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Why Teens Need a Sense of Purpose

This is an excellent article and one that I strongly recommend everyone read. Click here to learn more.

 

About 20% of teens are considered purposeful; having a parent, teacher or friend as a role model is important

Mikayla Davic, a junior at Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh, has written, produced and directed school musicals to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation. STEPHANIE STRASBURG FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Teens with a sense of purpose do better in school, are more resilientand healthier. They are also a minority.

About 20% of teens are considered purposeful, which means they have identified something that really matters to them and are doing something about it. Joel Hartmann, a 14-year-old in Shepherdstown, W.Va., is among them.

Mr. Hartmann volunteers at Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, doing things like delivering Christmas gifts to older adults who live alone to help meet his school community-service requirements. He is close to his grandparents, and his grandmother lives with his family. “I know I would want someone to help them if they needed it,” he says. For another project, he plans on working for housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity to combine his interest in building and woodworking and helping others.

‘I’ve always loved to be around people and help them get what they need,’ says Joel Hartmann, seen here. His parents are active community volunteers. ‘I learn from them,’ he says.
‘I’ve always loved to be around people and help them get what they need,’ says Joel Hartmann, seen here. His parents are active community volunteers. ‘I learn from them,’ he says. PHOTO:KAREN HARTMANN

TIPS FOR PARENTS

Listen: Ask good questions like “what does it mean to be a good person and have a good life?” Then sit back and listen. Researchers found students who engaged in a 45-minute conversation about motivation, direction and desire to make a difference had a greater sense of purpose nine months later.

Foster gratitude: Thinking about what they are grateful for can help teens figure out how or why they want to give back, according to one recent study of youth participating in three online activities focused on gratitude over the course of a week. Developmental psychologist Kendall Bronk suggests asking each family member during dinner to share three things they were grateful for that day.

Model: Sharing your own goals and sense of purpose in your work is healthy for parents and instructive to children, says William Damon, director of the Center on Adolescence at Stanford University and author of “The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life.” Often, parents complain about work but don’t talk about how it makes them proud and allows them to express themselves, develop and support their family.

Watch it: Remember that children pick up on what you say and do. If you are cynical and focus on status-heavy, short-term goals, they will likely do and be the same. Short-term thinking is an obstacle to purposefulness, say developmental psychologists.

Support: If your children need a ride to the soup kitchen, drive them. If they want to recycle everything in the house, which requires extra bins and cooperation, don’t grumble. It can be frustrating for parents who try to give their child their purpose, say experts, such as taking over the five-generation law firm. Children want to write their own description of life for themselves.

“I’ve always loved to be around people and help them get what they need,” he says. “It gives you a really good feeling.” His parents, he says, are active community volunteers. “I learn from them.”

Mr. Hartmann is doing something that is meaningful to him and helps others. It is also something he wants to continue doing throughout his life. That is what purpose is all about, say experts.

Purpose is a particular kind of goal, says William Damon, director of the Center on Adolescence at Stanford University and author of “The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life.”

It doesn’t have to be heroic. Regularly shoveling an older neighbor’s walk when it snows for free is a small, purposeful act that helps someone in need. Making honor roll, being starting pitcher for the high-school baseball team or landing the lead in a school play are admirable goals, but they aren’t necessarily purposeful. Playing the piano can turn from a personal passion to a purpose when it benefits others.

Developing a sense of purpose is one of the most important but overlooked aspects of adolescent development, according to Dr. Damon. Many teens, while doing well enough in school and staying out of trouble, have little direction, he says.

Based on his survey of 1,200 Americans ages 12 to 26 that was published in 2008, he found that teens fall into four categories. About 25% are disengaged. They are interested in having fun and making friends. When asked to define a good life, they respond that it is doing things to make them happy. Dreamers are the 25% who think about purpose, care about things like the environment but don’t do anything about it or try to find ways to do something. Dabblers, the largest group at 30%, are those who get involved in a few causes but don’t follow through.

Only one out of five is purposeful. Among them are teens passionate about teaching history and becoming a missionary and taking steps to do so. Some are raising money to provide clean drinking water for families in Africa and others are involved in civic causes, like nonviolence.

“No two people have the same purpose,” Dr. Damon says, and purpose can evolve through life depending on new life experiences. What each had in common, though, was a parent, teacher or friend, as a role model.

Jake Klein (left) and Max Klein (right) created a website listing volunteer opportunities for children based on age, interest and location.
Jake Klein (left) and Max Klein (right) created a website listing volunteer opportunities for children based on age, interest and location. PHOTO: VOSBURG PHOTOGRAPHY

As young boys, New Jersey twins Max and Jake Klein, 15, liked to spend Sunday afternoons at the home of a neighbor, who was a retired chef, and help him in the kitchen. They discovered that the man was preparing food for a homeless shelter. The boys, curious and then eager 7-year-olds, wanted to come along and serve food but found they were too young.

Disappointed, they talked with their parents. Together, they came up with ways to raise money and collect food for shelters, asking friends and family to bring canned goods or donations, rather than gifts, to their birthday parties and for Hanukkah and Christmas. As part of their bar mitzvah project, they created a website called Kids That Do Good listing volunteer opportunities for children based on age, interest and location. “Our parents taught us that we were blessed to have what we have and to find ways to give back,” says Jake.

Often teens don’t think about purpose until they have to apply to college and write an essay, says Kendall Bronk, a developmental psychologist at Claremont Graduate University and head of the Adolescent Moral Development lab. She wants to change that and has developed online tool kits, the Fostering Purpose Project, with three 15-minute activities to be completed on three different days, to help teens think about their strengths, their values, and how they can use their skills to practice those values.

In one exercise, they send emails to five adults outside the family—coaches, teachers, employers—and ask them to take 5 minutes or less to describe what the teen is particularly good at. “Trusted adults in their lives can help them think things through,” she says. They watch a short video of comedian and television host Jimmy Fallon, who learned at a young age that he wanted to make people laugh.

Schools can play a big role, says Randal Lutz, superintendent at Baldwin Whitehall School district in Pittsburgh. The high school sponsors the local Special Olympics Summer Games and encourages community-service projects. At the end of their senior year, students spend 45 minutes being interviewed by a panel of adults. Although much of the focus is on careers, they always begin with questions about the student. “How often do we take a step back from content, like English and math, and just say let’s talk about you. What makes you you?” says Dr. Lutz. “Maybe we wait too long.”

Many children, he says, are more engaged in less meaningful things, which he suspects reflects the impact of social media. That, he says, is what makes Mikayla Davic’s efforts all the more “heartwarming.”

Ms. Davic, a junior at Baldwin High School, wrote, produced and directed her first musical “A Not-So-Magical Story” in eighth grade as part of a gifted student program. She donated ticket and concession sales to Make-A-Wish Foundation because she wanted to help children dealing with serious illnesses. It was so rewarding, she produced four more shows, the latest being “Misfits,” a story of a 17-year-old California girl who runs away from home and goes to the Woodstock Music Festival. She has raised more than $45,000 and expects to surpass her goal of $50,000 by graduation.

Ms. Davic receives letters describing the Make-A-Wish children and the trips and adventures they have experienced with the proceeds from her musicals. She calls them humbling. “It changed me. Before I did this, I was just another kid who took what I had for granted,” she says. “I began to see how lucky I was and it’s motivated me even more.”

Write to Clare Ansberry at clare.ansberry@wsj.com

Appeared in the February 12, 2018, print edition as ‘Why Teens need a sense of purpose.’

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London Mayor Seeks Revival of Public Drinking Fountains

Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

There was a time when skeptical old-timers derided bottled water as little more than a marketer’s trick to lure consumers into paying for a liquid that should cost next to nothing. And, equally, there were many people who asked where else they would find water when public drinking fountains had all but disappeared.

But as concerns mount over the detritus of plastics that elude recycling, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, let it be known on Monday that he wished to redress the balance by providing more drinking fountains and bottle-filling stations while reducing the prevalence of single-use packaging.

London mayors generally seek to establish a distinctive legacy. Apart from a degree of buffoonery, Mr. Khan’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, who is now Britain’s foreign secretary, made a name in transport, introducing the Boris Bus, a distinctive update on the traditional double-decker, and the Boris Bike, a bicycle for hire on the streets of the capital.

Mr. Khan, by contrast, seems to be focusing on the environment, introducing measures intended to reduce air pollution and, now, its surfeit of plastic. But it may be some time before the city sprouts new drinking fountains.

Continue reading the main story

The mayor, according to a news release from his office, “has asked City Hall officers to examine the feasibility of a pilot community water refill scheme or other interventions.” And he “supports boroughs in identifying suitable locations for water fountains and bottle-refill stations during the planning in new or redeveloped public spaces, such as town centers, shopping malls, parks and squares.”

Photo

A Wallace Fountain in the Palais Royal gardens in Paris. CreditMiguel Medina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He is also seeking to persuade businesses to make tap water freely available and has written to the government to “discuss the possibility” of trying a deposit-return program as well as other measures.

Globally, plastic bottles have become an environmentalist’s nightmare, with some reports suggesting that about half of the billions of bottles in circulation are not recycled. Such is the broader concern about plastic pollutants that a British child care provider, Tops Day Nurseries, said in a blog posting last month that it was banning glitter from its nurseries because it is a microplastic that harms the environment.

But plastic bottles are in a different league.

Britain, for instance, uses 35 million every day, according to the advocacy group Recycle Now, which lamented that “nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren’t being put out for recycling.”

At the same time, though, the health authorities have questioned whether reused plastic bottles are a hazard, since they may harbor bacteria and other contaminants. And there are efforts to introduce an edible water bottle, made of a seaweed extract, that can be eaten when the water has been drunk.

Public drinking fountains, by contrast, have dwindled since their introduction in Victorian times.

In some boroughs of London and cities outside the capital, indeed, there are none, The Guardian reported on Monday. By contrast, Paris — one of London’s great rivals in the claim to metropolitan excellence — boasts a broad array of drinking fountains, including some newer ones that dispense sparkling water, and the older, but imposing, so-called Wallace Fountains created with donations from a British philanthropist, Sir Richard Wallace, in the late 19th century to provide clean water for the poor.

In 2008, Mr. Johnson, the former mayor, announced plans for a great expansion of public drinking fountains but, Mr. Khan’s office said on Monday, “several proposals for providing water fountains and bottle-refill stations were explored but there were concerns over high installation costs.”

However, there may be other factors, such as pressure from interest groups to protect retailers at train stations, for instance, who profit by selling bottled water and would not welcome the competition from free water fountains, The Guardian said.

Still, such fountains seem to have had a strong following for a long time.

The first drinking fountain in London went onstream in 1859 “against a background of a filthy River Thames full of untreated sewage, rubbish and effluent from factories, water borne cholera but, most importantly, inadequate free drinking water,” said The Drinking Fountain Association, a nonprofit group. “Within a short time it was being used daily by around 7,000 people.”

For multi-national families, breaking up can lead to tragedy

Click here or on the pdf file to learn more about this very complicated situation where parent’s rights seem to matter more than children’s rights. Marriage to a transnational is fraught with risk and the possible international abduction of your children. Many countries aren’t even aware of the risk or family law judges choose to ignore it due to their own bias’.

Cyanobacteria: Planktonic Gas-Vacuolate Forms

Hydrography maps a water’s topographic features including the depths, tides, and currents of a body of water and establishing the topography and morphology of seas, rivers, and lake beds. Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.

 

… cyanobacteria  do occur, and may even dominate the phytoplankton in mesotrophic and oligotrophic lakes (Baker and Brooke, 1971; Walsby and Klemer, 1974).

The distribution of of gas vacuolate cyanobacteria is is influenced by the hydrography of lakes. …

Hydrography, Definition of

Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.

 

Hydrography refers to the mapping or charting of water’s topographic features. It involves measuring the depths, tides, and currents of a body of water and establishing the topography and morphology of seas, rivers, and lake beds. Normally and historically the purpose of charting a body of water is for the safety of shipping navigation. Such charting includes the positioning and identification of things such as wrecks, reefs, structures, navigational lights, marks and buoys and coastline characteristics. Hydrography does not include water quality or composition which are part of the broader field of hydrology.

 

Exploring the microbiome of an ocean bacteria

Microbiome works with cynobacteria to create a community that thrives. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

As the Trichodesmium nitrogen fixation genes turned on and off, genes for nitrogen use in the microbiome followed in lockstep. The same patterns appeared in Trichodesmium carbon fixation genes and microbiome carbon consumption genes. On the other hand, we also found evidence that the microbiome earns their keep on colonies by using up the oxygen produced by photosynthesis, and breaking down the sugars back into carbon dioxide—essentially breathing, eating, and exhaling just like animals do. By removing oxygen, which inhibits , and resupplying carbon dioxide, the microbiome ensures a favorable setting for Trichodesmium to continue fixing nitrogen and photosynthesizing. To us, these links suggested a tight symbiotic relationship that could have a profound geochemical impact.

 

Oral Allergy: Plants, Foods That Cross-React

I find this website more thorough and easier to understand than some of the professionals on the allergy websites.