Tag Archives: children


Imagine yourself with no hair. If you’re a man, you probably could adjust to being bald. After all, some men shave their heads as a fashion statement. Musicians and movie stars routinely appear bald. Remember Yul Brynner in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I? How about Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player?

For a woman it’s a different story. Even in Biblical times, a woman’s long hair was considered her glory. It was not her clothing, not her jewelry, not her facial features. It was her long hair. According to an article at http://www.dailymail.co.uk, the average woman in the U.S. will spend over $55,000 on grooming and styling her hair in a lifetime. Hair is important to women.

What if you were a child and had no hair on your head? Would other children make fun of you? Would strangers stare at you?

In 1997, an organization called Locks of Love was founded to provide hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. According to www.locksoflove.org, “Most recipients suffer from an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which causes hair follicles to shut down, causing hair loss on the scalp. Many also lose their eye lashes, eyebrows, and all body hair. The hair loss is permanent. Others are victims of severe burns or cancer survivors.”

To make these hairpieces for children, Locks of Love relies on individuals to donate their own hair. Donated hair must be at least ten inches long measured tip to tip. Colored or permed hair is accepted, but hair that has been bleached is not usable. Wigs, falls, hair extensions, or synthetic hair are not accepted.

Locks of Love encourages donors to have their hair cut at their regular beauty shop. Be sure to discuss this plan with your beautician in advance. Ask if the beautician has experience with donations to Locks of Love. Cutting ten inches off your hair is a big step. You want to be sure that you and the beautician follow the guidelines. For more information, go to http://www.locksoflove.org.

If your child has a serious medical condition and needs pediatric private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants(CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video of Army Captain Cara Manning donating 16 inches of her hair, go to Locks of Love You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TihjqArB8KE.


Each morning the small, yellow school bus picked up special needs children and took them to school. One child, Jimmy, was accompanied by a private duty nurse who would attend school with him. Jimmy had a trach, and he was comforted by having his nurse with him. Without her, he would not have been able to attend school.

One morning, the children were on the school bus going to a summer camp outing. There were two camp counselors on the bus along with Jimmy’s nurse and the driver. Suddenly, another child on the bus had a seizure and was in respiratory distress. Can Jimmy’s nurse help out? What if the scenario was different? What if another child besides the one the nurse was assigned to on the bus arrested, and there were no other personnel except the bus driver? Can the nurse administer CPR?

This is a scenario posed by a nurse, not a report of a real situation. However, it addresses several important issues. Does the nurse have any moral or ethical obligation to help the child in distress? If she tried to give CPR to the child, would she be liable if the outcome was not a good one? Should the bus driver attempt to drive the bus to the nearest hospital? What, indeed, would be the best response?

First, let’s consider the legal aspects of the situation. On July 1, 2006, a law went into effect in Illinois protecting Good Samaritans currently certified in first aid by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association from being sued for helping someone who is seriously injured. On January 25, 2007, Governor Rod Blagojevich extended the same protection to people who received such training from the National Safety Council.

Does the nurse have a moral or ethical obligation to help? Absolutely! She has a moral obligation to initiate CPR and to assist in whatever way she can, providing she does not do something beyond her scope of expertise such as surgically trying to place a ball point pen into the child’s neck as a trach tube.

How could the nurse respond? First, advise the bus driver of the situation. Tell him to call for assistance. The driver should NOT attempt to drive to the nearest hospital. The driver should stop the bus in a safe place and allow the emergency personnel (paramedics) to come to the bus.

Second, assign the bus driver to watch your client while you attend to the victim and try to stabilize the child. Third, ask the two camp counselors to supervise the other children on the bus.

A private duty nurse who is employed by American Home Health has a support system at the office. Day or night, supervisors and administrative staff are always available in case of an emergency.

If you or a member of your family is needing home health services, consider American Home Health. For more information, go to www.ahhc-1.com or call (630) 236-3501.

— By Karen Centowski


Girl with Prom Dress

When spring arrives, prom season in the United States begins. What if your daughter had been asked to attend a high school prom, but you could not afford the $100 to $600 to buy a dress for her? Just as the fairy godmother transformed Cinderella’s simple dress into a beautiful ball gown, ordinary people have developed programs to provide free prom dresses, shoes, and accessories to high school girls who cannot afford to buy them.

The Glass Slipper Project in Chicago is one of these programs. Founded in 1999, the Glass Slipper Project has helped more than 20,000 young women to attend their proms. Each girl selects her own prom dress, shoes, purse, and jewelry at “boutiques” within the building. A volunteer “personnel shopper” assists the girl in the selection of the prom dress. “Boutique” dates for the Glass Slipper Project for 2017 are April 22 and April 29. For additional information, go to https://glassslipperproject.org.

Items can be donated to the Glass Slipper Project by dropping them off at any of eight Zengeler Cleaners in Chicago. Zengeler Cleaners has participated in the Glass Slipper Project for fifteen consecutive years. Tom Zengeler, President of Illinois’ oldest cleaner, said, “The Glass Slipper Project collection drive is one of our favorite times of the year. Our entire team enjoys the opportunity to work with students from local schools, community-minded businesses and other organizations to support the project. Last year, we set an all-time record by collecting 5,287 dresses. We think we can beat that in 2017, thanks to the continued support of local schools, individual donors, and the local business community.”

Zengeler Cleaners’ stores are located in Deerfield, Hubbard Woods, Northfield, Winnetka, Long Grove, Northbrook, and two locations in Libertyville. For more information about Zengeler Cleaners, go to www.zengelercleaners.com, or contact Tom Zengeler at (847) 272-6550, ext. 14.

Other communities also have projects similar to Chicago’s Glass Slipper Project. For example, the Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties provide free, gently-used prom dresses to girls who would have trouble affording one. This program is called Cinderella’s Closet. The 2017 event was held March 18 in Elgin.

Immanuel United Methodist Church in Lakeside Park, Kentucky, began a Cinderella’s Closet ministry in 2006. Each year the program helps nearly 450 girls in Northern Kentucky.

The Website http://www.cinderellasclosetusa.org describes the impetus for the founding of the program: “It’s an effort inspired by a teenager our founder, Erin Peterson, met while shopping at a consignment store. Erin overheard the teenager ask the clerk if the beautiful, gently-used gown on display could be put on hold while she figured out how to pay for it.

She asked her foster mother for the money, but a prom dress is an extra in life, and its price was out of their reach. Seeing her disappointment, Erin bought the dress for her. As tears flooded her eyes, she said she would look ‘just like Cinderella.’”

Indian Prairie School District 204 recently sponsored Valley Runway, a project that collects new and gently used prom dresses for students whose families might not be able to afford the expense of new ones. The idea developed as Metea Valley reading specialist Ann Cluxton and Metea Valley dean of students were driving home from a trip to Elgin’s Cinderella’s Closet last year to help nine girls get dresses to wear to the Metea Valley prom.

Cluxton’s original goal was to collect 100 prom dresses. With the help of parent-teacher associations at Metea Valley, Waubonsee Valley, and Nequa Valley high schools, Cluxton collected nearly 600 dresses. A grant from the Indian Prairie Educational Foundation paid for dress racks and materials used to build private changing rooms. A donation from the Naperville Rotary was used to buy new dresses in smaller and larger hard-to-find sizes. On March 3 and March 4, more than fifty high school girls selected prom dresses provided to them at no charge.

To see a video about the Cinderella’s Closet in Northern Kentucky, go to Cinderella’s Closet Experience You Tube at https://youtube.com/watch?v=wMTKcpaoJAw.

—by Karen Centowski


school bus

When Illinois schools were consolidated after World War II, over 120,000 students were enrolled in one-room schools. These students, who had attended schools within two miles of their homes, had to be transported to schools in towns and cities. The era of the yellow school bus had begun.

Students who lived in rural areas often spent significant time aboard the buses going to school and coming home from school. It was not uncommon for a child to get on a bus at 7:l5 A.M. and arrive at his grade school at 8:30 A.M. High school students then transferred to another bus and rode an additional twenty minutes to their school.

The bus was a place for studying together, for conversation, and for contemplation. For older students, the school bus was a mini-classroom in the morning. High school students would sit near each other and compare their answers for Algebra problems or Latin translations. Each student had to defend his position. Then together they would agree upon an answer.

Younger students usually sat in the same place each day. Boys full of mischief would often sit in the last seats in the bus, the seats far away from the bus driver. If students got into trouble on the bus, the driver would stop the bus, lumber down the aisle, and speak directly to the troublemaker. If the infraction was serious, the driver would tell the troublemaker to come to the front of the bus and sit in the seat directly behind the driver.

Students would often sit with the same person each day—saving a seat for their best friend or girlfriend/boyfriend. The ride home was a time to tell each other about things that had had happened during the day.

In the late afternoon after many of the children had been dropped off, the bus was usually quiet. This was a time to sit by the window and look out at the fields of wheat or corn or soybeans, to look at the farmhouses, barns, machine sheds, and corn cribs of the neighboring farms. It was a time to think about life, to contemplate the future.

Riding a school bus on country roads was hazardous at times. Sometimes roads would be covered with snow and ice. If the snow was too deep, the buses would travel only the main roads and highways. Buses often had to turn around in a student’s driveway without backing into a deep ditch on the other side of the road. Buses had to cross railroad tracks at railroad crossings with no gates and poor visibility. Sometimes a car would plow into the rear of a bus stopped to pick up or let off a student.

Going to another county on a field trip was a real treat. On long trips, the students would sing a long, repetitive song such as “Found a Peanut” or “99 Bottles of Beer.” The teachers and the driver never discouraged the students from singing these songs. Did it drive the school bus driver crazy? Maybe it was worth it because it kept the students out of trouble.


Sung to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine,” the song has the following basic lyrics:

Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now,
just now I found a peanut, found a peanut just now.

Cracked it open, cracked it open, cracked it open just now,
just now I cracked it open, cracked it open just now.

It was rotten, it was rotten, it was rotten just now,
Just now it was rotten, it was rotten just now.

Ate it anyway, ate it anyway, ate it anyway just now,
just now I ate it anyway, ate it anyway just now,

Got sick, got sick, got sick just now,
just now I got sick, got sick just now.

Called the doctor, called the doctor, called the doctor just now,
just now I called the doctor, called the doctor just now.

Said I wouldn’t die, said I wouldn’t die, said I wouldn’t die just now,
just now he said I wouldn’t die, wouldn’t die just now.

Died anyway, died anyway, died anyway just now,
just now I died anyway, died anyway just now.

Went to Heaven, went to Heaven, went to Heaven just now,
just now I went to Heaven, went to Heaven just now.

Wouldn’t let me in, wouldn’t let me in, wouldn’t let me in just now,
just now he wouldn’t let me in, wouldn’t let me in just now.

Sent back home, sent back home, sent back home just now,
just now I was sent back home, sent back home just now.

Went out walking, went out walking, went out walking just now,
just now I went out walking, went out walking just now.

Repeat entire song beginning with “Found a peanut.”

—By Karen Centowski



One-room schoolhouses, first established in 1818 in Illinois, had been immensely successful. Since students attended schools within two miles of their homes, they and their parents developed a sense of community. Since the one-room schoolhouses had a low pupil to teacher ratio, the students received individual attention. Hearing subject matter repeated was actually beneficial. According to Illinois School History, Illinois had more than 10,000 one-room schoolhouses having an average enrollment of 12 students by 1942. Over 120,000 students were enrolled in one-room schools.

Radical changes were on the horizon. A combination of factors led to the consolidation of schools and the demise of one-room schoolhouses. A slow but steady decline in the rural population was occurring. There were fewer school-age children living in the country. The number of “hard” roads which could accommodate school buses was increasing. Consolidation held out the promise of greater efficiency.

In 1951 the mass consolidation of school districts began. For many rural children, this meant riding the school bus for an hour or more each school day to get to school. If a child was one of the first to be picked up in the morning, he got on the bus at 7:15 A.M. The bus traveled rural country roads to pick up the children on the route. If there were no problems on the route, the bus arrived at school at 8:30 A.M.

After school, the bus took the same route. The first child off the bus arrived home before 4:00 P.M. The others were not so lucky. The last child off the bus often did not arrive home before 5:30 P.M.

When the mass consolidation of school districts began, some of the rural children were sent to schools in large towns with populations of 5,500 or more. In other cases, children attended grade school in tiny communities which happened to have a building which had served as an academy or private school. Rosamond, Illinois is an example.

Rosamond is located in east-central Illinois about 40 miles southeast of Springfield. Children in the surrounding area attended one-room schoolhouses. In the late 1880’s, Rosamond High School was built. It was a fine brick building with individual classrooms with built-in coat closets, a large study hall, gymnasium, stage, kitchen, and playgrounds. As a part of school consolidation, Rosamond High School was converted into Rosamond Grade School, and the high school students were transferred to Pana High School.

Since the mass consolidation of school districts in Illinois in 1951, further consolidations have occurred. Almost seventy years after the first mass school consolidation began, consolidation remains a concern for rural and small districts in Illinois.

—By Karen Centowski

Keeping Kids Safe From Home Falls

Child in Backyard

A home may represent a haven of safety and security. But for young children, it can be also a minefield of potentially dangerous falls. The following tips from the National Safety Council will help make your home free of fall hazards.

Falls from furniture
  • Don’t leave babies alone on beds, changing tables, or sofas.
  • Always strap children into highchairs and strollers.
Falls from heights
  • Don’t let children play alone on fire escapes, high porches or balconies.
Slips and falls from floor surfaces
  • Secure area rugs. Especially on wood, ceramic tile or linoleum floors, area rugs can cause anyone to slip up. Secure them with a piece of foam carpet backing, double-sided tape or a rubber pad, available at many carpet and department stores.
Falls on the stairs
  • Keep stairs clear. Kids must spend as much time running up and down stairs as they do go in and out the back door. As it is, stairs figure in a large percentage of home falls. Combine a child’s boundless, yet reckless, energy with a staircase full of junk, and you could end up taking an emergency trip to the hospital.
  • Use safety gates if there are infants and toddlers in your home. At the top of the stairs, attach the gate to a wall. Avoid accordion gates with large openings—a child’s neck can get trapped.
Window falls
  • Be aware of the danger of falls from windows by unsupervised young children. Keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach.
  • Set and enforce rules about keeping children’s play away from windows or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause serious injury.
  • Keep furniture—or anything children can climb—away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
  • Never depend on an insect screen to keep your child from falling out of the window. Screens are intended to keep insects out, not children in.
  • Unguarded windows opened only five inches pose a danger to children under ten. In some cities, landlords are required by law to place window guards in apartments where children live; such guards prevent windows from being opened wide enough for a child to crawl through. Be sure to check with your local fire department and building code official to make sure guards or security bars comply with all applicable requirements.
In the bathroom
  • Always use a rubber mat or slip resistant stickers in the tub. Never leave a child unattended in the tub. Should they slip and fall, they may be unable to cry for help.

Dangers that are obvious to adults are not necessarily that apparent to children. They need extra guidance and an ever-vigilant eye. By following these simple suggestions, you help make your home a safer and more secure place for everyone.