Victor Jung | Philanthropy

Victor Jung is a committed philanthropist from New York City

intergenerational-programs

3 Benefits of Intergenerational Programs

Children and senior citizens often have much more in common than more than meets the eye. Grandparents and grandchildren seem to form special bonds in many families, but sadly, we live in a world where older generations are spending more of their days alone. As of 2010, over 11 million senior citizens living outside of nursing homes were without a roommate of any type, and the likelihood of living alone only increases with age.

Thankfully, intergenerational programs are gaining popularity and recognition. These arrangements connect children with senior citizens who may not have younger family members to bond with, effectively creating mutually beneficial relationships. The activities shared between these two groups can range from anything to teaching older individuals about the newest forms of technology, to having children learn about new ways to approach certain situations in life they are bound to come across. The goal is to create meaningful, transformative bonds between two generations who can greatly benefit from each other’s presence in a variety of ways.

Both parties learn new skills

The generational gap between children and senior citizens is filled with educational opportunities. What senior citizens may have an enormous amount of experience in, children are more than likely lacking in terms of knowledge of that field. They can learn a large amount of information from the wisdom older individuals possess.

Conversely, children can teach their elders about things they might have little access to. As mentioned before, younger generations are much more in tune with technology today than they were in decades past. From smartphones, to tablets, to newer types of computers, children and teens can teach seniors how to use these devices and harness the advantages that come with them.

Creates a sense of purpose

Many senior citizens today may feel like their life’s purpose has dwindled in their later years, leading to a lack of fulfillment. By introducing them to intergenerational programs, this feeling can be directly combatted. Going off of the aforementioned benefit, the skills that seniors bring to the table and teach children gives them responsibility and a sense of purpose.

Children who are looking to help others in any way that they can will find purpose through intergenerational programs as well. As I have discussed before, giving and charitable efforts have a positive, direct impact on a child’s well-being.

Reduces elderly depression

 
These programs have been linked to lower levels of depression and social isolation in older individuals suffering from these complications. Spending long periods of time alone can have damaging effects on a senior citizen’s mental health, but allowing them to positively interact with a younger crowd can prevent, and even reduce symptoms.

children

Want to Make Your Kids Happy? Teach Them to Give

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that giving and engaging in charitable efforts can have a positive effect on our outlook on life. Generosity can boost our endorphins and release oxytocin in our bodies, which creates a feeling of empathy and happiness. When applying this concept to children, one may think that their constant want for toys and material items would blind them from these benefits. However, teaching a child to give can do just the opposite.

Compassion and the want to give comes at birth and is a natural instinct in human beings. For instance, if you’ve ever seen a child no older than 1 or 2 years of age attempting to share whatever it is that they’re holding, you’ve witnessed that innate sense of wanting to give. Children are born with the ability to help despite not being taught the values of their actions, and studies have shown that giving can make them much more happier than receiving gifts.

A responsibility you have as a parent is to nourish this ability to give, and encourage your children to continue these efforts. There are countless benefits that come with giving and partaking in charitable efforts, but an increased sense of happiness is perhaps the best of all. However, it has been proven that giving also improves our health. It can reduce stress and even lower blood pressure in individuals that may be struggling with both health complications.

In terms of how you can encourage your children to give, there are a number of ways you can do so. First, talk to them to find out what their interests are and what they feel strongly about. Whether it’s animals or fellow children, this can give you a good idea of which organizations you and your children can work with.

Work close to home. Allowing your children to dedicate their charitable efforts to friends, family, and their respective community can have a profound impact on their overall happiness; something donations to an anonymous source on the other side of the world can seldom do. Perform these activities as a family to maximize happiness and the health benefits that come with donating your time and effort. It is a great way to bond with your children as well.

Encouraging your children to give and teaching them the values of charity can also promote social connections. Most charitable outings involve large groups of people gathering together to promote the betterment of a community, and doing so can allow relationships to develop among volunteers. Social interaction is very important in the growth of children, as it can improve both physical and mental health.

ice-bucket-challenge

The Success of the Ice Bucket Challenge

In the summer of 2014, an internet sensation took off as a way to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Millions of people all over the world took part in the “ice bucket challenge,” in which they poured buckets of freezing water over their heads and the heads of their friends as a means for spreading word about ALS, and raising donations.

While the origins of this challenge are somewhat hazy, being attributed to multiple people and organizations, it was perhaps most popularized by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates. Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, and with the help of his friends, became an advocate and raised funds for the disease, promoting the ice bucket challenge in particular. Not long after, celebrities all over the United States began posting videos of themselves taking part in the challenge, which sparked the nationwide phenomenon. Former president Barack Obama, LeBron James, and Justin Bieber are just a few huge names to participate.

Through the power of social media, word of the ice bucket challenge spread like wildfire, with more than 17 million people taking part, and 2.5 million U.S. citizens donating over $115 million to the ALS Association. With so much funds raised, participants may wonder how exactly their contributions were used, and how they were able to make a difference. Luckily, the association is taking full advantage of all the money donated.

Of the enormous amount of money donated, the ALS Association put $77 million toward research of the disease. Numerous studies have yielded positive results in the treatment of ALS, and provided stepping stones to finding a cure. One such study found that ALS treatment in our canine companions can actually benefit humans as well.

$23 million was dedicated to patient and community services. These can range from increased grants for improved treatment in patients suffering from ALS, to support groups developed throughout communities for patients and their families. The ALS Association has invested this money for the betterment of all those affected by the disease, and many benefits have already begun to show. In Pennsylvania, for example, caregivers are now able to receive free training sessions, and family members who have lost loved ones to ALS are offered grief counseling for no cost.

$10 million was given to public and professional education. This effectively spreads awareness far and wide enough to reach Congress, which can lead to an increased support of ALS research. It can provide a better understanding for certain researchers and companies so that they are able to direct their efforts more precisely and effectively.

 
Of the last of the donations, $3 million was put toward fundraising, and the remaining $2 million was for external processing fees, showing that only 2% of the money given to the ALS Association was used for outside fees. The efforts and contributions of the millions of people that took part in the ice bucket challenge did not fail, and successfully raised not only an enormous amount of money, but awareness throughout the world.

image of child for victor jung's blog post, "why you should vacation with your kids."

Why You Should Vacation with Your Kids

Many people view summer vacation as a time to get away from all of their responsibilities, and enjoy themselves in their favorite location in the world. Though the idea of spending time alone can be alluring to some, spending time with one’s family is actually scientifically proven to be more fulfilling, and much more enjoyable.

Vacations are perfect opportunities for parents to bond with their children, and give them the invaluable gift of time spent together. Aside from the joys of playing on the beach and sharing laughter together, these types of interactions are known as “attachment play,” and is vital for emotional growth in children. Essentially, you as a parent are giving your children your undivided attention, which they understand as you reveling in every second you spend together. This effectively builds their self esteem.

Almost every parent understands just how important and beneficial spending time with their kids is, but few may know that taking them on vacation can actually enhance their brain development. Time spent with your children outside of home can exercise two areas of their brains that react to playing and visual stimulation. For example, giving your a child piggyback ride stimulates the “play” area, while taking them on a hike to experience nature and see animals and plantlife stimulates the visual area. Doing both can reduce stress levels in children, and allow them to relax in terms of emotions, unlike the experiences they have at home, where much less mental stimulation tends to take place. As parents begin to relax, so do their children.

By taking your children on vacation with you, you are also exercising their explorative nature, which is essential for going on to live a rich, fulfilling life. This creates a drive within them that, when applied to the working world, can set them up for a great deal of success. It also improves their social skills, concentration, and cognitive abilities.

Though studies are still being conducted, many researchers believe there could be a connection between vacations and higher IQ’s in children. Because of the cognitive benefits that come with taking your children on holiday, there is a theory that their levels of intelligence are increased accordingly. Exposing children to new and exciting environments can trigger several areas of the brain, exercising them not unlike muscles in the body. The frontal lobe is enhanced through this stimulation, which can improve one’s stress regulation, concentration, and ability to learn.

No matter where you and your family are traveling in the world, the benefits that both you and your children experience are endless. While their young minds are being positively molded through unique experiences and bonding with their parents, they are also creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Victor Jung

The Impact of Social Media on Children

It is no secret that technology is one of the most ubiquitous entities in our modern society. While this fact comes with countless benefits — from increased speed and efficiency in performing menial tasks to the introduction of life-saving technologies — its drawbacks are almost as plentiful.

Take, for example, the Western world’s increasing dependence on technology and social media for communication, entertainment, and even newsgathering. Not only have these tendencies led to gross misinformation amongst the masses, but have resulted in radical lifestyle changes via widespread internet addiction as well.

Unfortunately, the negative impacts of technology are not exclusive to adult users. Instead, thanks to the introduction to technology and, more specifically, social media to younger age cohorts, researchers are finding that more teens, adolescents, and even young children are showing symptoms of problematic internet usage and other subsequent psychological disorders.

This is mostly rooted in the fact that active participation in social media triggers a positive neurochemical reaction — in other words, a burst of dopamine. When users receive technology-related cues, such as their smartphone buzzing with new notifications, they get caught in an endless cycle of dopamine exposure and withdrawal. The desire to avoid such withdrawals can lead to users spending hours scrolling through social media in search of their next burst of dopamine.

When children become entangled in this vicious cycle, they are less likely to resist the urge to avoid pertinent tasks — such as homework, extracurricular activities, or even face-to-face socialization — in favor of spending hours scrolling through their social media accounts on their various devices.

However, forcing a child to cleanse themselves of social media is not necessarily the key to putting an end to these negative ramifications, as they are quickly becoming addicted to just using their devices as well — whether it be for texting friends, streaming music, or other relevant activities.

In an article for The Huffington Post, Dr. Jim Taylor reviewed several pieces of research that all proved the existence and brevity of addiction to technology. One of the students that were surveyed in an aforementioned study stated, “Media is my drug; without it I was lost. I am an addict. How could I survive 24 hours without it?”

That being said, there are substantial benefits to using technology and social media in moderation. For example, teens and adolescents can use social media to accomplish specific social tasks, such as: staying connected with distant friends and family, making new acquaintances, and sharing photos and life events.

Additionally, social media and technology offer enhanced learning and community engagement opportunities, as teens can utilize social media to form groups in which they can exchange ideas and expand their knowledge of the world around them.

It is imperative to note that no technology is inherently good or bad, but that their ultimate purposes are defined by their common uses. If parents, guardians, and other authority figures are proactive in ensuring their children are safe online and off — and spend their time online responsibly as well — they will likely see more of the benefits of social media than their drawbacks.

Victor Jung

Teaching Children With Special Needs

Educators that have been trained to teach students with special needs are familiar with the challenges faced in this field, and are dedicated to helping said students receive the education they deserve. Learning disabilities can be any number of complications involving a child’s difficulty to read, write, or speak, and can be a challenge for both student and teacher. With that said, accommodations must be made, and there are considerations that should be brought forth beforehand in order to provide special needs students with the best learning environment possible.

The first consideration every teacher should keep in mind is the aesthetics of their classroom. Children tend to thrive in an engaging environment, yet with limited distractions. Conversely, programs with little structure that allow freedom of expression can be just as beneficial. Utilize colorful labels and checklists to help them stay on top of their tasks, but give them the option to change up how they do their work. Children with special needs often struggle when trying to complete an assignment with distractions around them. If changing where they work helps, allow them to do so.

Your tone of voice when speaking to children with special needs plays a bigger part in their receptiveness than you may have initially thought. Be animated in the way you speak rather than monotone. Varying between loudly speaking in a higher pitch to whispering according to the conversation can teach them to do the same, as well as encourage them to take part in the activity you are asking them to.

Rather than focusing on just teaching verbally, help students with special needs learn more efficiently by including visual and auditory strategies. Children who suffer from dyslexia may excel at lessons dealing with color or light, and those who have speech disorders may be excellent writers. It’s important to expose them to a wide range of categories in order for them to experience the joy of doing a job well done.

Always provide positive feedback and reinforcement. When faced with a difficult task, children with learning disabilities can become intimidated and frustrated. Immediately point out what they’ve done correctly and their accomplishments thus far. Inspiring them to continue is crucial. Structure lessons around certain students according to their disabilities. For example, children with autism often thrive when given strict schedules and are rewarded for completing them, whereas a child with ADHD may perform better when given a task that allows them to restructure their environment.

Take time to sit down with these children and talk, listening to what they have to say to best learn their interests and habits. Whether you’re a teacher, or just a parent of a child with special needs, the strategies mentioned above can be extremely beneficial in both a school setting and at home.

child-immigrant

The Importance of Helping Child Immigrants

Victor Jung

Two conversations about immigration are fresh in the American political conscience of today. The first: the Syrian refugee crisis, which has led to an influx of Syrian migrants throughout the middle east, Germany, and the United States. The second: the persistent flow of immigrants from Central America over the American border into the Southwestern United States. Both of these groups contain large numbers of children, many of whom are younger than twelve, many of whom are traveling on their own.

Many of the children fleeing Syria have been raised in a state of war. Those that come as refugees have grown up in a highly stressful environment, dealing with bombings and shellings, the deaths of family members, the loss of their homes, or injuries. 50% of Syrian children have had to drop out of school, causing them to miss out of education during an important developmental period. Those who flee without refugee status have often endured many of the same hardships, but without the promise of asylum. And even for those granted asylum, many find themselves in refugee camps with insufficient resources–safer than they’d been before, but a far cry from a normal life.

It’s not surprising, then that these children face long-term mental health risks. 25% are at risk for developing a serious mental disorder, and their stressful lifestyle also puts them at risk for a variety of developmental disorders, heart disease, diabetes, and substance abuse.

Meanwhile, south of our own border exists a different humanitarian crisis. Despite those that assert that Central American immigrants to the United States are coming for purely economic reasons, in reality a huge number of these immigrants are children fleeing violence back home. In countries such as Guatemala, gang violence, spurred by the United States’s own drug consumption, has rendered areas extremely unsafe. Cartels recruiting from schools pressure children to join them, and those that refuse risk death.

As a result, young children are fixing their sights on the United States, often turning to human smugglers, called coyotes, to get them underway. They risk being sold off to sex traffickers, as well as death at the hands of gang members. If they successfully make it to the United States, they can be arrested for illegal immigration. Children that are caught are sent to family awaiting the court date, if they have family in the States. If not, they are sent to shelters, which are often cramped and understaffed, unable to keep up with the number of people arriving. They are not guaranteed a lawyer at their hearings, and even with the help of lawyers working pro-bono, many ultimately get sent back home.

The number of child immigrants from both Syria and Central America highlights the seriousness of the conditions in these areas. Failure to address these issues will not be looked on favorably by history. We must face the issues, or risk depriving an entire generation of children of a future.

Victor Jung

Fundraising Ideas for Your Children

Encouraging children to put forth charitable efforts or get involved in charitable organizations can be an extremely rewarding practice for both them, and you as a parent. Participating in fundraising in particular is a great way to promote selflessness. However, it’s important to note that any children involved must want to take part in these activities. So, be sure to make them fun and engaging, easily understandable, and of course, safe.

Any of the following ideas mentioned should not limit you to just these. Get creative with how you and your children can take part in a fundraiser, possibly according to their hobbies or interests.

Scavenger Hunt

An activity that can be fun for both kids and adults, scavenger hunts can bring communities together, and even promote a common goal. Create a theme that is relative to your cause. For example, if the funds raised are being donated to a children’s hospital, make the items hidden around the area medical related, which, when all items are found, create a medicine necessary to fight a certain disease. Beforehand, be sure to establish a registration fee, either online or in a community heavily populated with parents and children.

Bake Sale

Many children have a sweet tooth to some extent, so why not combine their love of desserts with baking, and giving? Holding a bake sale is great way to not only raise money for a charitable cause, but also a great way to teach children the rewarding feeling of generosity. Whether you are baking cookies, cupcakes, or muffins with your children, they receive a great sense of selflessness in giving away something they made for others. Host a bake sale at your local school, hospital, or community center to bring your neighborhood together by donating.

Walkathon

Setting up a short marathon where participants are encouraged to walk can be a great fundraising idea for health-related causes and issues, while also promoting exercise among children and adults. The most difficult aspect of this may be finding the right location. Work with your city officials to find the best, safest possible route. Be sure to promote your walkathon through flyers, signs around your community, and online once your location is confirmed to get as many people to come out as possible.

Talent Show

 
Encourage all children in your local community to showcase their talents on stage, no matter how experienced they are. Musicians, magicians, gymnasts, and artists alike can perform in front of their friends and family members for a good cause, and you can donate the funds raised at the door to a charity of your choice.

Victor Jung

How to Help Children Around the World

For charitable people who wish to make a difference, especially in the lives of children, doing so entails countless strategies from donating money, to volunteering time and effort. However, these strategies can differ greatly when visiting foreign countries. Making a difference and choosing to make beneficial decisions no matter where you are in the world is one of many traits attributed to a philanthropist. When visiting countries that may be impoverished or have areas in which children are living in less than desirable conditions, consider any of the following ways you can help.

Do Your Research

Unfortunately, there are a number of scamming organizations that claim to be charities in third-world countries and areas in similar conditions. Knowing how to differentiate these from the programs instilled to truly help their respective communities is the first step in making the right decisions. For a few resources, see this list on charities in foreign countries that have been approved by ChildSafe, and are making an impact in their countries.

Teach English

You’d be amazed at just how beneficial helping children practice a language other than their native tongue can be. Sitting down with students or children learning the language in their spare time can help them sharpen these skills, which can be applied to many aspects of their lives, setting them up for the most success possible in the working world. Most countries have several programs established in which visitors can donate their time to simply conversing with the young students, which can even help you as a tourist learn more about the country’s culture.

Support Local Businesses

A great way to boost the local economy in the country you’re visiting is to visit the community’s local restaurants and businesses. By doing so, you are supporting the goods and services provided by small business owners in the area, who provide job opportunities for young adults looking to earn their own wages. Your contributions to these countries can help fund youth programs and organizations founded in their areas to offer better opportunities for children in countless ways.

Continue Donating Once Home

 
Just because your trip has ended and you are no longer within the borders of the country you wish to help does not mean that you can no longer do your part. Research charities that dedicate their efforts to improving the lives of children around the world. For example, PeaceJam is an organization that promotes the education and growth of young adults to one day become leaders in their respective fields. Become a child sponsor through any number of organizations. Through this, you can donate money, clothing, food, and much more while also developing a meaningful relationship with your sponsored child, equipping them with the tools and social skills needed to succeed in life.

make-a-wish-batkid

4 of the Greatest Make-A-Wish Foundation Stories

Supported by tens of thousands of volunteers and donors, the Make-A-Wish Foundation dedicates its efforts to doing exactly as its name suggests: making wishes come true. The organization grants wishes to children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions all over the United States and its surrounding countries, and since its beginning in 1980, thousands of children’s dreams have come true.

While a large number of children’s wishes involve meeting celebrities or traveling to faraway lands, there are a select few that choose to indulge in truly unique experiences. Below are some of the most memorable wishes granted for some truly imaginative children.

Batkid

In what became a nationwide story full of heartwarming acts of selflessness, San Francisco dedicated an entire day to 5-year-old Miles Scott. Miles was suffering from lymphoblastic leukemia when he asked Make-A-Wish to spend a day as Batman’s sidekick. The entire city took part in his wish with thousands of locals coming out to cheer him on, and the streets being decorated to resemble those of none other than Gotham City. Throughout the day, Miles defeated villains, saved damsels in distress and other hostages, and made the city a safer place. Perhaps the best part of this story is the fact that Miles is now in remission, and living a happy, healthy life.

Backyard Baseball

Sam Farris, an 11-year-old baseball fanatic, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma; a cancer affecting his nervous system that forced him to cease participating in baseball. Upon being asked by Make-A-Wish what exactly his wish was, he knew that he wanted nothing more than to play baseball again. The foundation then built an entire field in Sam’s backyard with the help of local volunteers to build the baseball diamond, install an irrigation system, and even a scoreboard. Sam then put together a team of 18 consisting of his closest friends, and played a local junior varsity team, leading to a victory, and a dream come true.

Voice of an Angel

Hong Kong-born Angel was diagnosed with stage three RMS (Rhabdomyosarcoma) as a teenager, which is a sarcoma cancer that can drastically affect the skeletal muscles. After she was approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, her dream was to selflessly put on a concert for her friends and family. She even took the time to write her own music, one of her songs (aptly titled ‘Wish’) being recorded and used by the foundation to raise awareness for other Make-A-Wish children and their requests.

Video Game Education

9-year-old Ben who was suffering from leukemia combined his passion for video games with his ability to help others when approached by Make-A-Wish. His wish was to develop a video game that would teach others how cancer affects the body, and how different forms of treatment battle it. Though it seemed like cost would be an issue, Eric Johnston of LucasArts (who also played the role of Batman for Batkid’s Make-A-Wish), stepped forward and offered to develop the game alongside Ben.

 

Villains within the game were created after real life side effects from chemotherapy, with each being named accordingly. Players could earn shields, health, and ammo from hospitals and pharmacies; aspects of treatment that Ben had gone through himself. The game was downloaded for free by thousands of children, inspiring many throughout the country.

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