Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sandy Relief Blurb

The clock ticks towards 2:18. In just 2 minutes the bell will ring, and students will be done for the day. On most days this is the time where the surreptitious bag packers begin sliding the fronts of their notebooks on top of their pages. This is normally the time when the seat jumpers begin stretching their legs, ready to fly out the door.

But today's different. 

A group of 16 eighth grade students are huddled around one laptop. I think it needs a comma. Wait! That doesn't make sense yet. They call out. Their teacher stands at the front of the room, trying to type as quickly as they are speaking. 

This was the scene in my 7th period class last Thursday, as one student's piece was about to be posted on the local blog. For the past month my students have been absorbed in their Sandy Relief project, Donate 108. They have been working with several local agencies--Habitat for Humanity, The Community Soup Kitchen, The Interfaith Food Pantry and the Salvation Army--to collect goods for local residents affected by Superstorm Sandy. 

While I tried to type as quickly as my fingers would allow, I couldn't help but marvel at the dedication of my students! 

If this sounds like a project you would like to create at your school, STAY TUNED! We are currently creating a short book to help students and teachers do these types of things! 

With just a little help and your heart in the right place, your classroom could be just as filled--if not more--with goods for any of your local residents in need!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Water We Thinking?!

This past summer, my little sister spent 3 weeks on a mission trip in Tanzania. Among other beautiful--albeit heartbreaking--stories that she told upon returning, she blurted out: "We don't even realize how lucky we are to have clean water."

My sister's water comment left me stunned. I brush my teeth in the morning, and there is clean water. I make my coffee, and there is clean water.  I take a shower, and there is clean--and hot--water.

I have never worried that this water would stop flowing out of my faucet.  Never fretted over if there would be enough water when I needed to do my laundry. And I've never had to walk farther than my kitchen sink to have water for cooking [meaning mixing water with a box of mac and cheese].

So I started exploring this concept of clean water, and I was dumbfounded. Isn't access to clean water the most basic human right??


Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water related illness. 2

Girls are often forced to collect water instead of going to school. In fact, women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water. 2

Poor sanitation often causes water supplies to become contaminated with diseases. 2

This contaminated water is responsible for 80 percent of diseases in the developing world. 1

Nearly 1 in 9 people lack access to an improved water source. 2

The leading cause of human sickness and death is water-related illness. 1

Get Involved:
Appreciate what you have and don't waste your resources. 
Try using a reusable water bottle for a week. 
Become an advocate. Use your voice to spread awareness!
Conserve your water usage (a 5 minute American shower uses more water than a day's worth of water usage for an average person in a developing country slum)1
Get an inside look. Follow a community as they attempt to access safe water. 
Make a donation.
Hold a fundraiser at your school or in your community. 

Great Resources:

What else can you do to help? Feel free to blog suggestions below! 

"Every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates a return of $9 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs in Africa.
-- United Nations Development Program" 1

1. The Facts About the Global Drinking Water Crisis. Blue Planet Network. Web. 18 September 2012. 
2.  Water Facts: Water. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. Web. 18 September 2012. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Active Handprint Book Review

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah 

It's haunting. It's disturbing. It's necessary. 

Juxtaposed against the backdrop of childhood innocence, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a harrowing tale of a twelve year old boy as he fights daily to survive in a tumultuous Sierra Leone. This haunting coming-of-age novel highlights the instinct to survive and the psychological tortures that come with it. 

Ishmael's heart-wrenching tale questions the very root of human nature yet explains the light within each of us. A light that even when extinguished by the heaviest downpour glows red, waiting to be reignited by a single spark of hope. 

A Long Way Gone drags readers though the decline into violence: explaining how boys as young as seven were molded into soldiers, justifying hauntingly gruesome scenes, and portraying murder, near-death experiences, heartbreak and rehabilitation. 

The writing is raw. The descriptions are as honest and objective as possible. The memories are painful. Yet the language retains a lyrically whimsical, tribal quality that floats readers through even the most sickening moments. 

If you have ever felt that you have done something that is unforgivable, this is the book for you. 

If you have ever thought that you are beyond help, this is the book for you.

If you believe in the redemptive nature of humanity, if you believe that innocence needs to be protected, if you believe that there is always hope,  this is the book for you. 

Click HERE for more information or to purchase. 

Review by Brittany Slusarczyk
©ActiveHandprint 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Homelessness in America

Home--for many of us the word conjures up a slideshow of images. Sometimes we may think of our caring parents, loving siblings and warm dinners. Sometimes we may think of arguing with our parents, annoying siblings or dinners that were disgusting. Whatever the memories, good or bad, the fact is that we have memories of home.

Unfortunately, tonight in America,  over 600,000 people will not have a home to sleep in.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness,

"By the numbers:

-There are 643,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
-Of that number, 238,110 are people in families, and
-404,957 are individuals.
-17 percent of the homeless population is considered 'chronically homeless,' and
-12 percent of the homeless population - 67,000 - are veterans." Read More

Get Involved:
Volunteer in a local shelter 
Organize a donation of supplies to a local shelter (canned food, paper goods, toiletries, books)
Volunteer at a local soup kitchen to serve the homeless
Advocate for the homeless by calling 202-46204822 or e-mailing
Make posters to place around your school/community to help peers who may be homeless
Donate your used clothes and shoes to a local shelter
Get more ideas

Read More:
Read a collection of stories about homeless teens overcoming their obstacles in
       The Struggle to Be Strong: True Stories by Teens About Overcoming Tough Times 
       Edited by Al Desetta M.A. (Editor), Sybil Wolin Ph.D. (Editor)
Read about a homeless teen in NYC in
       Street Life: My Story (E-book) by Wayne Kernochan
Read about the daily lives of homeless women in the D.C. area in
       Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow
For children, read about a child living out of his car in
       A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning

If you need help:
If you are under age 20, call 1-800-323-GROW
Click here to find a homeless shelter by you. 
Know that you are not alone and that there are many people willing and able to help!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Child Abuse

Childhood, [chahyld-hood]
n. a time to play, laugh, sing, dance, ask questions, explore, enjoy
n. a stage of life classified by innocence and purity

Unfortunately for an estimated 6 million children1 in America, childhood is not filled with blocks, dolls and smiles. Instead, these children are stripped of their innocence, beaten into learning the cruelest edges of humanity.

What constitutes child abuse? 
Child abuse is legally defied as an act, or failure to act, that results in the death, serious emotional or physical harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child or which places the child in an immediate risk of serious danger. 2

Every 10 seconds a report of child abuse is made. 1

Shockingly, nearly 5 children die from child abuse each day in America.1 

About 80% of those children who die from abuse are under the age of 4. 1

Roughly 50%-60% of the child fatalities that occur as a result of maltreatment are not recorded on death certificates. 1

Artist: J. Sanchez
Get Involved
-Local high school students suggest:
-TALK ABOUT IT--the more people who hear about it, the more people who can help fight it
-Post/Tweet projects about stopping child abuse
-Post/Tweet shocking statistics about child abuse
-Find a charity that supports ending child abuse
-Create a club or organization that supports ending child abuse
-Report any suspicious activity to DYFS, a teacher, a police officer, a counselor, an administrator or a school nurse
-Create posters to hang around school with stats, info and pics
-Wear a blue ribbon
-Create a petition and have students pledge that if they SEE something to TELL someone
-Create a bulletin board in your classroom
-Volunteer at a shelter or home for abused children
-Hold a fundraiser to raise money or gather supplies to send to a local shelter

Scene from They Cage the Animals at Night
Artist: A. Glowka
Read more:
-Check out They Cage the Animals at Night or A Child Called It to get a first hand perspective on the topic
-Read personal stories from those who have faced abuse
-Look up more statistics about the topic

If you are being abused:
-Know that you are not alone and that there are people who can help!
-Tell a friend, teacher, administrator, police officer, counselor, nurse
-Call 1(800)4-A-CHILD the National Child Abuse Hotline
Remember: You are important, and you deserve to be safe!

Posters by: M. Ross & G. Saidian

2. definition modified from  (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g).

Our Mission

Our Mission at Active Handprint is to inspire actions that help to meet the basic needs of all human beings--to be fed, to be clothed, to have shelter, to be respected and to be safe.