Thursday, 17 August 2017

From Bullying to Barbells By Jess Silver






Everyone’s personalities are unique, they are what set us apart from the millions of people we are with every day. Your character is what controls your response to a situation. 

For Jess Silver, being driven and discovering things have always been an important part of who she is. She never was isolated as a child and didn’t like to separate herself or be separated from or be treated differently by others, even though she has Cerebral Palsy. Having a disability that affects her physically, she never let it stop her and was always encouraged by her family and friends to do all that she wanted to and worked hard to accomplish. This translated into her passion for sports and love for athletes who continually train harder to achieve more athletically. 

Facing challenges daily with her ability to carry out everyday tasks, and move independently and run or do things that everyone did as kids and does daily, Jess encountered many levels of bullying and adversity, ranging from physical bullying, alienation, taunting and cyber bullying; she strove to develop coping strategies and pursue hobbies that allowed her to develop strength, a sense of personal direction, passion and a character which consistently defies limits. 

How can one defy limits if there are so many obstacles that are both visible and internally endured by a person with a disability? 

That’s where sports enter into Jess’ life. Watching them as a kid first gave her this feeling of wonder and amazement which later in her life has turned to admiration and the aspiration to be just like the athletes. She craved a time when she could feel free of stigma, of feeling different, of being hurt and bullied and as a kid that freedom came from playing soccer with her classmates, and going swimming. Later it transformed into a full- time commitment to fitness and mind and body wellness which she relates to an athlete’s journey in professional training. 

“Working out and consistently trying to improve my physical abilities, went from being something I had to do every day, to something I crave and want to consistently make more engaging for myself, every day. It’s unbelievable how sometimes a shift occurs in our lives around our circumstances we can’t quickly change. I was transformed the day I realized that my physical adversity makes me stronger because I used it to challenge myself to work more often in the gym and work harder. 

Seeing the rings, the barbell and knowing that I am capable of increasing reps (amount of times I do an exercise with or without weights), releases my negative emotions and allows me to continually reframe my mindset.” 

Adversity was there for Jess as a child and adolescent, and will always be there as a part of life for anyone, but through the pursuit of activities like training in the gym, it has a newfound purpose. Today many obstacles give Jess adrenaline to discover new possibilities related to physical fitness and functional training. She also as a medical writer and adversity management coach, is consistently driven to find new research and develop strategies, protocols and education to provide further and new insight into perceptions and ways that things are practiced relating to sport and medicine. 

“A barbell is driven up by gravity and force. We must drive our potential by the recognition firstly to want to create change, followed by effort to make it happen.” 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Forever Never Changing by Zach MacLean-Szwez






Despite being medicated and have gone through therapy and many different alternatives, to say that I am free and clear of OCD would be a lie. This is a reality most people suffering from mental illness have to deal with. It isn’t like a cold that you may get over and over again, recovering in a couple weeks. It is with you everyday, we just try to find tools to be able to manage our thoughts and feelings to get through it and make it as easy on us as possible. The thing is there is a silver lining to dealing with our illness’ that we have been given. In some respect or another it has given us skills others have not honed because they were not put or forced into a position where they had to. I developed a photographic memory by having to remember exactly where people would touch if I thought their hands were “dirty”. I would avoid these spots and when somebody would ask me about it, I was giving exact timelines and locations of where and why they were contaminated to me. Naturally it is unhealthy for my illness but when it came to school it was a skill that became extremely helpful and allowed me to be a little relaxed when it came to note taking. Definitely not a good habit but it gave me the ability to actually be engaged in the classroom and really pay attention to the teacher rather than focusing on whether I got everything written down. 

Thats the positive I take away from my mental illness and I am grateful for it. I think being able to expose these qualities would be extremely helpful for one on one workers or individuals working with clients in order to motivate individuals to recognize the positive aspects of the condition. It is one thing to tell someone to think about everything outside of the illness to make them feel better, but to make the illness positive as well, then you’ll start to achieve something greater than acceptance. It could become an effective tool in treatment and also give the individuals an eye opening experience that may take some stress off always feeling like the world is against you. What do I know right? I don’t have a degree in psychology and I'm not a certified therapist but I have been through the system since I was a little kid which has shown me what works and what doesn’t. 

One of the greatest helpers that I had at the hospital never allowed me to believe I was different. He enforced that I had qualities others weren’t in touch with which made me the way I am, and he was right. It was the perfect way of explaining why I was acting the way I was, without telling me “you have a problem” or “you’re different, here’s a cocktail of pills to make you normal” . The thing is he made me feel included and that is what we as mental illness individuals as a whole, wish for. Not to be given “special” treatment but to be understood that sometimes we may need some more time or a little bit of help but we will get to the same place others are going we just might take the scenic route instead. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Educate Kids About Identity Theft - By Jenny Holt




Educate Kids About Identity Theft

It’s difficult to imagine that kids can become victims of identity theft, but a study at the Carnegie Mellon Cylab indicated that children are 51 times more likely to be targeted by identity thieves than adults.  Often, the unsuspecting victims find out that they have been victimized later when they start college, begin applying for jobs or credit. Parents are the first ones to unearth that their kids are identity theft victims when they receive suspicious bills or receive a pre-approved credit card for their child.

Protecting Children Under 5 Years

If your kids are below 5 years and are not using the Internet, it is your responsibility to be extra vigilant when it comes to giving out their personal information. Lock their Social Security number and birth certificate in a safe place. You should only volunteer the information when absolutely needed, such as school registrations or doctor visits. Think about setting a credit freeze for your child. Some financial companies offer the ability to lock and even monitor a child’s credit file. You should consider talking to kids about identity theft and how important it is to keep personal details private.

Teaching Identity Theft to Older Kids

Once kids grasp the concepts of theft, money, and identity (usually from 5-7 years), talk to them about the importance of safeguarding information. With the prevalence of children and teenagers using cellphones and increased online activity (92% of teens use the Internet according to Pew Research Center), protecting them from becoming statistics of identity theft is crucial. You can:
  • Educate them about the importance of the social security number, birth certificate or bank cards. Highlight what can happen if the information can get in the wrong hands.
  • Tell them never to post personal information online, especially on social networking websites.
  • Teach kids to protect devices with passwords and educate them on how to create secure ones. Passwords and PINS should never be shared.
  • Talk about possible scams that they might experience or encounter in the malls, school grounds, social sites, messages and emails.
  • Stress the importance of using safe sites and to avoid unsecured Internet zones.
  • Monitor the sites that your kids visit and restrict Internet surfing.
  • Install anti-virus, anti-phishing, or security software on devices.
  • Limit or scrap a data plan on your kid’s phone.
  • If your teenager has a convenience card, restrict the amount of money they can withdraw daily or monthly and monitor their banking activities regularly to see if there is something suspicious going on.
When children and teenagers are aware of identity theft and its dreadful consequences, they are likely to pay attention to what’s happening around them. Although it is not foolproof, reducing the chances of becoming a victim is already a step away from the clutches of an impostor.