Category Archives: children

White House not happy with school lunch ads starring Obama girls

There were 14 ad banners at Washington D.C.’s Union Station on August 4 that the White House wanted to disappear. A young girl is featured asking, “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”
The White House may want the ads gone but they are within the right of free speech. While the administration has said that using the daughters of President Obama infringes on their private life, the ads only ask a legitimate question. ABC Blogs reports:

“We’ve been very clear I think from even before the administration started that their two girls would have a very private life, and we want to protect that private life and their privacy,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning when asked about the PCRM posters. “And we hope that others will be respectful, as many in the media have been, about not using the girls as a publicity stunt.”

No one though is speaking on behalf of the eight-year-old Jasmine Messiah of Miami-Dade who is featured in the ad asking a very real question of the government. Why do some children reap the benefits that all children deserve? The ads are from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) who are lobbying for healthy lunch programs within the nation’s school systems. CBS Blogs reports:

“The contrast is not with the daughters,” Dr. Neal Barnard says of the controversial poster, pointing out that Sasha and Malia’s names and pictures are not in the ad. “The contrast is with the school the president’s daughters are able to patronize. Sidwell Friends is able to offer health nutritious meal options.” Veggie burgers are offered alongside hamburgers, vegetarian chili is served next to meat chili with higher cholesterol, he says. “Go a mile away to any school in the district” and what options are there to a bologna-and-cheese sandwich? he asks. “What’s left? Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Little Jasmine brings her own lunch to school by the way in order to have fruits and vegetables. MSNBC quotes the young girl:

“Sometimes I bring in broccoli and carrots and my friends are like, ‘Ewww, this is disgusting,’ ” she told The Miami Herald. “But I think if they tried it more, they’d like it.”

Jasmine is wise. The United States is dealing with a nation of children that have unhealthy diets. At this point one in three will deal at some point in their lives with diabetes. Changing the diets of children in the school could lead to a healthier nation. The campaign by PCRM points out the fact that the average school is pushed to serve high-fat, high-cholesterol foods. This is in spite of the knowledge that a low fat, vegetarian diet helps prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The federal child nutrition legislation does not have provisions in place to support vegetarian meals in schools. News 8 reports that the ads will remain in place at Union Station until August 31.

Zinc pill can stop childhood diarrhea deaths

One pill can save a child in Africa suffering from diarrhea. The hand of death takes 1.6 million children under the age of 5 world-wide from the ravages of the bowel condition according to the World Health Organization.
In Africa and Asia millions die each year from the affects of diarrhea. That seems a high figure to those in those in the West. More children die from the disease than from malaria or AIDS. That could end if children are given a single Zinc pill. It appears the medication stops diarrhea in its tracks. That appears to be the findings in many studies, including one done in New Delhi, India. With charity support some villages are seeing a turn around because of the pills. Bill and Melinda Gate’s charity work along with the Idol Gives Back program are just two that are helping supply village medical clinics with zinc pills. Time reports:

“Before, we were terrified when children’s stomachs began running, because we knew some of them would die,” says Sata Djialla in the Malian village of Morola. “Now our children are not dying of diarrhea.”

The reason the pill works is because many in undeveloped nations have zinc deficiencies. Zinc deficiency lowers the immune system making children and adults more susceptible to infections that cause diarrhea. Zinc has also been shown to increase the activation of T cells that destroy viruses and bacteria. With this new awareness it is possible that childhood deaths may decrease in the near future.

Ontario Living Pink Balloon Event is Slated for September 5

On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon Event will take place at Alderville First Nation Ball Diamond. The goal is 500 people wearing pink t-shirts forming a giant pink balloon in order to give Sick Kid’s Foundation $10,000 for brain research.
The Living Pink Balloon comes from two families dealing with the effects of brain disorders and their want to give back to Sick Children’s Hospital. Last September Hollie Gray, 10, was found unresponsive at her home. Her parents called for help and paramedics quickly took the little girl to the hospital. On route to Northumberland Hills Hospital Hollie’s heart stopped. Hollie was revived. At the hospital a mass was found on her brain. That discovery lead to a quick transfer to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto where her parents were told that their little girl was brain dead. The parents were approached by Trillium Gift of Life to discuss organ donation. Hollie’s parents decided that her spirit had to live on in others. Tanya Gray told Digital Journal that the day before her daughter Hollie died from a brain aneurysm she was joking and laughing while watching television with her family. “She had a mild headache the day before. I thought maybe she had the flu. Hollie was such a go-getter kid. She went to bed and just never woke up.” Brenna was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma or pituitary tumor in 2008. She had early symptoms that were unexplained until she had a CT scan after a third seizure. The little girl was taken to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. There she received treatment and is living a near normal life today. The families are asking people to purchase a pink t-shirt by August 20 from The Scissors Edge (1-905-352-2211) and Our House Snack ‘n’ Go in Alderville and at Herbal Magic in Cobourg, Ontario that will be on hand at Sick Kids on September 5 at the hospital. The goal is that 500 people in the t-shirts will help to form a human pink balloon to show recognition for the staff at the hospital. All proceeds will go to brain and behaviour research. Daryl Crowe says, “We understand that there are many causes and people are stretched thin but Sick Kids has touched everyone in some way. So please come out and help us give back.” On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon is hoping to gather 500 people in one place as a symbol of solidarity of support for Sick Kids Foundation wearing pink t-shirts. One giant pink balloon. The September 5 event will feature prizes, BBQ and Pony Rides. The cost is $25.00 a person which includes a Living Pink Balloon T-shirt. The shirts will be available for pick-up at the event. Please reserve your spot by August 20. Tanya Gray is encouraging companies to have teams register along with individuals. All proceeds from the event will go to Sick Kids Foundation.

Beads of Courage Help Cancer Kids Take the Next Step

Beads of Courage is an organization that helps children with cancer go the next step. Each bead has a special meaning, from trips to the cancer clinic to radiation treatments.
Beads of Courage is a special program for children facing a hard struggle-cancer. The is out of Tucson, Arizona and implemented in supportive care programs in various children’s hospitals in the United States. When a child is enrolled in the program they are given a membership card and a bead guide. They also receive a length of string and beads that spell their name. As they journey on through their treatments they receive a bead by their health care provider to add onto their string. Kids work for the Purple Heart bead. It means the end is here and they have finished their treatments. Their strings tell the story of their cancer treatment journey. Merry August is one of those children on that journey. She had 256 beads as of July 22, 2009. The fourteen-year-old has been ill since March 5 with acute lymphoblastic/lymphocystic leukemia. As she completes treatments at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia she gets a new bead. There are various ways to become involved in the program. Donations can be made directly on the Beads of Courage website. You can also buy beads on eBay, all proceeds go to the program.

Philly swim club may see a racial discrimination lawsuit soon

Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley is accused of refusing to allow black children from a day camp to swim. The children allegedly heard members of the club make racial comments about them while they were at the pool.
The parents and staff from Creative Steps Inc. are considering legal action directed at the Valley Club.

There are 65 campers that are part of the Creative Steps day camp. The children are African American and Hispanic.

On June 29 the campers arrived at the private swim club around 3:30 p.m. on a first visit. The camp had made arrangements for the children to swim at the club on Mondays through August 10.

Three campers came up to Alethea Wright, the executive director, on that first visit saying that they had heard members of the swim club asking what African Americans were doing at their club.

NBC Philadelphia reports:

“When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool,” Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.”

The children were upset but they remained at the pool for the time that had been scheduled. Wright approached the club president John Duesler about the event and he seemed to be sorry for the incident.

On Friday July 3 the camp received a refund for the $1,950 they had paid in membership fees to the swim club. The children no longer were allowed access on Mondays.

There was no reason given for the refund.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a statement given from Duesler:

“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion . . . and the atmosphere of the club.”

The pool that the camp had previously used, New Frankford Community Y closed last month because of a lack of funds.

The camp is a 20-minute drive away from the swim club.

Campers also use the indoor door at the Jewish Community Center in Philadelphia twice a week but had wanted the children to also have time at an outdoor pool.


Tara McDonald wants daugther’s killers to die

Tara McDonald, mother of the 8-year-old Tori Stafford who went missing, is speaking out about the arrests of two people in connection to her daughter’s abduction and murder. She says the police were too focused on her and not enough on the real culprits.
In an interview with The London Free Press newspaper, McDonald said, “My daughter’s not coming home. I want the killers dead. I know there are sick and twisted people in the world but I had no idea. I don’t want to sound selfish and I wish this on no one, but I sometimes think, why did it have to be my daughter?

“To think someone took my daughter and then … I can’t even think about it,” she said.

McDonald is angry about the treatment she says she and her son, 11, received from the police. At one point in the investigation, she said she was informed she was the prime suspect. She states that Daryn, her son, was interviewed without a parent or family member present.

McDonald’s ‘cool’ behaviour during the ordeal leading up to the arrests this week had critics pointing fingers at her. Local media and police questioned if the mother was the one behind Tori’s disappearance.

She faced the news cameras dry eyed, begging for her daughter’s return. The public wanted to see her tears. She fought them off until behind closed doors.

As she hoped for the safe return of her daughter, McDonald had to battle the public about everything from looking like the police composite to being in a biker gang. Both of those were false.

She also recently admitted she’s using methadone to fight her addiction to Oxycontin.

The Edmonton Sun reports:

“People have asked many times, ‘Why aren’t you crying, why aren’t you showing emotion?’ ” she said to counter the oft-mentioned criticism. “I don’t do it out here. I do it in there with my friends and family, with people who can console me.”

McDonald said she knew the mother of Terry-Lynne McClintic, 18, because of dog breeding. She had visited Carol McClintic at her home three times to discuss the subject. McDonald said she was high on drugs the one time that Terry-Lynne was in the apartment.

After two people were arrested in connection with young Tori’s disappearance, questions are now emerging about two previous attempted abductions in the Fergus, ON area. The two people arrested in connection with Tori’s disappearance were found in this area.

School children in Fergus were sent home with a note warning parents about a dark-coloured van after the two attempts.


Girl,5, shot in latest Toronto gun violence

Yesterday a little five-year-old girl in Toronto became the latest victim of gun violence. A gunman sprayed bullets on Bellevue Crescent with at least one traveling through the girl’s door and into her back exiting out of her chest.
The little girl was playing inside her family’s townhouse near near Lawrence and Weston Rd. when one man fired at a group of people sitting on an apartment patio early Thursday evening.

The child was rushed to Humber Regional Hospital by her parents. She was then transported by ambulance to Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital. Doctors have removed the bullet that struck her lung. She is now listed in stable condition at the children’s hospital.

Her pregnant mother, Sharlene Reynolds was escorted to Sick Kids Hospital by the police after 9:45 p.m. last night.

The police are looking for witnesses to the attack. They believe that two others were wounded in the attack and ask for those victims to come forward.

One person has been taken into custody as a person of interest. Police are looking for the gunman. Two firearms were used in the attack.

CBC reports:

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned until we find who has done this,” said Staff Sgt. Karen Smythe. “This is horrific.”

Constable Wendy Drummond of the Toronto Police told Digital Journal that the person of interest was released last night. At this time there have been no arrests or additional victims.

The area is becoming known for violence. Saron Ghebressellassie, 22, is quoted about the neighbourhood by the National Post:

“For every woman who has to walk home at night, it’s disgusting, an utter catastrophe. I fear for my life.

“It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to hear that it was a child. It’s become a social norm to come home and have, like, 10 police cruisers outside. I’m shaking right now. There’s a crisis in the neighbourhood. That could have been my brother and my sister. It’s devastating.”

In recent months there have been nine murders and many incidents where gunfire was involved. Neighbours blame gang wars for the gun violence, pleading for the police to end the blood being spilled.

Suzanne Gold, spokesperson from Sick Kids told Digital Journal that at this time they are unable to release any information about the little girl’s status.