Animals, Caring Action, Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Cute, fierce, and awe inspiring are some of the feelings that many of us feel when we see animals. Sometimes our furry and crawling friends need a little help. An example that Unified Caring Association (UCA) loves to do is have UCA member benefits that help pets. Other organizations that help animals hold a favorite place in our hearts. One such organization is Conservation Ambassadors and their Zoo to You program.

Who are Conservation Ambassadors and what is the Zoo to You?

Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo are a rescue zoo. This is a place where un-releasable and unwanted wild animals could have a permanent loving home. These animals have a second chance at life by becoming animal “ambassadors” through an outreach education program. At the sanctuary there are about 230 animals, and about 8 employees. Largest of the animals are the camels, black bears and tigers. What the team loves is that all the animals are well cared for and accustomed to people. This helps them become ambassadors for education.

Conservation Ambassadors have rescued hundreds of animals and educated many children for years. Over the years, the sanctuary has been growing and is currently planning further developments to house the growing animal population. Conservation Ambassadors are giving a caring voice to wildlife by providing a stable and loving home. Many of these animals are displaced, exotic, abused, abandoned or permanently injured. Their second life is full of fun and TLC as they are able to participate in outreach programs with school children. These learners, young to old, are educated about conservation, can become connected to the wild world, and inspire them to protect and conserve animals and their habitat.

Zoo to You is a specific program that helps inspire many people all over California. This unique style of education is a blend of relevant storytelling and fun, enlightening messages through meeting live animals. With the efforts of Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo to You, these children grow into informed, caring adults. Often these children call and write to the sanctuary about how much they have learned and enjoyed the programs, and want to bring their kids to learn as well. This is such an inspiring organization brimming with caring, inspiring others to see the natural world as an important and necessary part of life. 

Video Conservation Ambassadors

Learn more about Conservation Ambassadors by CLICKING HERE to watch a short video!

Meet some of the Animals

Recently, we had a chance to meet some of the caring team members and their animal ambassadors. We are happy to see them all, and want to celebrate them!

Izzabu

Izzabu is a 5 year old camel who used to work in the movies. She is gorgeous with her long eyelashes!

Rhetta

Rhetta is an Augur Buzzard from Central Africa. She enjoys eating small prey like lizards and snakes or small birds. She loves to chill all day when she is not hunting.

Emeril
Spike

We met Emeril, who is 5 years old, and Spike, who is much larger. Both of these alligators are happily hanging out with full bellies. 

Nick

Next we have Nick the reindeer. He is 7 yrs old, and lives in the Midwest most of the year. He loves his grain snacks, and gobbles them down at every chance! November through December his antlers fall off. But before that, during the middle of the year, he will often rub the fur off his antlers.

Marcel

At one point we were quickly introduced to Marcel the monkey. He gave a quick squeak before being whisked away for a snack.

Pockets

Pockets is an opossum who is 3 years old, which is old for her species. Interestingly, we learned that opossums are more closely related to monkeys, and their bodies are too cold for carrying diseases. We were having fun watching Pockets wrap her tail as she descends from shoulders and branches.

Bluebell

A chinchilla named Bluebell was snoozing in her ash bath as she was waiting for night to fall. We learned from her that chinchillas see best in the dark, and if their fur gets wet it will begin tol mold. We were enjoying petting Bluebell because she is SO soft. This soft silky fur is because of how dense and fine their fur is; we can only describe this as petting a cloud.

Disco

Lastly, we met Disco the Fox. Disco is a rescue from a lady who was illegally raising him. He is 12 years old, and is looking forward to many more years as an ambassador because foxes can live to be 20 years old in captivity.

We had a blast meeting the animal ambassadors and the caring individuals who help care for them. Nothing makes our hearts sing than seeing others sharing the caring and helping educate others on how the world can become a better place for all to live.

Zoo Animals

Want to check out more about Unified Caring Association? CLICK HERE to visit our website! If you would like to read more about caring the UCA way, sharing caring, and/or topics on caring action check out all of our blogs. Not able to check in on the blogs each day? Follow us on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to get notifications from us. We look forward to connecting and sharing with you!

Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates caring and acts of kindness. One way is by celebrating the UCA Scholarship winners! Throughout the years we have held many scholarship contests, and are constantly in awe about how caring students are, and what new and innovative ways they bring caring into our communities. We have been blogging about various themes that have arisen in the recent submissions for the Fall 2019 scholarship contest. Many of the submissions had awareness and empathy in common. Below are some caring quotes from the essays and a scholarship essay that displays the unique skills that these caring ambassadors have!

Grace E Shay

Grace Shay

Ritika Managuli

Ritika Managuli

Jenna Dubbelde 

Jenna Dubbelde

Bella Brannon

Bella Brannon

“Since I can remember, my mom would recite this mantra to me. She would reference these “secret battles,” when young me was quick to judge another. No matter how many times she recited these words, I didn’t fully understand.

How could someone endure hardship and not wear it on their sleeve? Surely, not everyone can be fighting a battle. I knew a girl at school who was so stereotypically perfect. I had never seen her work for anything. I was sure that she was not fighting any battles. And if this example existed within my range, surely there were more.

So my mind continued on with this thought.  I lived in a picture perfect world, I was naive and free of hardship. I selfishly assumed that everyone was the same. I never stopped to consider that there may be more than meets the eye.

One day, the meaning of my mother’s words set in. They didn’t seep in like water. It wasn’t slow and gradual. It was a flood. One day, my mom’s words were engraved into my skin, like a burn left from an open flame. To this day, I have the scar from that burn.

The day it all clicked for me was the day I began fighting a secret battle of my own: one no one knew about.

I was diagnosed with an invisible illness, Type One Diabetes. The disease is relentless. From multiple injections a day, to waking up nightly for low blood sugars, to cutting my favorite foods out of my diet, to seizures and the stigma that surrounds the illness. It was hell and the hell was invisible.

As much as I hate my diagnosis, I know I’m not alone. Sure, I am the only diabetic on my team or at school, but I am not alone. Because everyone is fighting a secret battle.  No one is truly alone, our battles may be vastly different. The girl I thought was perfect may not have the most stable home life. Another student may have parents that only see them as a GPA.  Another student may not have parents at all.

However vastly different they are, our battles unite us. They create our collective humanity. If we take this “perceived empathy” and apply it to every situation, the world will become a much more caring place.

What if instead of getting annoyed at the lady taking forever in the grocery store checkout line, we considered her perspective? Maybe she has severe social anxiety, and this is a stretch for her? What if she just got a phone call about her dad and is struggling to not break down? You don’t know. Don’t judge. Instead, understand that she may be fighting a secret battle you know nothing about.

I know that when you first read the phrase, “secret battle,” the first that came to your mind was your own. Everyone has had that unique experience. Empathy is learned like wisdom. It can be obtained through conscious effort. That effort, that will leave the world caring and united.”

 Annie Suenram   

 Annie Suenram

“In a world of instant gratification and social media it is easy to find yourself isolated from others. Many people believe that young people in this world are not going to be successful because we have so much at our fingertips, yet we do not know how to carry on a face to face conversation. Today’s society is full of people who genuinely care for others, however they go unseen because of all the violence in today’s world. To make the world a more caring place people must start small and then branch out. If I were to change one thing in the world I would be more open to people and to be more caring myself. 

Lets face it. However nice it may seem to say, “Oh we can fix the world and make it more caring by [insert colossal change of the world here]”, it is naive and almost impossible. To really change our society to become a more inviting, caring place we need to start small. Even just going through your day and smiling at someone makes a difference because even such a small gesture is sometimes rare in society today. It’s not to say that trying to make the world a more caring place by making a big splash is necessarily a bad thing, but it is more feasible to do small things every day. When people open up even a little, it means they feel safe around that person they shared with. If said person is unresponsive or rude to them, that person will probably never open up to another person. When this happens, the world becomes a more boxed in and closed off than ever. As humans, we are social creatures, but if there is no trust between people, the society will not care about others. A way to remedy this problem is to be someone that people trust and to be attentive to their needs whether it be just listening or giving advice. 

Although being a more caring person can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in peruste of a more caring world. Often people think “It is so hard to be caring to this person because they have done x, y, or z.” This is exactly the reason to be nice to them because maybe they had a rough day or they just got the bad news that someone close to them died, in essence you have no idea what they are going through and if you are rude just because they were mean to you just perpetuates the cycle of anger and pain. If just one person were to be nice to the person who is mean it may make the difference between life and death. Being the bigger person is always hard because it is human nature to get mad when someone messes with you but it is a necessary step in making the world a better place. 

In order to make the world a more caring place, I want to be a light in darkness, to be a smiling face in the crowd and be someone that people feel comfortable to talk with. By striving every day to do a little better than the day before, people can easily make a difference in society and the world.”

Kei Magloughlin

Kei Magloughlin

“In today’s world, it’s easy to become cynical. Every day on the news and online, we learn about the horrible things people are doing. As we see this more and more, it becomes ingrained, even subconsciously. Many of us start to distrust people as a whole. The very concept of “stranger danger” reflects this. Children are taught from a very young age that strangers aren’t to be trusted. 

Public transportation is an excellent example of how deeply ingrained the wariness of strangers is. On subways and buses, striking up a conversation with a stranger is something that rarely happens. People sit as far away as they can from everyone else. In crowds, whether on a subway or at a concert, people are taught to keep an eye on their pockets and valuables. 

But the reality is that the chance of being robbed in that way is extremely low. That chance is what scares people though, and it’s what leads us to distrust strangers. But the vast majority of people are perfectly kind. If they’re not willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, most of them will politely decline. It’s commonplace to hold the door open for strangers, so why aren’t greater things accepted? Something as simple as offering to buy a stranger their morning coffee is looked at askance. People start to expect you want something in return. If someone’s card gets declined at a grocery store and you offer to pay for their $15 of groceries, other people think it’s some sort of scam. Can we not trust other people to be kind because they want to brighten someone’s day? 

These sorts of issues are just the expression of the much deeper problem in society: the problem of distrust. There are many factors, everything from the modern connected world to the way children are raised. News sources gain money through watch time and clicks. The best way to get those things? Headlines that scare you into paying attention. Headlines about good or ordinary things don’t captivate our attention the same way. 

We can’t change it overnight, but we can do small things now. Pay-it-forward lines in drive-throughs can last for hundreds of cars. Although each person is going to be paying a similar amount, just the thought that a stranger was willing to make their day better is huge. One small act of kindness can, at the very least, make someone’s day less bad, and can even go as far as saving a life. 

Every action we take to support one another, however small, reminds us that individuals aren’t the same as the society they seem to make up. They’re better than what we’re led to believe. If we trust in other people, and believe that the vast majority of people will act kindly, we can help each other realize that people are worth believing in. By believing in and supporting one another, we can spread kindness and compassion, and small actions can spread further than we know.”

These amazing students help bring more empathy and awareness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education by awarding them with a scholarship. We have more themes to celebrate in upcoming blogs, such as self-love, that we are looking forward to sharing. 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 your 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 Action, Children, Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Social Media and Bullying

Scholarship Themes: Social Media Anti Bullying

Unified Caring Association (UCA) has scholarship opportunities for U.S. students each year. Each submission that arrives brings excitement and smiles. We are so happy to read about these caring students who share their ideas for a better world. Some of these essays share life stories that reflect how these caring ambassadors help bring more caring into the world. Recently, we began celebrating the various themes that surfaced in essays submitted by students across the U.S. Our first theme was equality. Next we want to thank and cheer those who wrote about social media and anti bullying. We are happy to share some of the essays. These essays have caring quotes that reflect the theme of social media and preventing bullying.

Madeline Chalecki 

Madeline Chalecki

“My grandfather is an 80-year-old, Jewish, politically conservative man living in rural Maine who spends his time watching and reading the news. And because he is constantly consuming alarming news about murder and crime, he has become scared and closed-minded. It has made him into a person that makes judgments about people of color, is fearful of immigrants, and comments on the “inner cities crumbling into poverty and crime.”

I live over 2,000 miles away in an urban neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. In my daily life, I am surrounded by people of different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, immigration status and perspectives—but with the same frightening news. The contrast between my grandfather’s views and mine has made me recognize the impact that sensationalized media has on its viewers. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would change the way the media represents people and current events.

Sensationalized media makes the world seem dangerous by disproportionately portraying negative and violent events more often than positive news. When we are bombarded with that kind of information, it closes our minds and makes us fearful of each other. It is easy to get wrapped up in sensationalized information from the news. When we see more violence than kind acts, we begin to think the world is more aggressive than caring. We become isolated and fearful of people different than us, causing us to become less empathetic, less compassionate, and less caring.

I believe that if the news, as well as other media like Facebook and Twitter, showed a less sensationalized, more accurate view of people and world events, we would become more caring and compassionate towards one another. External forces pull us apart, but they can also bring us together. I would change media reporting to report crime with simple facts, not opinion or hyped up information. I would make it so media talked about crime in a proportional rate to the actual rate of crime. We see more bad than good on the media, but there is more good than bad in real life. I would also want to add a segment to all news channels of positive news about people each day. I know that many news channels have something like this, but it is often irrelevant or uninteresting. Finally, I would want to make social media a less divisive platform by creating pages for open conversation and positive news.              

People work tirelessly all over the world to make powerful, progressive, and positive change. I want to create media that includes information about people from Korea to Sudan to Mexico working hard to positively impact communities. I believe that if the news had these new elements, people would be more curious about each other, open towards one another and more hopeful about humanity in general. People could connect over similarities, not just differences. Sensationalized news creates division and fear, but approaching media differently could have the opposite effect. To make the world a more caring place, I would create media that brings us together, portrays the good side of humanity as well as the areas that need improvement. News can become a powerful tool to make the world a more caring place.”

Emily Lindberg

Emily Lindberg

“To make the world a more caring place, the first thing that I would change is disabling the “anonymous” feature on news sites, web forums, and social media. Anonymity is a dangerous game to play because it makes people immediately more ruthless, which then leads to a toxic online environment. Forcing people to put their names on their posts would immediately change the quality of material that was getting posted.

With the continuation of advancements in technology, paper news sources are almost totally obsolete. As a result of this advancement, websites are getting saturated with comments, many of which are tactless and inconsiderate. This effect is amplified by the rise of “anonymous” commenters – it’s as if by taking someone’s identity out of the public eye, they are given permission to tear down others since nobody can tear them down in return. Reading the comments on a news site is like watching vultures circle and subsequently attack an innocent animal. As soon as somebody sees a comment they disagree with, their claws are out and they have no shame in tearing somebody else down.

Social media does nothing but exacerbate this effect. In allowing the public to share their opinions without having to put a name to what they say, platforms are allowing some true colors to shine, which, in a lot of cases, is not a good thing. Racist, homophobic, and bigoted opinions are running rampant over the media. Cyberbullying is on the rise and, as a result of that, suicide. When people are given the opportunity to be anonymous, sometimes good things can happen. But when so many opinions are swirling around, it’s hard to not get sucked in or take things personally.

By removing the publics’ ability to be anonymous, we would force everybody to own up to their opinions and have them face consequences for the things they say that impact other peoples’ lives. Free speech is important, but not so much that it can destroy somebody to the point that they take their own life. Anonymity is toxic. The public can have opinions, but if they choose to share it, their name should forever be stamped on it. The world needs to see people for who they are, not what they post. In-person interactions are never going to be the same as an interaction in the comments section of a YouTube video, so why wouldn’t we change the parameters of the comments section to reflect how people would interact in real life? Human contact is fundamental to our health, but if we are constantly ripped apart on social media because somebody decided to go anonymous, where is that contact that we needed?

Making the world a more caring place requires a lot more changes than this one. But I think that disabling online anonymity would be a start, because it would change the interactions that happen on the Internet, which is where a lot of us spend a good chunk of our time. Society can be good, but we have to make the change that allows them to do good and be seen.”

Kaitlyn Wong

Kaitlyn Wong

“My legs took small strides as I walked towards the lunch table. As I scanned the large cafeteria, I couldn’t help but notice the people already sitting down. Every one of them were on their phones. It wasn’t like there was no one for them to talk to. Their friends were sitting right in front of them, but there was no communication. What has the world come to? There are people that could provide the same entertainment, company, and joy, as their phone but instead, everyone chooses to divert all of their attention to a small rectangular device. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would have people put their phones down and experience the world by interacting with others.

The average teenager spends about 9 hours a day online. Phones and social media have taken over societal bodies as if everyone is now under its trance. The first thing some do is wake up and check their phones. Everyone is guilty of this, even myself. Instead of going straight to our phones, we should make an effort to go straight to our parents and say the simple phrase “good morning.” Talking and spending time with family and friends would ensure family connections to become greater and friendships to become stronger. In one of my personal experiences, dedicating time to see my grandpa has been more important than ever. He has been restricted to his bed for about 10 months now, and with school, there is little time during the weekdays and sometimes weekends for me to see him. My mom has resorted to FaceTime, but the physical connection becomes absent. When I do get to see him, I try remaining off of my cell phone to treasure the time around him. Spending time with him made me realize that family bonding is important, and with the use of cell phones, this restricts the development of a strong bond. Talking to them, or just the holding of hands, is a symbol of care that we just can’t achieve over technology.

Looking at the world through phones is extremely different from a set of eyes. Instead of being fixated on a screen for hours on end, we can make meaningful impacts on others’ lives. Take for example, volunteering at a food bank. We can meet new people and experience the feeling of giving and making a difference in someone’s life. Personally, when I first entered the food bank, I didn’t expect to be impacted or make much of a difference. I was only there to complete the volunteer hours needed, but after going through the motions of what the workers do for a living, I loved the feeling of being able to help distribute essential needs to families in need. Seeing the dozens of families outside waiting for their weekly grocery earnings, I realized how blind I’ve been to the situations in our world that I didn’t experience or see personally. With the constant use of technology, people no longer see what surrounds them.

Putting our phones down allows us to experience the world. Our phones are like our barriers to interacting with others in a meaningful way. Breaking down this barrier is tough but essential for a more caring world.”

These amazing students bring joy and kindness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education. We have more themes than social media and anti bullying. Other themes that we will be blogging about are awareness and empathy. We look forward to sharing more themes and essays 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 your 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!

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!

Caring Connections, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

BlueUp

In most communities there are times when we are faced with challenges, negativity or bullying. The internet has not been spared from this, especially on social media platforms. This newest form of internet harassment is often referred to as cyberbullying. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) want to help source tools and share resources to help others and our children learn the skills needed to stop current forms of bullying and prevent any future bullying from happening.

Cyberbullying History

Bullying and forms of hate or discrimination have been around for most, if not all of human history. With the advent of the internet in the 1990’s there came a new form of bullying: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to harass, trash talk, or bully a person. Often times this is typically done by sending messages that can be intimidating or threatening in nature. One of the first pervasive examples of this is seen through Monica Lewinski’s experiences. At this time her private life became public, and people began to ridicule her as fast as a wildfire in dry grass. Since then she has become a prominent anti-bullying advocate, even giving a strong TedTalk on the subject.

Cyberbullying has become a more common issue in households and schools, especially for children and teens. Often we hear about messages that are hurtful or degrading left on one or more kid’s social media account from their peers. This begs the question: what tools and organizations can we turn to to help our children dispel cyberbullying?

Stomp Out Bullying

UCA has aligned itself with Stomp Out Bullying, a leading national nonprofit that dedicates itself to changing to a caring culture for all children. This organization works to prevent and reduce bullying/cyberbullying. Also Stomp Out Bullying educates people against LGBTQ discrimination and racism in an effort to deter violence in schools and in communities (online and offline) across the U.S. This organization teaches effective responses and solutions to bullying, cyberbullying, etc. They do this using in-school and online education programs for kids and teens. In addition to their education programs, Stomp Out Bullying provides help for people in need or at-risk of suicide. They raise awareness through public service announcements, peer mentoring programs in schools, and social media campaigns.

#BlueUp

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Every year the first Monday of October is World Day of Bullying Prevention™ where students, communities, and schools raise awareness by wearing the color blue. Stomp Out Bullying has unique blue shirts to commemorate this day and further bring this national challenge into the spotlight. But, we can all just unify under the color blue to show support as well. This strong unified voice will help the world hear and see that our culture needs to change to be more caring. This is the 12th year that Stomp Out Bullying has began this quest and they have a wonderful slogan for their shirts: ‘Make Bullying History.’ This event will help “…speak for all of our youth who are tormented by bullying, cyberbullying, cruelty, hatred, racism, homophobia and LGBTQ discrimination…[we] stand together to MAKE BULLYING HISTORY!” (Stomp Out Bullying)

Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information and resources on our website and through blogs that share caring in our community, activities, and reviews. We also send out caring posts on our social media accounts (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to give inspiration throughout the week. 

Caring Connections, Scholarships, Sharing Caring

Thank You All of Our Scholarship Applicants

thank you

Thank-you-scholarships-piggy bank

Throughout each year, Unified Caring Association (UCA) holds scholarship contests to help those of all age ranges with funding for their education. Our recent fall applicants all had wonderful and caring essays that they submitted.

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? This was our most recent topic for the category for U.S. high school juniors and seniors. We were so impressed and moved by common themes we read that we shared them in our blog posts: Themes from Scholarships 2019 – Empathy to Passion, Themes from Essays – Gratitude, The Little Things Count, and Themes from Scholarships-Understanding Others: We are All Human. In these blogs we amplify these caring thoughts and actions, celebrating the growth, success, and innovative thinking for solving problems currently happening and in the future. 

With these students we are looking at a brighter future. We are proud to honor these caring young adults who are taking steps in unique ways to create a better, more caring world. Thank you, and we are looking forward to your continued success!

twitter-Thank-You-Scholarships

Want to read more about UCA Scholarships? Click Here to link to our website. Would you like to catch the latest caring UCA activities and blogs? We love to share them on our social media feeds (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) in addition to posting them to the blog sites.

Caring Connections, Scholarships, Sharing Caring

Themes from Scholarships-Understanding Others: We Are All Human

understanding others

Themes-from-Scholarships

If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? This is the question we asked our recent scholarship applicants to respond to. There are so many answers to this question, and all are wonderful. We read all of the essays and noticed common themes of empathy, gratitude, and a third common theme: “understanding others.” To understand others takes both empathy and gratitude to connect with others and see them for who they are: caring individuals with achievements of their own.

Grace Peyron – We are All Human

“…if I could change one thing, it would be to simply stop hurting one another and realize that we are all human.” This is part of Grace’s opening statement in her essay. She has a very good point. To help make the world a more caring place begin with stopping a negative action or thought. This takes vigilance. Grace comments, “Some may say that the world isn’t all that bad, that it is only the few bad people in the world creating this horrible corruption of hate against each other, but I think this ugly side is in all of us.” If we are able to let go of the negative when we recognise it, we are more able to promote the positive and caring aspects of ourselves. This example in turn helps others do so as well. Grace’s relatability to the human in all of us comes through when she continues “there are times where we can all admit that we haven’t reached out to help someone when we should have …sometimes get caught in the “id” mindset where we only focus on ourselves and our own desires instead of those of others.”

Why do we all struggle as humans to pull ourselves out of the funky ‘id’? There are many reasons for this but often it is because we are feeling insecure ourselves, and then mirror it onto others. This allows us to externalize the struggle, and often lash out as a result. This can be seen as acts of jealousy or lack of confidence in ourselves. Cue acts of self-care and growth mindset coupled with empathy and gratitude to see that we are all just human beings. This shift in mindset is one way that Grace would like to help promote to create a more caring world. “When we are understanding of one another we listen, we feel empathy; we feel pain when they feel pain and happiness when they feel happiness. When we have this empathy we are forgiving of others faults.”

Shreya Mapadath – See Through Other’s Eyes

Grace is not alone in wanting to help others see and be seen as human. Shreya Mapadath too wants to help make the world a more caring place by giving “…each individual the ability to fully understand one another.” Shreya writes about how power struggles have been recorded throughout history. These conflicts that arise are at their core due to a lack of mutual understanding of each other. Shreya talks about a first hand experience during a conversation with a host family while abroad in South Korea. They had a duscussion about there different views on same-sex marriage. Ultimately Shreya came to the conclusion that “…it doesn’t make sense to observe other people simply through my own perspective; I have to actively seek to understand what part of their lives has molded their beliefs today.” This is a great example of opening your mind to new experiences and learning how to see situations and beliefs through others eyes. Shreya echoes this in her essay. “When we make the effort to educate ourselves on the unique contexts other people live in and connect with them on a deeper level, caring is a natural outcome.” This small task of keeping an open mind to learn about others to see things their way is a key to helping create a more caring world. “By understanding not just the meaning of someone’s words, but also the context from which those words come, the reasons behind our clashing opinions become much more apparent. It is only after we can see past the superficial divides that exist between others and ourselves that we can realize every human is at their core just that: a human being.”

Sara A. McDufford – Being Known For Your Achievements

“There is a common saying, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’” Sara has a profound point. We have mentioned in other blogs about how actions often speak louder than words, and leading by example. In her essay, Sara talks about removing externalities from people’s perceptions of a person’s abilities and achievements. Sara focuses on race as her example in her essay. She defines race as “… the concern of physical appearance or the genealogical faction.” And she continues in her essay stating that this should stop ASAP. “But it can only stop if we focus on not who has power… but what that power has created in terms of gaps. A discussion about race and race equals power, dismisses communities of color by saying white is might and that’s how it will always be. When we speak of race as who has power and who does not, we invest in putting up additional borders that divides us from the honest conversation about realities that have been created and how to undo those realities.” This gap that Sara writes about does not allow for any healing. This gap doesn’t allow for promoting a more caring world. We are all human, right? There is empathy in the world and in those who strive to see the world through others’ eyes. So why is there a gap? “This [gap] is not exactly a lack of empathy, but it is a lack of exposure.” There are people who have a desire and passion… to learn about each other as a means of growth.” This echoes Shreya, seeing others through their own beliefs and values.

Sara offers a proposal that if these externalities are removed, the gap between people will most likely cease to exist. This will allow for individuals to be seen based on their achievements. This is what Sara believes is one of our biggest desires “…human beings want to be known for the good we do, for what we accomplished and how we existed. We do not want to be known or focused on as if we were just characteristics such as the color of our skin. When we bring our talents towards the public, we hope that our talent is judged alone.” Sara writes about creating a more caring world that allows for people to be known based on their “…work ethic, creativity, dedication… [and] the diversity of our talents should earn their own merits, always.”

All-Human

With these talented and caring writers we are excited and hopeful for our developing world. Creating a caring atmosphere filled with empathy, gratitude and understanding of others.  We are all human. We all can taking caring action. Thank you to all of our talented students who wrote in essays on how to create a more caring world. We are amped up for all of the actions and changes you continue to make!

Want to read more from Unified Caring Association? We have other blogs about UCA and member benefits, blogs for sharing caring the UCA way, and reviews and caring research. If you would like to get caring throughout your week, follow us on social media: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter!

Scholarships, Unified Caring Association

Create a better world with caring.

Want to create a better world? Unified Caring Association’s scholarship awardees have some ideas for you!

The scholarship team at Unified Caring Association asked high school students to tell us what one thing they would change to make the world a better place. We didn’t expect to receive such excellent answers! Such a young group couldn’t possibly tackle any major problems of the world in a 500 word essay, could they? The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, with each essay submission we received, we became more amazed! The emotional intelligence of the students came shining through their writing. Every essay was a caring masterpiece worthy of celebration and praise. Each student had ideas to create a better world! How would our scholarship team ever pick the top ten? And who were these kids that were coming up with these great ideas? Each of their essays inspired us!

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

So, what does a better world look like to high school students?

We discovered as we read and reviewed each essay, that our high school students want meaningful changes. Specifically, they would like to change the way we communicate, interact and consider one another. Many wrote about ideas to create greater understanding and mutual respect in the world. For example, Shreya Mapadath wrote, “Given the ability to change one aspect of the world to make it a more caring place, I would give each individual the ability to fully understand one another.” Adding later, “… when we are able to see people as the fusion of countless elements, we can truly begin to both understand and appreciate their complexity, and ultimately, care for them.”

Similarly, Olivia Dixon wrote about the need for greater understanding of our global neighbors. She stated, “To make the world a more caring place, we need to break down cultural ignorance and bring people together through cultural understanding.” Additionally warning us of, “… stereotypes and negative views that shape the way that an entire group of people is seen.”

Last but not least, Nicole Svagr shared in her essay how understanding and empathy has helped her to forge new friendships and become a better a person. Based on examples from history and her own personal experience Nicole believes that empathy holds the key to a better world.

Where can we read these caring student essays?

Without a doubt, the next generation is concerned about the level of compassion and understanding in the world. For this reason, Unified Caring Association (UCA) wanted to provide them a platform for their caring ideas. In an effort to promote caring in our next generation, the UCA Scholarship Program invites students to think about how caring impacts our world, and to share their caring thoughts and ideas in writing. Every essay entry undergoes the careful reviews of our scholarship team members. The scholarship selection process is based on a caring rubric. Scholarship awardees are contacted and congratulated. In addition, top ten essays are published on the UCA website for the world to see. The UCA team believes that these caring student essays will inspire others to be more caring. With that in mind, we invite you to visit our website, read and share each wonderfully caring essay!

Please read our other blogs featuring UCA student scholarship awardees: