Saturday, June 16, 2012

Allied Health Education Trends - The Changing Landscape Behind the Scenes

With more than 500,000 jobs added since the start of the recession, it's no surprise that allied health fields are forecasted to remain a key source of job growth. Jobs in inpatient and outpatient settings and nurse care facilities will be in high demand and the healthcare support industry (such as medical technicians, physician's assistants and physical therapist assistants) are slated to experience 48% growth.

Involved with the delivery of health or related services, workers in allied health care fields include a cluster of health professions encompassing as many as 200 health careers. There are 5 million allied health care providers in the United States who work in more than 80 different professions representing approximately 60% of all health care providers. Yet, that number is no match to the number of allied health care workers that are needed to meet current and future needs in America.

Highly regarded as experts in their field, allied health professions fall into two broad categories - technicians (assistants) and therapists/technologists. With education requirements and curriculum varying depending on the chosen field, academic prerequisites range from less than two years for technicians to a more intensive educational process for therapists and technologists that include acquiring procedural skills. With such explosive growth in allied health care career options and so many diverse fields from which to choose, it's no wonder students preparing for their future are seeking opportunities in allied health fields.

Yet, with more than 5 million current allied health professions in the U.S. and more on the horizon, careful examination of the educational development and environment of emerging students identifies areas of needed improvement to meet the diverse needs of this ever-changing landscape.

A New Path of Education - Trends Affecting Allied Health Education

With student enrollment in allied health education programs gaining momentum, major advancements in technology coupled with shifts in education audiences, learner profiles, campus cultures, campus design and faculty development have spawned a new wave of trends that are dramatically affecting where and how allied health students learn. Understanding the dynamics of allied health trends begins by taking a brief look at a few of the societal and economic factors that have affected the educational landscape as a whole.

Economic Trends:
* With the economy in a recession, the nations' workforce is being challenged to learn new skills or explore advanced training options.
* The U.S. Labor Department estimates that with the current economic climate, nearly 40% of the workforce will change jobs every year. As a result, the demand for short, accelerated educational programs is on the rise.
* With retirement being delayed until later in life, a "new age" of workers has emerged into the job market creating an older generation of students.

Societal Trends:
* Adult learners are the fastest growing segment in higher education. Approximately 42% of all students in both private and public institutions are age 25 or older.
* This highly competitive learning market allows educational institutions to specialize in meeting particular niches in the market.
* The number of minority learners is increasing.
* More women continue to enter the workforce - 57% of students are women.

Student / Enrollment Trends:
* Students are seeking educational programs that meet their individual demographics, schedule and learning style.
* More students are requiring flexibility in the educational structure to allow more time for other areas of responsibility.
* Students are attending multiple schools to attain degrees - 77% of all students graduating with a baccalaureate degree have attended two or more institutions.

Academic Trends:
* According to the Chronicle of High Education, traditional college campuses are declining as for-profit institutions grow and public and private institutions continue to emerge.
* Instruction is moving more toward diversified learner-centered versus self-directed, traditional classroom instruction.
* Educational partnerships are increasing as institutions share technology and information with other colleges, universities and companies to deliver cooperative educational programs.
* Emphasis is shifting from degrees to competency as employers place more importance on knowledge, performance and skills.

Technology Trends:
* Technology competency is becoming a requirement.
* Immense growth in Internet and technological devices.
* Institutional instruction will involve more computerized programs.
* Colleges will be required to offer the best technological equipment to remain competitive.

Classroom Environment Trends:
* Classroom environments are being designed to mirror real-life career settings.
* Flexible classroom settings geared for multi-instructional learning.
* Color, lighting, acoustics, furniture and design capitalize on comfortable learner-centered environments.

The Application of Knowledge - A Move Toward Lifelong Learning Concepts

To meet the ever-changing educational needs of students entering allied health fields, classrooms, curricula and teaching philosophies are becoming more responsive to the diverse settings in which varied populations are served. Educators and administrators are seeking educational environments that engage and connect students with their learning space to capitalize and foster knowledge, growth and learning.

Flexible Classrooms and Lab Space:
Adaptable learning environments that provide versatility to shift from classroom to lab space and the flexibility for plenty of future growth are the driving force behind allied health classrooms of the future. Modern allied health classrooms will provide flexible, multi-functional, comfortable classroom environments that encourage a sense of community, essentially inviting the students and instructors to work together and interrelate. Studies reflect that students are better able to actively process information when sensory, stimulation, information exchange and application opportunities are available. Flexible classroom spaces encourage students to share what they know and build on this shared base.

Student Areas:
Connecting students with the "center of gravity" core spaces for studying and socializing further enhances the new wave of allied health campuses. Flexible student areas that foster circulation, interaction, collaboration and learning enhance various learning styles and further reinforce students' abilities to harmoniously blend learning with discovery and collaboration.

Integrating Advanced Technology:
The use of technology in the classroom plays a vital role in how students learn and the long-term effect of knowledge gained. When students are using technology as an educational tool they are in an active role rather than a passive role in a typical teacher-led lesson. The integration of advanced technology in an allied health classroom allows students to actively engage in generating, obtaining manipulating or displaying information. Through this process, students become empowered to define their goals, make decisions and evaluate their progress. Coupled with student applied technology, classrooms are being equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and tools to prepare students for the transition from classroom to career.

Lecture / Laboratory and Classroom Models:
High Performing Buildings: As allied health programs shift to incorporate collaborative, interdisciplinary classrooms and clinical experiences that mirror real-life settings, students are empowered to move beyond mastery of skill to lifelong learning concepts. By creating classroom models that take students directly into their chosen field and allow them to "step into" their chosen career in a classroom setting, students are essentially provided a "business internship" that prepares them for their careers far beyond traditional text book curriculum. Bridging the gap between textbook knowledge and the application of "real world" experiences is the foundation of the new allied health classrooms settings.

Each school day 50 million children and 6 million adults enter our schools nationwide; each of whom is directly affected by the physical environment. And, while most people have heard about the benefits of sustainable design from an energy savings standpoint, few truly understand the benefits gained from a student performance perspective. High performance schools have several distinct advantages:

* Higher Test Scores. Studies are confirming the relationship between a school's physical condition and student performance. Factors such as increased day light, indoor thermal comfort and indoor air quality will enhance learning which equates to improved test results.

* Increased Average Daily Attendance. Indoor air quality plays a vital role in the health of students. By controlling sources of contaminants, providing adequate ventilation and preventing moisture - all designed to reduce sources of health problems and inhibit the spread of airborne infections - students and teachers will experience fewer sick days, especially for those suffering from respiratory or asthma problems.

* Reduced Operating Costs. High performance schools are specifically designed, using life-cycle cost methods, to minimize long-term costs of facility ownership. Using less energy and water than standard schools, means lower operating costs. Savings can then be redirected to supplement other budgets such as computers, books, classrooms and salaries.

* Increased Teacher Satisfaction and Retention. Designed to be pleasant and effective places to work and learn, high performance classrooms are visually pleasing, provide the appropriate thermal comfort and capitalize on effective acoustics for teaching. A positive and inviting place to work and learn improves overall satisfaction for teachers and sets the foundation for improved learning and retention of students.

* Reduced Environmental Impact. High performance buildings are specifically designed to have low environmental impact. They are energy and water efficient, use durable, non-toxic materials that are high in recycled content and they use non-polluting renewable energy to the greatest extent possible.
In short, we have an obligation to equip our students to do the hard work ahead of them.

A Vision for the Future
With the rapidly changing landscape of education as whole, taking on the challenge of designing multi-functional educational facilities means more than just designing a building. From technology to curriculums, campus structure to classroom environments, those involved in the planning, design and construction must be dedicated to providing solutions that meet the distinct needs of today's students.

Achieving Health the Good Old Classic Way

Today's world is full of stresses that we encounter everyday - stress from work, domestic duties, personal problems, conflicts in the workplace and other things that we have to face to make our lives as worthwhile as possible. Add to that little things that we have to deal with such as air pollution, traffic, squabbling children and the like. Sometimes, we all wish we could just spend our time in some faraway island where we can be free from all of these things. But our minds can only tell us that this is not possible - at least, not for a very long time. These are realities that we inevitably have to face, if we are to adhere to the standards of the good life we and our society have set upon us.

However, try as we may, there are things beyond our control that will affect us in ways we wish we never had to experience. When our health begins to suffer, that's when we become concerned. A lot of us get sick merely from having to cope with life's demands, and sometimes, we end up with even more problems to solve than what we started with. When we miss a few days in the office, for example, we are faced with more documents to process once we get back on our feet.

Hypertension, heart disease, cancers - these are only some of the evils that we all hope we will never have to face. But, of course, we cannot really expect to put up a good fight unless we do something to protect ourselves. The good thing is, there is nothing extraordinary or special about the things we need to do to strengthen our bodies against these diseases. Everything is about plain old common sense in terms of achieving good health.

There is also no special formula that you need for doing these things. You just simply choose the food you eat and how much exercise you engage in. Eating more vegetables and less meat, for example, is an all-encompassing trick to avoid illness, especially when coupled with an hour or two of jogging a day or working out in the gym. After all, our body systems only need a balance of these things in order to function as optimally as possible. A person who devotes his life trying to achieve this balance rarely becomes seriously ill, or when he does, we can trust that this is probably related to genetic factors and no longer within his control.

Still, another dimension that one may explore when trying to achieve good health is mental and spiritual wellness. We must admit this is an aspect that is least considered by people these days. While everybody is busy pumping iron at the gym or counting calories at the dinner table, their mental and spiritual health could still be suffering. Why? Because, whether we like it or not, our existence is and will always be affected by factors way beyond the physical realm. A good way to achieve mental and spiritual health is through meditation. There are many holistic health disciplines that focus on meditation as a way for the body to connect with their souls. Yoga is one. In fact, it is the most widely practiced method of achieving mental and spiritual wellness today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Joys Of Parenting - Having A Girl's First Period Talk

When should I start talking to my daughter about her first period? How much information should I provide my preschooler about the conception, growth, and birth of a new sibling? How come my son thinks he knows so much about the "birds and the bees" and he is only eight years old? The family-rated television show was loaded with sexual innuendoes. Should I have insisted that we turn it off? How carefully should I monitor my children's entertainment in the future?

These are just a few of the common concerns that we parents face as our children interact with a culture that bombards them with sexual messages. Understanding the broader dimensions of sexuality and the roles that family, friends, school, and the media play in influencing children's views of themselves as sexual beings is essential for charting a safe, smooth course through the potential minefields between childhood and adult sexual identity. Many parents wait to address sexual issues until their child enters puberty. Obvious bodily changes in their youngster force some parents to deliver "the talk." Others hope the school will do what they don't want to and are relieved when their child returns home clutching pamphlets handed out during a lecture on sex education.

Moreover, most parents have not had much education in the field of human sexuality themselves. They may have vague memories of awkward speeches by one or the other of their parents; a booklet about a girls' first period, the book about human sexuality tucked in the back of the bookcase; or the week devoted to reproduction in health class. Given this set of circumstances, it is understandable that parents often put off educating their own offspring. Many parents also have beliefs that if they don't talk about sex, their children won't be interested or tempted. But waiting until puberty, or worse yet until your daughter has her first menstrual period, to approach the topic of sexuality is unwise. Sexuality is an important part of the child's life from the moment he or she is born and plays an important role throughout his/her entire life. Providing children with the necessary information that allows them to make informed choices and be the architects of their own lives is the essence of parenting.

Talking about sexuality requires the same communication skills that contribute to healthy relationships in general between parents and children. If parents can cultivate open dialogues with their young children as they explore the topics of sexuality together, this same openness will allow parents to offer advice and guidance as their youngsters approach their teenage years. However, if parents do not begin the process early, the subject of sexuality will feel less natural for both parents and their children, and both may be uncomfortable with this new intimacy and with the sheer magnitude of the issues that must be dealt with in a hurry. But keep in mind that starting late is far better than never starting at all.

As a pediatrician and mother of three children, I, too, have struggled with communication "how-to's," with the various versions of "the birds and the bees," and with the many dimensions of sexuality. The challenge has been difficult. Prior to my oldest daughter's taking health class at school, I casually inquired about the health curriculum. Her answer disturbed me. The curriculum seemed insufficient, to me, and was to be taught by the male gym teacher. Even though he was a nice person, I felt uneasy for my daughter, and I sheepishly volunteered my services. My offer to teach the class was readily accepted, and I felt sudden anxiety as the relieved male teacher showered me with gratitude and handed me the scant curriculum. I faced many hurdles as I prepared to teach the hugely important class about puberty, menstruation and conception. Perhaps my greatest challenge was broadening my own perspective of sexuality. The topic is much more comprehensive than it appears at first glance. Sexuality includes not only the nuts and bolts of human reproduction, but encompasses relationships, values and many life skills as well.

As I taught the health class, I was struck by the students' reluctance to use their family members as resources. Comments such as, "I am too embarrassed to speak to my mom about having my first period," were common; yet these young girl were willing to ask a stranger for answers. There was a chasm between mothers and daughters, between parents and their children. I sensed a need to unite family members in the educative process. This urge led to my establishing a community class for mothers and their daughters during which we reviewed the normal physical and emotional changes of puberty as they both prepared for her first period and all the ups and downs associating this menstruation period.

I discovered that mothers delighted in the opportunity to review the basic physiology of their daughters' bodily changes and were eager to share their concerns with other mothers about the emotional turmoil they experienced with their maturing daughters. Similarly, girls in the class had an opportunity to participate with their mothers, forming a bond, a bridge of communication, during an interactive, educational process. For some families, this class was a start. Although it is best not to wait until puberty to bring up topics like a girl's first period, there is certainly a window of opportunity during these prepubertal years to open the door of communication about sexuality and to share your values with your children. Imagine classes where fathers and sons could share similarly; or, why not a class where both parents attend with their children?

Children and Sports - Avoiding Burn Out

Parents need to be aware of the repercussions associated with living their lives or striving for their goals through their children. In most cases children perform better and stay in their chosen sport longer if coached by a third party not a parent.

Coaches need to be passionate about coaching, but even more passionate about ensuring a well balanced life for all of their athletes. A coaches philosophy should be "athletes first, winning second', coaches need to care about nurturing all of their athletes in their overall wellness, far too many young talented athletes get driven and ultimately suffer the fate of "burn out.

Kids been driven too hard too young and their direction guided solely by their parent/s goals not their own. Then ultimately what happens is those kids who have dominated in their sports in the junior years either drop out, rebel against their parents, or suffer a long term injury.

Starting with the individual in the middle the balanced wagon wheel looks like this:








When you find the right balance between all areas you find the right balance within yourself. Achieving this encompasses optimum levels of emotional, physical and spiritual health allowing everything to work in harmony with each other.

Sport is just one important spoke in the wheel and it is the coaches job (along with many others) to ensure that all children keep a balanced perception of the big picture and not forgo one spoke, the wheel needs all spokes working to keep progressing smoothly.

The Essential Nature of Child Spirit

This article explores the spiritual nature of children, a profound and significant aspect of being human, gracefully present from birth. The most divine form of human life arrives in the smallest of packages-a newborn babe. As these tiny beings enter the world in a flurry of commotion and anticipation, a spirit is also reborn among us. They come to us with open hearts and pure souls, exuding a spiritual essence that belies their fragile and vulnerable nature.

What is Childhood Spirituality?

The term as well as the concept of "spirit" is elusive. It no longer exclusively pertains to religious beliefs, learned values, or cognitive conceptions. Rather, it is the holistic experience of the human being, both physical and nonphysical, as well as allusion to a Higher Power or universal energetic presence. Spirit is the life force, the essence of our being as well as the essence of all things. Spirit manifests in human beings as cosmic memory, collective knowing, unconditional love, intuition and creativity - it is the universal energetic which creates existence, experience, the material world, and consciousness. The embodiment of the human spirit is present and active from birth, and is uniquely energetic in children.

We are born with our spirits fully intact; with a connection to the collective spiritual realm as tangible as our physical bodies. In a culture which has largely ignored the spiritual aspect of our being, those children able to consciously maintain their connection to the metaphysical are gifted with an inherent sense of self, purpose, and service. The importance of understanding and embracing the concept of childhood spirituality is imperative to the healthy development of the child, and therefore, to the continuous evolution of our race as we know it. It's imperative because the spiritual aspect of humans is as critical to our well being, natural development, and overall evolution as the cognitive, emotive, and biological aspects.

If we are to truly understand our purpose here on earth, if we are to grasp the meaning of life, if we are to reach our full potential, both as physical and spiritual beings, the pursuit of such understanding must honor and embrace the entirety of our experiences, from birth to death. The significance and influence of child spirituality is as important as, if not more so than, adult spirituality. The childhood spiritual experience may be more crucial because of the substantial impact and influence childhood spiritual experiences have on the aggregate of our adult lives. The natural and essential link between mind-body-emotion must include spirit as well.

What does Child Spirit look like?

Childhood spirituality is the being essence of the child encompassing mind, body, emotions and soul while simultaneously transcending physical experience and linking the individual to universal collective Spirit. "Spirit is the essence of life, the energy of the universe that creates all things. Each one of us is a part of that spirit-a divine entity. So the spirit is the higher Self, the eternal being that lives within us" (Living in the Light, Shakti Gawain, 1986). Our spirituality is experienced on two levels - an individual, soul level and as an aspect of collective universal energy or Spirit. Spirituality and the human being are inseparable and this spiritual essence, on both the individual (soul) and universal (Spirit) levels, provides the human being with a foundation for experiencing the true meaning of life. Spirituality is a prominent aspect of our being, and such spirituality has a profound impact on who we are, how we experience ourselves and the world around us, and how we live our lives. As a result, without the recognition and nurturance of our spiritual nature from birth we are destined to severely inhibit our physical, mental, and emotional growth in addition to our perpetual development and evolution as a species.

Children possess a natural purity in their experience, expression, and personalities. Insofar as this is believed to hold true with their thoughts, personalities, and emotions, so it is with their spirits. Children are not gifted from some external source with a unique soul or spiritual essence at later stages of development-instead they are simply and, more accurately, innately aware of their inherent spiritual essence, as well as the dual nature of all humans and, perhaps, all living things from conception. Children appear to plainly understand that we are, first and foremost, embodied spirits-that our purpose here on earth is of a spiritual nature. Many children exude a spiritual maturity that is remarkable. Consider, for example, the experience of young Clara who was able to foresee the death of her young cousin who lived miles away,

I said I wanted to see him. When I was asked why, I said he was going to die. They [Clara's parents] said no, Mitch was not going to die, he was perfectly healthy. Only a couple of days later, my grandfather saw Mitch's father in town and was told that Mitch was very sick. Soon after, we learned that Mitch died. When I went to the funeral, even the children kept away from me because they had heard I'd known of the death ahead of time. (The Secret Life of Kids: An exploration into their psychic senses, James Peterson, 2000)

It is not unusual to observe some children weeping over the pain or death of a stranger, even someone they may have heard about in school or seen on television, but to whom they have no personal connection. How remarkable, the wisdom of children-the intuitive, universal knowing we carry forward into this world!

What does Child Spirit act like?

As mentioned previously, the human experience is of a dual nature-human and spirit. As a result, children often experience their spirituality or spiritual essence through metaphysical phenomena. Meta implies an experience or circumstance which lies beyond the physical realm. This spiritual awareness in children is observed to manifest in many different ways, including: experiencing visions, hearing voices, having magical moments, having out-of-body experiences, and experiencing heightened communication (such as extra sensory perception, intuition, knowing, prophesizing, and deep empathy). It is our culturally imposed limits, which are largely dismissive of the legitimacy or significance of nonphysical experiences, which contribute to the tendency to regard children's spiritual essence as inauthentic or invalid. We can change this by understanding and nurturing the spiritual essence in children.

What is it like for a child to experience his or her spiritual being? Many have theorized on the nature and existence of adult spirituality, but few on how the child's spiritual essence materializes or manifests on the physical plane. Based on years of formal and informal research by child spirituality specialists, characteristics associated with spiritually conscious children include: deep compassion; gifted creative and artistic ability, morality, deep connection to people, nature and animals, insight, altruism, seeing the invisible, past-life memories, exceptional abilities (such as extra sensory perception, out-of-body experiences, and understanding others unspoken thoughts or feelings), wisdom, child-world consciousness, attunement to spiritual forces, and many more. For example, Bonnie, age 8, shared her experience of "attunement to spiritual forces",

As I put my two fingers together, I felt the electricity flow down one arm, go through the two fingers, and then move up my other arm and into my chest. It kept going around and around, and I felt my body getting warmer and warmer. Then, just as it got so hot that I was going to stop it by taking my fingers apart, I suddenly saw my body light up-all over! (ChildSpirit, Samuel Silverstein, 1991)

Children often convey, whether through the spoken word or through nonverbal expression, their personal mystical or spiritual experiences as something they have "imagined." With their limited vocabulary and undeveloped grammatical understanding of deeper concepts such as mysticism, the term imagination most accurately describes what they are experiencing. The mystical childhood experience encompasses those experiences which offer a glimpse into the spiritual realm, an unexplainable understanding of life beyond one-self, of the collective cosmic consciousness and infinite existence. To a child these early years are a constantly unfolding mystery. As children explore their physical world and all that it holds, they are also in the process of discovering the nonphysical world - the world of energy and spirit.

The embodied spiritual essence of the child is not experienced in a vacuum-it is an accumulation of a lifetime (or possibly many lifetimes), albeit short, of experiences in the context of a world within and beyond their own physical existence. Not infrequently, the level or experience of spirit present in children is vastly different from the experience of spirit in adulthood; however, this does not mean it is nonexistent or less significant in children. Conventional developmental models suggest an adult is capable of more highly intentional, focused, and nonegoic (transcending physical and cognitive experience) states of awareness. Yet, children, in their naivete, pureness and innocence, are more naturally inclined to move freely within their internal and external experiences and between physical and nonphysical realities. The necessity of accepting and nurturing the essence of spirit in children is crucial in order that we not perpetuate the disregard for this significant developmental process.

What can we do to support Child Spiritual Health?

Children possess an innate, natural ability to embrace life and live in this palpable existential relationship with the universe, to stand with one foot in physical reality and the other in the spiritual realm. Children seem to be able to travel between these two planes with ease and ownership. It is largely the active imagination of children and their openness to alternative realities and planes of existence which allows them to so easily shift between body and spirit. Children are born with an understanding of the following, "It is important to recognize that spiritual experiences are magnificent natural processes. We are spiritual beings temporarily clothed in matter, we can and will instinctively experience our spiritual nature when the proper conditions are present" (The Secret of the Soul, William Buhlman, 2001). It seems that childhood itself embodies those proper conditions; the very nature of childhood is spiritual in its essence. Highly spiritual children are free of the typical constraints of both linear time and ego. Children are concerned less with the outer personality and more with the inner world, hence children's proclivities toward: out-of-body experiences, perceptions of non-linear time planes, having mystical experiences, and their ability to travel between physical and nonphysical realities.

In recognizing and supporting the critical nature of childhood spiritual health, it is my goal to assist every parent and adult as they explore and support the presence and active manifestation of children's spiritual essence. Children possess an active spirit which can be broadly observed in 6 areas: Nature, Mysticism, Wisdom, Wonder, Imagination, and Relating (Grace in Small Packages: An Exploration in Childhood Spirituality, Kimble Greene, 2008). Within these 6 areas one can observe the manifestation of characteristics and abilities such as: past-life experiences; near-death experiences; visions of apparitions or the invisible; psychic and extra-sensory abilities; extraordinary creative abilities; indications of profound wisdom, wonder, knowing, and insight; and a highly developed sense of compassion, caring, and love.

Spirit is an essential aspect of our being. How children experience their spiritual essence has a profound impact on who they are, how they experience the world around them, how they live their lives, and who they become. As a result, without the recognition and nurturance of children's spiritual essence, we are fated to severely inhibit their physical, mental and emotional growth in addition to their spiritual development. If we, as adults and parents, disregard, discount, and discourage the natural expression and experience of a child's spirit, we may as well bind a part of their bodies in a mummy-like encasing, for the outcome is likely to be similar - severe restriction of an integral aspect of their being. It is our responsibility to nurture our children's spiritual development just as we do their cognitive, physical and emotional growth.

It is essential to the healthy development of our children, and to the future of our race, that we begin to appreciate more abundantly the totality, depth, and scope of children's spiritual essence-from the magical to the mysterious and on toward the mystical. While children are born with the wisdom and faith necessary to embrace their own spiritual nature, it is the responsibility of parents, researchers, and all adults to do the same by understanding, nurturing, and supporting this graceful spiritual essence in children.

In the box below is a list of 7 specific things parents and adults can do to begin to recognize and nurture children's spiritual essence:

1. Listen to and validate children's imaginings and musings, for they are likely to be of a spiritual nature;
2. Create time for discussions or exploration around the nonphysical, metaphysical, and spiritual aspects of existence. If you are unsure about the existence of these yourself, simply explore the possibility of such things with your child (there are many wonderful children's books on this topic);
3. Children explore, learn, discover and come to understand on all levels; intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual, through play - create a space and time for enchanted play in their lives;
4. Nature provides endless opportunities for spiritual revelation, self-discovery, and inspiration - encourage your child to spend lots of time in nature, with pets, and observing wildlife;
5. Healthy relationships are key to our overall well-being. Allow your child opportunities for relating to other people, animals and the imaginary;
6. Rely on your own intuition and inner knowing when it comes to parenting and relating to children. Society's "rules" do not always support children's holistic growth and spiritual development;
7. Let children guide you - children know what they need on a deep, profound level. Let children be your teacher!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Business Behavior Creates Health Problems

Work and health. These two topics are this century's biggest concerns. In fact, they're so interrelated these days that you'd be hard pressed to find people who work without concern for their health. And I'm not just talking about physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. Along with increasing rates of obesity, this country is also experiencing increasing rates of depression, apathy, and detachment from family, friends, and life itself. Suicides are at an all time high, violence is in an upsurge (if you watch the news, anyway), and people are becoming more self absorbed and concerned for their welfare than they are for their children.

What is the reason this is happening? It is the relationship we have in this country between our health and our work behaviors. Both systems have foundations in the old 19th century industrial work ethic and mentality. What we seem to miss is that by keeping the assumptions and beliefs of our forefathers in regards to work and health, we will not be able to change either the health care system or how we work. What are these assumptions and beliefs?

Here is an incomplete list:

-working 9 to 5(or 6) Monday through Friday for 40 years or more is how we always work, despite the changes in our world concerning doing work and business via new technology
-adhering to an agrarian educational system (children go to school from fall to spring with summers off)
-working longer hours produces better results than working shorter hours
-using managers as vehicles to control the mass of employees who are obviously not competent, need ideas and plans and behaviors given to them from above, have no lives of their own, and are not trustworthy
-physical health can be separated from mental and emotional health
-time equals money
-high levels of stress do not contribute to health problems
-work is more important than anything else in life which includes family, friends, hobbies, passions, creativity, imagination, rest, sleep, health, nature, and sports
-our health care system is the best one in the world
-our health care system really is a health care system rather than a pill and repair location for the body

These assumptions are basic to how our work and health behaviors work. Work in America is the number one activity we all engage in. Despite our complaints about wanting a life or being healthy or being free, work is what we all do. Work is the identity of America. Not freedom, not liberty, not basic civil rights, not prosperity or wealth. Work is how we all learn about each other and despite this, we all complain about work because none of us really want to do it. This creates a conflict between our emotions and our behaviors. Our behaviors stem from our flawed beliefs and assumptions about what work does for us, while our emotions dictate what we would really like. And despite the current saying that emotions dictate behavior, it's actually the other way around. Our behaviors dictate our emotions.

Think about this. Anytime you want to go to do something, whether it's watching a movie, hanging out with friends or family, playing with your dog, or taking a nice and casual walk in the middle of the day, we can't. The thing we want to do the most is relegated to secondary importance because work is considered priority. Who's priority? The company you either work for or your own business. And although we have tons and tons of time management courses and gurus, this way of living is getting worse and worse.

We've all read or heard that we must take time for the most important things in our lives, with health being number one. We can see that this will not work if we continue to believe the above beliefs and assumptions. We must replace these beliefs/assumptions with more empowering ones that will allow us to easily live lives of balance.

Which leads to a question about health. What is health? Is it being able to move like you did when you were 20? Or being able to creatively come up enough ideas to change the world? Or is it being able to enjoy the life you've been given each and every single day? The answer is that health encompasses our entire life. It means being able to live a life where you can be creative, in control, and minimize physical, mental, and emotional suffering until the very end of your life. It means following your heart's desires and still retain the maturity and wisdom gained from past experience. It means being able to keep up with your kids when at the park. It means achieving the dreams you've always wanted to achieve. Health is the totality of life. Without health in any given moment, your life is not up to its potential.

Our work behaviors decrease our health potential. By believing work only gets done between certain hours on particular days or in particular ways, our health suffers. By believing that we should work for a company that says it has your best interests at work but really doesn't is a fool's task. Believing our work or health care system helps make America superior in the global environment is false, but it certainly produces illness and disease here in this great country. So, what are the new empowering beliefs and assumptions we "should" have?

-Work to get work done only when it needs to be done. If it's not an emergency or a real priority relegate it according to your own to do list for the day
-The results of work should be productive and that's all it should be based on, not the time you needed to get it done.
-Health is life. Without following our dreams or passions, being creative, getting enough sleep or rest, or doing activities we really enjoy, life can be an empty shell filled only with work.
-Work is fourth to family, friends, and passions
-Trust. Trust in yourself and trust others. If you are an adult, you should realize that other adults can be just as trustworthy as you when work needs to get done
-Play should be 80% of your life while work should be 20%
-Consistently repeat these beliefs to yourself each day in order to reap lifetime benefits

This is how health can be increased work behaviors changed. This is not easy, but it is a simple way of changing the way we do business and live our lives. If you have any questions, comments please let me know at my e-mail address. Thanks.

The Incredible Transition of the Movement

School children today may wonder: why did the White South make there be the four different restrooms, one for each combination of people? Well, it did make four "water closets" available, two apiece for each sex, which admittedly allowed for somewhat easier restroom availability. But it also undermined the dignity of the American Deep South, which was swiftly moving from the lack of fair human rights to the promotion of greater civil rights, and eventually to manifesting independent living rights. After all, the involved country was America, and being a democracy, it couldn't long maintain such hostile acts of racial segregation - or discrimination against the physically disabled, challenged, or handicapped.

You could say that America from the 1940s through the 1980s were a time of incredible transition when it came to the full legal rights of American citizens, which included a change of focus from the racially oriented Civil Rights Movement to the ability oriented Independent Living Movement. As differing ethnic minorities received their full legal and human rights, the focus began to change when it came to what was considered to be politically expedient for different types of people.

For one thing, in the 1960s, changing racially segregated public restrooms back to the usual men's and women's ones was considered to be politically important, and this led to the changes in restroom stalls in the 1980s that encompassed wheelchair accessibility. This sort of thing, along with the Deep South's municipal bus boycotts, such as the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was to enable "colored" people to get away from unnecessary referencing to skin color, and it also led to the placing of proper wheelchair lifts onto buses for the sake of the physically disabled, to enable them to finally ride the city buses. Nowadays, you can ride in your electric wheelchair in a special slot on the bus, or transfer out of your manual wheelchair and into a seat.

Uniting the public restrooms enabled people to continue their normal way of life, unhampered by racism or any presumed "need" for such segregated facilities. Plus, there was the further needed transition of the municipal city buses, where black people had been forced to sit in the far backs of the buses. As with the public restrooms, there was no need for such isolation, which at the time was being corrected by the acting Civil Rights Movement, headed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so that people could use most public facilities without suffering from further racial segregation. And as stated, this led to the further revamping of public facilities to make them wheelchair and disabled accessible, including full accessibility for the blind, the deaf, the elderly, the mentally challenged, and other such needed transitions.

Earlier work by the Civil Rights Movement had clearly led to these other needed transitions being made, several years later. Causing the first series of changes had obviously led to the next series of changes. The Movement had tackled universal public transportation and public access to facilities, which were also in a state of becoming more available in general as public transportation and facilities increased in number and diversity markedly over time, broadening the scope of the American service horizon.

It was thus seen that public transportation via racial segregation wasn't required in America, and neither were racially segregated public restrooms. However, years later in the 1980s, it turned out that the people who actually needed any such "specialty" restrooms were the physically disabled. They needed special, more copious interior stalls with grab bars within them, not unduly physically segregated restrooms. The needed incredible transition was from civil rights for different racial groups to independent living rights for the disabled and the physically challenged.

It wasn't altogether that "incredible" - when you think about it. The needed transition was for some of the restroom stalls to become wider - affording more ease and room for less ungainly wheelchair transfers. The disabled needed more room, sturdy grab bars to help them transfer, and large signs outside on the doors with the blue and white wheelchair access logos - and also Braille worded signs, such as those in front of elevators and outside rooms - for the sake of blind people as well.

And there only needed to be one "handicapped" larger stall available per restroom, not ability segregated restrooms. Although this had been proposed, it was not brought into practice - as the racial segregation that had occurred years before caused reconsideration of such segregation per ability, as well as it simply not being needed for public use of these facilities. The degree of influence of one movement upon the other is arguable, but the similarities between the two movements were more than coincidental, as both clearly involved basic legal and civil human rights.

It had actually been the paramount issues of universal wheelchair access and the universal integration of disabled access into buildings, public accommodations and housing which constituted the needed "incredible transition" from one movement to the other, as there had never been any verifiable need for racial segregation of public facilities and transportation. Instead, wheelchair and disabled access came to the forefront as issues that have become important worldwide since the 1980s, as verifiable human needs that required redress, not only as social issues that involved bigotry and discrimination, but physical access to property as well.

As a nurse aide for the disabled, I used to help people transfer from their wheelchairs to the toilets and back in public restrooms. It was part of my job. Due to moderate learning disabilities, my other everyday work skills tend to be poor. I can't really handle waitressing, for example. But I've done great at writing and editing professionally for a career, and helping people in wheelchairs get through daily obstacles has been easy for me.

Wheelchair riding "shut ins" used to mostly stay home. They had nowhere they could go having wide enough doorways, smooth ramps into buildings or across roadways, prominent signs of universal wheelchair use, or major areas flat enough for wheelchair access. Even elevators took awhile to be added to most public buildings. For example, it took several decades for America's universities to become wheelchair accessible, not to mention other buildings such as hotels, hospitals, restaurants, etc.Added over many years, interior elevators within buildings greatly helped. Nowadays, you also see flat, wide wheelchair ramps everywhere. This makes life easier for all kinds of people, including those using crutches, canes, walkers, baby strollers and bicycles. It's really quite wonderful.

Exterior concrete stairways were once a large part of what kept people out of many buildings, rendering them unable to go in. The 1970s were not a "Stairway to Heaven" for most people with physical disabilities, and exterior stairways into buildings were a major hassle. But we're learning, and now we have long exterior tiered concrete ramps laid out in a "switchback" manner, enabling disabled entry to most public buildings. Nowadays you can go to college and attend all your classes, thanks to disabled access such as ramps, elevators and note takers for the blind.

Meanwhile, "colored" and "white" colleges have also been opening their doors to each other, as the USA and the free world begins a phase of politics which we're still entering, one where you might get to go exactly where you please, and do whatever you want to do - within reason. But the days of yore, where you couldn't always do so, were intriguing in their own way, although I'm glad those days are almost entirely gone.

Weirdly enough, there were a few good events, fantastical as it may seem, that happened under the loosening ties of racial segregation. For example, there were great "colored" ball teams, and also some well run and hospitably owned "colored" managed hotels and motels. They hired black workers, which occasionally involved better work situations than similar white run positions. This was unfortunate, as black people weren't allowed to stay in or work at the white people hotels and motels.Having to contemplate the meanings of the word "colored" and "black" was also involved as a social issue for certain famous such people, who promoted civil rights as their primary political cause. Colorful and lively is what they were often forced to become, in order to help their kind of people become more welcome in American society as they sojourned away from black and white racial segregation. The arts, music and theater gained from the addition of remarkable talent from these hallmarks of American and world society, who felt they had to prove themselves in a world which was capable of killing, hampering or incarcerating people solely due to their skin color not being "white."

Racial segregation was definitely the road to extreme enforced injustice as the only alternative for not granting people their full civil, legal and human rights, so these culturally important people, Americans - such as Malcolm X and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among many others - wanted to make sure their attainments were not in vain, and that they taught people racial equality was real and not merely a "dream." They wanted to make this "incredible transition" happen, which came to pass also through the disability rights movement and wheelchair accessibility, and to change the basically "white" people image of overall American society.

Internment, concentration - and finally death - camps are the strongest and most likely images I come up with when I reflect on how things would have ended up under continuing American racial segregation in the Deep South. Curfews, separate areas of town to live in, and enforced places to go at restaurants, restrooms and theaters imply the kind of incarceration that leads to actual internment, concentration and even death camps, such as the huge ones instituted by the Nazis, the Chinese and the Russians.

What ridiculous, gigantic monstrosities have gone worldwide since the "shackles" of such depravity were rooted in the originally enforced life on our Native American "Indian" reservations? Hitler blamed the Nazi concentration camps on those isolate places, although supposedly they were also styled after Joseph Stalin's similar Russian camps in the Ukraine and Siberia. Horrifyingly, there seems now to be a major internment camp, possibly for the mentally disabled, being built - or which is now completed - in America's own State of Alaska, and there are similar internment camps in outlying areas of the United States as well. The Hurricane Katrina victims have been placed into similar camps, which brings up newer issues of racial segregation again - as many of that awful hurricane's victims were once black or colored residents of New Orleans, Louisiana - the USA.

Overt racial cleansing has swelled out from our country and others in many a secretively torturous way. And it has not been so long since black people here in America were forced to sit in the back of city buses. Recently, a white school bus driver tried to illegally force black children to once again sit in the backs of school buses. Fortunately, he was caught and stopped before this tactic became widespread. But many decades ago, it took the Civil Rights Movement to get black people out of the backs of those buses, where they were being forced to sit against their will, giving up their chosen seats to white people.

Nobody likes to sit in the back of the bus forever. It was one of the better strategic moves in American history to end that. Some folks want to "keep on trucking" and serve humanity in similar ways, working jobs that involve helping others. But many of these great careers require major university degrees, which as you know can be difficult to pay for nowadays. Wouldn't it be wonderful to get such a job with only a high school diploma?

Say, would you like a job that involves no prior experience? It doesn't pay too well, maybe enough to get by. It's called being a "personal care attendant" for the disabled, and I've been one for black, brown and white people. You don't have to be a trained nurse, and open positions are listed under Home Health Care in the newspapers. If you take this job, which often only involves part time work, you may also experience the salutary effect of enjoying working for the civil rights of people with disabilities. You may also get free meals and a roof over your head by working this job. But without the proper implementation of universal wheelchair access, you won't be able to get out much and enjoy life to the fullest.

Therefore, I want to help get the word out with this article about municipal buses and other such needed vehicles being outfitted with reasonably made wheelchair lifts. This involves various programs and accessibility issues - happening all over the modern world. Those white, black and brown people (upholding their full legal and civil rights - regardless of skin color or other personal characteristics) in manual and electric wheelchairs, and other such vehicles of personal conveyance such as scooters and gurneys, need to be able to get on buses and other public transportation, like trains, boats and ships, and airplanes, not to mention their also needing to be able to freely access wheelchair access compliant parking spaces, hotel rooms, apartments, houses, other buildings, restrooms, etc.

Basically, total wheelchair access is the modern goal of the Movement nowadays, now that the transition has been made from civil rights to disability rights. Rather than ending civil rights, it simply expands them. Hopefully, someday wheelchair access will be made part of the standard legal building codes of houses everywhere on the face of the planet. And nearly everywhere you park now, you see the sign for wheelchair access in many parking spaces, plus wheelchair ramps available on nearly every street corner and around the front access of all public buildings. Sooner or later, if we live long enough we will all be physically disabled, no matter our skin color or other characteristics, due to old age and its subsequent debilitation. Thus we will all need the incredible transition from the Civil Rights Movement to the Independent Living Movement, with both movements covering as much as possible of the full scope of our American and worldwide legal, civil and human rights - no matter whom we might ever actually be, or finally ever eventually become.