Monthly Archives: July 2014

Should Kids Understand the Value of Mindfulness?

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Planting the seeds of mindfulness…

Teaching Mindfulness and Meditation to Children…  Quote from the article,

Planting the Seeds of Mindfulness

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Earlier this morning, my daughter has asked me if I had meditated after I woke up, and it just so happens that I had, so I knew meditation was on her mind. As she sat at the dining room table, sobbing into her cereal, I told her that one reason I meditate is so I can practice choosing my thoughts, so I can get better at keeping the ones I want and getting ride of the ones I don’t.

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As vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, I have the privilege and opportunity to work closely with our staff and the children as part of my role as a board member for this amazing after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Our program is growing with many new kids registering for the start of the new school year and a very popular summer camp well underway.  Our kids become very excited and busy with recreation and academic programs centered in a core learning curriculum known as “STEAM,”  A Framework for Teaching Across the Disciplines.   We are also an after-school site for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers project in collaboration with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD).

Our teachers and volunteers take a few minutes before each class to help students relax and refocus…a mindfulness exercise.  The exercise is as simple as staying quiet for 3 minutes with some deep breathing and positive thoughts.  Often children are distracted because of the challenges of socializing and sometimes from sad thoughts.  I could easily see that taking a little time for meditation with the kids helps them get ready for a new learning experience.  The short break between programs also helps us adults do a better job of mentoring and teaching kids as well. 

I have written often in this blog about the topic of “mindfulness”  (click highlighted text for video clip) in the context of life after trauma for adults.  But the practice and benefits of meditation or mindfulness therapy definitely apply broadly as a way to relax for people of all ages.  Children in particular get stressed out the same as adults.  We all need a mindful timeout a few times a day to stay calm and focused on the joy of living, learning, and growing.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

Former Oregon Duck and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts urges “safety in sports” at the 5th annual Neighbors for Kids Charity Golf Tournament Saturday, July 19, at Chinook Winds Golf Resort…

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From the left, Logan, Steve, Janie, and Gray at Chinook Winds Golf Resort, Lincoln City, Oregon on July 19, 2014… Neighbors for Kids (NFK) 5th Annual Charity Golf Tournament… Click photo for larger view…

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Steve, with Logan, Gray, and Janie, sinking a redeeming putt on the 16th hole! Click photo for larger view…

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Dan Fouts during the 5th annual Neighbors For Kids Charity Golf Tournament Saturday, July 19, at Chinook Winds Golf Resort… Photo / Joe Janvoksky

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Judy Sparks, Dan Fouts, and Lyn Morgan at Chinook Winds Golf Resort…Neighbors for Kids 5th Annual Charity Golf Tournament…

 

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Soul Searching…Beautiful Piano Solo… click highlighted text to listen and relax…

I have been away from my office and the joy of writing this blog for awhile…  My day job and passion in retirement is vice chair of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  We held our 5th annual charity golf tournament at Chinook Winds Golf Resort in Lincoln City, Oregon, on Saturday, July 19, 2014…The charity event was a fabulous success with over 100 players, including 12 top high school sponsored golfers.  Dan Fouts, NFL Hall of Fame, 1993, San Diego Chargers played in the event again this year and urged safety in sports during an interview  with the Lincoln City NewsGuard…  (click highlighted text for more)

I was very proud and honored to have played in NFK’s 5th Annual Charity Golf event yesterday.  The kids in the photo above in my foursome include, from the left, Logan, (Steve), Janie, and Gray.  Logan is age 12, from Taft, and plays like a future Tiger Woods!  Both Janie and Gray, HS seniors from Newport, are very good on the course.  All three are exemplary kids and young adults…  I was able to redeem myself from time to time with some great shots, especially on the 16th hole pictured above.  It was one of the best times in my life on the golf course…  The experience touched my heart deeply…

This year’s tournament was also a defining moment for Neighbors for Kids.  The photos above make a powerful statement of who we are as we go forward making a huge difference for kids and the community we serve. We are so very grateful for the overwhelming community support for this event!  There is so much to be thankful for as we celebrate and appreciate the heartwarming work we do for children and families in Lincoln County, Oregon.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

Museum of the American Military Family, Albuquerque, New Mexico…Steve & Judy Sparks interview podcast during the “Sacrifice and Service” exhibit on May 31, 2014…

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Museum of the American Military Family, “Sacrifice and Service” Exhibit… Click image for larger view…

“Together We Served”…Steve & Judy Sparks interview with Circe Woessner, Executive Director, Museum of the American Military Family, Albuquerque, New Mexico…click highlighted text for podcast…

Images of Museum of the American Military Family…click highlighted text…

Included in the above “images” link is an image of a post card from my father, Vernon, sent home to St. Paul in 1936 when serving on his first ship, the USS Tennessee… click the highlighted text…  Dad was age 17 when he joined the US Navy in 1936.  He retired in 1958 following 22 years of service, including WWII and Korean War…

 

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Dad’s post card sent home in 1936. Click image for larger view…

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Front of post card photo of USS Tennessee 1936… Click image for larger view…

Museum of the American Military Family Quote from this website…click highlighted text…

“The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center brings together people with shared experiences showcasing and honoring those who also served—American’s Military Families. The Museum is gathering artifacts and recollections from American military families who served through war and peace in past decades and those who serve today in anticipation of the creation of a permanent facility in Albuquerque that will celebrate their lives and sacrifices for generations to come. For more information, please visit www.museumoftheamericanmilitaryfamily.org. For more information on the exhibition, visit www.nuclearmuseum.org…”

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Judy and I were very honored to participate recently during the opening ceremony of the Museum of the American Military Family, “Sacrifice and Service” exhibit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The interview podcast was recorded just before the start of my book reading for Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Judy and I were asked to talk briefly about intergenerational PTSD, often a lifetime challenge for the children and families of warriors.  The interview was a conversation about my experience as a military child of a father who served in hard combat, and my family’s journey of healing in life after trauma.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story

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Book cover photos include my father, Vernon, and mother, Marcella c1940…and the USS West Virginia bombed in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941… Dad was aboard ship on that Sunday morning long ago…and survived. Click image for larger view…

Eagle Scouts…”Freedom is not Free…” Learning the Value of Leadership Early in Life…

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Bryan Ritchey… recently finished his freshman year at Barat Academy, where he played on the Boys’ Varsity Soccer and Junior Varsity Golf teams, as well as participated in the Spring Musical. Bryan crossed over into Boy Scouts in 2010. He has held several leadership positions throughout his scouting career.

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Bryan Ritchey, Veterans Memorial “Honoring Heroes” Project…Dardenne Prairie, Missouri.  Click photo for larger view.

 

Freedom is not free…  Quote from this website article by Bryan Ritchey, Eagle Scout, Boy Scott Troop #984…

“Eagle Scout represents the culmination of the Boy Scouts’ finest achievements. The focus is on service and leadership, with the most important and well-known requirement being to “plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school or your community.” To put it simply, the Eagle Scout rank provides the opportunity to give back to others.”

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I don’t know Bryan Ritchey, but feel very proud of him and other young men and women who learn early about the sacrifice of protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.  I am also a big fan of programs that teach kids leadership and community service early in life.  Giving back and making a difference for others is a heartfelt payment for all the blessings and gifts we receive over a lifetime.  Besides, there is no other work I can think of that is more rewarding than community service…

Bryan Ritchey sets an example of learning about leadership early in life through working with the Boy Scouts of America.  If there is one thing kids need to learn and grasp as early as possible, it is to “step up and lead.”  America will always be short changed when it comes to leadership development and skills.  Future leaders in both private and public enterprise are very critical to solving the problems and challenges of our time.  In my experience, young people and even adults shy away from taking on leadership roles for fear of failure or inability to achieve what often appears to be a monumental task.

Leadership is learned and skills are acquired when taking the first big step of accepting a leadership responsibility.   The risk is certainly a factor for anyone willing to step up and lead.  But the rewards are far greater when we achieve big goals that require a strong team and a great leader.  Bryan Ritchey has proven as a young adult in his own community that he can make a difference as a leader.  You can do it too…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Neighbors for Kids (NFK) 5th Annual Charity Golf Tourney at Chinook Winds Golf Resort on July 19th…Bid to play in Dan Fouts foursome…

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Judy Sparks with Dan Fouts at Chinook Winds Golf Resort for “meet & greet” evening before NFK Golf “Fore” Kids Charity Tournament in 2011. Click photo for larger view…

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Click here to register as a player or sponsor…

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Dan Fouts, HOF ’93 San Diego Charges & CBS Sports

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Signed NFL Football Auctioned at NFK Golf Tourney in 2013.

Neighbors for Kids 5th Annual Charity Golf Tournament!  Click here to participate as a sponsor or player… Neighbors For Kids                                                           Contact:  Executive Director Toby Winn Depoe Bay, OR                                                                                                            541-765-8990 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      director@neighborsforkids.org July 7, 2014 Neighbors For Kids 5th Annual Charity Golf Tournament That time of year is here again! Sign up for Neighbors For Kids’ 5th Annual Charity Golf Tournament on Saturday, July 19, at Chinook Winds Golf Resort. Registration will begin at 8:00am, with a shotgun start at 9:00, for an 18-hole scramble.  Entry fees are $100 per player/$400 per foursome, which includes green fees, golf cart, continental breakfast, catered lunch, golf goody bag and an opportunity to win prizes and awards. Golf fans and NFK supporters came out in record numbers to last year’s event, and we look forward to a fun day of golf, friends, prizes, and more! Neighbors For Kids is excited to announce that NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Fouts will be playing in the tournament this year.  Chinook Winds Resort will host a “Meet and Greet” reception with Dan on Friday evening, July 18, from 5:00 to 7:00.  Guests will have an opportunity to visit with Dan and place a bid to play on Fouts’s team. A putting contest will be held from 6:00 to 7:00pm. Men’s and women’s teams will be competing for KP, long drive and gross scores, and student teams, sponsored by Chinook Winds, will also be playing.  Offered again this year is the Hole-in-One prize of a custom-built Shelby Cobra Replica, sponsored by Duane Silbernagel of Waddell and Reed.  Other sponsors include: North Lincoln Sanitary, the River House Inn, Chinook Winds Casino Resort, WorldMark by Wyndham, and CoastCom. All participants will have the chance to bid on silent auction items at this fundraising event. Non-golfers are invited to join in for lunch at 1:30 pm at $22 per person. Beth Unverzagt, executive director of OregonASK, Oregon’s statewide network for out-of-school-time services, will be our luncheon Keynote Speaker this year. Organized by the Neighbors For Kids Board of Directors, the golf tournament is our largest fundraiser of the year, part of the annual campaign to raise funds to promote and support the educational and enrichment programs at Kids Zone, NFK’s signature after-school and summer programs in math and reading, visual arts, music, computer technology and science education; to provide state-of-the-art equipment and facilities; and to foster positive youth development through mentoring. Neighbors For Kids was established in 1999 by a group of concerned Depoe Bay citizens to provide youth with a safe and productive place to go after school.  For more information and to register individually or as a team, visit www.neighborsforkids.org  and follow us on Facebook.

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Dan Fouts signed football as shown above sits in my office.  I enjoy being reminded of the many years Dan played for the San Diego Chargers and his record breaking passing game…”becoming the first player in history to throw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.”  I rarely missed a Chargers game, especially when they played my home team, Seattle Seahawks…always an exciting shoot-out to the end… The best part is Dan Fouts  (click highlighted link) loves kids and our community on Oregon’s beautiful Central Coast.  He is a long time supporter of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay and our annual charity golf tournament.  We are most grateful for Dan’s support and participation at this year’s charity event at Chinook Winds Golf Resort.  Dan will also be with us on Friday evening July 18th for a “meet and greet” at Chinook Winds Aces Sports Bar & Grill…5-7pm, including putting contest and prizes. See you all there for this great cause and charity event to help support NFK’s “Kids Zone” after-school program and the children and families of our community… Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… Click the highlighted text for my author page… Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids

Something Different to Calm Your Soul… Download “free” ebook…

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Ananga Sivyer… “We are meant for so much more than to merely exist, to worry over bills, to feel stressed and exhausted. We have the rare gift of a human life, the chance to explore our core potential, to learn, to live with purpose, and to cultivate our spiritual nature.”

“Beautiful Calm…” Click here for more. Quote from this website…by Ananga Sivyer

“That all changed in 2003 when a sudden illness put me to bed and I was “forced” to reflect and put  what I had learned into practice. As the months and years rolled by with me largely confined to my own home I learned how to reframe the experience and, for the most part, I didn’t feel confined at all. I learned to journey far and wide in my own mind; to walk, run and swim, to travel and explore. And beyond that, I learned to find my calm centre, to work with my breath, to ease physical pain and to relax more deeply than I ever thought possible.” ***** Finding stories that reinforce the journey of healing is a favorite past-time and critical to my own peace of mind.  It is also exceedingly inspirational to read stories of individuals who find their own unique ways of healing from traumatic events in life.  The story of Ananga Sivyer (click here) from the UK is such an example of the power of mindfulness and alternative treatment strategies that evolve sometimes in magical ways from the very soul…often unexplainable…but demonstrated in the lives of sufferers who survive and thrive.

Download “Transition to Calm”  Click here or download from my sidebar…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… Click highlighted text for my author page…