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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

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Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Honors Howie Mandel, Darrell Steinberg, Jordana Steinberg, Mary Lambert and Ryan Anderson at Nineteenth Annual Erasing the Stigma Awards

CULVER CITY, CA–(Marketwired – Apr 9, 2015)Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services’ 19th annual Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards will honor several passionate champions of mental health awareness and prevention, including television personality Howie Mandel, former California state senator and President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg and his daughter, Jordana Steinberg, singer/songwriter Mary Lambert and NBA standout Ryan Anderson, a forward for the New Orleans Pelicans. Emceed by comedian Wendy Liebman, the Awards will take place on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

“I commend tonight’s honorees for courageously talking about how mental illness has affected their lives. I’m proud to be emceeing the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards and hope one day we will all be as comfortable talking about seeing the psychiatrist as we are about going to the dentist,” Liebman said.

Mandel will be honored with the Beatrice Stern Media Award, created by the Stern Family to recognize individuals who have used the media to erase the stigma of mental illness.

“For many years, I was scared that bad things would happen if people found out I suffered from mental illness. But honestly, only good things have happened since I started talking about my experience with OCD and ADHD. We need to talk about our mental health in the same way we talk about our physical health — without stigma or shame. I’m thrilled Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services is honoring me with this year’s Beatrice Stern Media Award and proud to do my part in erasing the stigma of mental illness,” Mandel said.

Darrell Steinberg will be honored for championing the passage of California’s Mental Health Services Act in 2004, which expanded access to mental health services, while helping provide housing, treatment and recovery for thousands of Californians every day.

“Mental Health does not have to be a life sentence of hopelessness and despair. Recovery happens. That’s why we worked so hard to pass Proposition 63 and SB 82, which have ensured access to mental health care for tens of thousands of Californians. While we still face many challenges, we have made significant progress in the past decade since the Mental Health Services Act went into effect. I am proud to be honored with the Didi Hirsch Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award for our work together,” Darrell Steinberg said.

Jordana Steinberg will receive a leadership award for her courage to speak openly about her own experience with mental illness.

“The more we know about mental illness, the more likely we are to seek help and get better. I’m honored to be recognized by the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services with a Leadership Award for taking a step to help erase the stigma. I hope that by sharing my experience with a severe childhood mood disorder, I can inspire other young people struggling with mental health issues to get help and have hope,” Jordana Steinberg said.

Anderson will be presented with a leadership award for his advocacy of suicide prevention following the loss of his girlfriend and reality television star, Gia Allemand.

Lambert will be honored as the mental health ambassador for her courage and willingness to speak about her experience with bipolar disorder.

“Speaking our truth is one of the most powerful things we can do to erase the stigma of mental illness,” Lambert said. “I feel honored to be recognized by Didi Hirsch’s Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards for speaking my truth about living with bipolar disorder. People carry around a lot of guilt and shame for stuff that shouldn’t matter, and that guilt can be debilitating. What I want to do as an artist is to invite people to let go of that shame, to remind them that everybody has something to overcome and that we can all live full and meaningful lives just by giving permission to be who we really are.”

Erasing the Stigma is an initiative that supports the work of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a leading provider of mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services. The more people can openly discuss mental health issues and depression, the more likely they are to receive the help they need.

“Most people are amazed that about half of us will have panic attacks, depression or other mental disorders at some point in our lives,” said Dr. Kita Curry, president and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. “By bravely sharing their personal stories, our honorees let others know they are not alone and ease the shame that prevents them from seeking help.”

Tickets for the event are available by clicking here. Additional information about the awards event is available at

About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services

With more than 70 years of experience, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services transforms lives by providing quality mental health and substance abuse treatment in communities where stigma or poverty limits access. From 11 locations throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties and about 100 schools, Didi Hirsch helps more than 90,000 children, families and adults each year.

Founded in 1958, Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center helps people at risk of suicide, concerned loved ones and those who have lost someone to suicide. The first in the nation to establish a 24-hour hotline, the Suicide Prevention Center’s crisis counselors answered more than 62,000 calls, chats and texts in 2014. The Center offers support groups for people who have attempted suicide or are grieving a suicidal loss. It is one of five in the nation taking calls for the national Disaster Distress Helpline. Learn more at

Is Technology Slowing Us Down?

Ways That Technology Might Be Inhibiting Our Efficiency and Solutions to Maximizing its Benefits

By Benoît Gruber, VP Corporate Communication Sage Enterprise Market Europe & Sage ERP X3

Welcome to the Digital Age. Gone are the days of typewriters, Polaroid cameras and rotary phones. Computers, digital cameras and smart phones have not only replaced their prehistoric counterparts in our ever-advancing technological world, but they are seemingly as much a necessity to one’s survival as food and clothing. Why? Simply put, they are the normal means of communication, productivity and solutions in both the corporate world and our personal lives. As technology continues to advance, however so must our understanding of how it all works and how to use it correctly. Failure to utilise technology correctly can negatively impact communication and efficiency. Here are three signs that the technology you are using may actually be slowing you down, and solutions for improvement and maximizing its benefits.

  • Despite the use of technology, your tasks are taking you the same amount of time or sometimes longer to complete.

Business solutions programs and management software can be of great benefit to companies and are being adopted at a rapid pace. If these systems are not implemented or maintained correctly, there can be costly consequences. There are a number of factors that could be contributing to the common problem of technological systems slowing down productivity. The most obvious being a lack of training and knowledge of how to use the systems you are operating under. A system can only be as efficient as the user navigating it. It is of the upmost importance that when a computerised business program is implemented, that any and all individuals expected to use it be properly trained. There are often many hidden “shortcuts” among the obvious buttons and tabs of a program. The amount of time it takes for a person to learn as they go can be a great cost to a business. Initial and ongoing training with system update demonstrations are essential to efficient use of business solutions programs.

Another time ticker is a backed up system. Just like a good old fashion filing cabinet, technological devices only have so much storage space. As this memory is used up, the systems become sluggish. We have all seen this happen with our smart phones, cameras, computers and even our digital video recorders. Without fail, our systems always slow down on us or get locked up just when we are reaching deadlines, trying to digitally capture important moments or even want to record our favorite television show. This can be avoided! Schedule routine back-ups to other drives and delete old files that are no longer needed. Clean out your digital device, just as you would a filing cabinet. It is also important to run checks on computer system hard drives to look for viruses, adware and other debilitating files that the system may have picked up. The best way to stay on top of this is to have a computer tech available to run routine checks and computer maintenance.

Finally, you must make sure that you have implemented the most appropriate software systems for your business. The system must be adequate enough to handle all aspects of your business, yet not so complex that they are overwhelming or unnecessary to your operations and employees. Sometimes, less is more. A customizable system is always a great option if you cannot find a standard program that suits your needs.

  • Electronic communication is poor at times and taking longer than necessary.

In business, effective communication is essential. To be successful, you need to communicate clearly and concisely to customers, business associates, and partners. Conversely, poor communication can lead to a drain on productivity and negatively affect the bottom line.

Because of the disjointed nature of electronic communication, we may not be as clear and concise when communicating. Vague email messages requiring extensive clarification can greatly affect a company’s workflow. Instead of wasting time going back and forth, make an effort to communicate succinctly and as clearly as possible in all of your communications. To ensure written communication is effective, the following are a few practices to adopt:

  • Prior to hitting send, take a moment to re-read your communication to ensure you are fully addressing the subject matter.
  • Ensure the structure of the email is easy to follow by using bullet points rather than long paragraphs.
  • Make sure you are answering every question in your reply to others who are seeking answers in their initial email.
  • At the close of the email, ask the recipient to confirm receipt of the email, ask them if they agree or disagree with your thoughts, and ask them to share their feedback.
  • If you sense a lack of effective communication occurring via email, picking up a phone or speaking in person might be the best option to avoid wasting time and misunderstandings.

Effective business communication skills are crucial to successfully completing any project, whether that is selling a widget to the customer in front of you or completing a presentation with a colleague in a different department. By communicating clearly and concisely, you will be more efficient as well as a good example to your colleagues.

  • Too many different technology devices are overwhelming and difficult to manage.

You have your laptop in front of you, a large monitor behind it, your smartphone to the side of your laptop and your office phone in the corner. As you try to focus on the current task at hand, text messages are buzzing in, emails are popping up on your monitor and the phone is ringing off the hook. Multitasking is especially true for younger generations, who have been juggling technology devices since they were able to walk. How do you get anything done? The answer is that you probably do, but not efficiently! To increase productivity and use your time efficiently, here are some ways to manage your time and reduce distractions:

  • Schedule specific times throughout your workday to read and respond to emails. Good times might be first thing in the morning, right after lunch and at the end of the day, before leaving the office. Do not make a habit of stopping to read an email every time it pops up.
  • Implement one form of communication for urgent matters only, such as inner-office instant messaging.
  • Turn your smart phone ringer/vibrate off and use the “Do Not Disturb” function to limit notifications. Dedicate a couple times throughout the day to check for messages or missed calls.
  • If your office phone rings while in the middle of a project or work task, let it go to voicemail. You can check your message and return the call when you are not knee deep in thought and focus.

You will find that you work far more efficiently without the constant texting, phone calls, and email notifications rattling your brain and disturbing your focus all day long. Your work will be of more quality and done in a timelier manner without such distractions.

The ongoing advancement of technology offers us diverse and instantaneous forms of communication, business solutions and entertainment options. Its use can be greatly beneficial to a company’s productivity, success and growth with the proper training, maintenance, set limitations and efficient utilization of these technological systems.


Benoît Gruber joined Sage in 2008 and is, since October 2013, VP of Corporate Communications and Brand for Sage Enterprise-Market Europe and Sage ERP X3. He leads, defines and implements the strategy of corporate and digital communication in cohesion with the overall business strategy. He acts as a spokesperson and an expert in solution with opinion leaders, analysts, press and customers. He was previously VP Product & Alliances for Sage Mid-Market Europe solutions. In this capacity, he was responsible for global product strategy of Sage ERP X3 solution. He is in charge of Product Management & Marketing for Sage ERP X3 globally and ensuring the Operating Company teams are aligned behind the product strategy. He also serves as the solution expert when dealing with thought leaders, analysts, and press.

Prior to working at Sage, Benoît worked at SAP (from 2000-2008), where he held a variety of marketing and product management positions before becoming Sr. Industry Principle (Product & Business Development). He was a member of the EMEA Manufacturing Industries Business Group. Prior to working at SAP, Benoît worked in different management consulting, technology service companies dedicated for ERP, business intelligence, and new technologies. He also had his own company in the media and publishing sectors.

Publicolor Honors Paula Cooper at Annual Stir, Splatter + Roll Gala

On Thursday, April 9th, 2015, Publicolor will honor the visionary contemporary gallerist Paula Cooper at their annual Stir, Splatter + Roll gala. The evening, emceed by Mark Mitten, includes painting alongside some of our city’s leading architects, artists and designers, a silent auction of one-of-a-kind totes created by leading designers, and a live auction all held at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School (122 Amsterdam Avenue, New York City) with cocktails beginning at 6:00 PM and the dinner and program beginning at 7:30 PM. For a preview of the totes to be auctioned the night of the event, visit

This high-energy fête will draw 500 dynamic New Yorkers and luminaries in the worlds of business, fashion, politics, design, education, and philanthropy. Lydia Fenet of Christie’s Auction House will be the auctioneer extraordinaire.

”I have such admiration for Paula,” says Ruth Lande Shuman, Founder+President Publicolor. “She was prescient when she opened the first art gallery in desolate Soho, and then again when she moved to Chelsea. I love that her gallery has always been more than walls to view art. It’s an idea exchange, welcoming artists from many disciplines, and hosting events to raise awareness for both social and political causes. Most importantly, I admire Paula’s steady integrity in an art world that’s undergone some major changes. She’s been steadfast in her commitment to her artists.”

“Publicolor is a direct and brilliant avenue to a first giant step in changing our precious children’s lives,” says Paula Cooper. “I am thrilled to be honored by Publicolor and hope that others, especially those associated with the art world, will join in support of this remarkable organization.”

All proceeds go toward Publicolor’s mission to engage disconnected students in their education, while teaching them strong and transferable work habits so they are prepared to be productive in both college and career.

Gala Co-Chairs are: Jeffrey Banks, Sascha Bauer, Gene and Barbara Kohn, Michael Kors, Elissa and GreatNeck Richman, and Publicolor’s Founder+President Ruth Lande Shuman.

Guests planning to attend: Christo, Joel Shapiro, Barbara Bertozzi, Michelle Oka Doner, John + Ann Ehrenkranz, Borough President Gale Brewer, Sherry Bronfman, Dana Bronfman, Charles + Rita Bronfman, Rudy Crew, Mark DiSuvero, Robert Grosvenor, Julian Lethbridge, Ellen Phelan, Meg Webster, Jackie Winsor, Bing Wright and Andy Oshrin.

Team Leaders participating that night include: John Box Bricker, Alissa Bucher & Rob Rogers, Carlton DeWoody, RaineyDay Erwin, Kate Falchi, Wendy Evans Joseph, Maira Kalman & Rick Meyerowitz, Julian Lethbridge, Frank Lupo & Mimi Taft, Jonathan Marvel, Justin Matherly, Takaaki Matsumoto, Nicole Miller, Michelle Smith, Peter Stamberg & Paul Aferiat, Tucker Viemeister, Madeline Weinrib, Saya Woolfalk, Bing Wright, and Gerard Yosca.

Tote Designers for the Silent Auction include: Morris Adjmi, Ross Bleckner, Laura Bonn, Aubry Clodagh, Judy Collins, Francisco Costa, Angela Cummings, Laura Day, Jonny Detiger, Kyle DeWoody, Jamie Drake, Sam Edelman, Debrah Pearson Feinn, Tom Geismar, Joseph Giovannini, Nancye Green & Michael Donovan, Barbara & Paul Haigh, Dolores Jansen, Betsey Johnson, Rashid Johnson, Wendy Evans Joseph, Alexander Julian, Nikki Kule, Jonathan Marvel, Louis Nelson, Giovanni Pellone, Jean & Tom Phifer, Karim Rashid, David Rockwell, Rob Rogers, Michelle Smith, Aida Sulova for Henry Myerberg, Mickalene Thomas, Gael Towey & Stephen Doyle, Calvin Tsao & Zack McKown, Vadie Turner, and Patricia Underwood.

The event’s Artist Committee includes: Tauba Auerbach, Lynda Benglis, Sam Durant, Liz Glynn, Melissa Kretschmer + Carl Andre, Christian Marclay, Justin Matherly, Kelley Walker and Dan Walsh.

Publicolor was founded in 1996 by Ruth Lande Shuman with the mission to counter our inner- city public schools’ alarming dropout rate by engaging young people in their education through a continuum of 5 design- based programs, academic support and teaching career readiness skills. Publicolor directly addresses two of the root causes of poverty in America: the under-education of public school students and their lack of preparedness for the workforce. Unique to Publicolor—and central to its mission—is the beautification and revitalization of public and civic spaces through the hard work of our students and the power of paint, color, design, and collaborations that engage students and the community as a whole.

For more information, please visit

About Ruth Lande Shuman:

1A dynamic and passionate innovator, Ruth Lande Shuman is an award-winning industrial designer and Founder/President of Publicolor. Ruth has been deeply committed to community-based volunteer work for over thirty years, most notably as founding trustee of the Big Apple Circus, where she now serves as Trustee Emerita. She was also a board member of the Wiltwyck school’s union-free school, a board member of the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund at Pratt Institute, and as the Mayor’s representative to the board of the Museum of Art & Design in New York City. Ruth founded Publicolor in 1996 to use color, collaboration, design, and the discipline of the commercial painting to engage at-risk students in their education, targeting the most underserved communities, most underperforming schools and most seriously disadvantaged middle and high school students. Ruth currently runs a colorful midtown, NY staff that believes that Publicolor not only transform buildings, they transform lives.

About Paula Cooper:

2Paula Cooper opened the first art gallery in SoHo in 1968 with an inaugural exhibition to benefit the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. In 1996, she was once again a pioneer in relocating the gallery to Chelsea. Committed to presenting art that is conceptually unique and visually challenging, she has nurtured the careers of Lynda Benglis, Robert Gober, Donald Judd, Sherrie Levine, Christian Marclay, Rudolf Stingel, Kelley Walker and many others. She continues to represent artists who participated in the gallery’s first shows, among them, Carl Andre, Mark di Suvero, Robert Grosvenor and the Estate of Sol LeWitt. Beyond its immediate artistic program, the gallery has also regularly hosted concerts, performances and other artistic events to benefit various organizations. For 25 years until 2000, the gallery presented a much-celebrated series of New Year’s Eve readings of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans. A board member of The Kitchen for 22 years and president for 10 years, Cooper now serves on the Board of Advisors at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. She is the recent recipient of the award of Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government (2014). In 2003 Cooper and her husband, the publisher Jack Macrae, opened the independent bookstore 192 Books.

Change the Lives of Wish Kids by Donating to Make-A-Wish® Using Dollars or…Airline Miles

Make-A-Wish launches Give Wishes Wings SM campaign encouraging the donation of airline miles to help wish kids travel for their wishes

PHOENIX (March 31, 2015) – Trillions of airline miles go unused each year. Instead of letting them expire or using them for magazine subscriptions, those miles can easily be donated to change the lives of sick kids battling life-threatening illnesses. On Thursday, April 2,Make-A-Wish® will launch a month-long, nationwide campaign – Give Wishes Wings –focusing on the unique and critical need Make-A-Wish has for airline miles. The campaign will encourage the millions of Americans who have unused airline miles to consider donating them to help grant the nearly 75 percent of wishes that require travel.

The process to donate miles is as simple as visiting, choosing from a number of airlines – including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines®, JetBlue, and United– and entering a few pieces of information. The number of miles an individual can donate ranges from a few hundred miles* to millions. Donated miles never expire and are never used for anything other than wish travel for wish kids and their families.

Most Americans have seen or heard of a wish come true – whether it’s a 5-year-old boy rescuing a city as his favorite superhero, a young girl wishing to dance with a prince, or a teenager relishing beachside moments in the Caribbean, miles away from the thought of treatment and the pain of hospital visits. However, few people recognize the resources Make-A-Wish requires to make wishes possible.

“Travel for wishes is our number one cost,” said David Williams, president and chief executive officer for Make-A-Wish America. “Donating airline miles provides an alternative way for supporters of Make-A-Wish to directly support our mission without ever opening their wallets. It’s a non-monetary way togrant wishes and change the lives of sick kids fighting for their health.”




Some estimates show there are more than 16 trillion frequent flier miles that go unused each year and some 25 percent of people let their miles expire or at the last minute use miles for magazine subscriptions or a one-time upgrade. In contrast, the impact of a wish can last a lifetime. In fact, medical professionals say wish experiences can improve children’s state of mind, make them more willing to comply with treatment requirements, and even influence their physical health. Former wish kids tell us their wish experience improved their health and strength; gave them more confidence and the will to pursue more challenging life goals; made them more philanthropic and compassionate; and even helped save their life.

Give Wishes Wings is the most ambitious airline miles initiative in Make-A-Wish history. The fully integrated April campaignincludes brand new broadcast, print and online PSA and advertising features; a mobile optimized micro-site with real-time donation tracking; and a peer-to-peer challenge component that enlists social media to generate campaign support.

*minimum donations depend on airline

Third Annual Moms +SocialGood to Unite Mothers for Global Change on May 1, 2015 in New York City

The United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, with support from Huffington Post and BabyCenter, will host Moms +SocialGood to highlight some of the greatest challenges facing women and children globally, and to put moms at the forefront of the discussion on how to tackle these issues

New York, N.Y. — On May 1, 2015, in honor of Mother’s Day, hundreds of advocates and experts will gather at the New York Times Center in New York City to share ideas and inspire action for improving the health and wellbeing of women and children around the world.

One of the happiest moments in a mother’s life should be the moment when she holds her new baby for the first time. However, in some parts of the world, pregnancy and childbirth is a time fraught with worry. Each day, an estimated 800 mothers and 18,000 young children die from largely preventable causes. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, and broadcast globally via LiveStream, Moms +SocialGood will draw attention to some of the greatest challenges facing women and children, and put moms and dads at the forefront of the discussion on how to tackle these issues. The one-day event Moms +SocialGood will also kick off the Global Moms Relay, a digital stage where mothers, leaders and change-makers around the world can join the conversation, sharing their hopes and goals for a better future and inspiring action.


“As the world turns its attention to the next set of global development goals, it is more important than ever that we prioritize the wellbeing of women and children,” said Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, UN Foundation. “We know that the goal of ending preventable deaths among women and children is achievable, but we all must continue driving our efforts for change to ensure this becomes a reality. Through Moms +SocialGood and the Global Moms Relay, we can mobilize the voices of mothers to make a difference in the lives of women and children everywhere, building a healthier world. ”

“For over 125 years, Johnson & Johnson has remained committed to helping mothers and children live healthier and happier lives,” said Sarah Colamarino, VP, Corporate Partnerships, Johnson & Johnson. “Through our partnership with the United Nations Foundation, we build on our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, bringing mothers and fathers together to work towards their shared wish: providing the best for their child.”

Global Moms Relay will run from May 1 to June 19, just before Mother’s Day through Father’s Day. It will feature celebrities and community leaders from New York to Nairobi answering the question, “What kind of world do you want for your family in 2030?” Viewers are encouraged to read the inspiring stories and share them with friends on social networks. For each social media share, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to one of four causes that boost health and happiness for moms and children around the world—MAMA, Shot@Life, Girl Up, and UNICEF.

Brain Connections in Autism

SDSU scientists find that in children with autism, sensorimotor regions of the brain become overconnected at the expense of later-developing higher-order functions.

SAN DIEGO — In early childhood, the neurons inside children’s developing brains form connections between various regions of brain “real estate.” As described in a paper published last week in the journal Biological Psychiatry, cognitive neuroscientists at San Diego State University found that in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder, the connections between the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum appear to be overdeveloped in sensorimotor regions of the brain. This overdevelopment appears to muscle in on brain “real estate” that in typically developing children is more densely occupied by connections that serve higher cognitive functioning.

The study represents the first ever systematic look at connections between the entire cerebral cortex and the cerebellum using fMRI brain imaging, and its findings provide another piece in the puzzle that could one day lead researchers to develop a reliable brain-based test for identifying autism.

Back to the cerebellum

Several decades ago, scientists reported findings that certain regions of the cerebellum — a brain region involved in motor control, but also in cognitive, social, and emotional functions — were often smaller in people with autism than in typically developing people.

That sparked a brief flurry of research activity exploring the cerebellum’s potential role in the disorder. Unfortunately, the direction never truly panned out for researchers hoping for a big breakthrough in understanding, said the study’s corresponding author, SDSU psychologist Ralph-Axel Müller.

“Eventually, interest in the cerebellum waned due to a lack of consistency in the findings,” he said.

Hoping that advances in brain imaging technology would reveal new insights, Müller, working with the study’s first author Amanda Khan, looked back to the cerebellum for their study. Khan is a former master’s student at SDSU and now a doctoral candidate at Suffolk University in Boston.

Over- and underconnected

The researchers directed 56 children and adolescents, half with autism and half without the disorder, to fixate on a focal point while thinking about nothing in particular, using fMRI brain imaging technology to scan the children’s brains as they produced spontaneous brain activity. Capturing this spontaneous activity is crucial to honing in on what are essentially baseline neuronal patterns.

The imaging results revealed that the participants with autism had far stronger neuronal connectivity between sensorimotor regions of the cerebellum and cerebral cortex than did their counterparts without autism. Conversely, the participants with autism had less connectivity between regions involved in higher-order cognitive functions such as decision-making, attention and language.

The sensorimotor connections between the cerebral cortex and cerebellum mature during the first few years of life, when the brains of children with autism grow larger in volume than typically developing children, Müller explained. Connections that serve higher cognitive functions develop later, after this period of overgrowth.

“Our findings suggest that the early developing sensorimotor connections are highly represented in the cerebellum at the expense of higher cognitive functions in children with autism,” he said. “By the time the higher cognitive functions begin to come online, many of the connections are already specialized. If a particular part of the brain is already functionally active in one domain, there may be no reason for the brain to switch it over to another domain later in life.”

Neural neighborhood

Returning to the real estate metaphor, it’s as if most of the available land has already been scooped up by sensorimotor connections before the higher-order cognitive function connections have a chance to move into the neighborhood.

The findings could help scientists and clinicians better understand exactly how abnormalities during brain development lead to various types of autism spectrum disorder. Müller hopes his work will not only contribute to a brain-based diagnosis of autism, but also be a step towards identifying its various subtypes and underlying genetic factors.

“We still don’t understand what in the brain makes a kid autistic,” he said. “You can’t look at a scan and say, ‘There it is.’ We’re doing the groundwork of finding brain variables that might be biomarkers for autism and its subtypes.”

SDSU graduate students Aarti Nair and Christopher Keown, also contributed to the study, as did University of California, San Diego, graduate student Michael Datko and Alliant International University psychologist Alan Lincoln.

About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a major public research institution offering bachelor’s degrees in 89 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 21 areas. The university provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its 34,000 students. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit

Innovative Payment Technology Rolls Out Program to Teach Financial Management to Youth Nationwide

Oink® announces partnership plans with 100 Black Men

LOS ANGELES – April 9, 2015Virtual Piggy, Inc. (OTCQB: VPIG), provider of award-winning payment technology, Oink, today announced that it is launching a program with 100 Black Men to provide educational financial tools to youth who are involved with their community service initiatives. The initial program will serve as a pilot with the Bay Area chapter of California in March before rolling out the program on a national scale.

100 Black Men was founded with a mission to improve the quality of life for African Americans, particularly African American youth. The organization is composed of members with a myriad of professions including corporate executives, physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs, entertainers, elected officials, professional athletes, and educators, to provide insight and leaderships to youth. These dedicated men created an international coalition focused on creating educational opportunities, promoting economic empowerment, addressing health disparities, and creating positive, nurturing mentoring relationships that extend across a lifetime. The program with Oink will focus on building a financial literacy platform for these young students.

“We’re thrilled to work with Oink to roll out this program promoting financial literacy and smart financial management,” said Rufus Coleman, Chairman, Technology Committee of 100 Black Men of America. “Their technology and prepaid Oink card provide the tools children and young adults need to learn real-world financial skills that can last a lifetime.”

Oink is the only payment technology designed to allow retailers and game publishers to reach under 21 consumers in a safe, legal and effective manner compliant with the FTC and other international regulations. The innovative technology serves as a digital family wallet that is available online or via mobile and allows safe, secure transactions, all within parental controls.

“If you have control of your finances, you have control of your life” said Stedman Graham, best selling author, entrepreneur, and Oink Advisory Board Member. “We’re excited to announce that we are working with 100 Black Men to provide financial literacy tools to the tens of thousands of children they work with everyday. Becoming financially savvy is an important life lesson on the road to success. We are thrilled to be their partner to work towards achieving these goals for the youth in their program.”

For information about Oink visit

About Oink (Virtual Piggy, Inc.)

Virtual Piggy is the provider of Oink, a secure online and in-store teen wallet. Oink enables teens to manage and spend money within parental controls, while gaining valuable financial management skills. The technology company also delivers payment platforms designed for the Under 21 age group in the global market, and enables online businesses the ability to function in a manner consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and similar international children’s privacy laws. The company, based in Hermosa Beach, CA, is on the Web at: and holds three technology patents, US Patent No. 8,762,230, 8,650,621 and 8,812,395.

About the 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

100 Black Men was founded as an organization in New York City in 1963. The national organization, 100 Black Men of America, Inc. began with nine chapters in 1986 as a national alliance of leading African American men of business, industry, public affairs and government with a mission to improve the quality of life for African Americans, particularly African American youth. Today the organization has 118 chapters in the United States, England and the Caribbean. Members represent a myriad of professions including corporate executives, physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs, entertainers, elected officials, professional athletes, educators, and men from numerous other professions. These dedicated men created an international coalition focused on creating educational opportunities, promoting economic empowerment, addressing health disparities, and creating positive, nurturing mentoring relationships that extend across a lifetime.

Visit for more information on the programs and initiatives of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and to connect with the 100’s global network of chapters.

For Equal Pay Day, New Analysis Reveals the Real Costs of the Wage Gap for Utah’s Women, Families and Economy

If Paid Equally, Utah Women Could Afford More Than Two More Years of Food, 17+ Months of Rent

An analysis released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow shows just how much damage the gender-based wage gap is doing to Utah’s families and economy. Women employed full time in Utah are paid just 70 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $15,144. This means that, collectively, Utah women lose nearly $4.8 billion every year that could pay for basic goods and services that strengthen the state’s economy and are essential for the more than 86,000 Utah households headed by women.

The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families when the U.S. Census Bureau released its most recent data. It is being released for the first time today. The full set of findings for Utah, which has the fourth largest cents-on-the-dollar gap among the states, can be found here.

These state-based findings are included in a new national report also released today, An Unlevel Playing Field: America’s Gender-Based Wage Gap, Binds of Discrimination, And A Path Forward. The report features original analysis, never released before, about the country’s wage gap across states, among women of color, and by parental and marital status. It identifies a punishing and pervasive gap that disproportionately harms mothers, single mothers and mothers of color, who can suffer from double and triple binds of discrimination.

“At a time when women’s wages are essential to families and our economy, the persistence of the gender-based wage gap is doing real and lasting damage to women, families, communities and to our nation. It defies common sense that lawmakers are not doing more to stop gender discrimination in wages,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “This analysis shows that women and families are losing thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could pay for significant amounts of food, rent, gas and other basic necessities. The effects ripple throughout our economy.”

According to the analysis of Utah, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, a full-time working woman in Utah could afford food for more than two more years, mortgage and utilities for 11 more months, rent for more than 17 more months, or 4,200+ more gallons of gas. These basic necessities would be especially important for the 28 percent of Utah’s women-headed households currently living below the poverty level.

Nationally, women working full time, year round are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, with significant disparities for women of color. African American women and Latinas are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. The country’s wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that rate, experts say America’s women will not be paid equally to men for another 43 years.

“It has been well documented that the wage gap spans geography, race, industry, education level and other factors, and that it is closing at a glacial pace,” Ness continued. “America’s women and families simply cannot afford to wait another four decades for fair pay. It is past time for fair and family friendly workplace policies that will level the playing field and give all women the fair shot they need to support themselves and their families while fully contributing to our economy.”

An Unlevel Playing Field outlines several measures that would help close the wage gap, including fair and family friendly workplace policies. Members of Congress have reintroduced three of the proposals so far this year: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women; the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard; and the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. Other measures discussed in the report include an increase in the minimum wage and protections for pregnant workers.

The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day, which is April 14 this year. The day marks how far into the year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The state-by-state analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings for each state, state rankings, analyses specific to women of color and An Unlevel Playing Field are all available at

UNICEF Uses Snapchat to Highlight the Devastating Impact of the Conflict in Northeast Nigeria on Children

On Snapchat? Add @UNICEF and send them a snap showing what you would miss the most if you were forced to leave your home. Not on Snapchat? Send UNICEF a comment about what you would miss on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #BringBackOurChildhood  For more information visit UNICEF’s campaign Tumblr at

One year after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, UNICEF is using Snapchat to draw attention to the devastating impact of the crisis in northeast Nigeria on children. New figures from UNICEF reveal that around 800,000 children have now been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict between Boko Haram, military forces and civilian self-defence groups. The number of children running for their lives within Nigeria, or crossing over the border to Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has more than doubled in just less than a year.

UNICEF is using Snapchat – a social platform where messages disappear – to communicate the plight of the hundreds of thousands of children who are missing out on their childhoods. The children’s organization is working with leading Snapchat artists – including Shaun McBride, aka Shonduras – to tell the stories of the children who have fled the violence by sharing images based on drawings from children in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The artwork reflects what children miss from home and the emotional wounds and suffering they have endured, including seeing their parents and siblings killed, tortured or abducted.

The public is also being invited to help raise awareness, by sharing what they would miss the most if they were forced from home – either by sending a snap to UNICEF on Snapchat, or by posting messages on other social channels like twitter and facebook using the hashtag #BringBackOurChildhood.

“The abduction of more than 200 girls in Chibok is only one of endless tragedies being replicated on an epic scale across Nigeria and the region,” says Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Scores of girls and boys have gone missing in Nigeria – abducted, recruited by armed groups, attacked, used as weapons, or forced to flee violence. They have the right to get their childhoods back.”

The conflict in northeast Nigeria is exerting a heavy toll on children in Nigeria and across the region in an increasing number of ways:

  • Children are being used within the ranks of Boko Haram – as combatants, cooks, porters and look-outs.
  • Young women and girls are being subjected to forced marriage, forced labour and rape.
  • Students and teachers have been deliberately targeted – with more than 300 schools damaged or destroyed and at least 196 teachers and 314 schoolchildren killed by the end of 2014.

UNICEF has stepped up its humanitarian response to the crisis. Over the past six months, UNICEF has provided over 60,000 children affected by the conflict in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad with counselling and psychosocial support to help them ease the pain of their memories, reduce stress and cope with emotional distress.

UNICEF is also working with partners to provide safe water and life-saving health services, restore access to education by creating temporary learning spaces, and deliver therapeutic treatment to malnourished children.

[RELEASE OBTAINED] In March 2015, Tamahan, a child refugee in Chad fleeing the conflict affecting North-East Nigeria, drew this drawing in a UNICEF supported Child Friendly Space in Dar es Salaam Refugee camp in the Bagassola area in the Lake Region of Chad. Tamahan misses his classmates and teacher. In March 2015 in Nigeria, 15.5 million people, including 7.3 million children, are affected by the continuing crisis in the country’s north-eastern region. More than 1.2 million Nigerians have fled their homes as a result of violence and attacks by Boko Haram insurgents that have escalated since the beginning of 2015. Many of the displaced, most of whom are children and women, are sheltering with in host communities that have limited resources, and in formal and informal camps. All are in urgent need basic supplies, health and nutrition services, and critical water sanitation and hygiene support to prevent the spread of disease. Over 150,000 people – the vast majority children and women – have also fled to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, further straining vulnerable communities – some of which are already facing food insecurity and malnutrition, are prone to disease outbreaks and natural disasters, and often already host hundreds of thousands of refugees, returnees and migrants who have escaped violence and hardship throughout the region. The impact of the crisis on children and women is of particular concern. Many of them have lost their homes and belongings –escaping with only the clothing they were wearing; and some have walked for days – or even weeks – to find refuge. Many children in the region have been traumatized and are in need of psychosocial support. They have witnessed violence and atrocities, including seeing parents and siblings slaughtered by Boko Haram insurgents; and have been exposed to or have experienced violence and brutality. Their homes have been burned and their schools have been damaged or destroyed during the attacks.

[RELEASE OBTAINED] In March 2015, Tamahan, a child refugee in Chad fleeing the conflict affecting North-East Nigeria, drew this drawing in a UNICEF supported Child Friendly Space in Dar es Salaam Refugee camp in the Bagassola area in the Lake Region of Chad. Tamahan misses his classmates and teacher.

In April 2015 influential Snapchat artist Cyrene Quiamco recreates a drawing by Tamahan, a child refugee from the conflict affecting northeast Nigeria who has fled to Dar es Salaam Refugee camp, Chad, of what he misses most from home.  Tamahan's drawing shows that what he misses most is his classmates and teacher. Ms. Quiamco says “ I studied graphic design at the University of Arkansas and wouldn't be where I am today without my education. The idea of children not being able to continue their education was a story I felt compelled to share.” Ms. Quiamco drew a representation of Tamaham in front of a school holding a textbook as shown in his picture.

In April 2015 influential Snapchat artist Cyrene Quiamco recreates a drawing by Tamahan, a child refugee from the conflict affecting northeast Nigeria who has fled to Dar es Salaam Refugee camp, Chad, of what he misses most from home. Tamahan’s drawing shows that what he misses most is his classmates and teacher. Ms. Quiamco says “ I studied graphic design at the University of Arkansas and wouldn’t be where I am today without my education. The idea of children not being able to continue their education was a story I felt compelled to share.” Ms. Quiamco drew a representation of Tamaham in front of a school holding a textbook as shown in his picture.

Faced with a severe funding shortfall, UNICEF is urging international donors to ramp up their financial support for relief efforts in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries. UNICEF has received only 15 per cent of the US$26.5 million required for its humanitarian response in Nigeria for 2015, and no more than 17 per cent for its overall humanitarian funding appeal for Cameroon, 2 per cent for Niger and 1 per cent for Chad.

On Snapchat? Add @UNICEF and send them a snap showing what you would miss the most if you were forced to leave your home. Not on Snapchat? Send UNICEF a comment about what you would miss on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #BringBackOurChildhood

For more information visit UNICEF’s campaign Tumblr at

Chuck E. Cheese Volunteers as Honorary Big for National Volunteer Month and Big Brothers Big Sisters

National program kicks off to bring focus to need for volunteers and funding in support of unmatched Littles

Chuck E. and his first Honorary Little, Ryan

Chuck E. and his first Honorary Little, Ryan

PR Newswire IRVING, Texas (April 13, 2015) – In honor of National Volunteer Month, Chuck E. Cheese’s, the preferred destination for Big Brothers Big Sisters, is raising awareness of the more than 30,000 unmatched Littles in need of a Big. Chuck E. himself is kicking off a nationwide honorary Big program by becoming a Big for a day to a Little in Dallas. Throughout the month, all Chuck E. Cheese’s locations will also offer guests opportunities to support Big Brothers Big Sisters by donating at the register or participating in a National Night Out event on April 14.

Starting in Dallas, Big Brothers Big Sisters will match Chuck E. with a deserving Little for a surprise visit to his or her school, followed by an after school play date during Chuck E. Cheese’s National Night Out event on April 14 from 5 p.m.–9 p.m. National Night Out is a nationwide event in which a portion of the proceeds from all who attend will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Since becoming immersed in the work Big Brothers Big Sisters does, I have learned how important it is for kids, especially those in a vulnerable situation, to have a positive adult presence in their lives,” said Tom Leverton, CEO of CEC Entertainment, Inc. “Chuck E. is a hero to kids. And by serving as an honorary Big, we can help bring awareness to the need for more volunteers, as well as joy to Littles across the country. And it’s not just Chuck E., we’re encouraging our employees to join the program and look for ways to give back to this organization that makes such a difference in the lives of our children.”

“Thousands of children are waiting to be matched with a mentor, and in addition to the need for volunteers to fill this gap, many do not realize that there is also a financial need to make these matches,” said Pam Iorio, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “Our partnership with Chuck E. Cheese’s and the honorary Big program is a wonderful opportunity for people to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters and get involved in a simple way. We’re very proud to have Chuck E. Cheese’s support.”

Chuck E. Cheese’s honorary Big program will kick off in Dallas and roll out nationwide to bring awareness to the need for volunteers and help bring joy to Little’s across the country all year long. In addition to the National Night Out events, Chuck E. Cheese’s will also give guests the opportunity to make a $1, $5 or any donation amount at the register.

All year long, Bigs, Littles and Big Brothers Big Sisters staff will receive a special value deal: 25 tokens, one medium one-topping pizza and two drinks for only $17.99*. By contacting their local chapter, Bigs will receive a value coupon that can be used at any Chuck E. Cheese’s location.

The ultimate destination for family fun, Chuck E. Cheese’s is “the place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid®.” Chuck E. Cheese’s features food and entertainment options such as a new Thin & Crispy pizza, wraps, a salad bar and games appropriate for toddlers, kids, teens and adults.

To find your nearest Chuck E. Cheese’s location, visit

To learn how to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit in the US or in Canada.

* Pricing may vary in Canada locations.

About CEC Entertainment, Inc.

For more than 35 years, CEC Entertainment has served as the nationally recognized leader in family dining and entertainment and the place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid®. As the award-winning, number-one, kid-friendly restaurant for millions of families across the world, the company and its franchisees operate a system of more than 575 Chuck E. Cheese’s stores located in 47 states and 10 foreign countries or territories. Chuck E. Cheese’s goal is to create positive, lifelong memories for families through fun, food and play inside and outside of its stores. Each Chuck E. Cheese’s features musical entertainment, games, rides and play areas for kids of all ages, as well as a variety of freshly prepared dining options. Committed to providing a fun, safe environment, Chuck E. Cheese’s helps protect families through industry-leading programs such as Kid Check®.

As a strong advocate for its local communities and childhood education, Chuck E. Cheese’s has donated more than $10 million to schools through its fundraising programs and is a proud sponsor of like-minded organizations such as PBS KIDS. For more information, visit or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and foursquare.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes such as educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships. Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey substantiates that its mentoring programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization’s 110-year history. With 331 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 200,000 children, their families and 200,000 volunteer mentors. Learn more at

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