22 February 2021

3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party

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3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party
3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party (Image by Adina Voicu)
Children's parties have a long history of being underwhelming and generally the same. Whether you go swing so far into the cliche that you hire a party clown or let the kids run free in laser tag instead of partying, many options have been played out. Instead of leaning into the cliches, here are some of the best party ideas for any kid event that will have even the pickiest parents impressed with you!

Go Retro Fabulous

This plan doesn't mean you have to throw the sixties themed party for kids born in the 2010s! Instead, think about classic party themes and how you can make them fresh and exciting for children. In the 90s, roller-skating parties were all the rage. Because it's fallen in and out of style ever since then, you can rent out a roller skating rink for relatively cheap for an hour or two! Pump up this party by hiring entertainment that can skate or get the most fun themed food ever. If most kids don't yet know how to skate, this can be a fun learning opportunity for them! Keep in mind that you should keep a first aid kit on hand, or check and ensure that the roller rink has reasonable safety procedures. A skating party is only fun if nobody gets seriously hurt. You can also lean into other classic party themes, but it’s good to pick one that your kid will enjoy and want.

Hire Amazing Performers

Children still believe in magic and love to be dazzled and amazed by excellent performances. You can lean into the party clown idea by instead hiring some real circus performers to put on a show! These performers can do anything from acrobatics to magic; you have to consider how large your venue is and what your child would find most exciting.

You can take this another route by hiring Disney princess performers or even Paw Patrol performers to entertain the kids and their guests. If the party has any theme, you should have fun with it. This theme could mean pirate impersonators for a day on the beach or fantasy cosplayers for a fun day faking raiding a castle. Give yourself the chance to have fun and be creative.

Give Them Some Magic

If your child loves mermaids, the beach, or the ocean: lean into it! This is the time to go over the top and show them how much you love them. Add a little whimsy by hiring live mermaids to perform, throw the party at an aquarium or a small boardwalk theme park ride. Some theme parks have a rate where you can rent out rides, or areas of the park, for parties. Ensure that for parties where kids are running around, you have escorts on hand who can make sure everyone stays safe and happy. Although it may feel tempting to let the kids have the run of the park, every single accident or problem will come down on you. Be careful, and be safe.

19 February 2021

Over 200 Dogs From China Saved From Slaughterhouses, Dog Meat-Trade, Abuse & Neglect Will Soon Arrive in the U.S. on Their Way to Their Forever Homes

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Over 200 Dogs From China Saved From Slaughterhouses, Dog Meat-Trade, Abuse & Neglect Will Soon Arrive in the U.S. on Their Way to Their Forever Homes
Dogs in China awaiting to be adopted by a forever family in the United States.
China Rescue Dogs, an organization committed to rescuing and saving dogs from China and adopting them into homes in the U.S., is calling on the public to help them save over 200 additional dogs.

One hundred forty-five (145) newly rescued dogs will arrive via three cargo planes on March 3rd, 4th and 5th, 2021 at (JFK) John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. An additional sixty (60) will, hopefully, arrive in the United States at the end of March -- but it all depends on donations.
  • These dogs were saved from the inevitable. Many were saved off meat trucks, from slaughterhouses and rescued from abuse, and neglect.
"What was once the end of their lives, is now a new beginning for these beautiful babies," said Jill Stewart, President and Founder of China Rescue Dogs. "They all have been quarantined, micro-chipped, and received all the necessary vaccinations. Now, it is time for them to live the rest of their lives being safe and happy with their forever families."
China Recue Dogs is a 501c3 organization founded by Jill Stewart, an ardent advocate of animal rights worldwide, and especially in China. Their global mission is to rescue and rehabilitate dogs from China and provide them with loving forever homes in North America.

Stewart, along with her small team of volunteers are calling donors and fund-raising for this new life saving project. They now need to raise an additional $30,000 so they can bring in all two hundred (200) dogs and not have to turn any away.

Over 200 Dogs From China Saved From Slaughterhouses, Dog Meat-Trade, Abuse & Neglect Will Soon Arrive in the U.S. on Their Way to Their Forever Homes
Jill Stewart, President & Founder of China Rescue Dogs, welcomes a flight of dogs into JFK airport in January.
"Funding is crucial," admits Stewart. "We never say no to any dog -- mixed breeds, banned breeds, disabled dogs and seniors. We try to rescue them all. Unfortunately, we cannot do that without the public's continued support."

About China Rescue Dogs:

China Rescue Dogs is a 501c3 rescue with the purpose of rescuing dogs from the meat trade, abuse and neglect in China and providing them with loving homes.

SOURCE: China Rescue Dogs

Hip-Hop Icon Nelly Releases His 20th Anniversary Live Performance Of 'Country Grammar' In Its Entirety [Mini-Documentary Included]

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Hip-Hop Icon Nelly Releases His 20th Anniversary Live Performance Of ‘Country Grammar’ In Its Entirety. 'Country Grammar Live' available today as digital downloads and through streaming services
Today, Nelly dropped his new digital release Country Grammar Live (Republic/UMe) which was recorded live at the MelodyVR "Live From LA" studio last July in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Country Grammar
This is Nelly's first live release and features a live band which gives the album reinterpretation a distinct rock vibe, making Nelly a truly genre bending artist who has released a Country, Rap, R&B, and now a rock leaning album. 

Recorded as part of MelodyVR's ongoing Live From LA series which was originally broadcast through the MelodyVR app for a limited time, the Hip-Hop icon took fans back to the summer of 2000 with this special performance which included mega hits such as "Ride With Me" and "E.I."

February 19 also sees the premiere of the 20th anniversary mini-documentary Country Grammar – The Documentary (20th Anniversary), streaming now on Nelly's official YouTube channel. 

The mini-documentary features animated clips, new and old LIVE performance footage, and sees Nelly telling his story of the early beginnings as an artist with a unique style and sound, the creation of his Diamond-selling classic, Country Grammar, and how he put St. Louis on the hip-hop map.

Country Grammar – The Documentary (20th Anniversary):


Country Grammar debuted at No. 3 on the Top 200 and soon vaulted to No. 1. In 2016, the RIAA certified the album Diamond, selling more than 10 million copies to date, a feat which placed Nelly in the pantheon of rock superstars such as Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Bruce Springsteen. Country Grammar was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2000 Grammy Awards (along with its title track for Best Rap Solo Performance) and Nelly was crowned Best New Artist at the 2001 BET Awards.

Nelly – Country Grammar Live Track Listing:

  1. St. Louie
  2. Greed, Hate, Envy
  3. Country Grammar (Hot Sh*t)
  4. Steal The Show
  5. Ride Wit Me
  6. E.I.
  7. Thicky Thick Girl
  8. For Me
  9. Utha Side
  10. Thro Dem Wrappas
  11. Wrap Sumden
  12. Batter Up
  13. Never Let Em C U Sweat
  14. Luven Me

Hip-Hop Icon Nelly Releases His 20th Anniversary Live Performance Of 'Country Grammar' In Its Entirety [Mini-Documentary Included]
Nelly (screengrab)

About Nelly:

Born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. in Austin, Texas, the rapper showed early promise, forming The St. Lunatics in 1993 with his childhood friends, MCs "Ali" Jones, Torhi "Murphy Lee" Harper, Lavell "City Spud" Webb, and Robert "Kyjuan" Cleveland. After Jay E workshopped the music with Nelly, they shopped for labels in New York and the rapper was signed to Universal Records in 1999. The pair drew deeply from the sounds that surrounded them in the Midwest — urban, country, hip-hop — and fused them into a fresh, infectious, unforgettably hooky whole.
SOURCE: Universal Music Enterprises

18 February 2021

Secret Theatre Presents 'Redemption Room' - The Live Online Thriller Experience Makes its World Premiere on February 27th [Trailer Included]

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Secret Theatre Presents 'Redemption Room' - The Live Online Thriller Experience Makes its World Premiere on February 27th [Trailer Included]
"Redemption Room" World Premiere on February 27, 2021 - a new live online theatrical thriller experience
"With the world still locked down, Secret Theatre look to unite us all in a live, online, immersive horror experience that can be streamed from anywhere in the world. And we can't wait."-- BBC RADIO 1
Making its World Premiere on February 27th, Redemption Room is a new live online theatrical experience where the virtual-studio audience gets to judge six disgraced celebrities as they seek redemption for their societal crimes.
Presented by Secret Theatre, this original innovative experience will go live across the world in a Zoom studio from six major cities, including Hong Kong, London, Singapore, Mumbai, Sydney and New York, where the celebrities are located.
A truly immersive format, Redemption Room takes a thrilling twist after an evil entity is awakened into the proceedings. Who will survive? Who will get their redemption? The virtual-studio audience will decide, voting on how far to push the celebrity's fears. But be warned, every-night one audience member will be asked to compete along with the celebrities. The virtual experience allows audiences to vote, judge, contact the celebrities directly and impact their outcome.
To get the full theatrical experience, turn off the lights, light a candle and be prepared for the unexpected. For those with paranormal fears, please prepare accordingly. If Ouija boards are your taste, there will be a moment when you can get involved.

Also, wearing black can summon demons – you have been warned.

The Trailer:


Secret Theatre are pioneers in global immersive events and have produced shows in 7 cities across the globe. Redemption Room is created and directed by Richard Crawford, who has been Artistic Director of Secret Theatre for over 10 years with many immersive credits to his name. He was responsible for directing the immersive Edward Scissorhands in New York, the immersive Project Mayhem in London and Hong Kong, and the immersive Hell Hath No Fury in Singapore.

  • Shows go live on February 27th and run through March 14th, 2021 and can be viewed on any device that supports Zoom.
  • Screening dates and times vary across the US, including a special scary Midnight show (PST) on March 13th.
Secret Theatre Presents 'Redemption Room' - The Live Online Thriller Experience Makes its World Premiere on February 27th [Trailer Included]
"Redemption Room" a new online immersive thriller experience goes live from 6 cities around the globe beginning February 27, 2021

SOURCE: Secret Theatre

17 February 2021

The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter [Video Included]

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The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter
The Hero's Journal - A filled out journal
The team behind the popular The Hero's Journal today announced that its newest offering, The Hero's Journal: Istoria Magic Academy, is now live on Kickstarter, where they reached 100% of their funding goal in under 9 minutes.
The Hero's Journal
launched in 2019 via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Over the past two years, a vibrant community of journalers has formed organically on social media to share stories and seek advice.
"Thanks to our first Kickstarter, The Hero's Journal quickly transformed from a simple idea to a community of 25,000 journalers," said Nick Vitellaro, the 27-year-old co-founder.
He added: "During the past year, we learned a lot about what our fans like about the Journal and how it helps them achieve their goals. Today, we're excited to go back to Kickstarter, where it all started, to release a new edition that incorporates feedback and suggestions from our amazing community."
During 2020, the team witnessed firsthand how the Journal is helping people cope during the pandemic. For example, one community member commented: "I've been feeling pretty scatterbrained since quarantine started, but this journal has really helped create more structure in my daily life, in the most fun and thoughtful way."
The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter
Daily Artwork Helps Inspire the Imagination and Make Every Day of Journaling Unique
The Hero's Journal: Istoria Magic Academy is based on a story about magic. The process of learning something new, working through failure, and discovering the ordinary magic of changing the world around you through words and actions.
"We expect that the new edition will resonate with our current community as well as with a new group of journalers who are looking to embark on a new adventure during a uniquely challenging time," said Nick.

The Video:

About The Hero's Journal:

Stories are the oldest form of human communication. From the earliest books ever written to the latest box office hit, humans are hardwired to communicate in the form of narrative. And there is no narrative more important to the core of each of us than the story we tell about ourselves. We set out to create a journal that would combine the power of self-narrative with the psychology of goal setting. The result? The Hero's Journal—now used by thousands of heroes around the world. From brainstorming the journal in 2018 to launching a kickstarter in 2019 to quitting our full-time jobs in the beginning of 2020, we've been blown away by the support of a community that keeps selling out every single one of our production runs. 

SOURCE: The Hero's Journal

16 February 2021

[Blog Tour] "The North Finchley Writers’ Group" by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick #ContemporaryRomance

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[Blog Tour] "The North Finchley Writers’ Group" by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick #ContemporaryRomance
The North Finchley Writers’ Group - Blog Tour banner

The Book: 

The North Finchley Writers’ Group
:By Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick
  • Publication Date: 2nd February 2021
  • Publisher: Taw River Press
  • Page Length: 142 pages
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

When a group of north London writers meet each month for a chat, coffee, and cake – what else is on their agenda? Constructive criticism? New Ideas? An exciting project? And maybe, more than one prospective romance...?

Eavesdrop on the monthly meetings of the North Finchley Writers' Group, follow some ordinary people with a love of story writing, and an eagerness for success. Discover, along with them, the mysteries of creating characters and plot, of what inspires ideas, and how real life can, occasionally, divert the dream...
[Blog Tour] "The North Finchley Writers’ Group" by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick #ContemporaryRomance
The North Finchley Writers’ Group - Front cover
Buy Links: Amazon

The North Finchley Writers’ Group - Excerpt:

LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF

My name – my personal and professional name – is Rob Taylor and I'm a writer.

It is rather strange to state that as a fact after years of scribbling, despair at rejections tempered by moments of high elation when one of my stories was accepted by a respected magazine. But I can state it as a truth now, for I write regularly for several publications, and my first compilation has recently been published with a fixed contract for two more to follow. At the moment, I write short stories, but more than a few friends have encouraged me with prompts such as “You have a novel in you, you know,and, “A short story has the potential to be a novel writ long.” I am working on the idea.

But enough of that.

About a year or so ago, I was unexpectedly made redundant. Jobless, but with a good-enough redundancy bank balance to keep me going for a bit, and a determination to do what I wanted to do – write – I took the plunge and converted the spare bedroom into a study. I started writing full time and joined the North Finchley Writers' Group, where I met some lovely people who, one way or another, gave me the encouragement to develop my ideas.

All to my satisfaction, but my wife's dismay.

The members of our writers’ group are a very mixed bunch, as you will find out. We meet every month at a different house and whoever is the host gets to provide tea and coffee – often with cake or ‘light snacks’ – and chooses a topic for discussion. We talk, voice opinions and yes, sometimes we argue. But it is all forgotten when we walk away into the night.

Mostly.

They've had quite a turnover of members over the years. Some who came for a couple of meetings and then disappear. Some who weren't really writers but 'dabble' and think that attending a writers' group meeting makes them one. They never last long. Some have moved along and, sadly, one or two have passed on to the great Library in the Sky. Nowadays we have about a dozen or so regulars. There are one or two who are deliberately obstructive. Outspoken. Single minded. Cantankerous.

Some are shy and introvert and, in truth, offer little. But they listen and learn, and that is what we are all there for. To learn from others, be they best sellers or unpublished writers. Because, whatever our differences, we stick together and, if anyone is down, we stand by them and offer encouragement. If someone is on a high, then we enthuse in their success.

Most of us, anyway.

We do have a few Best Sellers. Angela Knight, for example, and Zak Nichols. Charlotte Caroll is more than adept at Regency romances, (not my bag, but, well, credit where credit's due) and Jean Hart uses her history degree to good effect, as does Hilary Jackson, albeit covering a different period of time.

I'll introduce them all properly as we go along...

[Blog Tour] "The North Finchley Writers’ Group" by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick #ContemporaryRomance
Richard Tearle

A Word From Richard Tearle:

To the writing community, whether they be traditionally published, indie or aspiring.

You make the rocking world go round...Writers are such a wonderful community – supportive, helpful and ever willing to give their time and expertise to one humble chap such as I. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you
.”

Richard – December 2020

[Blog Tour] "The North Finchley Writers’ Group" by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick #ContemporaryRomance
Helen Hollick

A Word From Helen Hollick:

It was with great enthusiasm that I encouraged Richard to write this, his first novel. His enjoyment of creating a good story, I felt, should be shared to readers and writers, everywhere. Unfortunately, at the editing stage, Richard became ill, involving hospitalisation. In discussion with his son, rather than abandon the project or put it on hold, we decided that the best course of action was for me to continue with getting this book published on his behalf. The characters, plot – the story – are all Richard’s immense talent, I merely tidied up and added the final polish, coming in as ‘painter and decorator’ to Richard’s main role as architect, designer, and builder.
[Blog Tour] "The North Finchley Writers’ Group" by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick #ContemporaryRomance
The North Finchley Writers’ Group - Tour Schedule

12 February 2021

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!

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Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
Britt Reid - The Green Hornet (by marvelmania)
The last day in January 2021 marks the 85th anniversary of the first appearance of The Green Hornet. A year-long virtual celebration to one of America's earliest superheroes, his most powerful sidekick Kato, and the world's first supercar, the Black Beauty.
George W. Trendle wanted a timely, relevant, hero character on the radio at WXYZ-Detroit to appeal to voting age Americans, as opposed to his earlier creation, The Lone Ranger, created for children.

In an era without television or internet, news traveled slowly, primarily printed in a newspaper. Britt Reid, the alter ego of The Green Hornet, published such a newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, where he receives inside information about corruption and organized crime from his reporters' sources. With his sidekick Kato, The Green Hornet uses his non-lethal weapons to subdue the criminals and leave them for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute. Because police see The Green Hornet as a vigilante, therefore a criminal, both sides of the law are after him, which forces him to wear a mask, so no one discovers his true identity.

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
The Green Hornet (by StevJVaz72)
Whether it is an original radio broadcast, one of the serials, a tv episode, an issue of a comic book or a movie; the plot usually consists of corrupt government officials or organized crime leaders who seem innocent and above reproach.

George W. Trendle's creation of The Green Hornet introduced many firsts to the American audience. The masked avenger in a modern city, Bruce Lee as a martial arts sidekick, and a black stealth supercar to keep Americans safe.

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
The Green Hornet:(by voyageYOUKOH )

More About The Green Hornet:

(Via Wikipedia)
Though various incarnations sometimes change details, in most versions the Green Hornet is the alter ego of Britt Reid, wealthy young publisher of the Daily Sentinel newspaper by day. But by night, clad in a long green overcoat, gloves, green fedora hat and green mask, Reid fights crime as the mysterious vigilante known as "The Green Hornet," and is accompanied by his loyal and similarly masked partner and confidant, Kato, who drives their technologically advanced car, the "Black Beauty." Though both the police and the general public believe the Hornet to be a wanted criminal, Reid uses that perception to help him infiltrate the underworld, leaving behind for the police the criminals and any incriminating evidence he has found.

In the original radio incarnation, Britt Reid is the son of Dan Reid, Jr., the nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger, making the Green Hornet the grand-nephew of the Ranger. The relationship is alluded to at least once in the radio shows, when Dan Reid visits his son to question him on why Britt has never captured the Hornet. On learning the truth behind his son's dual identity, Dan Reid recalls his days riding in Texas with his uncle, as the William Tell Overture plays briefly and softly in the background.
 
[Click here to read more....]
Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
Green Hornet - Inked (by zanthiel)

Trivia:

(From IMDb)
A poster for The Lone Ranger can be seen in Britt Reid's room. In the original radio program, Reid was the The Lone Ranger's grandnephew. His father rode with The Lone Ranger on some of his adventures, and they shared the family name of Reid. Both radio programs were created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker. [Click here for more trivia...]

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
The Green Hornet: TV logo

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work

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3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work
3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work (Photo by Anna Shvets)
Mixing feelings with work? Never! Society usually tells us to keep our work problems and home problems totally separate, which ends up making a lot of people feel like they can’t bring their feelings with them to work situations.

Here’s the reality: Feelings are inevitable at work. Just like any situation in life, you’re going to experience feelings and emotions in your work environment. You can’t always act on these, but you can embrace them and know when and how you can express them. Start with these three strategies!

Go Directly to the Source

If you need to have a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with somebody, your best bet is to cut to the chase. Go directly to the source and ask to have a mature discussion. Office politics tend to confuse and exacerbate the situation, and it’s much better to involve yourself directly with someone rather than engage in gossip beforehand. Because you’re in an office environment, you can always set up a meeting with your coworker or boss to hash things out. Otherwise, if you prefer a more casual setting, ask to get coffee or go for a walk outside of work.

Be Calm and Know Your Stance

Work environments can be stressful, but don’t let that disrupt your calm disposition. Going into a discussion with a sense of calm is really important. You may be taking a bold stance, and that’s perfectly fine. But you should make sure you stay calm about it and don’t get heated. Be confident that you know what you’re doing, and don’t let that change as the conversation begins to take form.

Remember Your “Why”

At the end of the day, you and all of your coworkers are there for the same reason. You’re not trying to disrupt the structure or success of the company, nor are you trying to stir up unnecessary drama. You all have a “why” or a reason to be there. Your job is important to you, so try to remember this throughout your conversation. You’re trying to work through this and talk it out because you want to improve things, not make anything worse. Don’t forget that!

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work
3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work (Photo by Sora Shimazaki)

We’ve covered three big strategies for expressing your feelings at work, but you’re not limited to these three. Every situation is different, so take some time to think about yours and create your strategy accordingly. Good luck!

11 February 2021

Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort

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Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort (PRNewsfoto/Hip Hop Public Health)
Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH) the national nonprofit organization dedicated since 2004 to fostering positive health behavior change through the power of science and hip hop music, today launched Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology about Vaccines. A suite of free resources aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccine coverage in communities of color by fighting fear with facts, this animated rap anthology deconstructs vaccine literacy in a series of five animated videos, beginning with What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work?. Featuring the voice of Grammy-winning rapper and HHPH Advisory Board member Darryl DMC McDaniels of Run-DMC, with award-winning producer Artie Green and singer-songwriter Gerry Gunn, Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology About Vaccines is the latest COVID-19 public information campaign from Hip Hop Public Health. The organization's trilogy of high-impact music video PSAs – 20 Seconds or More, 20 Segundos o Más and Behind the Mask – have been viewed and shared by millions, and become a part of the vernacular around the coronavirus with universal messages of love and safety since launching at the height of the pandemic in New York City in spring 2020.

What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work? - The Video:


Each 60-second video in the Community Immunity anthology features a common underlying hip hop track with a unique rap verse that incorporates vaccine literacy content and a universal hook about the benefits of community immunity, which is repeated and sung in each video. The goal of the series is not only to inform, but also to turn receiving the vaccine into a social norm. 

  • Each video in the series will be launched over the next several weeks through March 2021, beginning with What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work? (launching 2/11), followed by Are Vaccines Safe and How Do I Know This? (launching 2/18); What are the Common Vaccine Myths, Misperceptions? (launching 2/25); What Can I Expect if I Take the Vaccine? (launching 3/4); and, Getting a Vaccine is Better than Getting Infected with COVID-19 (launching 3/11).
"COVID-19 is the most urgent global challenge we face today, and if we can encourage 80% of the population to get vaccinated, we can achieve the community-wide immunity we need for social activities to return to normal" says Dr. Olajide Williams, Founder of Hip Hop Public Health, tenured Professor of Neurology at Columbia University, and Chief of Staff of the Department of Neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. "As the coronavirus continues to ravage communities of color, the long-standing distrust that many feel towards medical science has proven to be an even greater challenge. Our goal with the Community Immunity anthology is therefore to increase vaccine literacy by demonstrating three critical points of fact: one, the vaccine is safe; two, no scientific shortcuts were taken in the development of the vaccine; and three, being vaccinated is an act of community service."
"While we must work to fill knowledge gaps, we also recognize that knowledge alone does not motivate behavior change. To meet the challenge of COVID-19, we need to truly connect, culturally and emotionally," adds Dr. Williams. "This is why HHPH developed the Multisensory Multilevel Health Education Model, which leverages the power of culture and art to motivate people to live healthier lives."
"Hip Hop Public Health is committed to providing accessible, culturally relevant resources, free of charge to empower underserved communities about critical health issues ," says Lori Rose Benson, Executive Director and CEO of Hip Hop Public Health. "With recent studies showing that more than half of African American adults are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it is essential that we create and widely disperse messages to dispel myths and reduce anxiety around the vaccine with the goal of creating Community Immunity as the ultimate act of love – love of self, love of family and love of the community – to inspire and drive action."
A recent national study (Szilgayi et al, JAMA December 2020) revealed that the self-reported likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine declined from 75% in April 2020 to 56% in December 2020, despite extensive media coverage beginning in November showing high efficacy for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The lowest likelihood of vaccination was found among Black individuals and those with lower educational backgrounds, two groups that bear the highest burden of illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The APM Research Lab has found that Covid-19 has killed 1 out of every 645 Black Americans, and according to the journal PLOS Medicine, Black people, ages 35 to 44, have been dying at nine times the rate of white people the same age.
"These findings make HHPH's novel approach to vaccine hesitancy a critical item on the menu of initiatives designed to increase vaccine coverage," Dr. Williams concludes.
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort

Plans to roll-out Community Immunity include a series of community mobilization events in partnership with the State of New York's Vaccine Equity Taskforce, HeartSmilesMD, The New York City Department of Education's Office of School Wellness Programs, and others. 

The videos will also be widely distributed across multiple social media channels in collaboration with local faith-based organizations, community media outlets and national and local radio platforms. In addition, Community Immunity will be part of a larger program used in company settings as a tool to educate essential workforces and answer pointed questions about the vaccine. In partnership with 40 West Advisors, HHPH's innovative and customized tools will allow direct access to the answers employees need to make informed decisions about the vaccine. Finally, the public is invited to engage directly with Dr. Williams and Dr. Monique Hedmann-Maxey, HHPH Advisory Board member who also appears in the videos, through #AskTheHipHopDocs. This interactive social media initiative is designed to answer questions and help dispel misperceptions when tagged in real-time. 
"Communities of color carry the heaviest burden from the pandemic, and in order to stop the virus in its tracks, we need to increase vaccine literacy, change behavior and get vaccinated," says Darryl DMC McDaniels. "By harnessing the power of hip hop, we hope to connect with communities of color in a way they can relate to and encourage folks to get vaccinated. I am honored to lend my voice to this vital campaign – get the shot y'all!"
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort
Hip Hop Public Health Launches #CommunityImmunity Vaccine Literacy Effort (screengrab)

The five videos in the Community Immunity series are focused on the following topics:

  • What Are Vaccines and Why Do They Work? Highlights the power of vaccines, which have all but eliminated diseases that once sickened, crippled or killed millions of people every year, including smallpox and polio. The two current COVID-19 vaccines are more than 90% effective at protecting the recipient (9 of 10 people won't get sick if they get both doses of the vaccine).
  • Are Vaccines Safe and How Do I Know This? Despite the speed of vaccine development (which has prompted many to question whether a vaccine for COVID-19 is safe and effective), very strict science, regulations, and transparency was enforced during vaccine development and data safety monitoring. Even after a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, the FDA, CDC, healthcare systems and vaccine developers will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for years.
  • What are the Common Vaccine Myths, Misperceptions? Addresses misinformation and how this has affected people's trust, and addresses fears with facts. "This is not just a moment of truth; it is a moment for truth."
  • Getting a Vaccine is Better than Getting Infected with COVID-19 Which puts you at risk of severe infection, protracted illness, and death. This video also emphasizes that one of the most important tools to save Black lives right now is vaccination.
  • What Can I Expect if I Take the Vaccine? Describes transient reactions to vaccination and emphasizes the importance of returning for the second shot (for the two currently approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the United States) for community immunity. Defines herd immunity as community immunity. Getting both shots is not just about me, it is also about us.
"We have been locked in a life or death battle against COVID for nearly a year, and with the vaccine now in hand, we finally have the weapon that will win this war, but it will only be as effective as our willingness to use it," said New York Secretary of State and Co-Chair of New York's Vaccine Equity Task Force Rossana Rosado. "The sad truth about COVID is it hasn't only attacked our health, it's brought to light the structural racism, injustices and inequities that have contributed towards the distrust and skepticism people feel towards the health care system and the vaccine itself, especially in communities of color. The fact is it is safe, it is reliable and if we are truly to get back to normal, we need everyone to have confidence in it – that's why the work Hip Hop Public Health is doing is so important. By finding new and creative ways to instill confidence in the vaccine, they are getting information about the vaccine's efficacy to those who need it in an easily digestible and understandable format. Hip Hop Public Health has been a tremendous partner to New York's Vaccine Equity Task Force from the very beginning and on behalf of Governor Cuomo and all New Yorkers, I thank them for this critically important public service."
The Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology about Vaccines series was produced by Artie Green. The video animation was created by Mylo The Cat and Cartuna. Medical oversight was provided by HHPH Founder, Dr. Olajide Williams, Dr. Melissa Stockwell and HHPH Advisory Board member Dr. Monique Hedmann-Maxey. Philanthropic support for the initiative has been provided by The Skoll Foundation, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Dalio Center for Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian, and Columbia Community Service. 

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About Hip Hop Public Health:

Based in New York City, Hip Hop Public Health was founded in Harlem in 2004 with the mission to empower youth around the country – and the globe— with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, reducing preventable health conditions and the rising tide of childhood obesity.

Through a research-driven developmental process created by Columbia University Neurologist Dr. Olajide Williams (a.k.a. the "Hip Hop Doc"), Hip Hop Public Health works with socially conscious artists and musicians to create scalable, highly engaging, culturally relevant music and multimedia "edutainment" tools designed to improve youth health literacy and promote health equity. HHPH used validated models of behavior change and evidenced-based research to develop original content and are committed to an iterative cycle of program evaluation, academic research and resource refinement. We aim to make the healthy choice the cool choice.

The Hip Hop Public Health team, led by physical education veteran and public health leader Lori Rose Benson, is a collective comprised of not only health and education professionals (including nutritionists, public health researchers, teachers, physicians, behavioral scientists, and a student advisory board), but also proven-successful multi-media professionals and A-list iconic rap stars and pop artists including Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D, DMC of Run DMC, Ashanti, Jordin Sparks, as well children's television writers/producers (formerly of Sesame Street).

HHPH is proud to partner locally, regionally and internationally to empower health focused organizations and stakeholders to adopt and adapt Hip Hop Public Health resources and infuse them into youth health and wellness programming and initiatives. All HHPH music, videos, comic books, video games and guidance documents are available for free and can be accessed on its online resource repository.
SOURCE: Hip Hop Public Health

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10 February 2021

Steven Spielberg Announced as the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate [Video Included]

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Steven Spielberg Announced as the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate [Video Included]
Steven Spielberg Announced as the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate (screengrab)
The Genesis Prize Foundation today announced film director, producer, and philanthropist Steven Spielberg as the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate.

  • The annual $1 million Genesis Prize, dubbed the "Jewish Nobel" by TIME magazine, honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values.
The award recognizes Spielberg's outstanding achievement as one the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema; his social activism and prolific philanthropy; and his principled stance against anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance. 

The Prize also recognizes his extraordinary work to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and prevent future genocides through film, public advocacy and philanthropy.

For the first time in the history of the Genesis Prize, the voice of global Jewry was a major factor in Laureate selection. Two hundred thousand Jews on six continents cast their votes for the 2021 Laureate; millions more engaged on social media. While the Prize Committee had the ultimate discretion about the selection of the recipient of this prestigious award, the fact Spielberg received the most votes was a major determining factor.
"The Genesis Prize celebrates Steven Spielberg's unique talent, his commitment to making the world a better place, and his unparalleled contribution to teaching the post-war generations about the horrors of the Holocaust," said Stan Polovets, Co-Founder and Chairman of GPF. "We are delighted to welcome Steven Spielberg to the distinguished family of Genesis Prize honorees, which includes such luminaries as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Natan Sharansky, and Michael Bloomberg."
This is the latest in a series of prominent awards bestowed on Spielberg, which among others include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States; Legion d'Honneur, the highest order of the French Republic, and Germany's Federal Cross of Merit.
"Spielberg is a great Jewish visionary and storyteller," said the legendary human rights activist Natan Sharansky, who was awarded the Genesis Prize in 2020. "Key Jewish themes are often woven into his narratives: importance of identity and belonging, maintaining humanity in a ruthless world, caring for the other, and honoring the moral obligation to do the right thing. His talent makes them universal: told by Spielberg, these stories come alive in people's hearts across the globe."
Steven Spielberg becomes the 9th Genesis Prize honoree. All previous Laureates chose to direct the $1 million Prize award to philanthropic causes about which they were passionate. Sharansky, who preceded Spielberg as the Genesis Prize Laureate, directed his $1 million award to support individuals and organizations working to alleviate the Covid-19 health crisis and prevent future pandemics.
"Congratulations to Steven Spielberg on this important Jewish award," said Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee. "He is an example of great Jewish talent, whose extraordinary work in film and philanthropy is infused with the values of his people – a quest for justice, compassion, humanism, and a heartfelt desire to make the world a better place."
Steven Spielberg Announced as the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate [Video Included]
2021 Genesis Prize Laureate Steven Spielberg. (Credit: WFPA / Alamy Stock Photo)

About the 2021 Genesis Prize Laureate:

Steven Spielberg is widely considered to be the most successful film director in the history of cinema. His films grossed $10bn and his imagination has captivated tens of millions of people around the world. After establishing his reputation with blockbuster films such as Jaws, ET, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, he began to explore serious topics such as justice, slavery, women's rights, corruption, and morality of war in films such as Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, The Color Purple, The Post, Munich and Bridge of Spies.

His films also have delivered compelling narratives of Jewish history and present day events – the Holocaust, terrorism, and the maturing of the State of Israel. Spielberg's 1993 masterpiece Schindler's List has had a profound impact on humanity's perception and awareness of the Holocaust. Fifty years after the Shoah, Spielberg's film fostered a strong emotional connection with this tragedy for a vast, global audience – touching the post-war generations in a way that no other medium could. Spielberg channeled all of his proceeds from Schindler's List to fund philanthropic causes – both Jewish and non-Jewish. In 1994, he established the USC Shoah Foundation, dedicated to preserving Holocaust survivor testimonies. Concerned with prevention of genocide, the Foundation also works to preserve the memory of other 20th century genocides – in Cambodia, Armenia and Rwanda. Over 55,000 survivor testimonies have been recorded to-date.

  • Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw founded the Righteous Persons Foundation, which has made more than $100 million in grants to various Jewish organizations. Through the Wunderkinder Foundation, Spielberg has given extensively to health, arts, youth and education.

About the Genesis Prize and Prior Laureates:

The Genesis Prize is a global award that celebrates Jewish achievement and contribution to humanity. Launched in 2013, the Prize is financed through a permanent endowment of $100 million established by The Genesis Prize Foundation.

Previous Genesis Prize laureates are former New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg (2014); actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas (2015); Itzhak Perlman, virtuoso violinist and advocate for individuals with special needs (2016); sculptor and advocate for the rights of refugees Sir Anish Kapoor (2017); Oscar-winning actress and social activist Natalie Portman (2018); owner of New England Patriots and founder of the leading foundation to combat anti-Semitism Robert Kraft (2019); and legendary Jewish leader and human rights activist Natan Sharansky (2020). In 2018, the Genesis Prize Foundation honored U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to social justice and equal rights.

Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise

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Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise (Photo by cottonbro)
With many more people spending much more of their time at home, feeling comfortable and content within the confines of your property is becoming increasingly important. One of the biggest aspects of your home that can be of benefit during lockdown orders is your garden, as it offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and make the most of the sun and fresh air without running the risk of breaching the rules. Turning your garden into your own little slice of heaven is sure to encourage you to get outdoors whenever possible, but how might you be able to begin such a project without any ideas or inspiration? Look no further, as here are some of the most brilliant tips and tricks that you can utilise to transform your outdoor space into an amazing natural paradise in no time at all.

Lay The Best Foundations

If your garden is overgrown with pesky weeds and plants or spotted with junk or unwanted items, the first step that you must take to transform the space is to clear a new foundation. Setting the scene for your new relaxation spot is so vital, as you need to create a blank canvas to see what you are actually working with. Dig out your lawn mower and get to strimming the grass and any other bushes or hedgerows that have decided to take over, cutting back intrusive branches whilst making the largest possible open space to really utilise every inch of your garden.

Section & Set Up

The next step that you should follow to start building your dream garden involves sectioning the space into different areas with different purposes. Each area can be used to host its own set activity, such as a patio housing a table and chairs that can be used for al fresco dining, or a set of outdoor bean bags beneath a tree to chill out in the shade on a hot day. You can physically section out your garden by utilising fences and railings, and this can help to protect your trees at the same time. Even the gardens that house England's oldest trees make the most of such protective measures to keep their plants safe, so it’s a great option to explore to protect any old trees in your garden. If you have children or a young family, setting up a play area should be your next port of call. You can source a full play set that includes swings, a slide and a set of monkey bars for such an affordable price tag, and your little ones are bound to spend hours in the garden having great fun as a result.

Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)
Turning your garden into your own outdoor paradise has never been so simple when you can take the time to make the most of the brilliant tips and ideas that have been carefully detailed above. There’s no time like the present to get outdoors and get some vitamin D, so what are you waiting for?

8 February 2021

15th Annual Festival of the Arts Boca to Reach Global Audience with Star-Studded Virtual Performances & Interactive Discussions with Award-Winning Authors

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15th Annual Festival of the Arts Boca to Reach Global Audience with Star-Studded Virtual Performances & Interactive Discussions with Award-Winning Authors
15th Annual Festival of the Arts Boca to Reach Global Audience with Star-Studded Virtual Performances & Interactive Discussions with Award-Winning Authors
Festival of the Arts Boca will go forward in 2021, with virtual performances by Florida-based artists from iconic locations throughout Boca Raton from March 6 – 14, 2021. Each program will stream once only on the Festival of the Arts Boca website.

  • Access is free with advance registration.
"Our 15th installment will celebrate the tremendous talent in South Florida, showcase the beauty of Boca from various venues and honor the legacy of our co-founder, Charlie Siemon," said Joanna Marie Kaye, Executive Director of Festival of the Arts Boca. "Charlie would have been thrilled to see that paradoxically, we have the opportunity to reach our biggest audience ever in 2021 with all of our events filmed and broadcast worldwide.
15th Annual Festival of the Arts Boca to Reach Global Audience with Star-Studded Virtual Performances & Interactive Discussions with Award-Winning Authors
 Nadine Sierra
  • The Festival will open on Saturday, March 6 with Boca native and Metropolitan Opera star soprano Nadine Sierra and friends, in concert at Signature Flight Services at the Boca Raton Airport.
15th Annual Festival of the Arts Boca to Reach Global Audience with Star-Studded Virtual Performances & Interactive Discussions with Award-Winning Authors
James Ehnes
  • On Sunday, March 7, the Festival will welcome Grammy Award-winning Florida-based violinist James Ehnes, from the Boca Raton Innovation Campus.
  • On Saturday, March 13, tune in for an evening with the Festival All-Stars featuring Constantine Kitsopoulos, Festival Music Director, and musicians from the Festival Orchestra.
  • The Festival will close on Sunday, March 14 with Grammy-Award winning South Florida favorite, jazz flautist Nestor Torres, and his band at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.

This season's Authors & Ideas program will include interactive discussions with three authors, Admiral James Stavridis, Sonia Shah and Bruce Feiler, via Zoom.

  • On Monday, March 8 at 7 p.m., Admiral James Stavridis author and retired four-star U.S. Naval officer, will talk about leadership.
  • On Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m., Bruce Feiler will discuss his latest book, a top 10 New York Times bestseller, Life Is In the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age, a collection of hundreds of life stories, exploring how we can navigate life's growing number of transitions to live with more meaning, purpose, and joy.
  • On Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m., the Festival will welcome Sonia Shah, science journalist and prize-winning author of the heavily lauded, The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move, that explores our centuries-long assumptions about migration through science, history, and reporting, predicting its lifesaving power in the face of climate change.

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