Friday, December 13, 2013

Understanding Adolescent Brain Development

The Owner's Manual For Driving Your Adolescent Brain
by Dr. JoAnn Deak and Dr. Terrence Deak

Illustrations by Freya Harrison

In The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain (Little Pickle Press, November 2013) renowned educator and psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak and neuroscience expert Dr. Terrence Deak offer an easy understanding of brain function in a fun and engaging format for young teens, parents, and educators.

New research shows how the adolescent's brain develops

"Scientists previously thought most major brain development occurred in the first decade or 'the formative years,'" says Dr. JoAnn Deak. "But new research shows some parts of the brain become fully robust in adolescence. Simply put, if you use individual parts of your brain during their developmentally critical periods, then they will be stronger and more effective as an adult."

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain is the exciting follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, the innovative children's picture book for kids from five to nine. The new book targets adolescents from ten to fourteen and emphasizes what neuroscientists call the "plasticity" of the brain into early adulthood.
"I've found that if adolescents understand how flexible their brains are, they're willing to study subjects and take on challenges they may otherwise avoid," she says.

Author Dr. JoAnn Deak has been at the forefront of training educators interested in brain function. The National Association of Independent Schools and the American Montessori Society have heralded Dr. JoAnn Deak's ability to demystify child development, learning, identify formation, and brain research.

Dr. JoAnn Deak's nephew, Dr. Terrence Deak, is the co-author of the second book in the Brain series. Dr. Terrence Deak runs a highly active laboratory of behavioral neuroscience as an associate professor in the Psychology Department at Binghamton University (SUNY).

"I was delighted when my aunt asked me to help her with The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain. It's a unique experience working alongside a family member with mutual intellectual pursuits," Dr. Terrence Deak says. "I see this book as a way to get adolescents and parents to begin conceptualizing life experiences in terms of basic neural functions. The earlier that understanding begins, the greater the opportunity for learning down the road."

JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. has spent more than thirty years as an educator and psychologist helping children develop into confident and competent adults. For the last fifteen years, she has helped adults, parents, and teachers understand and appreciate their role in childhood brain development. Today, Dr. JoAnn Deak consults with organizations and schools throughout the world. 

Terrence Deak, Ph.D. joined the faculty at Binghamton University in 2001, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and neuroscience. His laboratory research focuses on stress responsive systems and neural-immune interactions across the lifespan, with an emerging emphasis on alcohol effects on brain development, and has been funded through the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and several private foundations over the past decade.

Little Pickle Press is a 21st century publisher of children's media, dedicated to helping parents and educators cultivate conscious, responsible little people by stimulating explorations of the meaningful topics of their generation through a variety of media, technologies, and techniques. Little Pickle Press was named among the "Best for the World" B Corporations and awarded Independent Publisher of the Year by ForeWord Reviews. 

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain (Little Pickle Press, November 2013) is available at,, and bookstores nationwide.


KidsHealth's® Annual List Highlights Top Issues Affecting the Health of Children Worldwide

Wilmington, DE, December 12, 2013 — Can you imagine living on less than $2.50 a day? It doesn't seem possible, yet that's the reality for almost half the world's population. The effects of living in poverty are particularly dangerous to children., the #1 website devoted to children's health and development, puts poverty first on its list of the 5 critical issues affecting the world's children. As they do each year, the physicians and editors at KidsHealth sifted through health issues affecting children and families to choose the most critical childhood concerns.
"Huge progress has been made in so many critical areas involving children's health. Yet there is still important work to be done that doesn't involve expensive new drugs or surgical procedures," Neil Izenberg, MD, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of KidsHealth, says. "Instead, it's about the basics that most of us take for granted. We have identified 5 issues that desperately need the world's attention – and suggested some ways that families can help."
Of course, other important issues affect children's health, but in the midst of many, these are notable:

5 Critical Global Issues Affecting Children:

  1. Poverty: Almost half the world's population lives in poverty. And 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day. In developing countries, poverty means starvation, disease, squalid living conditions, unclean water and poor sanitation, limited or no access to education and medical care, and high crime rates. And it's children who suffer the most – according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day because of poverty-related causes. Almost 30% of all children in developing countries are thought to be underweight or have stunted growth. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as these kids are less likely later to be able to earn a living wage to support themselves and their families.
  2. Clean Water: In most parts of the world, we take clean running water for granted. So it's shocking to learn that 780 million people lack clean water and 2.5 million people don't have access to a toilet. UNICEF reports that more than 5,000 children under age 5 die each day because of diarrheal diseases, often contracted through contaminated drinking water or no access to sanitation facilities, like bathrooms with flushable toilets. In developing countries, the task of collecting water usually falls to women and children, and means hours-long walks from the home to collect the water several times a day. This burden means the adults are not working at a paying job and the kids are not in school. Yet it could be an easy problem to fix. The World Health Organization estimates that it would cost $11.3 billion per year for global clean water and sanitation – in comparison, Americans spend about $450 billion each year to celebrate Christmas.
  3. Education for Girls: While primary school enrollment in developing countries has risen to 90%, worldwide, 57 million children are not enrolled in school. The link to poverty is clear: Girls who receive little or no education face limited job prospects, putting them at an increased risk of trafficking and sexual exploitation. They're also more likely than educated girls to contract HIV/AIDS. Educated girls are better able to find good jobs, keeping themselves and, later, their own children out of poverty.
  4. Wiping Out Polio: Since the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, worldwide cases plummeted and the disease was declared eliminated in the Unites States in 1979. Global immunization was so successful that polio was poised to join smallpox as the only infectious diseases to have been eradicated. But in three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan — polio has never been wiped out, and cases of polio have been reported in Syria. Polio in faraway countries might not seem like a global concern. But as long as polio is present anywhere, outbreaks are still a risk. In fact, health experts warn that Syrian refugees could unwittingly carry the virus to parts of Europe. Until the disease is finally wiped out, it is a threat to all.
  5. Infant Mortality: The joy of giving birth is usually accompanied by a sense of wonder while watching a tiny, fragile creature take those first breaths. Luckily, for most new mothers, skilled medical attendants are on hand to make sure that all goes well during and just after delivery. Yet each year almost 3 million babies die within the first month of life, mostly in low- and middle-income countries where nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not have medical care. Many of these deaths can be prevented through simple, affordable interventions that can be used in home births.

KidsHealth has compiled a list of organizations that are working to fight these global issues. For families who want to help, we recommend these organizations:
  • UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund): As little as 50 cents a day can make a big difference, and there are many volunteer opportunities. Remember trick-or-treating for UNICEF? That Kids Helping Kids campaign continues today.
  • BRAC: The focus is on giving loans for enterprises that can pull some of the world's poorest families out of poverty (for instance, raising chickens for eggs and meat). Besides lending the money, BRAC provides training and support to its borrowers.
  • This nonprofit organization (whose motto is "Safe water & the dignity of a toilet for all, in our lifetime.") has brought clean-water solutions to communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America.
  • Global Education Fund: This group works to educate all kids. Families can donate, spread the word, start a fundraiser, host an event, and much more.
  • End Polio Now: Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are at the forefront the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  • Every Beat Matters: Save the Children's newborn and child survival campaign works to make basic lifesaving health care available to children in the world's poorest countries by training and supporting frontline health workers.

To read more about our 2014 Global Kids' Health Issues and other organizations that welcome donations and help, visit:

About KidsHealth® is the #1 site devoted to children's health and development in English and Spanish. Each year, over 250 million parents, kids, and teens turn to for expert answers, making it the Web's most-accessed site on children's health. has been honored as one of the 30 Best Websites by U.S. News & World Report, one of the 50 Coolest Websites by TIME magazine, and the Best Family Health Site "For Moms" by Good Housekeeping. KidsHealth also creates KidsHealth in the Classroom, a free website for educators featuring standards-based health curricula, activities, and handouts. KidsHealth comes from Nemours, one of the nation's largest nonprofit pediatric health systems and a founding member of the Partnership for a Healthier America, a partner to First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign that mobilizes the nation to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. For more information about KidsHealth, please visit

6 secrets to weight loss

Created for Courthouse Clinics by Elena Manighetti

Thursday, December 12, 2013

John Wm. Macy's Cheesesticks for all your Parties and Holiday feasts

In October we had the opportunity to try and do a feature on John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks.  I recently had the opportunity to use John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks and CheeseCrisps in making great appetizers for parties and snacking this Holiday season.  Macy's Cheesesticks make it very easy to come up with great and appealing snacks. 

I promise that these combinations will be a huge hit for all of your guests and family.  The best part is as well that you can mix and match any of the combinations to your liking.

One combination that is nice is using the Melting Romano CheeseCrisps with a cherry tomato on the Cheese Crisp with baby mozzarella on top of the tomato topped with a sprig of fresh parsley.  To take it up another step place all the ingredients on the CheeseCrisp but the parsley and place in on a cookie sheet.  Broil in your over for a few minutes till the mozzarella is slightly melted and browned.  Top with your fresh parsley.  For those that don't like tomatoes you can leave them out. 

 For those that love artichokes this next combination is wonderful.  Using Macy's Sesame Gruyere CheeseCrisps place a sundried tomato on the CheeseCrisp followed with a sliced artichoke heart or a piece topped with a black olive cut in half.  If you love artichoke hearts I suggest the bigger the piece the better.  Don't be afraid to buy artichoke hearts in seasoning.  It will give it additional flavoring.  If you are wanting to really experiment add a slice of Gruyere cheese in with the sundried tomato and artichoke and top with the black olive.

For a sweet and rich flavoring combines try using the Asiago CheeseCrips with Stilton cheese directly on the CheeseCrisp followed by walnuts and topped with Greek honey.  Stilton has a sharp rich flavor which when combined with the sweet of the honey makes a wonderful combination for your taste buds.  Toasting the walnuts before and then adding them warm to the Stilton and CheeseCrisp also adds a different flavor to this combination.

If you are anything like me though and love cheese and meat platters any of the CheeseStick or CheeseCrisp go with them.  One of my favorite cheese is Brie and with any of the CheeseCrisp make for a great snack.  By placing different cheeses, meats and pickles on a platter with an assortment of CheeseSticks and CheeseCrisps allows everyone to make their own fun combinations.  I have found myself even at night snacking on CheeseCrisps topped with a homemade cheeseball. 

 There are many more combinations to try and I would love to know which ones you all enjoy and prefer.  

I hope that this Christmas season that you may enjoy being with friends and loved ones and hope that you can make John Mn.Macy's products a part of your dishes. 

John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks line includes both savory CheeseStick varieties along with three dessert SweetSticks in these flavors
  • Romano Garlic CheeseSticks
  • Dijon Swiss CheeseSticks
  • Cheddar & Scallion CheeseSticks
  • Melting Parmesan CheeseSticks 
  • Asiago & Cheddar CheeseCrisps 
  • Smoked Jalapeño CheeseCrisps
  • Sesame Gruyere CheeseCrisps
  • Melting Romano CheeseCrisps
  • Java Cinnamon SweetSticks 
  • Madagascar Vanilla SweetSticks
  • Dutch Chocolate SweetSticks