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Page 14 [ How I spent my summer By Lindsey Pramann It&apos;s the first day back at school and people ask, "What did you do this summer?" Most kids answer, "Oh, same old, same old. Went camping, swimming, hanging out with friends. You know, the usual." I get to reply: "I went to Europe." And immediately, people start to ask a bunch of questions. "Where did you go?" "What did you do?" "What did you see?" During my 19 days of travel, I visited England, Ireland, Scot- land and Wales. It was a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity and one I was glad I participated in. When I received a letter in the fall of 2008, I opened it up and read all about the great things I could do on this trip. I instantly wanted to go to the meeting so I could learn more about it, but my parents were reluctant. I begged and begged" and, finally, they had to give in. We went to the introductory meeting where we heard more of the details of-the trip and that confirmed it for me: I was going on this trip no mat- ter what. My parents were willing to let me go on one condition: I had to pay for half of it myself. That's when I learned something: if you want something badly enough, go for it. I learned determination, and Students Youth Thursday, July 16, 2009 Kimbal!, MN rickety rope bridge, learned yet again more dances, and played ih a bog which was surprisingly fun, learned Gaelic football, watched a street musical, and' scavenged around Dublin looking for clues. Also in Dublin, we were able to stay with an Irish family for two days and were able to experience their lifestyles. It's one of the activ- ities that makes People to Peo- ple groups so unique. I absolutely adored my Irish home-stay family. In Wales (yes, it is a country), we spent an entire day prepar- ing to go down an 80-foot castle wall. During the morning, we had our "full-on" experience. It was a morning dedicated to teaching us to conquer our fears. We had many activities designed to show us that we can do anything and should try everything! During one such activ- ity, we were able to break boards with our bare hands. Then it was on to the wall! Many kids were scared, but not me; I love heights. After waiting and waiting, finally it was my turn. I got up there and looked around, loving the views. Then the instructor told me to go over the ledge. That's when I got nervous. It's one thing to stand on a tower, perfectly safe, and it's another to go over the edge will- ingly when you don't have to. But I had just spent the morning and, it helped me throughout my trip and will continue to help in life. I saved every penny that I got, and asked for donations. The Kimball Legion Club graciously helped me in paying for the trip. Before the trip, we were required to go to meetings every other month to help prepare us. There, I learned more about the organization thatwould bring me to Europe. People to People Stu- dent Ambassadors is a "govern- ment group started in the 1950s that brings kids from all over the United States to foreign countries all over the world. My group from Minnesota was combined with a group from Wyoming and was brought to the British Isles. I met some very nice kids on my trip and hopefully I'll be able to call them friends years from now. Once we finally made it to Europe, we were so excited and tired. We all were suffering from jet lag but that didn't stop us from capturing pictures of the beauti- ful countryside of Scotland which was our first destination. We did so many things! In Scotland, we went white-water rafting, learned dances, went to medieval castles, and went hunting for Nessie. In Ireland, we went across a indeed, the entire trip, trying new things. Going down that tall cas- tle wall was nerve-wracking but in tlae end it was worth it. I have no regrets about my entire trip and I learned to always try new things, even if the leaders of the group are telling you you're eating cats. (It wasn't cats; it was just some really gross chicken curry.) In England, we went to the Tower of London, rode the London Eye which is the tallest ferris wheel in the world, watched the Chang- ing of the Guard in front of Buck- ingham Palace, saw a play, aird traveled in the Tube ("Mind the Gap!"). I wanted to go on this trip and I'm glad I worked for it. I have no rgrets and I am extremely happy with my experiences. Whether it was abseiling down a wall or white-water rafting or playing in a bottom-less pit of mud, or simply making new friends, I will always have these memories. Lindsey Pramann posed for this photo in front of Buckingham Palace in London on her trip earlier this summer to the British Isles. Lindsey's parents are Jan and Rudy Pramann of Clearwater. John E. Monaco MD Author, Keenan Kids Foundation board member Keeping kids safe in 2009: a few suggestions l was asked by a friend, a renowned advocate for child safety, to share some thoughts on the sub- ject as we begin a new year-and try to freshen up our approach to old problems. I pondered his request for some time, reluctant to recite the same platitudes everyone knows. I'm sure, "Look both ways before crossing the street," was not exactly what he had in mind. So I thought I'd take a slightly different point ofview on the subject, in the hopes that a fresh look will result in greater awareness. Helmets and seat belts This is one of those obvious pearls of wisdom that Can never be repeated enough. Basically, any child using ANY kind of con- veyance that involves wheels should be wearing a helmet. This includes bicycles, scooters, skate boards, and even roller skates. If it is in an enclosed vehicle, like a car, they need to be placed in seat belts or age- and size-appropriate car seat. It is that simple. There is no exception. To drive this point home. I only need to read our local papers, which recently included a story about a young college stu- dent thrown off her scooter, not wearing a helmet and now perma- nently brain damaged; or the one about the SUV filled with teenage girls that lost control: The driver was killed and the other three were seriously injured. None had on seat belts. Everyday lives could be saved if people followed this simple rule. "Believe me, I know the chal- lenges parents face. Each time my daughter, who is also a college stu- dent who darts .around campus on a scooter, tells me that she doesn't wear a helmet because it looks dorky, I cringe, but I insist that she wear one. And of course she does, at least while I'm watching .... Kids must never swim unattended This is also a big one with me, perhaps because l live in Flor- ida where water is ubiquitous. I have taken care of far too many drowning children in my career and I would be ecstatic if I never saw another one. Despite all our advances in brain resuscitation and respiratory care, the statis- tics for kids who are pulled from a body of water and brought to the hospital with no heartbeat are dismal. There are only two things that insure survital in drown- ing scenarios. One is good water- side CPR and emergency care and the other is prevention. Even more than early swimming classes, nothing prevents drowning like adult supervision. There can be no short cuts here. Wash your hands This sounds much too sim- ple right? In fact, it is simple and incredibly affective. It has been proven time and time again in hos- pitals, and the same findings hold true in your home, that nothing prevents the spread of respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses better than good hand washing. By "good hand washing" I mean rubbing your hands with soap (anti-bacte- rial soap not required] under run- ning water long enough to sing the "ABC" song to yourself, or maybe a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday to You". Slowing the spread of these mostIy seasonal viruses is the best thing you can do to prevent hos- pitalizations, missed school and work and the risk of serious, and potentially deadly, diseases like pneumonia and severe dehydra- tion. My wife always made our kids wash their hands the min- ute they got home from school. As for me, l am sometimes forced to shower and change clothes before I can get near the kids, especially after leaving a pediatric ward full of respiratory viruses. I have no doubt this practice has kept illness to minimum in our family. Play outside every day Really? I can hear you saying this to yourselves right about now. How does playing outside keep kids safe? Well folks, we are fac- ing a new enemy to our children. The epidemic of childhood obe- sity is forcing kids to face diseases they used to not worry about until their 40s or beyond, like diabetes, high blood pressure, joint prob- lems, gall bladder disease, cor- onary artery disease and even stroke. For the first time in human history this generation may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, all due to childhood obesity. There are many causes for this, of course, but every- one agrees that children are not as active as they were 30 and 40 years ago, when everyone played outside after school. Set aside an hour each day to get them out and active. You may save their child- hood and their lives. Eat dinner together, as a family This one really surprises you, right? How can sitting around a table together, sharing food and conversation, keep kids safe? Well, the reality for kids in mid- dle and high school particularly, is that most of the bad things that can happen to them are the result of choices they make. Drink- ing, drugs, premature sex, care- less driving, suicide and truancy are all involved in most of the top causes of childhood death and injury. Keeping the lines of com- munication open, making clear what family values and expecta- tions are important to you, can prevent an astounding num- ber of bad decisions. Make this a priority. When communica- tion is unforced and relaxed it is much more honest. Your kids will come to look forward to this time together. They really do want and need your input into the chal- lenges they face everyday. Like Treat yourself to the tap Want to cut some expenses? Drink tap water. According to the 2008 Ground Water Summit Report by the National GroundWater Asso - ciation, American consumers spent $16.8 billion dollars alone in 2007 on bottled water. Here's an idea: bot- fie tap water and carry it with you. Not only will you cut your costs, but you'll also be doing Mother Nature a favor by cuing back on plastic production. Keep in mind that the bottled water you buy has gone through considerably less testing than tap water. The quality of your tap water is assessed frequently to keep your supply safe to drink. You may have noticed that every year all cities providing water to their citizens are mandated to offer tap water con- sumers an excessive amount of information on city-water quality byway of the Consumer Confidence Report. The Minnesota Department of Health uses certified laboratories to test water samples for possible contaminants in addition to your City's rigorous testing. Some may squawk about the taste of tap water. All water suppli- ers produce different tasting water, which is determined by the balance of minerals, treatment, and other DNR Question of the week Q: It's that time of year when turtles are trying to cross the road. Why? Is there anything we can do to help them cross safely? A: The turtles we see crossing roads are typically painted and snapping turtles. Both species spend most of their time in lakes, ponds, and wetlands, but lay their eggs in nests dug in dry, sandy and warm soils. Since many roads are built skirting water bodies, our roads often separate a turtle's home from its nesting area. If turtles can find the right type of soil near their home water body, they'll use it. However, they may often travel great distances to find a suitable nesting spot. And so, a turtle may have to cross theroad to get to the other side to lay its eggs. If you see a turtle crossing the road, you can help it cross safely. Watch for traf- fic. Pick up the turtle by the back of its shell - never pick up a tur- every other human skill, commu- nication gets better with practice. Learn to talk to your kids, and they will learn too. Incorporate these simple con- cepts into your family's life this year, and I guarantee they will be safer, happier and live longer. You owe it to them, and to you! Dr. Monaco is the director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Bran- don Regional Hospital, Fla. He has been recognized as one of the "Best Doctors in America" (2003-2004), an honor awarded to only4 percent of the nation's doctors. The author of Slim & Fit Kids, Raising Healthy Children in a Fast Food World, Dr. Monaco has also contributed to numerous medi- cal publications and presentations on various pediatric topics. He is a board member for the Keenan's Kids Foun- dation, a nonprofit organization ded- icated to child safety, <www.keenans lcidsfoundation.com >. variables. However, you can add a filter 6nto your faucet to help with this complaint. Remember, save whenever you can. As you're filling your reusable water container, instead of waiting for the running water to get to your preferred level of cold, store water in the refrigerator. In fact, flU some extra water containers while you wait for dish washing water to heat up. Hey, every drop counts ... espe- cially on your water meter. Marney Curfman, Sank Rapids City Planner tle by its tail. Then move the turtle in the direction it is heading. The painted and snapping turtles laid their clutch of eggs in June. Should the eggs survive preda- tion, they are expected to hatch in late August, which means there'll be even more turtles - quarter- sized hatchlings - crossing the road again, trying to get home. Richard Baker, DNR zoologist