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The 2016 theme is “Communication Takes Care.”

Are you concerned that your kids spend too much time on tablets, smartphones, or other devices? Do you have fewer conversations with your kids than you’d like because of technology distractions? Do you find yourself constantly asking your kids to lower the volume on devices because you can hear the music blaring through their earbuds or headphones?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are a typical parent in the digital age. These are struggles for most of us as technology increasingly becomes central to our lives and our children’s lives.

During May, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) celebrates Better Hearing & Speech Month.

Kids today are using devices for hours every day—time that once was reserved for talking and reading, interactive and imaginative play, outdoor experiences, and other activities. Yet, the primary way young children develop their speech and language abilities is through verbal exchange—talking and reading with parents. This is a precursor for their own reading abilities and overall academic success. Children also learn from hands-on experiences. Educational apps can play a part, but they are in no way a replacement for what is learned through person-to-person communication. As we head into the summer months, when children no doubt will have more time to use devices, consider carving out some device-free time each day. You may be surprised by how little they (and you) miss it!

Another pressing issue related to technology use is hearing damage. Unfortunately, there has been a significant spike in hearing loss in young people in recent years. This coincides with the rise in popularity of mp3 players, tablets, and other devices. Even mild hearing loss can lead to reduced academic achievement (particularly in reading and math), poor self-concept, and feelings of social isolation, among other consequences—so, encourage your kids to keep the volume on their devices to half level and to take listening breaks. Hearing loss due to unsafe listening habits can be prevented, but once it occurs, it is irreversible. Teach (and model yourself) these good habits early. Display a gold or silver awareness loop at your school, business, town or home to promote healthy hearing and speech habits.

BHSM-Poster May Better Hearing Month

The use of colored ribbons is designed to draw awareness to health and other issues in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and other parts of the world. The meaning behind the ribbon depends on its color and/or pattern. Many charitable and civic groups have adopted ribbons as symbols of support, and many causes share colors or display more than one. The meanings of the colored ribbons are to: show solidarity with other like-minded people, bring moral force to bear on behalf of a cause, stimulate donations and research, and engage people in “doing something” to bring about desired change. Every month, a group, town, parade, individual or event reminds us that others need our help.

World Autism Awareness Day aims to increase people’s awareness about people, especially children, with autism. The day often features educational events for teachers, health care workers and parents, as well as exhibitions showcasing work created by children with autism. People all over the globe will wear blue and light up their communities. Use #LIUB to share your experience across social media and help light the world up blue this April! Find out which major global landmarks will light up blue in 2016. Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in March 2014 identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum – a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. ASD affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Do your part an go blue!

This April, the ASPCA will mark 141 years since its founding as the first animal welfare organization in the Western Hemisphere’ and as such, April is appropriately deemed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. To commemorate this milestone in the history of animal welfare, the ASPCA will celebrate ‘ASPCA Day’ on April 10.

A combination of civic and community events will see buildings and landmarks around the country ‘Go Orange for Animals’ to mark the occasion, as well as the ‘ASPCA Day Festival,’ which will take place in New York City’s Union Square that evening. Some national icons that have already confirmed their participation include the Empire State Building, the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Sears Tower in Chicago. Additionally, animal lovers across the country will be able to vie for the title of the first annual ‘Community Leader of 2007” a contest that celebrates community involvement in the ASPCA’s mission. You can learn more about the competition and ASPCA Day at www.aspca.org/aspcaday. Go orange for animals with an orange Health Awareness Loop!

Raise awareness in your community to prevent the problem of underage drinking. Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. The good news is that we can all do our part to prevent alcohol misuse or abuse. Make a difference: Spread the word about strategies for preventing alcohol misuse or abuse and encourage communities, families, and individuals to get involved. Display a red awareness ribbon to draw community attention to this health and social issue. Together, we can do it!

2016 has many reasons to celebrate, try with many impressive anniversary milestones, prostate special events and unique commemorations. Which ones are most significant to you? Do you honor special days, weeks or months with a parade, quiet time, or event to include more people or mobilize them to action? To make it a bowdacious occasion, contact us for a bow, wrap or loop in the color and size of your choosing. Need ideas? Give us a call at 714-668-9688.