, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself. In addition to being great for your mental and physical health, taking a break can offer some much-needed stress relief from the your new everyday routine.

October 12th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology

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Investing Money for Beginners

You might be the kind of person who breaks into a cold sweat when you have to deal with money. The subject can definitely make people anxious. But as you grow up, it’s important to know how to manage your money and how to make it grow. That’s right: it might be time to start thinking about investing your money.

So how do you begin if you’re a beginner?

First, you’ve got to have money to invest. Do you have a part-time job? Have you been saving money in a bank account? If not, it’s never too late to start. Think about what you can do to earn money and start saving up to invest part of whatever you earn.

In the meantime, you can try investing with fantasy money. Create a virtual trading account and make real stock market trades with the equivalent of Monopoly money. Start buying and selling stocks you like. See whether it goes up or down. Make some trades or hold onto your stock. Experiment and have fun. In the process, you’ll learn about the stock market first hand before you actually invest your own money.

Join the Economics Club at school. This is a great way to learn about investing. Often there are even stock market competitions. You’ll be able to work individually or as a group under the wing of your economics teacher. If there isn’t a club, enroll in an economics class in school. You’ll learn so much in a semester and be prepared to understand the stock market and the basics of how to invest. You might even be inspired to start your own economics club with your classmates.

This might also be a great time to start reading books about investing or doing some research on your own. You don’t even have to start with a text book. There are biographies on some of the biggest success stories and the biggest scams to hit Wall Street. There are also classic books about investing, like The Wealthy Barber and Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis. While you’re at it, why not have a movie night and catch up on films about investing. There’s always a lesson learned from watching classics like Boiler RoomThe Wolf of Wall Street and Wall Street. There are also lots of documentaries that are entertaining, informative and educational.

When you’re ready to invest your money, make an appointment at the bank. [pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Talk to an investment advisor[/pullquote]

about your options. How much would you like to invest? What would you like to save? What are your long-term goals? How much risk are you willing to take? Your advisor will go over the options and help you pick an investment opportunity that matches your comfort level. Bring a parent or advisor along so they can understand your goals and see how you’re managing your money. If they have experience in this area, they will be an asset as you start to invest.

You don’t have to be a day trader, constantly buying and selling stocks, to invest. Some stocks are safer bets than others, especially if you’re willing let your money grow long-term. Your investment advisor or parent will probably tell you all about this strategy. You might even want to consider an index fund, which means you’re investing in several stocks that are pegged to increase over time. It’s less risky and more of a sure bet, but if you really want to try your hand at the market, this might not be the opportunity you’re looking for.

Have you considered using an app that helps pick and trade stocks for you? Go to the app store and download a “robo” investing app. These automated investments make trades for you based on your goals. Follow along on your smartphone and see how you do. These apps also require low minimum purchases, so this is a great way to start investing some of your money.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Remember, there will always be dips in the stock market, so hang in there and don’t rush to sell at the first sign of trouble. Traders who do that often lose money over time.[/pullquote]

Investing money can be fun. Learning how to manage yours is an critical life skill as you get older and earn a salary. You’re never too young to show an interest in investing.

October 10th, 2017

Posted In: Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Keep Your Kids Reading During The Summer

Kids need time during the summer to relax and unwind from a busy school year. But that doesn’t mean they should stop reading as soon as school is out. According to the latest Kids & Family Reading Report, 80 percent of kids ages six to 17 and 96 percent of their parents agree that reading during the summer helps kids during the school year. In fact, when kids don’t read during the summer, they can lose key skills and fall behind come September.

So how can you get your kids to read during the summer? By making it fun! Here are a few tips to help you get your kids to crack open a book.

Read to your kids every day

During the year when routines are more rigid, it’s easy for parents to read aloud to their kids every night. In the summer, those routines tend to fall by the wayside as kids want to play outside longer and enjoy the lengthier days. Throw camp and vacation schedules into the mix, and it’s a lot harder to find the time to read every day.

Try to find a time during the day to read to your kids, even if it isn’t at night. Maybe there are a few minutes in the morning before the camp bus arrives. Bring a book to the beach or the park. Maybe you can send your child to overnight camp with a few fun books they can read aloud to kids in their bunk. These are great ways to ensure you’re still carving out reading time during the summer.

Read on your own

Set a good example by picking up a few books on your summer reading list as well. Pack books on road trips, read on the subway or read in the evening in bed. Turn the TV off and have reading time on the weekend. It’s an especially great thing to do on a rainy day instead of watching a movie. If you can figure out a way to make it a priority, your kids will follow the lead.

Take your kids to the library

If they don’t already have a library card, take them to your local librarian and get them set up. Show them how to use the library and where age-appropriate books can be found. Often there are events at the library, such as author readings and literacy activities for kids. Find your local library’s schedule and bring your kids to the library often.

Listen to books in the car

Many books are also available on CD. This can be especially good for kids with learning disabilities, but it’s also a great thing to do rather than watch a movie during long car rides, for example. It develops listening skills and imagination. It’s also a good way to appreciate a book together. Afterward, you can discuss what you heard.

Let your child choose their books

Don’t insist they read certain books—either classics, educational books or ones you read as a child. Encourage them to choose books they want to read. This will foster a love of reading and independence.

Subscribe to magazines your kids would enjoy

There’s Chirp or Chickadee, Sports Illustrated Kids, Highlights for Children or National Geographic. It’s exciting when a new magazine arrives at their doorstep every month with their name on it.

Participate in Summer Reading Camps

Scholastic, for instance, makes it fun by enabling kids to log reading minutes and record what books they’ve read to earn digital rewards. Inspiring and motivating, it’s a perfect way to keep kids ages four to 14 reading over the summer. Their site (scholastic.com/summer) also features book lists and recommendations; once your child finishes one book, they’ll have a new one to devour.

August 15th, 2017

Posted In: Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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