Children, Scholarships, Sharing Caring

Scholarship Themes : Equality

UCA Scholarship Themes: Equality

Unified Caring Association (UCA) offers scholarship opportunities throughout the year. Each scholarship essay submission that comes to us during our contests fills us with joy. There are so many caring students who share their ideas for a better world. Or how they have helped others in the past, even sharing their life stories. These stories have shaped them into caring ambassadors that go out into communities and spread kindness to all they meet. There seem to always be themes that pop up when we read the essays submitted. One strong theme that we found is that of equality. Below are some pearls of wisdom and caring essays that reflect the theme of equality.

Jennifer Watt quote

Jennifer Watt has a fantastic pearl of wisdom. Equality between others is not just one part of creating a more caring world. Sometimes equality isn’t the only thing. She goes beyond equality to promote helping others who are struggling.

Savannah Kartchner

Savannah Kartchner quote

“If I could change the world to make it a more caring place, I would change how everyone, especially children are educated about diversity. I believe that if we started educating kids at a younger age about accepting diversity, and continue to educate them through the rest of their lives, we could make people more comfortable with themselves, as well as others and change a lot of the problems people suffer with now, especially bullying. I know that this would not end all problems in the world, but I also know that children are our future and if they were raised to believe that there is nothing wrong with being different, they would be less likely to be uncomfortable with differences. They would also be more accepting of themselves and know that it is okay if they are different. 

I know how important this is. I was born with a birth defect called symbrachydactyly, which means that I have three fingers on my left hand. Ever since I was little I have always loved my hand. In preschool, I showed it off for show and tell because I thought it was so cool. At that time in my life, I didn’t really care about other people’s comments or how they treated me, but as I have grown older it has become a little harder to brush them off. However, I was raised with the knowledge that I look different, but I am still beautiful. That knowledge has helped me remain confident in myself throughout my entire life. 

I think giving people more education and allowing them to become more comfortable with diversity would really change how we see each other. That is the best way I have found to get people comfortable around my hand is by educating them about it but at the same time making them more comfortable. Whenever people notice and ask me what happened to my hand I usually make up an exaggerated story. Something so unbelievable that they, usually, realize that I’m joking. Then they relax and become visibly more comfortable. After that, we can talk pretty freely, and they feel comfortable asking me questions. That’s what I want for the world, for people to feel comfortable to discuss and accept someone else’s differences.  

When we accept each other’s differences we can make a major impact on the world. We become kinder and more understanding. With this attitude, we could end bullying because no difference would be seen as bad. Everyone would be accepting and there would be no need to make fun of someone because they were different, because in the end everyone is different and thus we would accept each other.  

I believe that educating others about diversity would impact how we see ourselves and our differences and could help increase our self-esteem. It could also impact how we treat other people when they are different from us. We could also stop bullying. If we learn to accept other people’s differences we could change the world and make it a more caring place.”

Teresa Fundter

“If I could change one thing to make the world a more caring place, I would choose to make our society more accepting. This would allow us to have more open minds, leading us to be more caring individuals, and thus making the world a more caring place.

During my Junior year in high school, my school experienced an issue with a group of students yelling insensitive, racist, and homophobic slanders at our opponents during a… basketball game. A local newspaper wrote articles about the incident, and it led us to a discussion about our schools’ character and tolerance of others. As a community, we responded to the situation by focusing on healing and encouraging tolerance, notably for people that may be different than us. As a part of my school’s Athletic Leadership Council, I worked with the Dean of Discipline/Vice Principal and the Athletic Director to help remedy those students’ actions. The school administration reprimanded the students, taught us about acceptance, and encouraged many discussions, but most importantly, they showed us another point of view besides our own. My school handled the event very well, but this experience also opened my eyes to a much bigger issue: a lack of acceptance for differences. And this lack of acceptance does not only exist in small bubbles like my high school – it is very prominent across the United States, and even throughout the world.

People tend to fixate on and criticize what separates them. Because of this, they often get caught up in those differences and cannot recognize that arguing about such differences creates a more hostile world. For example, in today’s political climate, differences between political parties prevent people from having an open mind, especially regarding controversial topics like gun control, abortion rights, and the climate crisis. Two people from opposite ends of the political spectrum will not try to empathize with the other’s perspective, which can lead to rude, ignorant, and obscene misunderstandings of those differences. And, often times, people will immediately seek to label those around them as “ally” or “enemy,” further creating an uncaring world in which people are divided. Rather than seeing differences as an impossible obstacle to overcome, we should praise, accept, and celebrate our differences, because differences are what makes us all unique and drives the world forward.

Teaching acceptance would help foster a more caring world. In order to do this, we must first encourage empathy. If we do not take a moment to step back and consider another point of view, we will not be able to understand (and therefore accept) someone for who they are. Parents, teachers, and other role models can encourage empathy by teaching children from a young age the importance of listening to and caring for another person’s feelings. Although empathy can become harder to practice as children grow up and life becomes more complicated, they will have a solid empathetic foundation that they can always refer back to. And, as a result, these empathetic, accepting adults can help to teach the next generation the same caring nature, continuing to make the world a more caring place in doing so.

Teaching one another about our differences and having empathy for each other would help ensure that there will be less misunderstandings and less negative feelings towards each other. Having these empathetic learning experiences – not arguments – is the first step to creating acceptance, and an even bigger step to creating a more caring world.”

What an amazing group of students! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education. Equality is just one theme these caring students wrote about. There are many other themes other than equality that we will be blogging about, such as stopping bullying and empathy. We look forward to sharing more with our caring community. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!

Want to read more about UCA 2019 scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude. Or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Caring Beyond Borders, Sharing Caring

School Lunch Debt Shaming

School Lunch Debt Shaming

Each day, sometimes twice a day, children line up at the school cafeteria. They eagerly chat about which meal they are going to order; the burger, french toast, or fruit salad all sound good! Once they get to the cashier, the mood quickly changes. It becomes embarrassment and horror as they are labeled with debt when the register flashed with a negative balance. To add to this, the meal that excites them is taken away. It is replaced with a simple sandwich made from two pieces of white bread and a slice of American cheese. This bullying happens more often than not, and is a little known issue in the United States. Without a doubt this bullying due to lack of funding is unacceptable, and breaks our hearts at Unified Caring Association (UCA). We would like to raise awareness about this form of bullying.

What is school lunch debt shaming?

“Lunch Shaming” refers to identifying and placing a stigma on a student who does not have money to buy a school meal. This is often referring to children in K-12th grade, who get their breakfast or lunch at school. “While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) narrowly applies this overt identification to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, in practice legal lunch shaming occurs against students whose family income exceeds free or reduced lunch eligibility thresholds.” (American Bar Association) Lunch debt shaming’s purpose is to embarrass a student and subsequently their parent(s) so that the debt is paid quickly, making it so that the school has less financial burden. Both students who do not qualify for free school meals through the National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program but qualify for reduced-price school meals $0.30/day (breakfast) and $0.40/day (lunch) or those that do not qualify for subsidised meal programs can accrue lunch debt.

It comes in many forms…

Think about the memes where people take pictures of their pets with signs shaming them for what they did wong, such as chewing up all the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. Or, like this one below:

Pet Shame

Now apply this tactic to an elementary school kid. Their hand now has a stamp stating “Not Enough Money.” Less funny? We would agree.

Other stories that can be found in the news include throwing the child’s meal away after it had been served if they cannot pay. It appears that some schools even offer different meals to the children who have school lunch debt, such as PBJ’s instead of the hot meal. Or, there have been reports of schools barring the kids with lunch debt from participating in afterschool activities. Or threatening the kids with other actions such as placing them in foster care. These unacceptable actions vary because there is no set baselines for unpaid meal fees in the meal programs’ policies for the school districts by The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

How can we solve it?

There are so many ways that we can help solve the issue of school lunch debt. Jeffery Lew gives a great summary on how we can be more proactive in the short and long term in eliminating lunch debt shaming. Lew suggests being active in raising funds through crowdfunding, such as Go Fund Me, to help those in immediate need. Other ways are by the schools notifying the parents of the student meal accounts. This can be done by paper notifications sent home with the kids, or by email. Some schools can even set up automatic notifications to the parents’ mobile devices.

Watch the full TedTalk!

TedTalk Debt Shame

Other things we can do. We can share information about meal programs for kids at school, such as National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. Unified Caring Association has also worked with Great Northern Services (GNS) who has a summer lunch program to help feed students while school is not in session.

Overall, Lew sums it up when he comments how kids and debt should not be in the same sentence. And bullying children to get a message to the parents is unacceptable. With a supportive, inclusive, and caring community we can help remove lunch shaming debt from schools, we can further focus on growing caring children.

Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on Mobile Apps for Caring Children, Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying, and One Tree Planted T.R.E.E.S. Program for Kids! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

Scholarships, Unified Caring Association

Fall 2019 Scholarship is Open!

Fall 2019 Scholarship is Open

Unified Caring Association (UCA) upholds the philosophy that education is one of the important ways to help bring more caring into the world. To see this happen we hold scholarship contests throughout the year. We are excited to say that we have one currently open and have so much excitement as the essay applications are arriving in our mail. We have been seeing requests from our caring community asking us to tell you more about our scholarships. 

CLICK HERE for information about our current fall 2019 scholarship for high school juniors/seniors.

Prompt:

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?

Entrants:

US High School Juniors and Seniors

Essay Requirement:

We require an original essay answering the prompt “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” Each submission must clearly explain why they feel this change would make a caring impact in the world.  Essays must be at least 500 words.

Fall Scholarship Awards:

First Place:

The top 10 winners will receive a scholarship award of $350.00

Honorable Mentions:

The next 10 best caring essays will receive scholarship awards of $100.

Deadlines:

Opens: 10/1/19

Closes: 11/29/19

Winners Announced: 12/13/19 

Essays arrive by the day and we are bursting with joy to read each fall scholarship. Often we have a buzz of excitement in the office with each one! Thank you to all of the teenagers who enter their essays. We are celebrating each of you and will be hard-pressed to pick out the winners! Best of luck!… and we are looking forward to reading your essays.

Want to read more about UCA scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Change One Thing to Create a Better World

We asked students to tell us what change they would like to see in the world.

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? Unified Caring Association’s scholarship team posed this very question to high school students in their recent scholarship contest. Students were instructed to consider what they would change to make the world better. High school seniors and juniors were invited to submit answers to the question in the form of a short essay. Students were able to let their creative freedom completely flow with such an open ended question! Their essay answers could be about anything, as long as they described how their one change would create a more caring world.

The response was amazing!

As you may have expected, the answers to the scholarship essay prompt covered an wide variety of topics. So many great ideas were shared! Students freely expressed their concerns about the world we live in and suggested some very well thought out solutions. As a result, the scholarship judges really had their work cut out for them! Each essay was a treasure!

Congratulations to our scholarship awardees. Change one thing for a better world.

Take for example the essay submitted by TiAnna Olivas. She answered the scholarship essay prompt very directly by stating, ” I would have people possess a more selfless heart and mindset.” In addition, she discussed the merits of engaging in community service, volunteering and paying it forward. Any one of the changes she suggested in her essay would make a notable impact!

Similarly, the essay we received from Briana Moore suggested implementing community service to benefit health, community and personal development. Another key point she made in her essay is the disconnecting effect of social media on relationships. Briana wants us to step away from technology and go out and help someone! And we think that’s a great idea!

As evidenced by the essays posted on the UCA Scholarship Announcement page, our student writers have many great ideas to make the world a better place. Please take some time to read the essays our high school friends submitted. You won’t be disappointed! They remind us with their essays that we are here for one another, and that positive change is possible!

Children, Scholarships, Unified Caring Association

A Reward for Caring

Since 2016, the Unified Caring Association Scholarship program has awarded over one hundred scholarships to caring students. The UCA scholarship program is designed to reward kids for caring while celebrating and encouraging their kindheartedness. Nationwide and program specific scholarships have been created by UCA where students are invited to write a short 500-word essay answering a caring prompt. Some examples of scholarship essay questions are, “How do you plan to live a life that promotes peace and Unity? How will you create the journey to fulfill this purpose?”, “ If you were the President of the United States, what would you do to promote Peace and Unity?” ,  “How can caring and kindness be implemented more in your personal life and in your school?” , and most recently, “If you were the “Caring Ambassador” at your school, what would you do to inspire other students to be more caring?” The UCA scholarship program has been warmly embraced by school guidance counsellors, teachers and students alike. As the students write beautiful essays on the topic of caring they engage their caring intelligence and skills and are reminded of the importance of kindness.

UCA staff report that each essay has its own beauty. “Our scholarship entrants touch our hearts with their caring essays. It is so hard to choose the winners to reward! We have been known to add additional awards in recognition of their caring.”  

The essays are scored on a “caring rubric” rather than the traditional academic rubric most scholarship contests adhere to. This allows students who would not typically be awarded scholarships to be celebrated and awarded for their unique talent … caring and kindness.

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Caring Action, Children, Feel Good News, Unified Caring Association

High School Seniors Shovel Neighbor’s Driveway

High School Seniors Wake Up at 4am So They Can Shovel Neighbor’s Driveway Before Her Dialysis

Rather than sleeping in on a snow day, a group of high school students got together at 4:30 AM so they could make sure that an elderly woman could get to her dialysis appointment.

Brian and Patrick Lanigan are both students at Parsippany High School in New Jersey. They also live next to an older woman who relies on ambulance transportation to bring her to her dialysis treatments.

Brian, an EMT, shoveled his neighbor’s driveway last week in order to make way for the ambulance. The weather forecast changed and called for eight more inches of snow.

The night before the snowstorm, the brothers knew that they had to help their neighbor. Since Brian often works early in the morning, they knew they wouldn’t be able to clear the driveway before the ambulance arrived at 6 AM.

Patrick then pulled out his phone and started calling people on his contact list for help.

The next morning at 4:30AM, four of Patrick’s friends arrived with shovels in hand. Within thirty minutes, they had successfully cleared the driveway.

Patrick’s father snapped a picture of the teenage “snow angels.” He posted it to Twitter, praising the youngsters for their compassion.

It has since been shared by dozens of people, all of whom expressed their appreciation for the gesture.

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Photo Credit: Good News Network https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/high-schoolers-wake-up-at-4am-to-shovel-neighbors-driveway/