Finding Comfort in Positive Actions

As I write this just a few days after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., I am heartsick for the families whose lives are changed forever. I am struggling to understand why — and how — such a terrible thing could happen. It’s shocking, beyond belief.

We send our children to school and expect them to return safely, just as we do when they go to the movies, go shopping, worship, or visit friends and family at home. And yet, that’s not always the case. Unpredictable, unimaginable events can happen. It’s hard to grapple with that reality.

Experts advise parents to reassure their children after tragic events. Tell them they are safe. Adults are looking out for them, and the probability of bad things happening is small. Parents can emphasize that older children and teens can help keep their community safe. Empower them to report possible threats of violence or dangerous behavior. Help them connect with other adults who care about them and their community. Help them have hope and see the good in the world.

As adults, we want to do all we can to ensure what we say is true, to minimize the probability of bad things happening. We can model proactive behavior to effect change and help others, which may help us feel a little more in control.

This month’s MLK Day of Service, Jan. 21, offers a timely opportunity to work together to tackle pressing problems that affect our children and communities. Find celebrations that honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of service in this

issue (page 41). For ideas on ways to volunteer with your children, check our article at carolinaparent.com under Community and Get Involved.

While not immediate threats, obesity and inactivity are ticking time bombs that can negatively impact our children’s lives. North Carolina’s childhood obesity statistics are sobering. Approximately 30 percent of children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese in North Carolina, according to 2011 reports from the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics. And younger children are in the same shape, according to the N.C. Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System, with 32 percent of low-income kids ages 2-4 overweight or obese.

We can do something to fight this very real risk in our own homes by making small changes to live healthier lifestyles. We can help our children learn to eat right and exercise. And we can stack the odds in our favor in hope that we will be around longer to enjoy our children, and our children’s children.

To help Triangle families tackle this, Carolina Parent is kicking off a Healthy Families Challenge this month. We’ll share tips, ideas and real-life solutions to the everyday challenge of balancing healthy living with busy family schedules. And, you could win $1,000 or other valuable prizes by registering, logging healthy activities and earning points!

Turn to page 30 to find out more.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for our communities. Let’s do everything we can to minimize the dangers to our children by working together to find solutions and taking individual action.

Crickett Gibbons, Editor, Carolina Parent

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