Wednesday, October 26, 2011

12 year old Elliot Mast: A Home Run for Children’s Hospitals

Contributing Writer: Brandi Milloy

Twelve year old Elliot Mast has been using his love of baseball to make a difference in the lives of sick children.

He got the idea to help his local Children’s Hospital after seeing a commercial about major league baseball player, Curtis Granderson, whose Grand Kids Foundation provides education and baseball opportunities to inner city youth.  As a means of fundraising for his Scoring For Schools initiative, Granderson asked his fans to pledge money for home runs, runs scored and extra base hits.

Elliot became inspired to do the same thing and decided to dedicate his baseball season to the kids at a local Children’s Hospital.  A member of the KooDooZ youth advisory board, Danielle Beauregard, interviews Elliot:

Elliot is no rookie player.  Last year he raised more than $5,000 dollars by playing ball!  Elliot plays pitcher, catcher and first basemen for two travel teams and logs on average 65 games a season.  This 12-year-old breaks records whether on the mound or on the plate-striking out more than 100 batters and hitting .500 last season.  That’s a lot of money batted in when he’s pledged to donate $2 for every base hit, $5 for every strikeout he pitches and $10 for every home run he hits.  If doing his best isn’t motivation enough, his best season thus far was last year when he dedicated it to the kids in the hospital.

All monies raised benefit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation’s Give to Children and Child Life Programs, which aids ill children and their families while staying at the hospital and makes sure the child’s stay is fun and, according to Elliot, “not too scary.”  In the doctor-free zone, Child Life provides games, toys, video games, books and hosts events so the “kids can be kids and not just patients.”

Having been a patient himself, Elliot knows how important it is to have programs like the Child Life Program. Elliot was born with a club foot, and after being told he would never walk, Elliot underwent serious foot surgeries and procedures at the Pittsburg Children’s Hospital to correct his deformity.  Now that Elliot is better, he wants to give back to the hospital that helped him get on his feet and especially to the kids who are patients there.

In addition to raising money through his baseball performance, Elliot recruited the Altoona Curve, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate to host a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital.  He sent letters to businesses seeking sponsorship and collected silent auction items and sold raffle tickets. That night he raised $800.  Elliot also encourages kids everywhere to donate crafts and become a pen pal to a patient at the hospital.

Elliot has received a lot of support from his community and even from major league relief pitcher Jason Grilli, who used his business website, Wild Pitch Marketing, to promote Elliot’s mission.  In addition to Elliot’s blog, he uses all forms of social media to promote his efforts.  He has a facebook profile, uses twitter and posts videos on youtube to network and share his mission to help kids in the hospital.   In the future he wants to design and sell t-shirts to help raise money.  He’s always thinking of ways to fundraise for the Child Life program.

In the United States, about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, imagine how much money could be raised if all of us “pitched in and got involved,” by taking Elliot’s challenge this baseball season!

Posted via email from KooDooZ

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ideate. innovate. inspire. implement. invest.

I am humbled and excited to join some of the most creative and innovative minds in the field of “doing good” as a speaker at the 2011 !deation Conference.  This year’s theme is “Love Human. Invest Good,” with conversations centered around how both the non-profit and for-profit sectors can work together for better human care.

A true “un-conference” in its’ design and layout, Charles Lee — CEO and Founder of Ideation Consultancy– is committed to cultivating the best conversations in social innovation.  Look at the line-up of speakers and you’ll see a long list of people who have made radical impact on the world.  But the gem here is that the speakers are purposed to spark conversation, while the participants are meant to carry the dialogue. 

Through this approach, the conference enables attendees to consider the implementation ideas of our peers against or own organizational problem-solving practices. 

ideate. innovate. inspire. implement. invest.

“Innovation is changing from top-down genius to bottom-up social evolution driven by young people’s need to connect.”
~ Graham Brown mobileYouth

My presentation, this year, will focus on the pressing need I see for more non-profits to invest in cradle-to-career humanitarian impact opportunities (not just education) for kids — starting in early childhood and extending all the way thru college. 

The complexity of humanitarian issues do not have to forfeit youth involvement.  Young people feel they should have a say in the future and the world we will be living in, and not only suffer the consequences of previous generations.

No more slactivism, no more ageism.  More non-profits have to learn what their corporate counterparts already know:  empower youth to impact your brand destiny, for they are powerful allies to have, with global reach.

Social media and mobile phones have accelerated the global reach of us all, but with smart phones and computers in the hands of kids as young as 7 years old, the awareness and compassion to what’s happening in this world has heightened at a much earlier age for the connected generation.

More to the point, if mobileYouth is correct in their predictions, then within 5 years there will be more mobile-owning youth living in rural villages than people in the entire United States. 

The conversation I would like to spark at !deation is:  Why public and private sectors should build better dialogue with the grassroots of youth who are not facing humanitarian strife.

Posted via email from KooDooZ

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teens Tackle Abuse and Dating Violence

Most kids use the money saved from their first job to buy a car — but not Jordan Coleman.  After playing the voice of Tyrone on Nick Jr.’s Backyardians, his mom challenged her 12 year old son to “do” something positive with his earnings. 

This challenge ignited Jordan as a film-maker and he wrote, directed and produced “Say It Loud!” a documentary that explores the importance of education for African-American boys.  His work was showcased in AMC Theatres in a seven city tour and featured appearances by Rev. Al Sharpton, Ludacris and Kobe Bryant. 

Jordan’s next film, “Payin the Price” addresses teen dating violence, a subject which deserves more attention — and perhaps now will with the Presidential Proclamation that February is National Teen Dating Awareness and Prevention Month

Jordan says he was inspired to tackle this difficult subject after the violent incident between R&B couple Chris Brown and Rihanna that landed Chris Brown in jail and Rihanna in the hospital.  Determined to tackle this subject as his next film, Jordan began writing his script, and involved his family — his mother and brother for production support, and his father, Senator Adams for political support.  In June 2010 Jordan and Senator Adams held a press conference introducing two NYS Senate bills that protect domestic violence victims. 

Defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dating violence is a pattern of violent behavior that someone uses against their partner to cause pain.

With close to 72% of 8th and 9th grade students dating these days, it’s important for this age-group to understand the challenge they are up against.

  • 1-in-4 teens reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual violence each year
  • 1-in-5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner
  • 1-in-11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating violence each year 

“According to national statistics, there are some parents who don’t believe teen dating violence is real, but it is.  And it’s happening more and more, and the violence is not just physical.  Now kids are using the internet and texting to bully and harass,” explained Jordan. 

Despite efforts to raise awareness of this issue, a vast majority of parents — an estimated 81% — believe that teen dating violence is either not an issue or admit to not knowing if it is an issue. 

  • Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify the signs 
  • Even when the issue of dating violence was obvious to the parents, 78%of teens experiencing this type of abuse report staying in the relationship despite their parents’ advice.

Nationwide, 10% of students report being physically abused by a boyfriend or a girlfriend, which translates to 1.5 million teens nationwide.

While the relationship between the people is often different, the behaviors of bullies and teen dating violence offenders are the same.  Their actions are intentionally and repeatedly hurtful and involves a power differential.  Do you know the early warning signs of teen violence?

Jordan Coleman is not the only teen we know tackling the challenge of teen abuse. 

  • 13 year old Kate Garret started a Club at School and is selling wristbands to bring awareness around bullying (especially LGBT)
  • 14 year old Lindsay Swatland is part of a student-led activism group bringing awareness to teen dating violence yearlong.
  • 15 year old Patrick Kohlmann is a high school student who started an anti-bullying awareness campaign called “Through My Eyes.”  He ignited as a cause crusader after a bully in his school threatened his life, and pushed him down a flight of stairs. 
  • 16 year old Nadine Sanchez, Miss New Mexico’s new outstanding teen has made “Love Is Respect” her platform, serving to further raise awareness of teen dating violence.
  • 17 year old Artesse Conley, an ambassador of ”Start Strong,” has used skits to explore how easily signs of affection among their peers can turn into control games, harassment and violence.
  • 17 year old Miranda Blomquist, is one of five members of a new student organization, “Stopping Abuse Forever” or SAFE, that gives members the chance to help peers impacted by the problem.

Now through 12/15/2011, KooDooZ is asking youth 18 years and younger to join Jordan in raising awareness for these types of abuse by putting their voice on camera and takling the challenge of teen violence through the creation of a PSA.  Challenge participants have the opportunity to earn money and hours will be credited towards the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

NOTE FROM LEE FOX:  Adults interested in investing a deeper understanding of this subject are encouraged to read “Tornado Warning” by Elin Stebbins Waldal, whose book portrays the effect that living through an abusive relationship can have.


Posted via email from KooDooZ

Friday, September 9, 2011


Oh, the dichotomy of Generation Z (today’s teen, tween and kid)! Described as both selfish and altruistic, GenZs live in a world they believe is doomed, but they are also ecstatic about the possibility of their own impact. Burdened by the enormity of climate change, many are emerging as eco-warriors.

With nearly one-in-five mammal, reptile, bird or amphibian species facing extinction, it’s perhaps not surprising that the relationship today’s youth have with animals is altering from anthropocentrism – the tendency for humans to regard themselves as the central and most significant beings in the universe – to stewardship.

But to sociologists, who have proven that the loss of contact with nature … is nature’s loss, the biggest pardox is whether “natural world” experiences will remain the primary driver of biocentrism – the belief that nature does not exist to be consumed by mankind – or whether “virtual & online world” experiences will also prove their merit in cultivating GenZ’s compassion for animals and concern for the world?

Meet 9 year old Carter Ries and his 8 year old sister, Olivia. This brother and sister team are the founders of OMG, a non-profit dedicated to helping all endangered species survive at least One More Generation… and beyond.

Inspired to make a difference after learning that animals are dying because “we keep taking their land and polluting their environment,” explains Carter,the duo turned to the internet to learn what they could do to help. With each new devastating fact, the kids kept saying “Oh My Gosh, oh my gosh…” or OMG.

KooDooZ youth advisory board member, Danielle Beauregard, interviewed Carter and Olivia to learn how they are saving the lives of species half way around the world. Listen to the podcast:


 A Harvard Education Letter, entitled “The Greening of Environmental Education” stated the number-one rule for teaching young elementary school students about the environment is to veer away from the darker side of the equation.(NOTE: This is in contradiction to Carter and Olivia’s world view)

When every other facet in a child’s life paints such a bleak picture about global warming, deforestation, endangered species and access to clean water, how much should schools really “soften the blow”?


If marketers are going to float polar bears on a shrinking iceberg to advertise their product, educators should not have any trepidation about having the same green conversations in their classrooms, with school-aged kids.

In particular, environmental educators should focus on the period from 2nd to 5th grades.  For it is this age group that is most significantly characterized by a major increase in emotional concern and affection for animals. Any time later, and we’re hitting them too late. Research suggests attitudes toward wildlife have been firmly established by the 8th grade.


Pyschologists believe that giving children scary environmental facts will serve to (i) make problems seem unsolvable; (ii) label individual action as unimportant; and (iii) convey an overall sense of hopelessness and helplessness to children.

How true is this in light of GenZ’s proven tenacity as eco-warriors? Consider the impact these young social entrepreneurs have had:

  1. Ben Workinger, at the age of 8 started a way station for Monarch Butterflies at his school
  2. Colin Carlson, at the age of 11 created a multi-pronged project (with a website) to educate people in his community about global warming
  3. Nathan Moos, at the age of 11 recruited eighteen other 6th graders to help him get parents to adopt car idling restrictions as a way to prevent air pollution
  4. Alec Loorz, at the age of 12, organized Kids-vs-Global-Warming action teams who pledged to green their schools and get involved in local environmental projects
  5. Alexander Lin, at the of 12 learned that consumer electronics and heavy metals that end up in the landfill will irreversibly poison groundwater and promoted legislation to ban the dumping of e-waste.


Not unlike the eco-warriors before them, Carter and Olivia have had measurable impact. Since building OMG from the ground up in their hometown in Fayetteville, Georgia, Carter and Olivia have involved their friends, family, and members of their community in their cause.

During the Gulf oil spill crisis, the siblings collected supplies to assist in the rehabilitation of animals affected by the spill. After 4 months of planning and collection, the OMG founders took a 1,248 (round) trip journey to the Gulf, on Olivia’s birthday. “When we saw the first report on CNN showing the oiled sea turtles and birds, it hurt our hearts and we knew we had to help,” Carter explained. “Once we arrived and saw all the sick sea turtles and how the veterinarians and volunteers were working so hard, it was obvious that we didn’t just collect soap and rags and other stuff… we were actually saving sea turtles,” Olivia added.

Olivia and Carter have shown in more ways than one that they are a force to be reckoned with, for example, they have:

  1. Met with the Deputy District Director for Congressman Lynn Westmoreland to urge the consideration of co-sponsoring H.R.-14, the Ocean Acidification Act.
  2. Raised money to help support the Ann van Dyk Cheeta Rescue in South Africa, which has spent the last 40-years tirelessly working towards helping keep CheetahAfrican Wild DogBrown HyenaServalSuni Antelope andRiverine Rabbits from becoming extinct
  3. Written to their local Governor’s office to help:
    • stop Rattlesnake Roundups stopped and legislation amended to allow venomous snakes to be protected under local law
    • help the Gopher Tortoises that are being senselessly killed via the snake-hunter gassings during the Roundups
  4. Spoken with the local Southeastern Reptile Rescue organization about joining forces to help spread the word about how vital snakes and other misunderstood reptiles are to the eco system
  5. Coordinated the first annual OMG Day at their school which offered:
    • educational material from a local nature center to heighten awareness around the pressing issue of endangered species
    • hands-on opportunities to interact with animals threatened with extinction and learn why they are so important to the eco-system


For generation Z, interacting online is “second nature” and is as important as interacting in the “real world.” The fact is, the world wide web gives people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to become more “worldly” and savvy to the plight of all living things. Animals that we can’t even find at our local zoo can be discovered online, and when coupled with interactive multimedia components, these far-away creatures can come to life.

Personally, I believe learning about “abstract concepts,” such as the loss of rainforests and endangered species, should happen in conjunction with a child’s use of media and digital assets.

Generation Z demands transparency and meaningful engagement. If our environmental education sugar-coats the world’s biggest and most public concerns, we will further put our schools in risk of staying relevant.

If we are to “save the world,” we should embrace the mission of teaching kids how to be active citizens and stewards of the environment, by giving them as many hands-on and peer-to-peer learning opportunities as possible, both online and real-world.


Posted via email from KooDooZ