Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Global Citizenry: 5 fun and simple ways to make a personal & global impact this May

If "It Takes A Village..." then we are at a most fortunate time in that our "village" can be found with our geographical communities as well as with the online community at large. Gathering at home and with these communities, here are a few simple things our family will be doing this month that will benefit us, and either directly or indirectly, benefit others. With one exception limited to Canadians, this includes 4 activities and initiatives open to anyone. By making small changes and taking small steps as a community, we all have the chance to make a global impact.

Share The Table

Help provide groceries and meals to low-income Americans by having a meal with your family. 

The #ShareTheTable initiative from Barilla encourages families to connect by sitting down together, distraction free, around the table for mealtimes. Studies have shown that sharing a family meal reaps many benefits, from higher self esteem to lower rates of obesity and eating disorders. Personally, I just love how much we connect when sitting together - sharing our days, and laughing together. 

Barilla has included another benefit: they will donate the equivalent of 10 meals to Feeding America for every picture shared (on facebook, twitter, instagram) of a family sharing a family meal. Find details at Share The Table on how to easily enjoy a meal with your family and help feed those less fortunate.

Diversify Your Shelves

Read books with diverse characters.

Reading books that reflect the diverse world around us teaches empathy, and is an important step in guiding our children to become global citizens. By reading diverse books, we learn about experiences and perspectives wholly different from our own, and with that comes growth and understanding. By reading about various customs, celebrations and relationships, we move beyond encouraging tolerance towards celebrating diversity, in our neighborhoods and around the world. Unfortunately, only 10% of children's books contain multicultural content. That is especially disheartening for those kids who find very little representation of themselves in literature. The more diverse books are borrowed from the library, the more librarians will purchase and stock them. The more diverse books are purchased, the more publishers will recognize their value and publish them. By reading more diverse books, your family will benefit, and hopefully the publishing world will respond. You can read the great response from people from around the world about their reasons for the need for diverse books here.
Go one step further: Anytime you read a book from a diverse author or featuring a diverse character, take a picture of it and post it to Twitter with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag. This will continue to put this need to the forefront of the publishing world.

Here are a few great book lists that feature diversity in kids lit for ideas on what to borrow or buy:
  • Pragmatic Mom has an excellent comprehensive round up of various multicultural book lists for all age ranges
  • Playdough to Plato has a list of 50 multicultural books for ages ranging from preschool to 12.
  • What Do We Do All Day has a list of 35 multicultural early chapter books
  • Teach Mama offers a list of 10 must read multicultural books for kids, from younger children, to YA fiction
  • Visit the Multicultural Kids Books pinterest board by Multicultural Kids Blog contributors
  • Jump Into A Book also outlines their successful multicultural children's book day with various contributors.

Chatters National Cut-A-Thon

Get your hair cut at any Chatters salon across Canada and help build two schools in Northern Uganda.

On May 25th, Chatters salons will donate 100% of funds received for haircuts to build and refurbish two schools in Norther Uganda, with donations starting at $20 for adults & $10 for kids. I've been in dire need for a haircut for a few months now, so am really looking forward to this :) Pea and Hubby will be do for a trim by then as well.

Take the 30 x 30 Challenge and spend time outdoors

Spend 30 minutes a day outside in nature for 30 days.

Although a Canadian initiative through the David Suzuki Foundation, anybody can join and reap the benefits of spending more time outside, in nature. I've noticed the girls become much more affectionate and jovial when we spend time in nature, and for me that could be reason enough. Spending time outdoors increases creativity, problem solving ability, empathy and community involvement. When we spend time outdoors, we connect with nature. This connection translates to a better sense of stewardship and responsibility towards our natural environment, which benefits us all, locally and globally.

Did you know that our children's generation spends less time outdoors than any generation in human history? As much as I love spending time in nature, I have to admit to an indulgence in paresse (that's laziness in French - sounded better, didn't it?), and since working from home I can go days without stepping outside. I have not been a good example. By taking this challenge, I'm hoping to create new habits for myself and our family. I'm also hoping this will mean our yard and gardens will be better groomed this year :)

Looking for inspiration of how to spend those 30 minutes? Below are a few websites with ideas. Ultimately though, kids who find themselves in nature just love to explore and imagine.  

Our family favorites? Going for a hike in the woods, walking or playing at the beach, having a picnic, and skipping rocks.

Live Below The Line

Raise awareness about extreme poverty around the world.

Live Below the Line is a campaign to raise funds and awareness to help eradice extreme poverty: 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, which means they live on the same purchasing power as a little over $1 a day for all of their expenses. The challenge is to spend five days eating and drinking on less than: $1.75 CAN; $1.50 US;  £1.00 UK each day. My sister and I have taken on the challenge, which you can read more about here. Taking the challenge itself is not so simple, but there are others ways to raise awareness within your family. 

  • Go to the grocery store and see what you can buy with five days worth: $8.75 CAN; $7.50 US; £5 UK - go one step further and buy that amount and see how many meals you can make with it. This can put in perspective how little choice and food others have to eat over a week.
  • The average cost of my main meal's portion each day came to $0.65: Create a meal for the family that costs less than $0.65 per person/portion, based on approximate cost of proportions of the ingredients you use. This is also a good math exercise :) Go one step further and try to create a family meal that costs less than $1.00*
  • Talk about what other expenses need to be covered by $1/day - we discussed what our mortgage payment and cell phone payment comes out to each day - the phone created more of an impact on our teens:)
  • Talk about how little variety and nutrients are had on such a limited diet - the most affordable and filling food is starch based, but what about fruits, vegetables and protein?
  • Learn about the various organizations working towards eradicating extreme poverty in a myriad of ways, many of which can be found at Live Below the Line. If you can, consider supporting one of these organizations or sponsoring someone taking on the challenge. Never underestimate a $5 donation - every bit helps. You can read about mine and my sister's experience here.
* By $1 - I mean in its various equivalents according to the LBL challenge: $1.75 CAN, $1.50 US, £1.00 UK

I hope you get a chance to read a great book, share a great meal, enjoy the outdoors and have an important conversation - you'll be doing yourself, and ultimately the rest of us, a great service.  

You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see how we fare in these initiatives. And do share your pictures with us!


  1. I love this post because I think it shows us a little more of your heart and where your priorities lie. It has only been since I have read your facebook posts that I have realised how community (both local and global) minded you are and how important your fellow human beings are to you.
    The world could do with more Maries who are willing to live off £1 per day (and less Claires who are not even willing to live on £1 per meal!!)

    1. Thank you Claire, I often feel bad about not doing more, but then I remind myself that even small actions can reverberate into something bigger. Especially when joined with others!
      Hope you're doing well and getting plenty of rest, we miss you and your heart that shines through in all of your blog posts!

  2. I love this topic! Thanks for such a great post and info on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Pragmaticmom teamed up with Jump Into a Book to create the national event Multicultural Children's Book Day this last January. I know for a fact it was a huge success and planning is underway for the next one. This would be a great resource to keep in mind too jumpintoabook (dot)com/multicultural-childrens-book-day/

    1. Thanks Rebecca, I also thoroughly enjoyed Multicultural Children's Book day and all the many contributions! Thanks for reminding me :) I've included the link.


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