We’re kicking off summer with a giveaway you won’t want to miss! By answering one simple question, “Which Tea destination has been your favorite?” you’ll be entered to win a Tea wardrobe set and a collection of travel the world Barefoot Books. With only one day to enter, enter the Tea Collection + Barefoot Books giveaway as soon as you can!
Things we found and want to share from this past week:
Last week we asked you to tag your tea pictures with #teacollection and what great pictures you’ve shared! We absolutely love seeing tea in action – keep tagging your photos and we’ll continue to share them on Studio T.
We’re so excited to announce today that our Semi-Annual Sale is on! Save up to 50% off all spring items. Remember, sizes are limited and pieces are selling out quickly, if you see something you like – be sure to grab it while you can. Girls dresses can be found for less than $20 and boys tops are as low as $12.50!
The mission of The Global Fund for Children is to advance the dignity of children and youth around the world. Since 1997, GFC has given more than $25.6 million in grants to 500 community-based organizations in 78 countries worldwide. Their impact means thousands of children are going to school instead of to work. Thousands more are protecting themselves from HIV, escaping the bonds of slavery, and getting the childhood they deserve.
Since partnering with The Global Fund for Children in 2006, we’ve raised more than $240,000 to support vulnerable children worldwide. Our support for GFC takes many forms. Each fall we design the Little Citizens Give Back Collection-donating all proceeds directly to GFC and three times a year, we hold GFC days, donating a portion of all online sales to the organization. In honor of today’s GFC giveback initiative on teacollection.com ($5 per order!), we have CEO Kristin Lindsey, here on Studio T answering a few questions.
What does it mean to “advance the dignity of children and youth around the world”?
Advancing dignity is about breaking down barriers for all children. We think all children come into this world with talent, with something important to do with their life. Dignity means every child gets the opportunity to strive for their potential, no matter their circumstances, economics, gender, nationality, etc. It means no limits!
How do you find and choose which grassroots organizations to work with?
Our program officers are regional experts who spend countless hours networking and searching for innovative organizations that serve the most marginalized children in the world. We select true grassroots groups with local leadership, community and youth involvement, creativity, and sustainability.
How do you ensure that your investment is wisely spent?
Our program team visits about 150 promising organizations each year, then selects 50 new partners to work with. Over the course of three to six years, we help them grow and thrive using flexible, strategic investments of money and technical expertise. We stay in touch, closely tracking their development. Our giving goes way beyond grants – we hold regional conferences to build networks, we leverage other funding, awards and news coverage, and we aim to be a true partner. All this means that their work and our investments can grow and last.
Is there one partner organization that touches you in particular?
Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in Soweto, South Africa is a great example of the power and potential grassroots groups have to transform communities. KYP provides academic support, recreational activities, meals, as well as financial support for school fees and materials, for more than 400 children. Nearly 40,000 people live in the Kliptown slum, where the community suffers from high rates of unemployment, crime and school dropouts.
KYP has been a GFC grantee partner since 2010 and we were so proud to see KYP’s director, Thulani Madondo, honored as a Top 10 CNN Hero last year. See the video here: CNN Hero
Which issue is the most urgent to you right now?
I think a lot about kids exposed to conflict and war. It’s hard not to. Nearly a billion children live in places where there is armed conflict. That means families and children leave everything that’s familiar, live with ever-present fear and chaos, and for children, the vulnerability and upheaval is really traumatizing. We invest in a lot of groups that are protecting and healing children and families in conflict-affected areas, creating comfort, stability and places to learn.
Which region do you find particularly vulnerable?
Since the Arab Spring that began in 2010, we’ve looked a lot at the Middle East and North Africa and we’re expanding our work in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. While it is a region marked by conflict, it also has emerging civil society and a chance to partner with local community members to make a difference. Ten years from now, it will really matter if we rise to the opportunity of investing in the dignity, learning, safety and positive pathways for children here.
We absolutely love the newest GFC book, Global Baby Girls!Could you explain why little girls need particular attention?
Girls can be powerful agents of change in their communities. They have the ability to solve some of society’s toughest challenges because they are the fabric that holds families together. The possibilities are limitless for what girls can do today. We owe it to them to make sure they are equipped with what they need to go out into the world and shine.
Where do you see The Global Fund for Children five years from now?
Five years from now, we hope GFC will be top of mind for everyone when they think about how to make the most powerful impact in vulnerable children’s lives. Since 1997, we have touched the lives of nearly 8 million children. With continued support from generous donors, key partners, companies and students, we expect that number to grow to 10 million by 2015.
Other than donating money through the GFC website, how can we help support The Global Fund for Children?
We love hearing from students because it will be up to them to transform the future of little citizens around the globe. We encourage schools and universities to contact us to learn more about ways they can help us help other kids around the world. We’ve had some great fundraising events and speaking engagements with students!
You can also show some love by spreading the word about our work on Facebook and Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you! AND when you shop Tea Collection, keep us in mind! There’s a donation at check-out option – and any amount goes a long way!
We thought it would be fun to compile a few songs from a handful of the countries we’ve visited as a way to celebrate the past 11 years. You’ll find everything from traditional Hungarian folk songs to contemporary music from Norway. Now turn it up and start dancing!
We go there – we explore and dig deep into other cultures. We know you go there too. This new series will feature stories from world travelers; they’ve taken their first flight over seas with little ones, they’ve traveled back to their native country to introduce their children to grandparents, they’ve packed up only their necessities and traveled to developing countries. Here, you will find their stories and learn about how they’re going there too.
Kicking off this series, we have Jill Amery of UrbanMommies.com sharing her trip to Liberia. It wasn’t necessarily an easy one, but you’ll see that it was a trip that’s changed her life forever. Thank you Jill for sharing your story with us on Studio T!
I had the privilege of traveling to Liberia in February as a parent ambassador for Right To Play, an organization that helps children learn crucial life lessons through sport and games. The experience affected me deeply and I can still smell the heavy West African air. The kids who touched my ‘soft hair’ and reached for my hand are now part of my history. They grace screensavers and watch me from silver frames. The polish of the silver juxtaposed with what I witnessed is disconcerting and constantly reminds me to not take my blessings for granted.
The adults and teenagers I met in Liberia had experienced terrible things in their lifetimes with a war that ended very recently. Some had lost parents and raised themselves. Most had a loved one who experienced sexual assault. And every adult associated with Right To Play worked tirelessly to restore hope for the next generation. Every day the same volunteers (many had no employment themselves but chose to devote their days to teaching children through Right To Play activities) emerged into an empty space and performed magic. It was like a slow motion film. The waiting children would all turn, smile and organize themselves into a ‘great big circle’ so they could begin. The rhythms of their responses to the leader of the game formed a percussive music. The empty, litter-filled space had become vibrant and full of life.
When I think about the diversity in cultures brought to mainstream culture by Tea Collection, I smile. Each outfit I see my kids wear reminds me that we are all connected in this small world. The women of Liberia donned incredible colors and patterns. Their bright eyes and huge smiles pierced through the grey sand and cracked concrete. Standing in front of corrugated metal shacks with red, yellow and purple wraps, these women provided what mothers always do – hope and comfort. Dressing my boys in similar colors and styles gives a nod to these women; A sign of respect and awe. And these women deserved nothing less.
One sign on the side of the road has haunted me since my return. This one advertisement was a definition of ‘Mother’: a person who ‘makes something out of nothing’. That is exactly what I witnessed. These women generated a meager income buying bleach in bulk and selling it in small bags, buying a case of water packets and a block of ice and hoping for extreme heat so they may sell a few individual bags of water to quench thirst in their community.
Hope resonated everywhere – through the games, the smiles, the handmade toys and the tiny children playing hide and seek with this North American girl who seemed so different. I was brought back to the basics of life: drink fresh water, keep your clothes and environment clean to prevent disease, help your neighbor. A young boy bathed meticulously in a large bucket by the side of the road. A woman carrying a huge bundle on her head picked over potato leaves in a market to find the best choices for her family. It was all about hope.
As a mother, I can make a promise. I will never stop visiting other cultures and allowing them to penetrate my own motherhood. I will share the songs and bright fabrics with my children. I will try to not take my life for granted. And more than anything, I will remember that hope is all one needs.
We’d be lying if we told you we never pass our little ones a smart phone or an ipad to keep them entertained. The truth is, sometimes it’s just easier – especially when traveling! With so many game apps available today, we thought it would be fun to share our top 10 favorite apps with you. They teach new languages, allow world exploration, help quiet loud nights, and make fractions fun! And remember, while a lot of these apps are over $0.99, in the end you’ll appreciate the ad-free, no fuss design the cost gets you.
Do you have a favorite that you don’t see here? We want to know! Leave a comment below.
1. Sleep Pillow Sounds$1.99 – Although this isn’t a game your children can play, we thought it was important to include. It can be hard to sleep in a new bed with unfamiliar sounds when traveling, but with the help of this app the foreign sounds will be quieted. We consider this to be a must when traveling with children.
2. Endless Alphabetfree – We must warn you that skipping the ad before you hand your device over to the kids is key to this ‘free’ app, and once you get to the drag and drop screen you might not want to let go! The idea is for your little one to match the letters on the screen to create a complete word. The longer you keep a finger on the letter, the longer the letter is sounded out (maybe headphones would be best in public?) and once you’ve completed it, the definition is acted out by your new colorful monster friends and you’re on to the next!
3. Toca Kitchen$2.99 – Your children will be preparing 12 different ingredients 180 ways in no time! Since this app isn’t a timed game, there’s no pressure to get to the next level – they’ll able to explore at their own pace. Prefer a vegetarian mode? No problem, they’ve got you covered!
4. Barefoot World Atlas$4.99 – Travel the world through your 4 inch screen with this beautiful app. Geographer and BBC TV presenter Nick Crane will be your guide as you fly around the (3D) world exploring oceans and continents, meeting different people and learning about their way of life. Explore and discover the big world we live in.
5. Petting Zoo by Christoph Niemann$0.99 – You may know him as an illustrator from The New Yorker, but here you will see his illustrations come to life through alligator’s teeth as guitar strings and octopus arms as a mandolin. It’s silly, charming, and perfectly entertaining.
6. Stack the Countries$1.99 – A wonderful way to help your little ones learn country capitals, landmarks, and geographic locations. Want to start smaller? Try the Stack the States app. They’re simple and effective!
7. PBS Parents Play & Learnfree – This interactive app is specifically designed for parents. Providing you with dozens of games, you’ll be able to connect every day “teachable moments” to math and literally skills, making trips to the grocery store more exciting for everyone! This free app can be toggled from English to Spanish – perfect bilingual families!
8. Learn Spanishfree – Or Japanese, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, or Portuguese with each MindSnack apps. With 9 different games, your children will build essential vocabulary and conversational skills. Unlock levels as you progress and watch your avatar grow smarter and brighter!
9. Peekaboo Barn$1.99 – Although language packages (other than spanish) are an additional $0.99 per bundle, we think this app is a wonderful way to learn animals and the sounds they make. You can also record voices so friends or visiting family can capture their own voice for your children to hear.
10. Oh No Fractions!$0.99 – Math isn’t always a favorite, but with this app it’s easy to see how fractions compare, add, subtract, multiply, and divide through visuals. Keep track of your child’s progress with the statistics feature. The design is sleek and simple, and will have fractions learned in no time!