Archive for June, 2014

Animal Rights … Or Wrongs?

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Time Shift Your TV – Animal Rights … Or Wrongs? Nick-News-Animal-Rights

Helpless cute creature? Or important research tool?

Animals rights debates have long raged among adults. And now in a Nick News with Linda Ellerbee special, the award-winning journalist gets kids from around the country talking about and debating the use of animals for research.

Animal Rights…Or Wrongs? airs Tuesday, July 1, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

The thought of putting animals in labs to test medical products may seem like cruel and unusual punishment. But The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires medical products be tested on animals before the products can be made available for human use. According to Ellerbee’s special, an estimated 25 million animals are used in experiments every year in the United States. Some animals don’t survive, but many drugs that save human lives were first tested on animals.

“It’s wrong. It’s heartless,” says Queenie, 12, of Denver, Colo.

“Most animals have the ability to feel pain, and I think we can all say without a doubt that animals wouldn’t want to be tested on and cut open,” says Ben, 12, of Hartford, Conn.

It’s definitely a topic for the teens in your family to tackle. Maybe you have loved ones who have directly seen the benefits of drugs for chronic illness. Were those drugs tested on animals first? Should they be?

Lilia, 16, is an intern at the Animal Rights Coalition in Minneapolis. She says animal experiments are upsetting. She feels the animals are “helpless.”

Luke, 17, goes to a special high school in Walpole, MA., where he studies animal research in hopes of doing research himself one day. He thinks most people value human lives over animal lives when it comes down to it – even if they don’t like to admit it.

Liviya, 9, of Raleigh, N.C., whose life was saved by treatments first tested on animals, says many modern medicine advances simply wouldn’t exist without the help of research animals.  “I needed treatment so my bone marrow could start working again,” she says.  “I found out that my treatment had been tested on animals and I feel very thankful for the animals.  Without animal testing they wouldn’t know if the treatment would work.”

Ellerbee’s specials are designed to let kids present all sides of the story in their frank and candid ways. She says, ““You may come away from this show knowing exactly where you stand regarding testing human products and procedures on animals,” says Ellerbee.

Or you may not. It’s not only a good topic to discuss; it’s good to learn how to discuss and debate important issues.


The Most Dangerous Activity of Summer

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Cactus SofaCheck the news and you will hear many statistics on the dangers lurking outdoors. Biking without helmets; accidental drowning, unsafe drivers and even heatstroke. Still, the most dangerous activity is something we do everyday—probably too much—myself included. The single most detrimental activity your family can do this summer is sit on the couch.

Somehow, over the years, we have bought into statistics that sending our kids outside to play is a dangerous activity. Dangerous dogs, lightning strikes and abduction stories get big play on the news, but look behind the hype and the chances of this happening are very low. In fact, according to estimates, the world is no more dangerous now than the “good old days” when kids would stay out all day playing kickball until they were called in for supper. Technology hasn’t helped matters, offering too much gratification for far little activity. Getting off the couch and getting outside isn’t just a great way to get activity. A new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute shows that spending more more time outdoors reduces stress and helps builds confidence and leadership. Experts suggest that in coming up with a loose schedule, be sure to include friends in activities and don’t be afraid to challenge your kids. Do you let you kids play outside? Do you have a strategy to get off of the couch?



Time Shift Your TV: The Star-Spangled Banner

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The Fourth of July is just around the corner.   1812 Flag

In the Washington, D.C.-area, the fencing is already up along the George Washington Parkway to help control crowds who want to watch the always-impressive national fireworks display from the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

And as part of the holiday ritual, we’ll all be hearing The Star-Spangled Banner. Maybe more than once.

Our national anthem is a cherished and respected piece of music. And yet, according to the Smithsonian Channel, only about 40% of U.S. citizens know all the words to the song. Even fewer know their meaning. Do you?

Even if you can proudly sing every word without stumbling, it’s well worth taking an hour to watch A Star-Spangled Story: Battle for America. The documentary, airing Tuesday at 5 p.m. (check for more upcoming airings) on Smithsonian, brings to life the story of the Baltimore scene at Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words for our famous anthem.

The tale is told through re-enactments, 3D computer graphics and interviews with historians, other experts and soprano opera star Renee Fleming, who sang the anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl. There’s also a peek inside the sealed Smithsonian chamber that houses the flag Key named “the star-spangled banner.”

It’s entertaining, enjoyable – and important. This is history everyone in the family should know. And once you know it, July 4th becomes all the more meaningful. Now, all together: Oh, say can you see …



Complementary Activities

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

In gardening, there’s such a thing as companion plants, that when grown together, offer mutual benefit. Culinary enthusiasts pair wine with food for optimum taste. But did you ever consider complementing your child’s favorite sport with a “companion” activity? small-plant2

Experts have now realized that specialization or hyper focus on one sport is good way to ruin the experience—and sometimes young bodies. Too much emphasis on just one sport can not only get boring for kids, it can have a 36 percent higher risk of injury on young muscles and joints.

Sports Balls MixAccording to David Epstein’s ProPublica op-ed, co-published with the New York Times, it’s best to let kids play a variety of sports up to the age of 12.  Then let them pick one or two of their favorites — or as much as your schedule (and sanity) can handle. Not only does a variety of activities use a broader range of muscles and joints, often times other side activities are beneficial to a preferred sport. For instance, dance and Pilates classes do a world of good for ice skaters, while strength training and Zumba are a nice complement to gymnastics.  Wrestling is good conditioning for baseball and football while swimming is a great enhancer for any sporting activity, although many baseball pitchers swear by it. Providing variety of activities early on will also help set the stage for an active lifestyle.

How many sports do your kids play? Do they play any companion sports?

Time Shift Your TV – Soccer!

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Is soccer a big sport in your house?

It’s a big sport around the world. And right now, fans are watching and cheering their favorite countries in the 2014 World Cup, the global tournament in Brazil.

American PharoahTimed to coincide with that, PBS is airing a one-hour documentary, American Pharaoh, focusing on the Egyptian national soccer team, known as the Pharaohs, on Monday, June 16, at 10 p.m. (Check local listings.)  Egyptian filmmaker Hossam Aboul-Magd spent two years following the team’s efforts to qualify for the World Cup under American coach Bob Bradley, amid national unrest and political upheaval in Egypt. The attempt to make it to the tournament was sidelined by a revolution, military takeover, protests and more, all of which played a role in the team’s efforts. If you look on the World Cup schedule, you’ll see that Egypt is not there.

Spoiler alert: The team suffered a crushing loss to Ghana (the very country the USA soccer team will face in a match on Monday), killing their chances of heading to the global matches. But the Egyptian team’s perseverance and determination was a victory not to be overlooked.

If the soccer mania puts you in a mood to watch more soccer, here are 5 good  family-friendly soccer films:


Bend it Like Beckham (PG-13, 2002)

This widely-acclaimed and entertaining film focuses on a teen girl’s desire to play pro soccer, much to her parents’ dismay, as they envision her life as a lawyer with a husband.

The Game of Their Lives (PG, 2005) Game of Their Lives

This inspiration movie details the true story of the 1950 USA soccer team, made up mostly of guys from St. Louis and Fall River., Mass., who came together not knowing much about the game. But they went on to defy the odds and beat England during the World Cup that year.


Goal: The Dream Begins (PG-13, 2006)

Follow Santiago Munez as he travels from Mexico to Los Angeles and later to England to pursue his soccer dreams.


Gracie (PG-13, 2007)

Inspired by another true story, Gracie Bowen vows to fill her brother’s spot on the soccer team after he dies in a tragic car accident.


United Soccer FilmUnited (PG-13, 2011)

Also taken from real-life, this film tells the story of Manchester United’s Busby Babes, the youngest squad ever to win soccer’s European Cup. Making the story even more poignant was the 1958 plane crash that killed eight of the team’s members.