Learning about Learning

I recently attended a session at the IYI Kids Count Conference that explored the struggles that young boys encounter in the classroom. I was astounded by some of the statistics: 80% of discipline issues involve young boys, 80% of learning disabilities are attributed to boys, boys receive 70% of failing grades, and boys are typically 1 to 1.5 years behind girls in reading and writing skills. Based on these numbers, it is no surprise that boys are more likely to drop out of school and less likely to pursue higher education.

The speakers provided some neurological explanations for these eye-opening statistics. Until age 19, an average girl’s frontal lobe (the decision-making, logical part of the brain) is 25% larger than the average boy’s frontal lobe. Girls also have 15% more blood flow to the brain and develop language skills much earlier than boys. All of these statistics (from the Journal of Pediatric Studies, 2009) demonstrate the importance of teaching in a manner that facilitates learning for both boys and girls. Since boys often do better with kinesthetic and visuospatial learning, the program speakers emphasized the importance of providing an outlet for physical play, utilizing visual props, and also giving opportunities for friendly competition.

As I reflected on the significance of this workshop, I realized that the topic speaks to a broader issue regarding education. While this session specifically illustrated the differences between male and female childhood learning, this is not the only distinction that educators and youth service providers must consider. Children who come from different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds also face unique societal obstacles that may impede their learning. We must recognize the social and biological factors that influence learning and try to accommodate learning differences as much as possible in order to help ALL young people develop into empowered, capable, contributing citizens.

MCCOY seeking volunteers for January events

On the evenings of Tuesday January 24th and 31st, MCCOY will be partnering with the faith-based organization Samaritan’s Feet to provide brand new shoes to all 100 of the children enrolled in our Attend to Your Future program. We are seeking 20 volunteers to assist with washing and measuring the children’s feet, then fitting them with shoes. We are very excited about this partnership and hope that you will assist us. If you are interested in helping on one of the nights, please contact me at [email protected] or 921-1229.

The softer side of roller derby

Almost exactly a year ago, I was able to check off one of my major short term goals in life: become a member of a roller derby team. The day I made the Naptown Roller Girls, was literally one of the best days in my life. When I made the team, I was excited about the sport. Full contact hitting and blocking while skating seemed like the perfect extracurricular activity for me. Not to mention, it created a chance for me to produce an alter ego for myself. In tennis shoes, I’m a social work student, a wife, and a child care worker. As soon as I lace up those skates, I’m Lyndsanity, crazed and hungry for victory. Well…that’s always the goal.

Not only is the sport unique and aggressive, but through my career as a roller girl, I have been able to meet some fabulous women from all walks of life. Women of different ages, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and careers all come together to make one eclectic group of bad-ass women. The camaraderie is impressive to behold. Through broken limbs and even broken hearts, a roller girl always know she has her roller derby family to back her up with support and love; especially with NRG.

When I made the team, I knew I would get involved with some impressive people, but I didn’t realize how much NRG gives back to the community of Indianapolis. Each month we participate in multiple events in the area, most recently we skated at the Tonic Ball in Fountain Square (which was a benefit for Second Helpings), talked to a girl scout troop about what becoming strong and courageous women, and participated in an open skate for the Boys and Girls Club.

We also donate a portion of our ticket profits to a charity after each home bout at the Pepsi Coliseum. A few of our 2012 charities include, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Special Olympics, Pedal for Peace, and Indy Reads.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that the Naptown Roller Girls are awesome, and I’m one lucky girl to be a part of such an empowering, strong, and generous group of women. If you don’t know anything about roller derby, you should come check us out. Our next home bout is on December 17 at the Pepsi Coliseum. Bring a date, bring your family, or hop in the car with a group of friends.

This picture was taken at my first bout.
Our team is in white, and we won! I’m the one with the goofy smile on my face…oh wait, that’s all of us.
Photo by Tom Klubens

This league of athletes is a lot bigger than the women who pu
t on skates 3 times a week at practice. It’s about the fans, the community, being a role model, and giving of yourself.


Written by: Lyndsey Mundell
IU School of Social Work

Child Hunger in Schools

It is all about the children. Is it really? No matter how many times you’ve seen this statement in America’s classrooms or license plates this universally holds truer than any other time in our history. One in every five children in the U.S. is living in poverty. The rate of households without sufficient access to food is rising. If a child suffers from hunger then how is anyone to become an active citizen? Even more relevant to their hunger is their inability to focus on academics when they’re worried about their stomachs eating themselves. Unfortunately our actions as a seemingly just society and the world’s wealthiest nation have fallen short of good intentions for children. We have dropped the ball continuously when it comes to the welfare of our country’s youth. Our countries reactionary legislation and policies to combat ongoing societal issues such as child hunger will destroy any hope for a better future. Preventative programs and policies should be enacted right now on all levels of government and communities to ensure that food is reaching hungry kids.  The research is there and the facts are laid out. Too many kids are starving. One area of great significance and opportunity is hunger in America’s schools. Many children qualify for federally reimbursed programs for free meals but many children and families do not apply or even know this. Many public schools have taken on the responsibility of serving free breakfast before school commences and getting the word out to kids’ families about free or reduced price meals. Principals and school staff are even starting programs that help kids take food home at the end of their school days to help them and their families get through the weekend. Other ideas stem from schools creating after school supper programs and bringing in farmer’s markets to schools whose children do not live near any source of food. Defeating hunger has become a focus point for schools this day and age. This is a glimmer of hope. We can only hope that other U.S. schools are taking charge to do what is right for their children in supplying them with food. Shouldn’t ensuring kids a healthy start and successful education deal not only with test performance but also the necessities of living such as clothing, a safe place to be, food, health care? This is not a problem that is new yet the majority seems to be surprised and uneducated about this issue. We need to start living like it is all about the children. I’ve provided a link to Share Our Strength, a leading organization in fighting child hunger. Please visit this site and think about what is happening in your community schools and the ways you can contribute to eradicating child hunger in America and hopefully someday the world. Donate, educate, and be part of the solution.