Hispanic Heritage for Kids


El tiempo vuele, y ya estamos a la mitad del me de la Herencia Hispana. ¿Buscas algunas maneras de compartir o aprender con tus niños? ¡Aquí están algunos recursos que encontramos para ayudar!

Time is flying, and we’re already halfway through Hispanic Heritage month. Looking for some ways to share or learn with your kids? Here are some resources we found to help!

Sesame Street Hispanic Heritage Playlist

13 Picture Books that Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

Free Activities for Kids

5 Latino Role Models

Activities and Ideas

The Candle of The Sacred Heart/ La vela del Sagrado Corazón

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, I’m sharing a reflection on a family tradition that has made a lifelong impact. What parts of your Hispanic heritage have shaped your life?

IMG_20180920_134422990In my Puerto Rican household, one of the most significant family values ingrained in all of us was the Catholic Faith and the fact that we would follow it. Dreading every early Sunday morning for Mass, going to prayer services with my Abuela for every group of prayer circles, and receiving five out of seven sacraments were all part of the checklist that my family expected me to complete.

Later in life, when these things seemed difficult or life got in the way, the one thing that continued to be important was the lighting of the church candles by my Abuela. She always made sure at the end of every Mass to head to the small Chapel, usually in the back of the Church, and in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Usually, the rows of lit candles would glow quietly while I watched my Abuela silently stand in prayer for minutes on end. In my mind I can still see the graceful long wooden wicks and smell of sulfur burning reverently at the feet of the tall statue of Jesus. The images burn lasting memories, knowing how important each prayer was for my Abuela and how I often longed to know what things she was asking for or for whom she prayed most.

As she became older, my Abuela attended church services less; life and health often got in the way as it does. But one thing she always had were her candles. “Abuela, mañana tengo un examen, ¿prendame una vela?” “Abuela, acabo de aplicar por un trabajo, ¿prendame una vela?” “Abuela, estoy mal, ¿prendame una vela?” And when she saw us struggle she would offer and say, “No te preocupes, te prendo una vela.”

Our understanding of the Candle was that the lighting was a way of extending a prayer and showing solidarity with the person on whose behalf the prayer was offered. Honestly, with all the Puerto Rican home remedies I was taught over the years (i.e. rolling a coconut with only your feet or having a full glass of water behind the door, both practices used to absorb bad spirits and energy in the house), it was always the Candle that did the job. I keep one in my kitchen, near the sink of course, as is tradition, and will offer the same support my Abuela did for all who ask and all who need it. It’s one of the ways I honor the my Puerto Rican heritage and the wonderful Abuela who gave me my life lessons and the traditions that continue to keep grounded to the path which I walk today.

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is not always easy

Many people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but it is more frequently associated with the colder months. However, it can also present during the summer, along with many other disorders. Here are a few articles discussing  some of the research on how the summer months can be a difficult time for some. If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone and that help is available!

Dealing with Mental Health Issues During the Summer

How Does Summer Affect Your Mental Health?

Actividades para los niños/Activities for Kids

El verano

¡El año escolar está al punto de terminar! Ahora, ¿que podemos hacer con nuestros niños? Aquí hay varios sitios con sugerencias, pero nosotros queremos saber cuales son sus lugares o actividades favoritos. ¡Déjenos un comentario!

The school year is almost over! Now, what do we do with our kids? Here are a few sites with suggestions, but we want to know what your favorite places or activities are. Leave us a comment!

Nature and Parks in Charleston

Parques y atracciones naturales de Charleston

10 Things to Do in Charleston, SC with Kids

Using Children’s Books to Start a Conversation about Immigration

Sometimes the most important things to talk about are also the hardest things to talk about. Immigration is one of those things, and if the person you’re having the discussion with is also a child, things can get even trickier. Here is where picture books come in, and they are useful for different reasons for different groups of people. For those children directly affected, they can help them process their emotions and let them know they are not alone. For those not directly affected, they raise awareness and instill empathy for people who are often dehumanized. This New York Times article discusses 4 children’s books about immigration: ‘Mama’s Nightingale,’ by Edwidge Danticat, and More. Have you read any of them? What others should we be reading?vasile-tiplea-226841-unsplash

Natural Disasters Have Unexpected Impacts on Mental Health.


Whenever there’s a disaster, there’s a rush on hospital admissions for psychiatric problems. But on the whole, the illness is already there.

Emergencies naturally provoke delusions and the emergency efforts, for mania. Obviously, there are direct mental health consequences – a small rise in post-traumatic stress disorder inevitably follows disaster. This correlates with the severity of the consequences of the disaster (loss of family, friends, animals and property).

And there’s usually a big rethink, with about a third of those affected leaving the area permanently. But, for the most part, this isn’t driven by mental health issues, it results from the very real fears about whether living in a disaster zone is worth it.

Resilience and Weakness

In terms of mental health, the real effect of disasters is surprising. When handled well  disasters are an opportunity for communities and people who are directly involved to come together, and this appears to fight against mental illness by strengthening social bonds, and feeding a sense of purpose and meaning.

Another surprise is the flipside – an inexplicable rise in the mental illnesses that affect the elderly. Those who are frail and are unable to get involved may feel they are ultimately only a burden. Such people suffer terribly from mental illness as a result of disasters. The big rise in mental health admissions after disaster happens in this group – its first presentations of dementia and senile degeneration is many times higher than with any other mental illness.

The complexity of social, environmental and psychological dynamics during an emergency cannot be underestimated. With normalcy going with the first evacuees, the strength of “all that is good” becomes the new foundation. As the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience points out, the power of the community (people you never met before come out of the woodwork to help), and the abiding dedication of the emergency services can be truly inspiring. And this is just the thing for building physical and mental resilience.

A useful way to understand this effect is through a theory called salutogenics. The theory rests on a relative sense of coherence that’s built by fostering three things – manageability, comprehensibility and meaning. Conversely, the sense of coherence is depleted by anything that rattles the ability to cope – not only a lack of resources required to manage; a lack of knowledge needed to comprehend circumstances, or a lack of meaning in life, but more general forces like the deterioration of age and time.

While emergencies inevitably attack the ability to manage, they allow for meaning by providing clear answers to life’s big question – what are you here for? Getting involved in an emergency effort gives the answer – I’m not a parasite, I’m here to save people. I’m a contributor.

The formation of beliefs like these has been shown to assist in the best of health outcomes, not only in mental health. Recent research has also identified the effect of improved meaning and comprehensibility in conditions as diverse as heart disease and cancers. Surprising as it is, disasters can actually improve health if people find a way to get meaningfully involved in the disaster response effort.

Perceiving is Believing

Reading this, you might think a flood or hurricane is a wonderful thing. But there’s a big caveat – in emergencies, the perceptions of those involved are critical. Good interpersonal connections create meaning, but the lack of structure within emergency situations also provides opportunities for selfishness and even criminality. And these inevitably lend themselves to atrocious outcomes (consider Hurricane Katrina).

Good information improves comprehensibility, but in an emergency, information may be hard to come by and is frequently manipulated. What’s more, people might not have the heart to be honest when it matters most.

An under-promise allows low expectations to be exceeded, and this allows for a powerful message of hope and the belief that everything ultimately works out well. On the other hand, disappointment is easily taken as betrayal.

Disaster victims should be expected to make unreasonable demands. Victims may, for instance, extract promises that are difficult or impossible to keep. Who, after all, wants to deny someone who is desperate and might have his life in danger? Who wouldn’t prefer to lie and say, “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine”?

But a hastily made guess that “someone will be there to help in a couple of hours” can start doing damage at 120 minutes and one second. The reason is because the promise suddenly becomes questionable, and at this point, comprehensibility collapses and meaning starts to erode. What could be more destructive mentally?