Green Apple award

We won a Green Apple award!

That’s two in two years. Carol, our operations guru, collected this award at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament. We were the only games company who won an award. So what’s the big deal? Well Green Apples are awarded to organisations in the public and private sector that really care about how they impact the environment. We care.

Last year we won an award, for our general operations, not just using recycled material in our boxes, playing boards and game cards – we have been doing this since 1991 – it was for the more subtle things. For example on a dull day I saw that we had 24 strip fluorescent lights on in the middle of the day in our warehouse. It was evident that the warehouse roof windows had not been cleaned for many years. So a thorough cleaning later, not so easy as there are 24 of them, and we had to get scaffolding put up and replace a few that were cracked, we were able to reduce our use of warehouse electricity by about 75%. There are lots of other things I could write about, but I’m trying to keep this brief and not try your patience!

This is one small example of what we do and we are really proud of winning this award. We will continue to be as environmentally conscious as we can and you will see this in our games. We are currently re-designing all our family games so that they use less board, contain less air and take up less shelf space in your games cupboards without reducing the quality of the game or play experience. The first game we have redesigned is our fabulous game Egyptians. Take a look in the product pages and let us know what you think.

We love green apples!

Keeping it green

If you grew up in the 1970s, being environmentally-friendly meant little more than putting your sweet wrappers in the bin, with kids encouraged to turn off lights to save electricity in energy-stricken Britain, rather than to stop the ice caps melting.

If your childhood spanned the 1980s, you may well have worn a Save the Whale badge, but most people who voiced any concerns for the environment were simply dismissed as ‘Tree Huggers’. It was only in the 1990s, when climate change became more widely discussed, and Governments sat round the table to sign agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, that a much greater green awareness entered the mainstream.

Today’s children, whether they know it or not, are more environmentally aware than any previous generation. School plays an important role instilling the importance of caring for our environment and conserving resources, so why not help find ways in which your children can do their bit for the environment round the home, too.

A good place to start is with the green mantra – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s a phrase that’s become common parlance over the last few years, as we finally wake up to the fact that the earth’s resources – and the space to dump our rubbish – are, in fact, finite.

So get the children to grab a pen and paper, and see what ideas they can come up with. Chances are they’ll say things you’ve never even thought of, so here’s a few to keep up your sleeve, just in case!

Reduce

As well as turning off lights to save electricity, encourage your children to turn off PCs and TVs rather than leaving them on standby. And once those precious DSs and I-Pods are fully charged, get them into the habit of turning the charger off at the wall, too.

Water’s often see as a limitless and free resource and the classic waste of H2O is leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth. Turn it off and you’ve got an immediate, easy win.

Reuse

It’s amazing how much paper children can get through! Home offices are constantly raided in search of a wad of pristine A4 sheets, but try to encourage them to use the other side of used sheets, too.

Ditch those new daily cartons or bottles in lunch boxes – the kids can easily replace them with a reusable bottle full of water or squash. If they’re fussy about the taste of your tap water, simply get a water filter and keep it topped up in the fridge.

Recycle

Draw up a house rota which makes someone chief of recycling each week. Then it’s their job to make sure people use the right recycling bins and don’t get lazy by simply lumping everything in with the rubbish!

Incentivise your children to clean up their room, and sort out all those old toys at the same time, with the offer of a Big Swap, when they can trade their old stuff with friends.

Or, if you’ve got some good things together that make it worth the early start, why not try a car boot sale and turn your ‘junk’ into money? You can even make a deal with the kids that anything that isn’t sold is recycled through a charity shop.

Bullying: debilitating, character-building, or both?

When our children go off to school, I think we all go through the same wave of anxiety. Will they make friends? Will they have fun? Will they get on ok on their own, without us there to guide them and protect them?

No matter what we do, how we prepare our children for that big step to primary or secondary school, it’s likely that they will encounter a few classmates who try to pick holes in their abilities. Whether it’s motivated by jealousy, boredom, a sense of inadequacy or simply vindictiveness, bullying is a common feature of school life. As parents we need to be prepared for it and to know how to help; how to walk with our children through whatever life throws at them.

This was Becca’s experience:

“For me the end of primary school and the beginning of secondary school were something of a challenge – and not just for me, but for my parents too.In primary school I was bullied for, would you believe it, being too “girly”. When girls are below the age of 11 I think it’s safe to say we wouldn’t consider being girly and wearing floaty dresses to be a bad thing! I was my mother’s daughter, and I loved a good old-fashioned flowery dress. It wasn’t a view shared by my classmates, though – I was taunted at birthday parties, school discos and even mufti-days for wearing a dress.

To be honest it never ceased to hurt my feelings, my ‘thick skin’ wasn’t all that thick and it was a relief for me to come home and feel accepted, feel ‘normal’. When you’re 8 or 9 you do think that the world is coming to an end when someone in your class doesn’t like you or makes a nasty remark and it can take a while to realise that other children don’t have the same values or manners that you do.

The support of my parents was so important to me. My mum cried with me a lot of the times I came home crying about what ‘she’ or ‘he’ had said, but she also taught me that bullies feed off my fear and that I should never be afraid of them. Together my parents gave me a sense of security in my own identity, which helped me to face the situation head on. There’s a baseball quote that says, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game,” and that was the attitude my parents encouraged.

Bullying can be debilitating, but it can also be character-building. In my case, and I’d like to think in most cases, it was a little bit of both. I realised that it doesn’t really matter what other people think or say – the important thing is to be yourself. I strove to be different and to make my difference; the very thing I was taunted for became my distinguishing characteristic – the thing that made me unique.

It was a phase, really – and one that many children go through and grow through. Where are my bullies now? Who cares? It took time to get here but I know who I am and what I want in life.”

“When life gives you lemons…”

From missing out on the school team to being told off by a favourite teacher, as children move up through school they begin to face a whole new world of emotions as, perhaps for the first time, things don’t always go as planned.

Gradually they will leave behind a classroom where everyone gets a turn to ‘bat’ and a part in the Christmas nativity, and where marks and grades play second fiddle to a more rounded view of their progress. Instead, results begin to take on a greater significance and competition grows for places in school teams and performances.

Other issues such as falling out with friends and even teasing are all part of growing up, and can all come as a bit of a shock.

To help them grow into well-rounded adults, they need to learn how to handle failure, and parents can play a big role talking to their children and turning these setbacks into character-building events. After all, it will be easier for them to learn how to come to terms with disappointment now rather than when they’re older, and the stakes are a lot higher than a place in the school football team, or a gold star at maths.

When a failure happens, we want our children to be able to bounce back from it, ideally having learnt something from the whole experience.

Try not to smother them – they need to express their disappointment and let their feelings develop. It’s good to reflect on what went wrong but don’t let them dwell on it for too long.

Help them to accept what happened and think about why things turned out as they did. Try and think about a time when something didn’t go well for you as a child. How did you deal with it?

Of course there will be times when these things happen due to little or no fault of their own – and that in itself is important to learn.

If your child flunks a test, try and make them to see it as just a setback and something that can rectified next time. Explain how they might feel really bad now but there will be another test soon enough. Try and emphasise the importance of having a positive attitude and not giving up or feeling like a failure just because of one experience.

You may wish to talk about change too, and perhaps setting some new goals and adopting a different approach – perhaps with a bit more effort they could succeed next time?

Being left out of a team or missing out on a school performance hurts, even more so if it’s an activity that your child really enjoys. It can be a good idea to prepare children in advance for any potential disappointment. Make a list together about all the possible goals of a trial or audition – one can be making the team or play, but the others could focus on having fun, trying your best and learning something new. In other words, you’re giving your child lots of different definitions of what it means to be successful.

It’s also worth remembering that sometimes the disappointment may have come because the child simply isn’t cut out for the netball team or singing a solo in the choir. That’s fine, you can’t be good at everything, and now may be a good time to explore other things they enjoy.

And of course you could always bring out their favourite BrainBox game, when you know that there’s only ever going to be one winner!