Cape Kid Spreading the Love AND Love of the Game

Cape Kid: Teen Edition

I’ve found living proof (again) that it’s cool to be kind…

Cape Kid Evan Druskin
Cape Kid Evan Druskin

Meet Evan Druskin. He’s our newest Cape Kid and a 16-year-old who clearly embodies Wear the Cape’s heroic values. A soon-to-be high school junior, Evan plays baseball at Gill St. Bernards School in Gladstone, NJ, AND he’s a kind kid who helps others.

What started out as a mitzvah project became so much more. For the past decade, this everyday hero has been collecting baseball and softball equipment for underprivileged youth via the PITCH IN FOR BASEBALL organization. Evan’s good deeds are instructive: he combined his passion for helping people with his love of the game of baseball. Evan shared,

“During a project for my religious studies, I visited the [PITCH IN FOR BASEBALL] warehouse operation, and I was so impressed with everything that I saw that I wanted to stay involved beyond my project.”

Evan gathers used sports equipment through a school-wide drive he runs at the Gill St. Bernards upper, middle, and lower schools, as well as through Zoned Baseball Academy, a baseball training facility in Bridgewater, NJ.

Over the years, Evan has been one of the highest producing providers to PITCH IN FOR BASEBALL, having gathered and donated over 500 pieces of equipment. This equipment, once collected, is shipped worldwide to applicants who are in need, from the corners of America to the reaches of Africa. Evan explained that, for children living in volatile nations—including many in the Middle East—playing a sport such as baseball or softball can serve as a form of escape and as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult situations.

When I interviewed Evan this summer, I was amazed at how focused and productive he is at a young age. While many his age do not hold regular summer jobs, we had to coordinate the interview around his busy schedule of working at Teknicks, an agency in Bayhead, NJ where he’s learning the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A quick study, Evan said he did not know much about SEO when he started out this summer but now he feels very comfortable with this burgeoning field. I love how passionate this Cape Kid becomes about everything in his life.

When I went to interview Evan, I brought my two oldest children Tommy and Samantha to help give Evan a goody bag of Cape products. And a testament to the fact that everyone—young and old—has the power to make an impact and lead by example, my kids still bring up Evan’s name and gush about his good deeds.

Evan punctuated our interview by words that should be inspiration to us all,

“I am able to change people’s lives by putting my time and energy toward giving back. I am truly helping people because I volunteer.”

(To read the “Top 10 Reasons to Encourage Your Kids to Volunteer”, according to Wear the Cape’s resident character education expert Dr. Brown, click here.)

A Cape Kid in action and a great role model, indeed! Evan, we thank you for wearing the cape!

To learn more about the PITCH IN FOR BASEBALL organization or to make a donation of your own equipment, contact Evan: evandruskin1 at aol dot com.

If you know of a young person whose heroic character shines and should be a Cape Kid—whether 2 years old or 22 years old—please send me an email: leighann at wearthecapekids dot com. We’d love to highlight his or her efforts to create a better, kinder world!

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

To make a donation to the kidkind foundation, a registered 501 (c)(3) charity, click here, or send a check payable to the kidkind foundation to:

kidkind foundation
16 Mt Bethel Road, Suite 191
Warren, NJ 07059

Thank You Notes and Being Intentional about Your Dreams

Many of you have heard about a new young buck on the golf scene named Jordan Spieth. Last month, Spieth claimed a prestigious, preppy green jacket of his own, at the age of 21, when he conquered Augusta. He even tied the all-time record for The Masters with his stunning score of 18 strokes under par.

Near as I can tell, Spieth’s reputation and his character seem to be stellar. Let’s hope this remains the case, so young people can continue to look up to this rockstar and admire him for his talents and his goodness.

Jack Nicklaus weighed in on Spieth:

 “I like everything about the young man. He’s polite. He’s humble. He handles himself so well, on and off the golf course. And he’s obviously a wonderful player and now a Masters champion. I think Jordan Spieth is a great person – just as I think Rory McIlroy is – to carry the mantle for the game of golf.”

Not a bad comment to receive from the most successful golfer who ever walked the earth, eh?

Another super-cool tidbit that I learned about Mr. Spieth is that, back in 2009, he received a scholarship through his high school’s work grant program. This newly-minted golf superhero took the time to write an authentic note of thanks to the scholarship donors to express his appreciation.

Jordan spieth note

Not only did Spieth have the class to send the thank you note, but he also had vision; in his letter, he shared his dream to someday win the Masters. From a parent’s perspective, I think the lesson that we can impart to our children is twofold:

  1.  Show gratitude for the opportunities that come your way.
  2. Figure out what your dreams are and what you want out of life so you can go after it!

Gratitude and dreams – now those are two great concepts – so simple yet impactful…and positive!

So, Jordan Spieth, thank you for the inspiration and for being the gold standard of polish and class, on and off the links. While I may not guide my kids to perfectly duplicate your heavenly swing of irons (hey, it’s their call on what dreams they pursue), I can certainly share your playbook around taking the time to do the right thing, all while keeping focus on your goals!

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

P.S. Want to help your kids make a habit out of expressing gratitude to those who gave them something to appreciate? Try Wear the Cape’s Gratitude-Strong Thank You Cards. Ten come in a pack, and they’re perfectly-suited to teach kids what gratitude is AND what it looks like in action. They even have wide-ruled lines to make writing a brief note easy. Order by clicking here.

thank you cards 1

kids soccer

5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Create Life Balance

Overbooked kids and parents can miss some of the best parts of being in a family. For parents far and wide, Wear the Cape’s resident expert on character education Philip Brown, PhD has compiled “5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Create Life Balance”. The list was created to help parents balance the responsibilities of providing economic security and meeting the needs of all family members for emotional support and personal fulfillment.

“Finding balance is not an easy task in a society of great abundance,” said Dr. Brown, who is a senior consultant at the National School Climate Center. “Our interests and our desire to give our children every opportunity to succeed can inadvertently pull us into adding an ever increasing number of activities, dates, plans and obligations.”

Dr. Brown added, “Saying ‘no’ when demands become more than we can handle, or to children who may feel that they are supposed to be involved with everything their friends are doing to keep up, is not easy, and can be particularly difficult if our sense of self, who we want to believe we are or should be, seems dependent on saying ‘yes’ and doing it all.”

 5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Find Life Balance

  1.  Let your kids know that you care about them for who they are, not just what they can do. Children need to know that your love is not contingent on their achievements.
  2. Remember that children do not have the same sense of time that you do. Part of growing up is being able to put things in perspective. There will likely be another friend, another team, another trip if this one does not work out.
  3. Working hard at something you love to do is one of the best parts of life. It takes some of us a lot of experimenting to find those things we love. Kids need that free time to try new things, as well as the permission to give them up and try something else.
  4. Some kids organize their time and find their interests with just a little exposure; other kids may need a bit of a push to try things that don’t seem attractive or interesting (or may be threatening). The trick here is to be sensitive to individual needs and persistent in offering opportunities. If you need to be pushy, try to offer alternatives, so kids have a voice in what they will be doing. For example, some children thrive in competitive sports, and others may find their niche in hiking or dancing.
  5. Remember to include exposure to helping others in your family activities. One of the best ways of developing empathy in our children (and ourselves) is to feel the gratitude that is expressed when we help others. This doesn’t happen if we don’t have the opportunity of interacting with others in need or whom we help. This can happen within the context of the family itself, as well, and doesn’t necessarily require a formal charity event. Create opportunities in which children can feel that they have meaningfully helped other family members or the whole family accomplish something. The combination of caring, responsibility, feeling respected, and gratitude is a powerful stew that nourishes the soul.

“When we’re overprogrammed and feel we can’t keep up, or are constantly running on empty, stress can lead to anxiety, depression and take a toll on our minds and bodies,” commented Dr. Brown. “For children, this can surface in many ways – trouble sleeping, frequent irritability, aggressiveness with siblings, trouble in school, moodiness or frequent illness are all common signs that something is not right and needs to be explored.”

To raise children of good character, a combination of guidance, freedom, and support in the context of shared values should be provided. Most 21st century parents in America experience tension between their roles as providers, parents and having adult lives, a phenomenon that is widespread and not limited to one class or location. Reflection may be valuable, even if parents are not sure if they are overbooking.

“For most parents, laying the groundwork for their children’s happiness and fulfillment is a top priority,” said Leigh Ann Errico, CEO and founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. “But it’s important that families step back and assess the hours being devoted to various activities on the never-ending list of possibilities. Downtime can be time well-spent.”

5 Tips - overbooking

Curt Schilling Throwing Some Heat at Cyberbullies

Googie man at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Googie man at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Note to Bullies: This guy is very good at striking people out, so think twice before you are cruel!

You may be aware of the recent controversy that arose when Curt Schilling, former Red Sox champion and three-time World Series winner, tweeted about how proud he is of his 17-year-old daughter Gabby, who is going to college next year at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island to pitch for its Seahawks softball team.

Deplorably, the famous pitcher’s kudos for his child was greeted with some horrid tweets from people that were graphic, cruel, and downright abusive. Schilling posted some of the disgraceful tweets that even broke the law—attacks against his daughter, who is still a minor.

schilling tweets

A devoted dad, Schilling was not willing to walk away from what had transpired. Taking action to hold people accountable, he researched and EXPOSED the cowards hiding behind their Twitter handles in cyberspace. Once revealed, everyday heroes turned over the identified thugs—and good for them!

One digital assailant, for example, was from a community college in New Jersey, and another man was a part-time ticket salesperson for Red Sox rival the New York Yankees. Some of the tasteless tweets even came from students at Salve Regina University.

Speaking to their actions, Schilling said in an interview,

This is not Twitter’s fault or the Internet. That’s like blaming Ford for someone being run over. This is people. None of these people want to be connected to anything they said. There’s a reason for that. Now the goal is, if you’re a young lady and being harassed, first of all it’s against the law. As a young lady and a human, no one, anywhere, ever, is allowed to talk to you that way. Under any circumstances. If you’re a man and you do this, you’re not (a man). Being a man is about having integrity. This isn’t a mistake. This is a malicious attempt to be evil, and if you talk like this you’re a piece of garbage.”

So what were the outcomes with the people who tweeted the explicit and violent things about Schilling’s 17-year-old (read: minor) daughter? It’s a hard-hitting lesson. Of the aforementioned perpetrators, some were suspended from school, some were kicked out, and one was released from his employment with the Yankees. And all must regret that the offense will be inked on their records.

As explained in a recent column that I penned for the Star-Ledger, digital footprints can leave scars forever, so we must post and tweet wisely. I suspect the men who typed these nasty things are regretting clicking “Tweet”, because Schilling has clearly thrown right back at them a curveball with some heat.

Parents, share this cautionary tale with your older kids. Many of us learn best with examples of what not to do and why. They might mistakenly think that they’re anonymous online, but this case study proves that they can still be held accountable for their actions—think before pressing send.

Hopefully we can draw inspiration from the Shillings’ experience, as cyberbullying is spreading its tentacles. I recently learned from my teacher friend, who is a mom of teens, about a website called “Smack High”. Apparently there are “Smack” sites for various states. You can gather—thanks to the appropriately reflective title—that these websites glorify “talking smack” and saying unkind things to each other about athletics and other school topics. I went onto one of the “Smack” sites and was as disappointed as I expected to be…NOTHING positive or productive at all.

So, a couple questions come to mind: Why are people promoting this negative energy, and how can we fight love back with kindness and encouragement?

Reminds me of the Coke commercial: Let’s all flip things around to the positive.

Well, Mr. Schilling, I hope your lovely daughter Gabby has a strong career like you have achieved and absolutely loves Salve. As an alumna, I can say that I sure did. I noted that you were a good guy for all you have done to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sufferers, and of course, thought you were super tough when you pitched a win with a severely and visibly injured ankle during the 2004 American League Series against the Yankees …but, now, I really think you are a superhero—you WEAR THE CAPE!

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

Showing over Preaching: Teach Your Kids by Example

In today’s guest blog, Cape Kid and kidkind foundation Hero Award Winner Frank Piacenti reflects on the way his parents raised him, identifying what most powerfully shaped who he is today. We are thrilled to share this wise young man’s perspective on parenting – it’s sure to make you stop and think.


It’s hardGuest blog icon being a kid today. Without much experience in the world, it’s easy to feel lost or overwhelmed with all the stress put on a child’s plate. Between the spheres of academics, home, extracurricular activities and social life, kids can often lose sight of what is really important. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to some negative side effects: bullying, unkindness, or even just the simple inability to discern right and wrong. What’s worse, these issues have only been magnified by social media, a growing outlet for our children to virtually interact with each other in today’s evolving world. Now, I’m not a parent quite yet, but I can imagine that most must stop and think once in a while, “Am I doing a good job parenting my child? Have I raised them to understand how to handle and deal with these problems?” This question is probably as daunting and stressful for parents as it seems.

To be clear, I do not think that children who may struggle with these problems are bad kids, nor do I think their parents have raised them incorrectly. Through my experience with my own parents, I’ve come to realize that parenting is much more of a give and take. If parents do what is right themselves and love their child as best as they can, then most often their child will never need to worry about such issues in their lives.

I grew up in a loving household. My parents were strict on grades and required that we were home for dinner most school nights. They would never hesitate to read a book or watch a movie with my sister or me when we were younger. Sure, they maintained order (I wasn’t even allowed to walk to a friend’s house down the street until I was 11), but I never held it against them; I always knew they just wanted what was best for me. They were strict but fair, teasing but loving. Most of all, they led by example; they did what was right, no matter what the cost. It wasn’t always perfect; nobody’s childhood is. We had some disagreements along the way, and sometimes I strayed from what they taught me. After a while, though, I would always find the path again, often with a little push from my mom or dad. A couple years and two more siblings later, I’m out of the house and on my own adventure now, always looking back to the basics they taught me. Ironically enough, I’m not sure they realized just how much I was learning from them. The interaction was enough; I followed their examples and continue to today.

My advice to parents, from the humble mouth of a childless college freshman, is this: Do what you think is right. Show your kids you will do what is right, no matter the cost. In the long run, setting that example will be the most effective tactic in encouraging your child to do the same. Remember the process is a give and take. A parent can’t just say how important it is to be kind and then yell at co-workers on the phone. Children learn much more from example than from preaching — they’re excellent imitators. My 8-year-old sister, who loves to rant about politics (just like my dad), is my favorite example of that. She’s learning just as I did, and all other children do. I can imagine she’ll succumb to some of the traps the world offers along the way, but I’m sure if she follows the example of my parents as I did, she’ll learn to overcome those obstacles by always and unquestioningly doing what is right.

Frank Piacenti
Cape Kid and Winner of kidkind foundation Hero Award
Frank Piacenti