Author Archive: berkslancasterlebanonlink

“Coronavirus video for kids explains the basics.” – Futurity

A new coronavirus video for kids offers scientifically accurate information in an engaging and understandable way.

coronavirus for kidsClick on the graphic to watch the video.

by Nardy Baeza Bickel-Michigan

“The coronavirus pandemic affects everyone, including children, who may find the complexity of the situation especially difficult to understand, researchers say.

“’Packaging evidence-based information about the pandemic in a digestible way and delivering it directly to educators and education systems will benefit children, their teachers, and their families,’ says Andria Eisman, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

“These brief resources focus on age-appropriate content, knowledge about the virus, and how to prevent its spread to empower kids and inspire them to act with their own agency.”

Click here to continue reading this article at

Announcing a new RSVP Caring Calls Program

caring calls

RSVP CCP – Client Intake form 04-23-20

What is the RSVP Caring Calls Program?

The program provides simple check-ins and friendly phone calls to seniors who are homebound, feeling lonely and/or isolated. This program targets individuals who are trying to remain independent. Volunteer callers are simply calling to offer companionship and give seniors a sense of connectedness to the outside world and relieve feelings of isolation.

Who is eligible to be a CARING CALLS participant/client?

Individuals may self-refer or be referred by a caregiver, family member or service provider. The service is FREE of charge. The program is intended to serve seniors who are homebound, feeling lonely, isolated, living alone, or otherwise need regular contact.

Click here to download the client intake form that potential clients should complete to get connected with a regular, ongoing phone call.

For more information about this RSVP of the Capital Region initiative, call Margie Groy –  717-454-8647  or email:

“Here’s What Loneliness Can Do to You During COVID-19” – Psych Central

loneliness during covid-19

by Suzanne Kane

“Loneliness is never easy to endure, yet during times of mandatory social isolation and distancing, such as millions of Americans are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be particularly damaging. Among its many effects, loneliness can exacerbate and bring upon a host of mental and physical conditions.

“Social Isolation and Loneliness May Increase Inflammation

“A study by researchers at the University of Surrey and Brunel University London found a potential link between social isolation and loneliness and increased inflammation. Although they said the evidence they looked at suggests that social isolation and inflammation may be linked, the results were less clear for a direct link between loneliness and inflammation. Researchers said both are linked with different inflammatory markers and that more studies are necessary to further understanding of how social isolation and loneliness contribute to poorer health outcomes.”

Continue reading this article at Psych Central, click here.

The Crip Camp Impact Campaign is proud to announce Crip Camp: The Official Virtual Experience!

crip camp2

The Crip Camp Impact Campaign is proud to announce Crip Camp: The Official Virtual Experience! In these unprecedented times, there is no one better to think outside of the box and deliver community building right to your home. We are inviting all grassroots activists and advocates to join us this summer for a virtual camp experience featuring trailblazing speakers from the disability community. All are welcome, you do not need any activism experience to participate.

Please note all times on the Zoom link will appear in your local timezone. Online workshops will occur via Zoom and are ASL interpreted with Deaf Interpreters plus captioning. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. We encourage you to attend all, or as many sessions as possible. We will send Crip Camp 2020 swag materials to everyone who attends 14 out of 16 sessions.

When: Every Sunday at 5 pm EST from now to August 30th for one and a half hours each.

  • May 24: Shedding Shame & Embracing Wholeness: Why We Must Address Internalized Ableism
  • May 31: Disability, Race, Class, & Gender: Intersectionality
  • June 7: All the Feels: Incorporating Trauma-Informed Care Strategies into our Work
  • June 14: We Have ALWAYS Resisted: The History of Disabled Black Activism
  • June 21: Our Worth, Our Humanity: Disability Justice as a Spiritual Practice
  • June 28: Let’s Talk about Sex: Our Bodies, Our Lives & Reproductive Justice
  • July 5: The Personality Behind the Work: Finding Your Social Media Voice
  • July 12 : Hashtag Activism: Organizing Online for Your Community
  • July 19 : I F&*#ed Up: What I Learned from It and How I Apologize
  • July 26 : ADA 30 Celebration
  • August 2: Education for the People: Best Practices in Facilitation
  • August 9: Art Activism: Visual & Performing Arts as Vehicles for Change
  • August 16: Working All the Angles: Civic Engagement and More
  • August 23: Getting Paid Without Selling Out: How to Finance Your Work
  • August 30: Building Across Movements: Disability as Social Justice Issue

Register in advance for these webinars: Click here.


“Losing Touch: Another Drawback of the COVID-19 Pandemic” – The Scientist

“Affectionate touches tap into the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, reducing the release of stress hormones, bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves linked with relaxation.”


by Ashley Yeager

It had been seven weeks since I’d touched another human being. Arms outstretched, I walked quickly toward my dad, craving his embrace. In the instant before we touched, we paused, our minds probably running quick, last-minute calculations on the risk of physical contact. But, after turning our faces away from each other and awkwardly shuffling closer, we finally connected. Wrapped in my dad’s bear hug, I momentarily forgot we were in the midst of the worst global crisis I have ever experienced.

“’Touch is the most powerful safety signal of togetherness,’ says Steve Cole, a psychiatrist and biobehavioral scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Like more than 35 million other Americans, I live alone, and with the guidelines of physical distancing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I hadn’t been getting close to anyone to avoid being infected with (or potentially spreading) SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. I’d been working, thankfully, at home and staying connected with friends and family through Zoom and Skype, but those virtual interactions were no replacement for being with loved ones in person.”

Click here to read this article at The Scientist in its entirety.


“COVID-19 Has More People Seeking Out Therapy For First Time” – Newsy

covid-19 mental health

“Newsy’s latest poll found around 1 in 10 sought out therapy since the pandemic began.”

by Lindsey Theis

The COVID-19 pandemic has led more people to try therapy for the first time in their lives.

“‘As we stabilize their psychosis and you continue to speak with them, you get down to it and they’re like, ‘”I was really anxious, over COVID,’’ said Dr. Eric French, Medical Director of Adult Psychiatry at Colorado’s Medical Center of Aurora.

“Newsy’s latest poll found around 1 in 10 (12%) sought out therapy since the pandemic began – with 46% saying it was their first time seeking it.

“Among those who sought out therapy, men were significantly more likely than women to get therapy for the first time (63% vs. 21%). Traditionally, men are much less likely to see a mental health professional.”

Read this article in its entirety at Newsy, click here. 

Department of Human Services Reassures Pennsylvanians that Help is Available, Provides Update on Public Assistance Data Trends

pa dhs logo

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller reminds Pennsylvanians of public assistance programs available to help families meet basic needs, such as affording groceries and accessing healthcare. Several new programs launched in recent weeks to help Pennsylvanians overcome the economic strains of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Together, Pennsylvanians have slowed the spread of the coronavirus and flattened the curve. We have made incredible personal sacrifices for the greater good. And while some parts of the commonwealth are beginning to reopen, we must still heed aggressive mitigation strategies so we can keep the virus under control,” DHS Secretary Teresa Miller said. “Pennsylvania will get through this and public assistance is one of the most important ways of making sure that everyone gets through.”

Last week, the department announced the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program, which launched Monday. DHS is working with utility companies and deliverable fuel vendors to help Pennsylvanians at risk of losing access to electricity, natural gas, or deliverable fuels such as oil. The program has been funded with $34.9 million Pennsylvania received from the federal CARES Act, and it will run through August 31 or until all budgeted funding is expended. Families may be eligible for a benefit of up to $800, and eligibility guidelines will be the same as those used during the 2019-2020 LIHEAP season.

DHS is also helping families get through this crisis with the new, federally funded Emergency Assistance Program (EAP). EAP provides a one-time cash benefit to families who have experienced a significant income reduction or complete job loss due to COVID-19. Since the program launched May 11, DHS has received more than 7,000 applications and disbursed more than $1.28 million to families in need. DHS has funded the program with existing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. EAP is open to families with a child under age 18 or a woman who is currently pregnant. Eligible families will receive a one-time payment equal to two months of TANF benefits for their household size – or about $800 for a family of three.

The Wolf Administration also recently received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture to extend additional support to families with children who participate in the National School Lunch Program. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) is designed to help families feed their children while schools are closed. In total, P-EBT will support the families of about 958,000 Pennsylvania children.

Pennsylvanians can apply for each of these programs at

Secretary Miller also encourages Pennsylvanians struggling with food costs to consider applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. Anyone without health coverage can apply for Medical Assistance, or Medicaid, at The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is affordable health coverage for children up to age 19, and it is available to every child regardless of family income. Pennsylvanians can apply for CHIP at

To date, Pennsylvania has not experienced a significant surge in applications for SNAP or Medicaid. However, enrollment is steadily increasing.

Enrollment for SNAP has increased by about 123,000 people since February, for a total enrollment of about 1.86 million in April — a 7.1 percent increase.

DHS not currently terminating anyone from Medicaid or CHIP, unless they voluntarily withdraw, pass away or move to another state. Medicaid is available even if a person has other health coverage but needs additional assistance. Enrollment for Medicaid has increased by about 62,000 people since February, for a total enrollment of about 2.89 million in April — a 2.2 percent increase. CHIP covered about 186,000 Pennsylvania children in March. Today, CHIP enrollment is just over 200,000 children.

Application processing times remain consistent with pre-pandemic rates. DHS is actively monitoring these data trends and is working with the University of Pittsburgh to survey newly unemployed individuals and identify any barriers that exist to applying for benefits.

“Our goal is to make sure that people who could be helped by these services know we are here and what is available,” Secretary Miller said. “These programs exist to help people meet basic needs, such as affording groceries and accessing healthcare. Every single one of us could find ourselves in that position one day, and there should be no guilt or shame in asking for or accepting that help.”

SOURCE: news release

“Sending Support: Battling Isolation, Seniors Find Comfort in Pen Pals” – Route Fifty

“Senior centers, nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country have launched pen-pal programs to help older adults battle social isolation created by the coronavirus.”


Some programs pair older adults with children, while others invite members of the community to submit uplifting and positive messages to nursing home residents. SHUTTERSTOCK”

by Kate Elizabeth Queram

“As the coronavirus spread toward New Hampshire and communities began advising residents to isolate at home, Rich Vanderweit began brainstorming.

Vanderweit, an activity aide at Sullivan County Health Care in Unity, N.H., was concerned about the effects that social isolation would have on the nursing and rehab facility’s 135 residents. It’s a community-driven home, he said, where visitors come to see one person and end up chatting at length with a dozen others—so when the facility went on lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, he worried that the seniors would feel abandoned.

“’And the idea just came to me—a pen-pal program,’ he said.”

Click here to continue reading this article at Route Fifty.

“Savant in the Limelight, 1988–2009” – The Scientist

Kim Peek, the inspiration for the title character in Rain Man, brought public attention to savant syndrome.


by Sukanya Charuchandra

“Even for Darold Treffert, an expert in the study of savants who has met around 300 people with conditions such as autism who possess extraordinary mental abilities, Kim Peek stood out from the pack. Treffert first spoke with Peek on the phone in the 1980s. Peek asked Treffert for his date of birth and then proceeded to recount historical events that had taken place on that day and during that week, Treffert says. This display of recall left Treffert with no doubt that Peek was a savant.

“Peek’s abilities dazzled screenwriter Barry Morrow when the two men met in 1984 at a committee meeting of the Association for Retarded Citizens. Morrow went on to pen the script for the 1988 film Rain Man, basing Dustin Hoffman’s character on Peek.

“The concept of savant syndrome dates back to 1887, when physician J. Langdon Down coined the term “idiot savant” for persons who showed low IQ but superlative artistic, musical, mathematical, or other skills. (At the time, the word ‘idiot’ denoted low IQ and was not considered insulting.)”

Click here to read this article in its entirety.

New report: “Social isolation and loneliness in older adults”

social isolation of lonliness in older adults

“Human beings are social by nature, and high-quality social relationships are vital for health and well-being. Like many other social determinants of health, however, social isolation (an objective lack of social contact with others) and loneliness (the subjective feeling of being isolated) are significant yet underappreciated public health risks. Social isolation and loneliness are associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes, including higher rates of mortality, depression, and cognitive decline. Recent research documents the high prevalence of social isolation and loneliness among older adults. For example, data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study found that 24 percent of
community-dwelling older adults are considered socially isolated, and a 2018 survey by the AARP Foundation found that more than one-third (35 percent) of adults aged 45 and older are lonely. Additionally, a 2018 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 22 percent of adults in the United States say they ‘often or always feel lonely, feel that they lack companionship, feel left out, or feel isolated from others.’

“This report presents a comprehensive review of the impacts of social isolation and loneliness on mortality and morbidity, the risk factors for social isolation and loneliness, the mechanisms by which social isolation and loneliness impact health, the factors that affect those mechanisms, and the ways in which researchers measure social isolation and loneliness and their resultant impacts on health.

“Furthermore, the committee discusses the role of the health care system in addressing these issues, the ways in which we can better educate and train our health care workforce, and which interventions (particularly for the clinical setting) show the most promise. Finally, the committee discusses general principles of dissemination and implementation that will be important for translating research into practice, especially as the evidence base for effective interventions continues to flourish.”

Click here to download the full report: Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults