Monday, April 16, 2012

The Risk Management Worm Assessment

Picture the most beautiful apple you have ever seen.  Mine would be a big, juicy Red Delicious!

Before anyone (smart) bites into an apple, they always check it for worms. Sometimes it will look wonderful, but something not so wonderful will be just right under the skin.  This is the same with your risk management plan.  We examine our program, like we are examining our apple for worms!  We want to make sure they're good before we start.

We should see if our program has the following:

  • I have a risk management plan documented for my program
  • A first aid kit 
  • A list of medically trained volunteers for use at our youth activities
  • Current health forms for members
  • Current screening information for adults
  • Program is fully covered by accident and liability insurance
  • Incident forms are completed within 24 hours of mishap
  • We have an emergency plan for all major activities
  • Volunteers are trained in risk management
  • All instructor credentials are up-to-date
  • Activity/range rules are posted in clear view
Does your program have any worms?  Does anything need to be addressed before you continue?  An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Pound of Cure!  Plan ahead NOW to have a safe environment and reduce the risk for you, your kids, your volunteers and your program.  You won't regret it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Designing a program with the end in mind.

I don't know about the rest of you, but it is common for me to begin a program with a great idea, thinking of some activity that would be a fun, learning situation for the students.  That's the time when it would be smart to stop, get out a pad and pencil and jot down some notes, not waiting too long before asking the question, "What do I actually want my students to learn from this event or activity?"  You could say it is starting with the end in mind.

In University Extension settings we have adopted a method called the Logic Model.  Here's how it goes, and I am using an example from Colorado Cooperative Extension because it is centered around 4-H Shooting Sports.  Even so, it could be adapted to any teacher-student / coach-pupil learning situation or activity.

First, consider what your situation is.  Here's an example...

Nearly two thirds of all U.S. homes have firearms. It is important that our youth learn and understand the safe, acceptable and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment, in and around the home as well as when participating in legitimate shooting sports activities. No other youth sport can match the record of the
shooting sports in regard to its outstanding record of low number of reported sports injuries. The shooting sports rank 3rd in popularity among international sports, behind track & field and swimming. The Shooting Sports are accessible to boys, girls, young, old, physically challenged and total families.

Second, plan what the desired outcome will be.  Having fun is a great outcome I agree, but it is hardly one that satisfies the organization paying for your labor and facilities to hold the activity.

Example Outcome Summary:
To provide a comprehensive 4-H youth development program focused on the 4-H shooting sports. Program to include development of individual life skills, leadership development, safe & responsible practices and supporting events and activities.

Next follows the "nuts and bolts" of program planning when you ask the questions, What do I need to do to accomplish this? What are we going to do?  Who are we going to reach?

Example Inputs - (What we invest) National 4-H Curriculum, National Instructor Training, State Instructor / Volunteer Training, Faculty, Time, Funding, Equipment, Resources, others?

Example Outputs - What we're going to do, and who we're going to reach.  Conduct Youth & Adult Classroom Training, Youth & Adult Hands-On Training, Youth Skills events, others(?)  In what setting?  Youth in 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, Special Interest Youth in Summer 4-H Camps Youth in Private Summer Camps

Finally, what are your actual Outcomes and Impacts going to be that can be measured in a meaningful way?  Consider these example short, medium and long range outcomes for this shooting sports example:  

  • Short term: Participants gain & improve target shooting skills.
  • Medium term: Participants will gain skills in leadership, self-confidence, concentration and sportsmanship.
  • Long Term: Improved public perception of the Shooting Sports.
Last but not least the program planner needs to consider any Assumptions and contributing External Factors. what may help or hinder your plans. Here are some samples of each:

  • Trained volunteers will deliver proper training to youth following the National Curriculum.
  • Camp planning committees will include shooting sports.
  • County Faculty will recruit volunteers to attend instructor training.
  • Youth will choose to fully participate.
  • Participants will follow safe & acceptable activities in day to day living.
  • County Faculty will support & assist volunteers
Possible External Factors:
  • Funding in support of programs continues or grows with the program.
  • Program needs support of Management and Faculty as well as stakeholders.
  • State Leadership for the program is maintained.
Planning programs keeping the Logic Model in mind will help the planner achieve success in the short run, and ultimately will contribute to sustaining a quality program for the long term.

Acknowledgments: I'd like to thank Colorado State University for providing the background for this information, however it is also available from many state extension programs.  The document this was taken from is Logic Model for Colorado 4-H Shooting Sports, Quality of Life – Personal / Individual Development.  Another great paper for this is Using Logic Models for Program Development, by Glen Israel of the University of Florida, 2001, 2007, 2010.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who (or what) is your giant?

You must read the Bible story in 1st Samuel 17: 1-51, which is the story of how young David, being of small stature kills the giant Goliath with just a sling and a stone.

My giant that I'm dealing with today is discouragement, and as the giant in the story, it is mocking me.  It is saying I'm not good enough, worthy enough and smart enough to get that better job and mend the relationship issues in my family.

At the same time, the Voice of Truth is telling me a different story (just like the song).  It is telling me to lay my burdens at the foot of the cross and give all my problems, one at a time to Jesus.  In doing so I am giving fear to God as well, knowing that He is looking out for me and my family.  He will heal relationships, broken hearts and bad habits if we do our best, give our problems to Him and trust.  So that's what I'm going to do.

Who or what is your giant? We would love to hear your story.
by Andrew

Monday, April 9, 2012

The process of forgiveness, from the younger brothers point of view.

A significant part of my life revolves around the fact that I've done harm to others, which can never be undone.  I'm not talking about harm in the illegal sense, but the kind that breaks the bonds of trust, remaining a positive role model to my children, the betrayal of friends, etc.

The Prodigal Son is one of the parables of Jesus, in the New Testament, Luke 15:11-32.  In the story  a father, in response to his demands, gives the younger of his two sons his inheritance before he dies. The younger son, after wasting his fortune, repents and returns home, where the father holds a feast to celebrate his return. The older son refuses to participate, stating that in all the time the son has worked for the father, he did not even give him a goat to celebrate with his friends. His father reminds the older son that everything the father has is the older son's, but that they should still celebrate the return of the younger son as he has come back to them.

In my life I have at times lived the role of each of the individuals in the story, but by far, the most challenging has been the role of the younger brother.  It seems that time after time, day after day I go to the Lord in prayer to forgive me of my sins, and I know that He has.  Knowing that the people I've harmed are going through a hard time in their life due to something I've done can cause unbearable shame and regret.  In my heart I know that God has forgiven me. The ability to receive forgiveness from myself and others takes longer, sometime a lifetime, but it is worth pursuing. By surrendering this part of our life to God and making amends to others will draw us nearer to Christ and will help in our own walk of faith as others do harm to us.

This book below is an excellent work that breaks down the story in great detail, looking at the story from several different points of view.  I hope this story will bless your life as it has mine.

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, by Henri J. M. Nouwen, ISBN-13: 978-0385473071.
by Andrew

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In A Downward Spiral of Regrets

In A Downward Spiral of Regrets

In a downward spiral approaching the vortex.
The light at the end of the tunnel is dimming.
Dreams not achieved, bridges burned.
How do I know when my life turned?

It turned when I caved to peer pressure.
And when I gave up on my dream.
It turned when I groomed my dead father,
And said goodbye to my devoted mother.

It turned when I traded in my virtue,
For friendships superficial.
Not realizing the most important ones in life,
Are family, my children and wife.

Now I arrive at a turning point.
Which path am I to choose?
The downward path that leads to death,
Or toward His love which gives life new breath?

For this moment I'll choose to continue,
But I don't know for how long.
Every day I work behind the wire, encouraging the inmates
To better themselves and rise above their past.

Sometimes I wonder if I've sentenced myself to prison,
Daily incarceration with men of a similar vision.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Loving an Addict, Guest Story

Being the spouse of an addict is probably one of the toughest things I have ever been through, and I have been through a lot. To love someone so much and to see what substances do to them can be completely heart wrenching. But when you love someone enough, the way that God loves us, you stick by their side. You accept the circumstances and you support them as they go through their addiction and try to overcome. You don’t get upset because they slip up. You continue to love them and give it to God. After all, if you ask, you will receive. It may not be when or how you want it to be, but it will be how and when God wants it to be.

My husband has cursed me out and said the most horrible things, all because he wanted some beer. I would get so upset and he would make me feel so guilty, that I would cave and get him what he wanted, just because I did not want him to be upset with me. After all, he worked so hard all day and he deserved it, right? Plus, he would apologize later and everything would be okay in his eyes. It wasn’t okay though. Our marriage was falling apart because of his alcoholism and the fact that instead of helping him get through his urges, I was enabling him. I began praying to God every day and night. When he wanted a drink, I would hide the keys and block his way from getting out the door. But the addict in him always found a way to get a drink. I refused to give up though. However, instead of trying to stop him, I let him do what he wanted. I began to focus more on my children and myself and let God handle my husband. I still kept praying and believing, but I knew I would not be the one to make him stop drinking. It was between him and God.

On December 31, 2011, my husband made the decision to go into the New Year sober, to recommit himself to our marriage, family, and most of all to his Lord and Savior. It has been over three months since he made this decision and I must say it has been a very rough three months. But through the grace of God, he is finally overcoming his addiction. I see him get stronger every day. That craving is still there, but with God by his side and with my love and support, he gets through it. I thank God every day for helping not only him get through his addiction, but also for giving me the strength to be able to stay in the marriage and get through it with him.

- By Dawn

Monday, April 2, 2012

When you're at your worst, count your blessings.

I really feel compelled to tell you my story, or at least some of the highlights.  For now, I'll just share a snippet.  It seems like this past decade has had some of the worst and some of the best times in my life.  In 2000, and then again in 2001 I lost my Dad, then my Mom.  Then by 2002 I had a near job lay-off, and a divorce.  A psychologist told me that each incident was enough to bring any person to the brink of depression, drink or just plain giving up, so I was trying to deal with these setbacks, trying to keep my sanity.

I had a buddy that got me involved a bit with the Catholic church, just long enough to learn some of their ways by reading a couple of books and attending a mass or two.  During the process, I somehow ended up with some Rosary beads.  Of course, I didn't know any of the formal Catholic prayers, but I loved holding the cross.  It made me feel peaceful.  My original Rosary was made of wood, I've since purchased several more.

One night alone in bed, lonely as could be, contemplating all of the crap I was going through and about in tears with despair, I clutched the Rosary beads.  I had heard that when you’re feeling down to count your blessings, so I started doing that, naming one blessing per bead as they slipped through my fingers.  I know I went around the loop for sure one time, perhaps two, naming blessings one-by-one.  I first listed my children, then my siblings, then my dog, job and friends.  Before I knew it, I felt better.  The neat thing about using the beads to count each blessing was that when I was done, I could look at something tangible and visually identify a whole bunch of things I should be thankful for.  I still use the beads to this day in the same way.  I also love this old hymn sung in many churches called “Count our blessings”.  Here's the first verse.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Youth Shooting Sports, A Risky Business (Risk Management)

Even though my primary thoughts when writing this are geared toward the shooting sports, it is virtually the same for adults leading youth in any training, activity or exercise.  Risk is the chance of loss or injury.  In managing that risk, we can either assume, reduce, avoid or transfer it.

When we assume the risk we recognize your specific duties by liability, and there are 2 types of liability, criminal (duties toward community) and civil (duties toward individuals).  Within civil there is contractual and tort  (negligence).

We have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for our program, recognizing and controlling potential hazards.  We also are responsible for conducting activities in a .  Remember that those words, reasonable and prudent manner.  That's why it is so imperative that we follow the guidelines we've been given in our training from our organization, as well as the umbrella organization who wrote the curriculum for our training, like the National Rifle Association.

When leading our activities, our specific duties are to:
  • Follow your instructors manual when teaching your discipline
  • Properly plan ahead
  • Provide adequate instruction
  • Explain the risks to youth and parents
  • Monitor for injury or incapacity
  • Provide safe equipment
  • Have a plan for emergencies
  • Keep records
  • Provide close supervision
We are also responsible for developing a Risk Management Plan, or using one that has been provided by our sponsoring organization.  A good plan will include the following points: Goals, Staffing/ Supervision, Insurance, Record Keeping System, Emergency procedures, Equipment Handling/ Inspections, Facility Inspection and perhaps more.  If you are sponsored by a government organization, more than likely they will require you to follow an Affirmative Action, providing equal access to all.

I have just touched the tip of the iceberg with risk management in this short article.  The very best source for protecting yourself and your participants will be your sponsoring organization.  Any quality organization will have all their ducks in a row on this topic.  For further information and a good sample plan for 4-H, which could be adapted to any youth organization is from the University of Nebraska 4-H Shooting Sports program, and U of N 4-H Risk Management Plan. It expands upon what I have written today.