But Seriously…

Here it is, a carefree time when schoolchildren are anticipating summer vacation, and this column decides, contrarily, to wax serious. It must be due to the sites I visited over the past week. Except for the one that offers a call to action, which is serious and inspirational at the same time. And last on the list is a fine website for the college bound.

Toxtown (www.toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/). At least it is colorful and interactive. Toxtown addresses that nemesis of 21st century living—toxic waste—in understandable explanations of the many hazards in our environment. There is no doubt that the site is geared to school-age learners, but I’ve learned from my extensive surfing expeditions that such sites are perfectly suitable for all ages. The information is easier to assimilate. This reference site, from the National Institute of Health, offers non-technical descriptions of chemicals, with links to more authoritative information (probably the boring stuff for adults that no one cares to read). This website won a World Wide Web Health Award. A user can click on a part of a town, say the library, for example, to learn about the possible nasty chemicals lingering there. Or a user can pull up the agriculture diorama and learn about dangers within that environment. To my mind, this website beats pulling up dull, dry dissertations on any toxic chemical issues.

Internet Mental Health (www.mentalhealth.com). Imagine my surprise at finding a website free of corporate sponsorship that addresses mental health issues in a thorough, responsible way. This site is a free encyclopedia of information on just about any condition found in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM). This is the reference book used by psychology professionals to diagnose mental illnesses. The website’s goal is to reach the unreached 2/3 of severely mentally ill persons—those who have never sought treatment, to allow them to learn about specific illnesses and the various options for treatment. Those who discover this website can surf in anonymously, perhaps as a first step towards getting help. But the website is also geared to patients, professionals, families, students and support groups. The site includes online diagnostic programs, treatment information, latest research projects, magazine articles, and more.

A Better World (www.betterworld.net). This website calls for us to become passionate activists for our favorite cause, whether it be for Aids, animal rights or conflict resolution or dozens of other issues needing assertive new voices. In addition to a calendar of events targeting specific causes, the site contains a compendium of inspirational quotes, and links to resources for further reading. Probably one of the more noteworthy offerings here are the “Heroes” graphics, downloadable files of logos with a portrait of notable leaders, from Einstein to Bono and Martin Luther King. Choose your cause, choose your logo, make yourself a tee-shirt, gather up friends and family and start your own “Be A Hero for a Better World” group. You will find lots of information here.

BJ Pinchbecks College Companion (www.bjpinchbeck.net/). For any student who is a year away from, or on their way to college this fall. The website is divided into four categories: Pre-college, Academics, Food, and Social life. Each has a lengthy list of resources to help a student navigate as smoothly as possible through the college experience. In “Pre-college,” find scholarship and financial aid information; in “Academics,” fear and study skills appear to be popular issues; in “Food,” recipes for toaster ovens and other dorm-room devices are contributed by seasoned collegians, and in “Social,” there are tips on how to do laundry, how sororities and fraternities work, and how to sign an apartment lease. All the information can help your college-bound son or daughter enjoy a happier experience. So subtly suggest that they have a look at this website, or use it yourself to print out useful information to plant in their luggage.

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~ by IndianaDunesPoet on May 27, 2008.

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