Omaha World Herald Highlights Wear the Cape’s Top 10 List on Volunteering

momaha logoThe Omaha World-Herald’s Momaha, “where Omaha moms connect,” published a wonderful write-up on the Top 10 list that Wear the Cape issued today about the importance of encouraging your kids to volunteer. Reporter Josie Loza opens the article, “10 reasons to encourage your child to volunteer,” with some brief background on Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. From the piece:

Wear the Cape is a brand with a mission to empower kids to be heroes.

In fact, its KidKind Foundation was built on the hope that it could teach children to have empathy, to be kind and to restore good character.

All great traits you’d find in a superhero, right?

Josie then goes on to share:

It’s a cool initiative that released a Top 10 list why parents should encourage their kids to volunteer. All research-based reasons that Dr. Phillip Brown, a senior consultant at the National School Climate Center, studied in character education.

To read Josie’s story in full, head on over to the Omaha World-Herald’s website. And to read Wear the Cape Founder Leigh Ann Errico’s reflections on the value in volunteering as a family, as well as Dr. Brown’s insight about the positives of engaging in meaningful service activities, find the press release here.

The Proof Is in the Pudding

From left to right: Ron Litz, Emily Pollard, Katherine Szczubelek, Lauren Mead, and Stephanie Taeschler
From left to right: Ron Litz, Emily Pollard, Katherine Szczubelek, Lauren Mead, and Stephanie Taeschler

When it comes to tackling a giant challenge—say, showing kids across the country that it’s cool to be kind and that good character brings benefits in droves—words of support are HUGE. They’re the fuel to your engine, what you reach for when you need a hand to get back up. But even bigger than words are actions of assistance.

I am so incredibly grateful for the several amazing teachers from Park Middle School in Scotch Plains who have rolled up their sleeves. This awesome crew of five includes some of the key people who helped me launch Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation almost a year ago and who are still hanging in there with me today!

In addition to their passion and volunteerism, the insight they’ve delivered about very real issues that our children face in schools today has been priceless to me and Wear the Cape’s mission.

I’ve found proof in the pudding. Thank you, my friends.

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

CAPE KID – MAIREAD STUDDIFORD

Wear the Cape Kid - Mairead Studdiford and her teacher, Mr. Taylor.
Mairead Studdiford and her teacher, Mr. Taylor – photo provided by the Studdiford family

Young entrepreneur, hero, and Cape Kid of the Month, Mairead Studdiford, presents the true meaning of being “Better Than That”

Everyday heroes are hard to come by in this day and age.  Childhood heroes are even more rare. However, “Cape Kids” are amongst us in the classroom, at sporting events, and even in our own neighborhoods. They are going the extra mile to make a difference and Wear the Cape/kidkind foundation believes that these wonderfully heroic kids deserve to be recognized. They become known as the Cape Kid of the Month. This month, we proudly honor Ms. Mairead Studdiford as our Cape Kid!

Mairead Studdiford is a bright and inspiring 13-year-old girl from Far Hills, New Jersey. Just three years ago, she founded Bay Head Boutique where the young entrepreneur began selling unique, designer jewelry to the people of the Bay Head, New Jersey community. However, her “go-getter “attitude and business-minded nature are just the foreshadowing qualities behind the true reason Mairead was selected as this month’s Cape Kid.

The founder of Wear the Cape, Leigh Ann Errico, met this young philanthropist while walking by her Bay Head Boutique stand during the summer of 2011, where they struck up a conversation and did business together. Leigh Ann was blown away by Mairead’s vision and ability to start a company and do some good for her community at such a young age.

This amazing, outgoing young lady has worked every summer for the past three years at her “pop-up” store to sell her unique, designer jewelry. She then selflessly donates her profit to various philanthropic foundations. “I consider myself an entrepreneur but I also have a strong sense of giving back to my community” says Mairead when asked to tell us about herself. In the first year of her store, she decided to give the proceeds of Bay Head Boutique to the Audubon Society. The Audubon Society subsequently built heron nests in Mairead’s name along the barrier islands of the Jersey Shore. Following the second successful year of the Boutique, Mairead donated her profits to Restore The Shore to help re-build the Jersey Shore due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This summer, she plans on donating her proceeds to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to help support its research to cure childhood cancers. Mairead plans on expanding her market to the internet and is currently working on a website for the Bay Head Boutique.

Though the Bay Head Boutique has been Mairead’s most current heroic act, she has been “flying in her Cape” since the third grade. This was when she became the founder of COATS FOR KIDZ at The Peck School in Morristown, where she attends school. COATS FOR KIDZ is a donation outlet for her classmates to drop off their winter coats after they have done their spring cleaning. Mairead then delivers the collected coats to the Morristown Shelter for people in need. COATS FOR KIDZ has now been running for 5 years and has been an overwhelming success. More than 300 coats have been collected and the event has become a tradition at The Peck School every spring for Mairead to host and lead.

We at Wear the Cape are super proud of our newest member of our Cape Kid society. Mairead has graciously agreed to join our team as a member of the Junior Committee for the kidkind foundation and serve as an advisor to the founder and help guide our ongoing agenda of goodness. You can be sure that Mairead will continue to do great things, to choose kind. We could not be more inspired by this fine young lady. Congratulations Mairead.

Reflections on first Wear the Cape Hero Scholarship

Recently I went back to West Morris Mendham High School after 26 years since I graduated. Life moves so fast, and I am always “busy being busy,” but I regret that it took me more than two decades to get myself back there. The school’s wonderful awards evening made it evident that I should have visited sooner.

The places where we grew up really are “home,” and they shaped who we are.  The memories and flashbacks that went through my brain as I walked those halls again were almost too much to process – some good, some big disappointments, but they all helped define my character and who I am today.

It was really nice to see some of my old teachers and faculty who are STILL there. I was so sad to hear that so many of my former colleagues and fellow students had passed away over the past decade – some quite tragically. It was heartening to see scholarships in their honor, and to hear the speeches and tributes to these great people who left us too soon was moving to the core of my heart.

I attended to proudly give away the kidkind foundation’s first Wear the Cape Hero Scholarship to the graduating senior who embodies the values and mission of our kidkind foundation – the person who truly Wears his/her Cape in everyday life and does what is right, not just what is easy.

I am really thrilled that we selected a fine young gentleman named Frank Piacenti from Chester, NJ, who will be attending George Washington University in the fall. I met the Piacenti family, and they were beyond gracious. I cannot explain the chill in my body that I experienced awarding this $2,500 scholarship to a great guy. When I spoke to the faculty about Frank, or Frankie as he is affectionately known, people instantly said what a wonderful human being he is…and that was simply awesome to hear. That’s what we are all about – finding the good – and recognizing the people who are inclusive and tolerant and give of themselves.

Frank will be an ambassador for our brand, and I am really excited to have his counsel.

I want to thank all of our donors to date for helping us raise funds to go out into the world and recognize the good in people. We cannot do this without all of you.

Congratulations, once again, Frank Piacenti; the sky is the limit for what you can do out in this world. We are excited to be part of your current and future success.

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

P.S. To read more about this scholarship and see what Frank had to say about being recognized, read the press release on our Media page.

LA and Frank

Cape Code Project – The Grand Finale! (Activity #3)

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been hanging on every word of Dr. Philip Brown, the man with a plan to help parents lead the creation of family codes of conduct. Dr. Brown’s recommendations, captured in the three-part activity series he created and named the “Cape Code Project,” are key to raising Cape Kids, little guys and gals of character who make good choices and choose kindness as their way to interact with the world. Dr. Brown is a senior consultant at the National School Climate Center and Wear the Cape’s character development guru (we couldn’t be more thrilled).

Activity #1 of the Cape Code Project led parents in “Discovering and agreeing upon your family’s core ethical values.” The second activity in the trilogy consisted of “Defining your core ethical values in behavioral terms.” Today, we put the icing on the cake with the last Cape Code Project activity, which is framed by Dr. Brown’s expert insight and helpful hints.

Let’s get to the fun stuff!

Activity #3: Making it real for your Cape Kids: How to bring core ethical values to life

Background: Making your clan’s core ethical values a meaningful part of family life depends on how you use them. Remember that the purpose is to provide a basis for greater caring and positive conduct by all members of the family – and this means parents, too! The core values should be used to support children’s evolving skills and understanding of moral and ethical behavior. As they grow older, children, like adults, are faced with conflicts that sometimes pit values such as honesty and loyalty against each other (e.g., reporting a close friend’s bad behavior).

Here’s how to set your hard work from Activities 1 and 2 in motion:

Activity:

  • Reinforce examples of positive behaviors that exemplify your family values. In order to underscore and internalize the meaningfulness of your values, emphasize them by reminding children (and adults) when they are ‘caught doing good’. If one of your values is responsibility, say something like, “Thanks for getting out there and shoveling the walk before I even asked you to do it – that’s really taking responsibility for helping me and the whole family.”
  • Use the values to identify behavior lapses or poor conduct, always indicating that it is the conduct not the person you are calling out. The core values should be guideposts for positive conduct, not reasons for punishment.
  • Develop and practice how you will use the core values as part of discipline. If there is conduct that, according to your family rules, requires punishment, such as removal of privileges or a time-out, start the conversation by asking which of the family values the behavior violated. If the conduct was failing to get ready for school on time resulting in getting to school late, the conversation might start with 1) identifying the behavior (‘you were playing video games instead of getting dressed on time’), 2) asking which of the values this behavior did not support (responsibility), 3) asking the child to say what kind of behavior would support that value, and 4) then indicating what an appropriate punishment would be according to your family rules. This general sequence would vary some depending on the age of the child and the circumstance, but it is important not to give the child the impression that you believe he or she is, by nature, an irresponsible person.
  • Remember to model the behaviors you expect from your children. If you have a spouse or partner, model the use of the core values and let your children hear and see you doing so. “Hey, honey, I love it when you clean up the kitchen for me; that’s such a responsible, caring thing to do.” If children see the adults in their lives consistently violating the core ethical values being asked of them, that is a more influential message than what you say to them about their conduct, and undermines the entire process of having family core ethical values.
  • Attitude is important. Accentuate the positive, and when you or your children fall short, your attitude should be, “We all make mistakes and may not be as responsible as we would like to be all the time, but we understand why it is important to try and be responsible, because it helps everyone else and makes us feel better about ourselves as family members, too.” (Note: This strategy for motivating good behavior is rooted in the well-researched fact that belonging to a family or social group is one of the most powerful human needs. On the other hand, relying on the fear of punishment fails to develop understanding and internal resources for prosocial behaviors.)

Our main takeaway? Be consistent and loving to make your family a positive source of support for your children. It will pay big dividends down the road in terms of building character and raising kids that will contribute to a better society.

Wellll, that’s all folks! Thank you, Dr. Brown, for laying out a clear plan with the Cape Code Project that is simple enough for any family to follow. And for more helpful resources on character development, visit the “Dr. Brown Says” page on our website here.

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

kid helping with gardening