Advocating for what Matters

Nutrition is at the forefront in the effort to provide children an opportunity for healthy growth and development.  Poverty underlines areas where children and families are in grave need of advocacy.  UNICEF (2013) published a report in which supportive strategies target the 1,000 days from conception to two years of age.  The interventions support, and practices help to educate and establish community involvement in the health, wellness, and development of child, family, and thus the community as a whole.  Through community engaged intervention, education goes a long way for everyone.  More importantly, UNICEF members devote precious efforts to move policy and legislations towards effective and proactive measure that can be applied for the long term wellness of their citizens.  It is important to understand that interventions is the guiding force for change, but policy, governmental support, and community involvement must move together to provide the best possible future.  The following is a highlight of key components and interventions of an infant and young child feeding strategy that promotes wellness from the very beginnings of life.


• Marketing of breastmilk substitutes

 • Maternity protection skilled support by the health system •

Curriculum development for IYCF (infant and young child feeding)

• IYCF counseling and other support services

• Capacity development for health providers

 • Institutionalization of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

Community-based counseling and support

 • Established community-based integrated IYCF counseling services

 • Mother support groups


• Communication for behavior and social change

 Additional complementary feeding options

• Improving the quality of complementary foods through locally available ingredients

• Increasing agricultural production

 • Provision of nutrition supplements and foods

• Social protection schemes

 IYCF in difficult circumstances

• HIV and infant feeding

 • IYCF in emergencies

As with all things UNICEF, research and data help to establish the focus of need in varying communities. The programs, practices and advocacy efforts move forward towards social change by enlightening and educating policy makers of the benefits of change.

Source: UNICEF (2020). Improving child nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress. https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Nutrition_Report_final_lo_res_8_April.pdf


Measuring Intelligence

            As all things American, the use of Intelligent Quotient (IQ) testing during the early part of the 20th century was used to categorize individuals based on their intelligence, or more specifically, on the scores revealed by such testing.  In the advent, IQ scores were used in the military for the purpose of identifying individuals and their particular competences in job placement with in the varied roles at the time.  In later years, the IQ tests were used to leverage the position of the Eugenics movement, which held the idea society and prosperity could only rise for particular “stocks” otherwise known as race.  The use of the IQ test during this period gave rise to the assumption that persons challenged with socio economic status and race, particularly of African descent could not be educated because of some biological trait only found within these populations.  As erroneous and embarrassing as these theories are, they provided a gateway for the inception of court ordered sterilization of persons deemed by society as being developmentally disabled, feebleminded, and incapable of intellect (Bouche & Rivard, 2014).

            Fortunately for us, America has moved away from such practices, some which have been deemed unconstitutional, such as administering an IQ test to imprisoned persons burdened with intellectual disabilities, and of course forced sterilization. Current uses of the IQ tests perform well to identify that may need additional services for learning, but the test itself may not be particularly relevant in identifying domains where learning and healthy development may not occur.  Additionally, the Flynn Effect has evidenced that IQ test scores change over time and through generations, suggesting increased literacy, technological advances for education enable a broader audience to score higher than that of previous eras (Berger, 2016). To further evaluate the efficacy and utility of intelligence testing within the Flynn effect, we need to account for the increased availability of educational resources, knowledge of nutrition and the increase in services that provide for the underserved populations, as well as other environmental services that promote more abstract thinking in problem resolution. 

            When thinking of the child as the product of all of its parts, then we can surely understand that the ability to score well in testing is also a product of the society that rears him.  With these inclusions we are more equipped to understand Sternberg’ (1985, 2011) inscription of three general intelligences; analytic, creative, and practical (Berger, 2016, Chapter 11). Brain scans have the ability to further measure aptitude in providing real time activity in the brain, however; scans only reveal activity at the time of the scan and cannot determine or correlate with IQ test scores. Brain scans identify localized hubs which suggest that the different areas have specific utility for developing intelligence through different experiences.

                In essence, IQ testing or intelligence assessment tools inform us within the boundaries of the questions and reactions to the particular inclusions of the assessment.  They cannot fully generate a prognosis for future intelligence nor can they accurately gauge how experiences are processed within each individual child, emotion, self perception, and time of day notwithstanding. Many of the developed nations use IQ assessment tools in order to collect information about the community’s performance and most importantly for the opportunity to express the needs of particular areas.  The following chart allows us to see where intelligence assessment tools are used, however; it is more specific a representation in respect to the Flynn Effect, as where intelligence based on IQ scores, continues to improve over time and dependent on the time the testing were initiated in the particular region (Nagby, n.d.).  The different dates of initiation also give to the understanding that many countries may have had less availability for technology and literacy.

Flynn – world regions

                                   Source: https://ourworldindata.org/intelligence

        To reiterate, these measures are indicative of available data provided through research and do not measure the entire population, nor does it imply that the same assessment or score values were used.  Additionally, assessments for children are different than for adults, however, each may cover different areas such as aptitude, which does not render an accurate view of the examined (Nagby,n.d.) .  If nothing else, the data that comes out of assessments a sure indicators that the world is moving in the right direction towards making the health of our children a product of the competencies within their societies.


Berger, K., S. (2016). The Developing Childhood. (7th Ed). Worth Publisher.

Bouche, T., & Rivard, L. (2014). Genetics Generation:  America’s Hidden History. https://www.nature.com/scitable/forums/genetics-generation/america-s-hidden-history-the-eugenics-movement-123919444/

Nagby, M. (n.d.). Intelligence. https://ourworldindata.org/intelligence



There is no need for me to lecture anyone or bring up statistics about the effects of malnutrition.  It is a sad, painful and pervasive reality for too many families right here in the land of riches and opportunities. Many organizations and generous contributors do what they can to provide food and monetary donations to help less fortunate individuals and families. However; despite all the efforts, many children and families are malnourished.  Taking an initiative to plant a vegetable garden at a community playground is a wonderful opportunity to inform curious bystanders of what you are doing and invite them to join.  So imagine my excitement when I came across an organization that was doing this very thing at a national level.  I came across KidsGardening.org , an organization that promotes wellness through gardening.  Resources in this site are free to use, and subscribing gains you free activities to try with young children.  Not only is gardening a fun way for children to interact, but it also promotes social skills, patience, positive self esteem, interest in our environment and gives them the power to grow foods for consumption. Rather than bogging you down with my biased opinions, I prefer to let you make your own determination of this program and hope you will explore the contents offered. What I will say is that organizations partnering with kidsgardening.org report an increase in student nutritional attitudes among other important statistics.  Giving children the power to change or even brighten their world view from the garden will have a long lasting effect for positive growth and positive industry.   



My pregnancy experiences were well within the context of western laboring practices of birthing in a medical setting, with competent teams to render aid and monitor wellness.  Though my idea was to have vaginal birth, my first child was birthed through emergency C-section, due to the length of dry labor and its impact on the unborn child.  Further, I must add that my frame was far too small to push the almost 10 pound baby out into the world.  Four years later, the second child provided another opportunity to experience the beautiful natural birthing process, however; complications from medical issues and infections prompted a medical decision for a scheduled C-section.  A year later, yet another opportunity presented itself.  This time, with added care from a multidisciplinary team, I was finally able to experience the complexities and joys from a natural birth.  Yes birthing is painful, but since pain holds no memory, the only experience is the overwhelming feeling of joy and awe to be able to bring a life into the world.

            Three births; three different birthing methods.  The only commonality was the level of attention placed in the different developmental stages of fetal growth. Proper nutrition and exercise, continual medical prenatal care and self care allowed me to carry my pregnancies to term.  


Inspiration Motivation

My previous educational accomplishment lent to the understanding of early childhood in terms of the stages and critical points at which physical and emotional development occurs and of pervasive issues that compromise wellness.  Keeping my focus in the heart, I address family as the central point from which children evolve and grow.  The ideals and principles presented in the Division of Early Childhood (2000) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (2005) align with my sentiments for a family oriented method of educating and promoting overall wellness.  The field of Early Childhood is community that engages the laden issues that befall our children and all families, one child and one family at a time.  In psychological terms, this equates to the Rogerian Person Centered Approach I learned through a serendipitous engagement in case management (McLeod, 2019).  Being person centered changes the dynamics of engagement and inclusion, which launches us to use current strengths, knowledge and resources that can effectively and positively allow for growth.  Being person centered, or family centered, allows us the opportunity to be learners. It provides for real focus, and real issues, that may get clouded with a universal blanket.  These principles and ideals help us make better choices, and keep us focused on the collective goal.  I have put myself at the chopping block many times in the desire to communicate researched and evidence based initiatives that can be applied to the everyday, if we just took the time to listen.  Children are the most valuable source of information because we learn to see the world from their limited perspective.  Included in Gremi’s Garden blog (http://blogging-for-good.com), the following ideals and principles are words to live by.

From The Division for Early Childhood. (2000). . http://www.dec-sped.org

Enhancement of Children’s and Families’ Quality of Lives Section III #3

 “We shall recognize and respect the dignity, diversity, and autonomy of the families and children we serve.”

Responsive Family Centered Practices Section III #1

 “We shall demonstrate our respect and appreciation for all families’ beliefs, values, customs, languages, and culture relative to their nurturance and support of their children toward achieving meaningful and relevant priorities and outcomes families’ desire for themselves and their children.”

From NAEYC (2005). https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/ethical- conduct

Section I Ethical responsibility to children.

I-1.1—To be familiar with the knowledge base of early childhood care and education and to stay informed through continuing education and training.

I-1.3—To recognize and respect the unique qualities, abilities, and potential of each child.

Section II Ethical Responsibility to families

I-2.4—To listen to families, acknowledge and build upon their strengths and competencies, and learn from families as we support them in their task of nurturing children.


Changing Times — Muddling Through My Middle Age

Coping with change has never been my strong point, which could explain why I’m feeling a bit disoriented these days. It seems that the very second I adjust to one new “normal,” everything shifts and then I have to adjust all over again. In my weaker moments, I think that all I want to do […]

Changing Times — Muddling Through My Middle Age

The Role of Passion in Learning and Teaching

Passion has a motivating factor; therefore, it is a significant need for high quality learning and teaching. Passion is seeking for the new, and experiencing new ideas. Passion is on the basis of effective teaching. Passion which is indispensable for learning and teaching facilitates learning thorough desire and enthusiasm it creates. Passionate teachers via creating effective learning environments endeavor to increase learning potentials of their students. This study focuses on differences passionate teachers make, and points out the effects of passion on effective learning and teaching.



Why do we keep asking ?

Is early intervention effective?

U Bronfenbrenner – Teachers College Record, 1974 – psycnet.apa.orgReviews early intervention studies in the area of poverty and human development. It is
concluded that (a) such efforts succeed only with sustained family involvement, and (b)
ecological interventions must provide parents with a basis for such involvement (eg, health
care, housing, or employment). A sequence of interventions is suggested which would
prepare people for parenthood and provide support in phases as needed through


Gremi’s Garden Grows

Good day fellow scholars: I began my road to profession during my high school years. I started at a day care center. During my stead, I pursued my love for hospitality and enrolled at the Hudson County Community College Culinary Arts program. Since then, I dedicated a good portion of time in the food and beverage industry. I was always too happy to work and be engaged in every aspect, including doing dishes and mopping to bathrooms and trash. I learned early on that hard work and dedication defined who I was, who I am, and who I will be. During a time of temporary relocation I took on a role as Case Manager for a mostly Hispanic community. Here I fell in love with psychology. Soon after going back home I enrolled in the Psychology program at Argosy University in Sarasota Florida. I applied much of what I learned to how I performed my duties, how I made hiring choices, and more importantly, how to be. On the home front, I applied what I learned when engaging with my family and friends, and in doing so, I have been privileged to inspire my grandchildren grow up with curiosity and a deep love for adventure. My family is my ultimate love, and my grandkids are my greatest motivators for wanting to pursue an educational path that allows me the opportunity to inspire a young mind. Taking a moment to reflect, I have come full circle. Evaluating the things that I have done, and the strides I have made towards positive professional growth, I return to the place where it all began, school and child care. 

Pruning, potting, and regenerating. I dare you😉
My personal cheer meister

Gremi’s Garden: Addressing issues and trends.

            Gremi’s Garden uses information from https://kidsgardening.org.  The purpose of this design is to encourage children to play, explore, discover and collaborate in a common place where creativity and imagination come alive.  Some of their highest achievements for the 2019 year include:

“Our biggest grant application cycle to date, increasing our applicant pool by 54% and distributing over $160,000 in prizes, reaching close to 75,000 kids in 222 garden programs around the country. • A continuation of our partnership with the National Head Start Association and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation to reach early childhood centers serving some of our most vulnerable, at-risk populations nationwide. • The introduction of Chrysalis, our collaborative online initiative in partnership with national youth garden leaders and sponsors to develop a centralized, interactive, online platform to meet the growing demand for resources, networking, and funding for youth gardens”. (https://kidsgardening.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/annual-report-2019-final.pdf)

            Gardening is a useful tool for addressing concerns of nutrition, and health, encourages and promotes diversity in a way that children can identify with. Caring for a garden naturally encourages stewardship for the environment as well as for each other.  Moreover, when children engage in gardening helps to reduce diet-related illnesses, particularly in children (ie. heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes).  In addition, gardening creates a green space for growing children, directly confronting the decreased play space that has been linked to anxiety and poor mental health.

            Gardening has much to offer young children.  In the hands on participation, children are more likely to absorb the concepts of comprehension as they work the beds using math skills to distance seeds appropriately, and call on working memory to recall lessons pertaining to the project at hand.  They can also become more aware of responsibility and collaboration as they work to care for their creations. Through gardening children become more aware of the animals that surround a garden as well as their respective benefits to the different areas of the garden.

            In the garden there is no judgment, no critics, and no bias. It’s all about our ability to grow with nature, to socialize, to take on leadership roles in an arena that if defined by diversity. The garden provides benefits in support of family relationships, and family engagement in this very unique learning environment.  I encourage you to take a look, what you find may surprise you, or at least provide a path of continuity and inclusion. I have yet to find a topic that cannot be taught through gardening, especially, if the children we teach create a space that is of comfort for them.

Teach children the importance of our environment. We are all connected.

Introducing Lessons to Grow By!

Lessons to Grow By is a FREE four-month program of weekly garden-themed lessons and activities for caregivers teaching at home, or for educators instructing via distance learning. These fun, engaging adventures will be grouped around a monthly theme, featuring three hands-on activities for kids each week with supplemental suggested reading, videos, and more. Lessons to Grow By is aimed at learners in grades 3-5, but the activities can easily be adapted for younger or older audiences.

Lessons to Grow By launches August 31 and is only available by subscriptionSubscribe to Lessons to Grow ByWant a sneak peek of what’s to come? Our educators have carefully chosen the following monthly themes:

September:Pollinators Explore the intricate relationship between pollinators and flowering plants and the important role they play in our world.

October:Plant Parts Take an in depth look at plant parts as we explore these amazing green organisms.

November:Ecosystems Learn about the complex web of life above and below ground and how we all come together to live in our ecosystem.

December:Sensory Exploration End the year on a fun note by using our senses to explore plants in the garden and in the kitchen. Subscribe today!Have a friend or colleague who might be interested? Share here!Copyright © 2020 Kidsgardening.org, All rights reserved.
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Take Time to Create a Stress-free Space

Alan Titchmarsh: The importance of relaxing in your graden ...

Stress is one of those double edged swords. It is a great evolutionary response that triggers the fight or flight mechanism in the brain. It keeps us in tune for dangers in unfamiliar settings and situations. It exaggerates happy emotions of surprise, and of the nervous anticipation of things to come. Unfortunately, stress in large doses is toxic. Gestational women can flood their unborn babies with high levels of stress hormones, that can often lead to premature deliveries and sadly, miscarriages. Infants experiencing long term stress are prone to maladaptive brain functions, cognitive, social and emotional issues, some which may prevail well into adulthood, and others that cause permanent damage. We must shield ourselves from the influence of stress with protective factors, and coping skills that will help to manage difficult situations, even those that are out of our control.

Gardening is my relaxation therapy (no surprise there). But no matter where I am, or what I am doing, I take the time to immerse myself in the language of nature. Laying on the lawn and just staring at the sky gives my brain just enough of a break to recenter. At home, I use a kiddie pool, tropical plants, a beach chair and an umbrella to unwind while sipping on a fruit smoothie and collect my thoughts. Find your favorite relaxation music and allow yourself a break. I like walking near water, and I often take a moment to feel the currents on my toes. Whether you are a garden enthusiast or just enjoy the organized chaos in the wild, take time to breath and what better place than to be surrounded by the thing that produces an unadulterated abundance of oxygen.