One Hero Grasps For Hope

Lifelong Educator Wants to Help Kids Find Homes, Get Diplomas

Two things that are getting tougher for kids to get in America: A place to live and an education.

According to a study by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, an average of 3 in 10 high school students don't reach graduation, with that rate reaching half in some areas of the country. Combine that with the report by the National Center on Family Homelessness that found more than 1.5 million children were without a home, and it's not difficult to see a stark trend.

But Leon McKinney, a lifelong educator from a rural area of Washington, wants to do something about that. He has taken stories from his three decades of teaching kids and turned them into a book -- Heroes and Hope ( -- that he is now selling, with 90 percent of the proceeds going toward education funding for kids, and the other 10 percent going to Habitat for Humanity.

"I want to help people live better lives in the midst of difficult times," he said. "Throughout my more than two decades as a teacher, I have tried to make a difference for kids and families through some principles that have stood the test of time.  Over the years, I've amassed a wealth of stories that seem to resonate with people, and so I wanted to share these stories with others to help them find vision and inspiration, but I didn't want it to be some kind of vanity exercise. I wanted it to mean something. So, I'm passing down these values and lessons from my experience as an educator, parent, and counselor to people over the last forty years in a way that not only tells them what I've seen, but shows them what I've learned."

McKinney has already raised more than $100,000 for his cause, just through $5 gifts from other teachers he has come into contact with over time. He's not sure how much his book will raise, but he's hoping the value of awareness will mean more than the dollar signs involved.

"It's tough to admit that we're struggling, as a country," he said. "In 1996, the high school graduation rate was 66.4 percent, and nearly 14 years later, we've edged it up to 69.2 percent. That's 14 years, and not even three full percentage points. We can do better. I know we can, because I've seen kids with some of the toughest challenges you can imagine overcome them to get that diploma. The missing ingredient is hope. It's my intention to tell the stories of the heroes I've encountered as an educator, and of the hope they've inspired in me and in others. By raising our hopes, and the means to make good on those dreams, I think we can beat the expectations of the experts. When I have looked into the hearts of the students and teachers I have known, I have seen that the power of the human spirit is endless. This project is about tapping into that spirit on a grander scale, and setting our sights on nothing less than making dreams come true for those who have no hope left."

About Leon McKinney

Leon McKinney earned a BA in Education and a Masters in Music Education from Central Washington State University. After teaching music for four years at Pateros schools, he taught for 21 Years at Eastmont High School and served as the Director of Music for the Eastmont Schools. Leon was honored in 2006 as the Friend of the Year of Wenatchee Valley College. Leon is married to Bonnie McKinney and they have four children:  Jeff, Brent, Christy and Brian.

Expert Asks If You Can't Lift More Than You Weigh, Then Why Do You Need 500 Pounds of Weights to Work Out?

The average American male can bench press only 135 pounds without risking injury, and women can typically only bench press about 60 pounds, so why does everyone feel like the only way they can work out is with a 500 pound weight machine from a gym?

That's the question asked by Donnie Gorsuch, a woman who didn't have the time or money for a gym, but wanted to exercise in the comfort of her own home. Her logic flew in the face of the popular notion that if you don't belong to a gym, you need to buy gym-style equipment to work out.

"Gyms and the health club industry have created in the popular consciousness a type of 'gym dependency,' which has convinced millions of people that the only way to really get a good workout is with gym equipment," she said. "But I didn't have the time or money to join a gym, and I didn't have room in my house for a giant workout machine. That's when I discovered the practice of bodyweight training, which uses your own weight to provide the resistance for muscles that gym equipment provides."

Gorsuch is not only a practitioner of bodyweight training, but she also developed with her husband a simple brace for bodyweight trainers called The Power Platform( The platform folds up and fits just about anywhere, and comes with instructions on how to perform basic and advanced bodyweight exercises.

"Bodyweight exercises don't require weights, so they are ideal for people who can't afford or don't have time for the gym," Gorsuch added. "In this economy, most people are of one of two extremes. They either have two or more jobs trying to make ends meet, or they are among the millions who are unemployed or underemployed. Bodyweight training is perfect for these people, because it's neither expensive nor time consuming."

The practice has been around for decades, and is used by the military, the space program, and even Olympic athletes, according to Gorsuch.

"People have become slaves to their gym, and when they are forced to quit because of time or money, they wind up buying an expensive piece of equipment from a late night infomercial than ends up taking up space, or better, becoming a staging area for folding clothes or a work bench for household fix-it projects," she added. "Bodyweight training has always been around, but because of the unique challenges facing most people in today's new economy, it looks like the practice will finally gain the mainstream acceptance it deserves."

Doctor Reveals How Diet and Supplements Can Prevent And Treat Diabetes

The ranks of those who suffer from diabetes are rising, and the tragedy is that it is largely preventable.

That's the opinion of Dr. Sherrill Sellman (, who saw one of her own cousins die tragically primarily because they did not manage their illness correctly.

"The news about diabetes isn't good," she said. "The incidence of Type 2 diabetes in adults is reaching epidemic levels, which is not easy to achieve for a disease that is not contagious. Moreover, children are becoming diabetics at a faster rate than ever before. One in three children born today will become a diabetic in their lifetime. Over the course of the last 10 years, there has been a 1,000 percent increase in these cases."

The statistics from Wellness International Network tell a tale of a disorder that is running rampant in the U.S., which has been designated the most obese nation on the planet.

Between 8 percent and 45 percent of newly diagnosed cases of childhood diabetes are Type 2, associated with obesity. Whereas 4 percent of childhood diabetes was Type 2 in 1990, that number has risen to approximately 20 percent in 2010. Of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, 85 percent are considered obese,

One in four overweight children is being diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance, an early sign of Type 2 diabetes.

"I watched two of my cousins suffer dramatically from diabetes-related blindness and then amputations," Sellman said. "One of my cousins eventually died from those complications. What still makes me cry is the fact that neither of them had to suffer. If they could have simply managed their blood sugar through diet and lifestyle choices, they'd both be living happy, fulfilling quality lives today."
Three myths that Dr. Sellman wants to debunk include :

  • It's JUST a fat person's disease -- "Being fat is not a cause of diabetes," she said. "Obesity is an indicator that someone isn't managing their diet and blood sugar correctly. You can be relatively average in terms of your weight, but still be at risk.

  • If I get diabetes, the meds will keep me healthy -- "Most people think diabetes is treated with insulin, and as long as you take your shots, everything is okay," she added. "But that's Type 1. Type 2 diabetes is typically treated with oral medications that have their own issues, including risk of congestive heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, chest pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and indigestion.

  • Diabetes can't be prevented or controlled just through diet and lifestyle -- "In most cases, diabetes can be prevented entirely through diet and lifestyle choices," Sellman said. "Moreover, research studies indicate that proper diet and exercise can help control other symptoms of diabetes like elevated cholesterol and hypertension.  Certain combinations of natural ingredients can boost those effects, such as the combination of nutrients found in Syntra-5 (, which was proven in a clinical study to reduce blood sugar levels three times greater than traditional diabetes pharmaceuticals."

Sellman is motivated by her family's stories to convince everyone that blood sugar that isn't controlled is an issue for everyone, and not just diabetics.

"At the rate we are going, simply being an American will place you in a high risk group for diabetes," she said. "I cannot stress firmly enough that people should do everything they can to get and stay healthy, and manage their blood sugar so that they don't have to suffer the way my family did."

About Dr. Sherrill Sellman

Sherrill Sellman, N.D., Naturopathic Doctor (Board Certified in Integrative Medicine), is an educator, women's natural health expert, psychotherapist and journalist in the field of women's health. She is also a much sought after international lecturer, radio host, senior editor and contributing writer to numerous health publications.  Dr. Sellman is the best-selling author of Hormone Heresy: What Women MUST Know and What Women MUST Know to Protect Their Daughters from Breast Cancer.

IT Expert Offers Tips To Protect Your Network

From Social Network-Based Bugs

By Tony Panaccio

News & Experts Syndicate

Facebook isn't just a place to hook up with ex-girlfriends from high school anymore. Companies large and small are now using it for networking and legitimate business tasks. Unfortunately, it can also be a place to hook your company's network up with some nasty viruses.

The latest one, a worm called Koobface, has hit all the social networks, including Facebook, MySpace, hi5, Bebo and Twitter, and can riddle your network with malware, spyware and can steal sensitive data right from your workstations' hard drives. Like past generations of computer bugs, Koobface wants to not only infect your computer, but then use you as a jumping off point to infect others. But unlike past viruses, Koobface and similar new malware programs are leveraging your company's social network account to reach out and infect your online friends and business associates.

"Somewhere in the world there are some guys sitting around and dreaming up things that will make you click on a link," said Chip Reaves, global director of Computer Troubleshooters, the largest international network of outsourced IT providers that offers onsite computer services to small businesses. "Koobface's most effective way to spread is to send links to your friends with text like 'I can't believe it's you in this video - were you sober? LOL!' Koobface combines state-of-the-art software which can infect your computer in multiple ways with these creative lures designed to make you want to click on the infected links. It's pretty insidious."

According to an analysis by malware research firm Trend Micro, Koobface is composed of as many as 26 separate functional pieces, each of which is designed to use you and your computer in different malicious ways.

Reaves suggests these tips to protect your office network:

  • Anti-virus, Anti-spyware
    First and foremost every computer user on the Internet needs professional, up-to-date protection software. This should at a minimum include both anti-virus and anti-spyware support (some free packages do not include anti-spyware), and ideally should also include a link scanner component to minimize the risk of visiting websites which are known to be infected.
  • Claim your name, Check your fame
    If you are using social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, do periodic searches for yourself. This is especially helpful with small businesses to see what people are saying about you, but if you're infected you may find updates from yourself - which you never sent.
  • Use a 3rd party Twitter application or your phone
    Third party applications such as Tweekdeck or Twhirl can help block certain exploits that would otherwise infect you from the Twitter website. They can also help by showing where a "shortened" URL will take you before you click. Using your cell phone for updates is also safer than using the Twitter or Facebook websites directly.
  • Secure Your Browser
    Make sure your web browser is the most up-to-date version, since many vulnerabilities in older browsers (even ones from just a few months ago) are often used by malware creators to infect your computer. Chrome and Firefox are generally considered safer than Internet Explorer, but any browser with its security setting set to "High" and with the most recent updates should be fine. For the highest level of security consider using Firefox plus to block most potential points of vulnerability.
  • Ask to Include Social Media protection in your IT Management Plan
    Many small businesses and home users today are outsourcing all their computer management to a local computer service provider through what's called a Managed Services plan. Ask your local Computer Troubleshooter or other service provider to include social media protection in your computer management plan.

"If your IT department or outsourced support doesn't take all those elements into account, it's not a matter of if you'll experience downtime - it's a matter of when and for how long," Reaves said. "It's not right to be held hostage by your computer troubles or by your IT support by proxy. Uptime is not a luxury - it's a necessity for any home or business. Make certain that your IT company guarantees it. If they don't, look for another firm."

(Tony Panaccio is a staff writer for News & Experts Syndicate.)