Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ribbon Cutting: Alex's Library

We have big news at The Baby Alex Foundation! In mid February, we will be hosting a ribbon cutting of the first Alex's Library at the Farmington, CT NICU (extension of CT Children's Medical Center). This has been a 2+ year project, that began with a vision to provide a peaceful and inspiring place for families whose infants were in the neonatal intensive care unit. We spent 5+ month in the NICU when Alex was born. We tried to find success stories for children like Alex, who suffered a grade IV and grade III brain bleed. We really could not find any, and if you look to the March of Dimes for inspiration, you might be disappointed-we were. So, we designed a library, filled with inspirational books, right there inside the NICU. Parents don't need to go searching. They don't need the internet. They only need to walk a few steps and enter a soothing space where books on a variety of topics are there at their fingertips to inspire them to hold on, keep hope alive, and remember that this time in their lives is only temporary. Our grant provided copies of Alex's book, Alex's Start to Life (now in color) as a free handout to all. We had help in this project and are forever grateful to the work done by the runners at Team Making A Difference who ran the Hartford Marathon to raise nearly $10,000 to make this library possible. And a super contribution from Tecton Architects and KBE Building Corporation. It is amazing what can be done by people who dream big. Thanks to all! This ribbon cutting is a private ceremony, due to the sensitivity of its location inside the very busy NICU. We will have pictures up on our website for anyone who is interested. If you live in an area with a NICU that would be interested in adding an Alex's Library, please reach out to us to begin an inquiry process. For more info, see our website: www.babyalexfoundation.com.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Opportunity Knocks: Learning Lessons from Boredom

Are you kids bored? That's good. Don't give them a screen to occupy their time. Give them the gift of boredom. Whether they are bored in their classrooms, at home or when they visit their grandparents, embrace it. There was a time when I tried to protect my children from boredom, but this year, we are using boredom as a lesson in life and an opportunity to grow. Technology has put an end to periods of inactivity in our kids' lives, which means that much of the creative thoughts that go through a child's mind during periods of quiet and inactivity, have disappeared. Those brilliant, Aha moments or I've got it! moments will become dinosaurs if we put a screen in front of our children who complain, I'm bored. Alex complains of boredom a lot, especially in terms of school. He is gifted in many ways, and gifted children find the classroom extremely boring because of its rigidity. With the focus on test scores in public schools and the resulting lack of creative teaching in so many classrooms, your child may feel the same. But rather than run out the door with your child, talk to him or her about using boredom. If you need inspiration, look to some of the greatest minds on earth. Einstein, for example, was bored in school. In fact, he was kicked out because he asked too many questions and upset his teacher who didn't know the answers. But during those long periods of boredom in school, he thought. Alex has a tendency to drift off into deep thought. A good teacher will realize he is bored. She might have the insight to ask him what he is pondering. If she did, she would find some exceptional discoveries. At breakfast the other day, he was deep in thought. I asked him what was on his mind. He said he was trying to devise an instrument that could do a blood test by simply reading blood from outside the skin. In other words, an instrument that would prevent the need for a painful needle and blood draw. He was inspired by a recent article we read in the New Yorker about $1 paper microscopes that are changing science, particularly in the third world. And he was inspired because he needs to have his blood drawn again this month, a painful and dreaded trip to the doctor. So, let your kids be bored. Explain to them how they might embrace that time. Ask them what they are dreaming up when they are drifting off in thought. Don't be surprised if they lose interest in screens.