PASS THE TORCH (old site -- visit new site at

Friday, June 30, 2006

Empowering Youth Sales -- All Time High

Today I thought I'd include you in our Empowering Youth sales celebration.

June orders reached a five-year high, Hidden Treasure of Assets Boardgame sales nearly doubled and we were on backorder twice.

Of course, this meant overtime for the workers.

They didn't mind.

Have a fantastic holiday weekend!!!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

One of the reasons I love Wisconsin

Gorgeous, aren't they?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

WorldWide Web Wednesday -- Keys for Empowerment

On Wednesdays, I'd like to share useful information I've found on the Internet. If you discover a great article or site that relates to youth empowerment or positive youth development, please let me know and I'll link to it.

Today's search revealed an article about the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention a recipient of Youth Violence Prevention funding.

The article suggests four excellent keys to youth empowerment. I've included them here:

"1. Involve youth at every level of an initiative, including assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
2. Give youth the tools and means to understand and assess their community so that they can set goals and agendas for prevention and thus become responsible for change in their community.
3. Keep youth involved after they've "graduated" from the program; today's youth leaders will become tomorrow's adult leaders.
4. Diversify your trainings by appealing to all learning types; most important, make planning activities visual and stimulating. "

Sound advice, I believe.

You can read the complete article at the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention website.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Meet Harry

I'd like to introduce you to Harry, my son's odd-looking, plastic friend.

Harry was an impulse purchase (most things Curt buys are like this) about three weeks ago. He'd whipped through the checkout line at the consignment shop before I even knew he planned to spend anything.

And Harry cost four dollars.

Now, I'm a saver, but I've tried to instill in my children values about money -- to include earning, saving, giving, investing, and well, spending. My kids each earn money as employees in my company, and just recently they've begun receiving an allowance as well. But sometimes, this is quite a lot of financial responsibility, as I only buy their essentials -- the rest is up to them.

Sometimes my kids make excellent money choices. And sometimes they don't. We even had to set limits about candy purchases, or I feared neither would have any teeth by the time they entered middle school.

I felt that Harry was a big purchase for a kid with only five dollars in his current stash. But Curt seemed pleased with it and passed most of the afternoon with his sister following the package directions on how to make the miraculous hair grow. He even gave me a stern "talking to" when I nearly dumped out the magic "brain solution" that was supposed to make it grow faster.

Now, three-weeks later, after constant care and observation, Harry is hairy.

Maybe Curt's not so bad with money after all.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Asset-building article archives:

Stretching the Role Model Muscles
Asset-Rich Youth
Empower Young Bloggers to Link us up!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Have you visited the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website? It's quite good. The website is well-designed and offers all sorts of nifty ideas for schools and organizations to sponsor acts of kindness.

They have a newsletter, a bulletin board, ecards, inspirational stories -- and they even let you build a website to talk about your act of kindness.

It's a worthwhile web-stop. Thumbs up!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cobwebs of the Mind

Technically-speaking, I'm a work in progress, but I've been fortunate to benefit from the generosity of my brother-in-law, Stuart, who's a genius with all-things html. He designed my Empowering Youth website.

But I've also learned more than I can possibly explain from my friends at Absolute Write. Most recently, I find myself needing to thank Ted Gross for his tutorials in web marketing and Google rankings. On his website, Cobwebs of the Mind, he wrote a very flattering review about my blog.

Please visit his site, read his reviews and his advice. And click through to his other projects. He wears many hats.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blue Streak, Mom and Me

Jennifer wrote about her car, named "Vegas", as a part of the AW Chain, and it made me chuckle because my mom names all her cars too. Let me see, growing up there were: Peppermint, Calais, Bearcat, Trusty...but the most memorable for me was Blue Streak, a 1973 Midas motor home that transported us to 47 states in a 10-year timespan. The photo has Blue Streak in the background at Bear Tooth Pass. I'm on the right.

In my late teens, Blue Streak pulled a horse trailer. I competed in shows throughout Wisconsin, and as far away as Ohio, Texas -- even Walla Walla, Washington. I’ll never forget the summer after I got my license. We crossed the Continental Divide with me in the driver’s seat. I wondered how many 16-year-olds had ever done that. She was a single mom, so my ability to drive was a great help on long journeys.

Now, over thirty years after my first trip with my mom, I’ve started traveling with my own daughter, while Dad and Curt go fishing in Canada. She picks the destination -- last year we traveled to the Chesapeake Bay, for one amazing week. She was only eight -- about the same age as I am in the photo -- so she clearly wasn't driving, but she was my map-reader. Our rented Mustang showed its prowess in the numerous U-turns we made for mistakes in navigation.

This summer we're planning another trip. She's chosen Mackinac Island, which doesn't allow cars at all. But she says she doesn't really care where we go.

“I just want us to go together,” she says.

I guess where you’re going doesn’t matter as much as who’s with you on the journey.

Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

For a funny story, check out this article from Australian writer, Susan Stephenson: "The Driving Lesson."

Peregrinas is the next link in the AW Chain. I encourage you to click through to all the posts and leave comments. We love them!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I often write about my children, because they are brilliant (ahem), and I find they provide excellent examples of youth empowerment. Lest you think I'd turned off the gag-o-meter, however, today I'll give you a glimpse of their naughty side.

Our family's transition to summer vacation has felt the bumps and bruises that most households do. Until we all find our space, our schedule and our general "groove", it seems we're just going to have to step on toes for a bit.

But the other night, their naughtiness was in tandem. Although our bedtime routine has dropped off the atlas, we do attempt to get them in bed just after dark. We thought we'd succeeded.

When my husband hadn't gone right in to kiss them goodnight, they came out to the living room to kiss HIM goodnight. Odd. Fishy, even. But we resumed our conversation and forgot about it...

...until about a half hour later, when I looked toward the bedrooms and saw a faint light coming from my daughter's room. What's going on? I crept down the hall to investigate, peeked around the corner, and...

There they were, snuggled up in Deena's bed, reading Inkheart in the near-dark. They both looked up, knew they were caught, and giggled like kookaburras.

Book light? $5
Cornelia Funke paperback? $6.95
Your kid sneak-reading your other kid a bedtime story? Priceless

Monday, June 12, 2006

Youth Soccer -- Leaders in Training

I was reading Jennifer Sando's blog today as a part of the Absolute Write blog chain. She's a writer based in Adelaide, Australia and was discussing the World Cup soccer fever.

I don't have a working television and I show minimal interest in sports. So the only other reason I even knew the World Cup was happening is because Google changed it's "o" into a soccer ball for a bit.

But I'm learning -- my seven-year-old son is a full-fledged soccer nut.

Just last weekend he played his final game and was thrilled to earn another trophy for his wall of fame. During this marathon day of games, it impressed me the way youth were given leadership roles in the organization. Most teams played two games sometime during the tournament, so the rest of the day, older players acted as referees and line judges for the younger teams. They were mature, took their jobs quite seriously, and even the 10-year-old refs had a better handle on the rules than I did.

Beyond the obvious service they provided throughout the tournament, these youth were role models for the younger players they led. And they reinforced to adults the valuable resource that young people can be.

Three cheers for youth soccer -- whose goals aren't just between the posts.

By the way, here's the AW Chain of bloggers for this round. You may want to check out each of their posts - it's fun!

The whole chain is here:
Musings of a Writing Wife Loving Twilight Forbidden Snowflake At Home, Writing Fireflies in the Cloud The Road Less Traveled Mad Scientist Matt's Lair Jennifer Sando Youth - Our Greatest Natural Resource Peregrinas Organized Chaos Flying Shoes Kappa no He Southern Expressions Everything Indian The Secret Government Eggo Project

Laurie, you're next!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nanny McPhee -- Priestess of Empowerment

If you're looking for an entertaining show with a series of excellent messages, rent Nanny McPhee. It stars Emma Thompson, and I was surprised to see that she even wrote the screenplay.

My kids watched it with us (ages 7 and 9) and loved it. The special effects are outstanding, but the story is especially well-done. And what impressed me the most, is that there were examples of youth empowerment throughout.

Nanny McPhee takes the seven naughty children under her wing and teaches them all sorts of things that their father just couldn't do. But during each lesson, she throws the responsibility back on the children. I consistently heard empowerment phrasing, like (these are paraphrased according to my memory):

"What will you do?" (When a child comes to Nanny with a problem.)

"This is something you must do." (When the children are faced with a problem, she sent them all off to solve it.)

"No, I couldn't interfere. But perhaps Simon (oldest boy) could talk to your father." (When they wanted Nanny McPhee to work her magic so the potential stepmother would go away.)

And when the children asked Nanny if she would allow them to do whatever they needed to in order to scare off the woman their father would marry, she said, "Only if you are willing to accept whatever consequences come your way."

This movie gets high marks from me. I'd give it four stars.

If you watched the movie, please comment.