Swiftwater Journey

faith, culture, and growing up in a rapidly changing world

Raised by the Pack July 27, 2010

Filed under: Adolescence,Parenting,Sports — billmacphee @ 12:14 pm
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“Raised by the Pack”

Common sense, research, and Biblical tradition reveal that having at least five adults who relate to an adolescent with a “beyond-performance” agenda greatly enhance his or her movement toward responsible and interdependent maturity. All kids need a pack.

Vicki Hart writes for Bicycling Magazine and zeroed in on a young Thomas Jondall, who turned 18 in July. Thomas has grown up in challenging circumstances including estrangement from mom and dad, sleeping in parks, missing school, and yet, excelling in bike road racing. A group of cyclists and neighbors noticed and then took Thomas under their wings, including Dave and Katie Jonsson, who adopted young Thomas. He now has a home, a family, a high school degree, and a promising cycling career. This is a great story worth reading and emulating.

Gradually, the cyclists realized that the kids who seemed to have a great future ahead of him didn’t have much of a present.


Getting More Kids Riding to School July 3, 2010

Filed under: education,Parenting,Sports,Time — billmacphee @ 7:11 pm
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How did you get to school as a kid? I remember both walking and riding my bike, but also weathered a short season on the bus. The Department of Transportation reports that in 1969 about 50% of children rode or walked to school, while today barely 13% do. Parents’ fear, bike-unfriendly streets, and distance are reasons given for the decline. Drive, walk, or ride past schools as they start today, but be careful, because their driveways [originally designed for a handful of cars] are packed with impatient and speedy parents dropping their kids off. Riding and walking are healthy alternatives to the crush of cars, helping kids not only slow down but get in shape.

Michelle Hamilton, in the recent issue of Bicycling Magazine, writes that it is possible to get more kids out of cars and riding more between home and school. Here are a couple examples Hamilton highlights:

  • Alpine Elementary School in Alpine, Utah received a $12,000 grant from Safe Routes to School to partner with their city, adding “crosswalks, school-zone signs and bike racks, and organized parent-led biking and walking groups – key components in easing parents’ fears.” The number of kids getting out of cars and onto bikes or their own two feet increased from 32 to 50 percent.
  • Starkville, Mississippi is stripping bike lanes from all its sub-divisions to city schools.
  • Taylor, Texas is in the process of completing a network of trails connecting city institutions for ease of riding and walking.
  • The League of American Bicyclist’s (LAB) Bicycle Friendly Community program increased their program from 48 to 140 cities in the last five years.
  • Michelle Obama is encouraging more kids to walk and ride to school through her Let’s Move initiative.
  • Ray LaHood, U.S. secretary of transportation, is determined to integrate the needs of bicyclists into all federally funded road projects.

Here are six ways Hamilton suggests cities and individuals can get more kids riding to school:

  1. Make it a group effort – with city government, parents’ groups, neighborhood coalitions, and bike clubs working together.
  2. Champion the cause – it takes an individual to step up in any city and make it happen.
  3. Get help – explore available grants listed at SRTS’s guide [saferoutesinfo.org/guide/steps/index.cfm].
  4. Use incentive programs – gifts made available by schools for miles ridden or walked, potentially combining incentives with support of worthy causes.
  5. Involve kids – using students as safety officers, with parental or school supervision.
  6. Educate – by holding education classes for kids and parents. One school launched a “drive-safely” campaign and lowered the percentage of parents exceeding the 25-mph speed limit from 59 to 21 percent.

Changing mindsets and lifestyles takes lots of time, but cities across the country are discovering the joy of using their own power to get to and from school. Get out and ride, and take your kids along!


Low-quality child care can have lasting impact May 14, 2010

Filed under: Adolescence,education,Parenting — billmacphee @ 5:30 pm
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Low Quality Child Care Hurts

Using day-care seems inevitable and and mandatory for many. This research indicates that quality matters, but maybe more important is the duration of care outside the home and the intimacy of family relationships when the child returns to parent’s care.

“Researchers had speculated that the negative effects of lower-quality care would disappear as the influence of other factors, such as peers, teachers and maturation, overcame the early childhood experience. But in the latest analysis of the data, they discovered that teenagers who had received higher-quality child care were less likely to report engaging in problem behaviors such as arguing, being mean to others and getting into fights. Those who spent more hours in child care of any kind were more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behaviors.”


Distracted driving: cellphones and texting May 3, 2010

Filed under: Parenting,Technology — billmacphee @ 10:46 am
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Distracted driving: Driving with cellphone to ear or while texting? This cop has just the ticket for you – latimes.com.

Fact: Distracted driving causes an estimated 6,000 fatalities each year in the U.S., and some of the more common distractions include texting, phoning or fiddling with a GPS.

Fact: An estimated 500,000 people are injured each year by distracted drivers.

I’ve made a vow to not pick up my cell phone while driving and have not been completely successful, but am making progress. Since I do a fair amount of road biking I’ve grown familiar with what it looks like for a driver to be distracted while fiddling with tech gadgets. I know I will be the big loser in any confrontation with a car.

The featured cop in this article waxes philosophical about the reasons he thinks people refuse to put down their phones and obey the intuitively practical need for the hands free law–he states that “people don’t like down time.” This speaks to a deeper issue–we may have allowed the ability of technology to keep us connected to determine our pace of life. We are more hurried, fragmented, and anxious about productivity than ever. One key to the effective, efficient, and overall healthy use of technology is an internal ability to know when it is appropriate to turn it off and disconnect. Adequate downtime is vital to productive and healthy uptime.

See also–teenagers want help to stop texting: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/30/earlyshow/main6447065.shtml


Independence day comes late for millennials – washingtonpost.com March 28, 2010

Filed under: emerging adults,Parenting — billmacphee @ 6:25 am

Independence day comes late for millennials – washingtonpost.com.

If you are 18-35, what is your financial arrangement with your parents? In what ways is it helpful? In what ways is it potentially harmful? Is financial independence a final marker of adulthood?


In Youth Sports, Players Are Playing for Fun – NYTimes.com February 15, 2010

Filed under: Adolescence,Parenting — billmacphee @ 12:16 pm
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In Youth Sports, Players Are Playing for Fun – NYTimes.com.

I like what Mark Hyman writes about kids and sports. The article also mentions¬†Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), whose stated goal is “transforming youth sports so sports can transform youth.”

Kids play sports mostly to have fun, which is easily lost on us parents as we impose our competitive goals on our children. PCA hosts a number of workshops which have helped youth sports organizations become places where kids excel not only at their chosen sport but also in character development.

We claim we are all about character development, but often our drive to see kids excel blurs the lines between our agenda and what is ultimately good for our young athletes. Do you remember the days when you gathered your friends and agreed to meet at the playground after school for a pick up game of football or baseball? No uniforms, no coaches, just choosing sides and playing till the sun went down. Many kids don’t share this memory and feel somewhat uncomfortable organizing a game without some kind of adult initiative.

Youth sports, when run well, produce great good for kids, but adults must be clear about our desired outcomes, and able to self regulate when egos and schedules get over blown. I commend Positive Coaching Alliance to you, but also just scooting kids outside to play once in a while.


Frontline: digital_nation – life on the virtual frontier February 3, 2010

Filed under: Adolescence,Parenting,Technology — billmacphee @ 5:57 pm
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Last night I watched with great interest and fascination the PBS documentary that presents an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world.

Frontline: digital_nation – life on the virtual frontier

This is a great resource for parents, educators, coaches, youth workers, and anyone who cares about not only the way kids are accessing technology, but its impact on all of us. There is a parent quiz helping you discover your digital parenting style. There are also helpful digital workshops for parents and educators. The report is created and produced by award winning Rachel Dretzin, who is joined by commentator Douglas Rushkoff – a leading thinker and writer on the digital revolution.

You can watch the entire show online and also access Rachel Dretzin’s previous documentary, Growing Up Online.

The documentary did not supply many solutions to the very real challenges presented by our digital age, but it did leave two significant suggestions.

  1. It is vital we not fear technology but instead continually ask ourselves a key question: what is the impact technology is having on us, the user?
  2. Second, we must set boundaries for ourselves and our children for when, where, and for how long we will be connected to technology. There is a time to shut it off.