Team Gaia


Give Kids the World's Second Logo, emphaisizing the lighthearted and child-orientated village.

On Saturday October 20 Team Gaia paid a visit to Give Kids the World, a non-profit organization located in the heart of Florida that allows kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families to visit all of the attractions of central Florida, including Disney and Universal completely free to them. However, it went above and beyond just that. The actual location where the children and their families stay is an amazing attraction in itself. From the building Shaped like a Giant Cupcake, to the Castle, to the unique Villas the families stay in, and of course, the Ice Cream Palace, the Give Kids the World Village creates an amazing experience for children and their families and has 102 Villas to house families in and the ability to accommodate any need the child may have. Give Kids the World works in coordination with wish granting organizations to help children with the dream to visit the attractions that Florida has to offer as soon as possible, bringing some kids in at as short of notice as Twenty-Four hours. Henri Landwirth’s dream of giving every child the chance to enjoy the same things as everyone else was realized in 1986 when Give Kids the World was Founded. Many Major corporations ensure that Give Kids the World can continue to answer the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases and even expand their capacity to service more families. Even though major corporations play a very large role in the continued success of Give Kids the World, it couldn’t all happen without the help of the amazing volunteers. Give Kids the World fills over 1000 volunteer positions a week, naming these helpers “Angels” for the wonderful work that they are doing. These “Angels” include young children to senior citizens, from high school teenagers to the parents of children who had their wishes fulfilled at Give Kids the World and now Team Gaia has been lucky enough to spend time helping to put smiles on the faces of children who have faced such hardships at so young of an age.
Just going and volunteering at Give Kids the World was an amazing experience for me and the rest of Team Gaia, seeing kids happily running around and playing within the village with other kids who share many of the same worries and hardships as they have. Many parents described how nice it was to just get away from all of the worries and just be in a place where everyone knows what they are going through and their children can fit in and just be a normal kid. Give Kids the World arranges for all needs of the families and insures that the trip doesn’t cost them a thing so that any family with a child in need can come and have a magical week. All children who come to have their wishes filled are given a star to write their names on and give to the “Star Fairy” who places them on the ceiling of the castle. Over 70,000 shining stars cover the ceiling of the magical Castle of Miracles, organized by month and year the stars allow the children to leave a piece of themselves in the amazing village of Give Kids the World.
After many of the kids had left the village for the day to go to various amusement parks, Team Gaia was given a tour of the Park by Norma Miller, a parent whose first time visiting the park was to fill the wish of her daughter and now volunteers up to 7 days a week at the park with whatever they need. She was more than happy to give us a walking tour of the Village, despite the light rain that had fallen on the village, everything was still in full swing in doors. Norma was more than happy to share her stories of the village and hear about our stories with helping children, including our trip to Waveland, Mississippi. Norma, having been a foster parent and adopting her last foster child was very appreciative of Team Gaia’s work with the foster kids in Waveland, explaining to us that as simple of a gesture as bringing toys for their children for Christmas can mean the world when the Parents are faced with such troubling hardships.
I believe that Team Gaia as a group and us as individuals have grown stronger through this experience and I am glad that I have what I have but I still get a chance to see how the other half lives so that one day I can offer my help like Henri Landwirth and the thousands of volunteers at Give Kids the World have done.

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condoms. yay.

Students all across the world are suffering with misinformation from terrible abstinence-only sexual education programs. These programs sometimes bring in conservative religious beliefs that prevent students from learning about what they can do to prevent different sexually transmitted diseases besides abstain or even about some forms of contraception.

The REAL (Responsible Education About Life) act is about educating teens with age-appropriate and medically accurate information that they will benefit from. The act will allow teen’s questions to be answered in the classroom without shame or fear. The act is entirely important because teens in America get about 4 million STDs altogether on average a year, 2 teens in the US are infected with HIV every hour of every day, and the racial differences regarding HIV are frighteningly disproportionate.

I think that people, in general, are inquisitive by nature and want to know about lots of things. Our schools need to stop making talking about sex so taboo. Comprehensive sex education is by far the best way for people to stay away from sexual harm.

And personally, I think that the idea of trying to teach kids that “sex is bad and unsafe” is truly just scare tactics enforced by people afraid and too uptight themselves to talk about it. Chase, a fellow member of Team Gaia, said that in his health class the teacher refused to speak about it, and that they just skipped the chapter altogether. What kind of “health” class was that teacher teaching? Because I think any “health instructor” that would ignore such a huge part of mental and physical health is an absolute travesty.

I think institutions everywhere need to step up and start really teaching sexual education, and the REAL act would be a great way to go– instead of the government pouring it’s money into ineffective abstinence-only education.

Information on the REAL act
Article on the REAL act

On July 7th, 2007 people all over the globe celebrated at Live Earth ‘Parties for the Planet’, a reaching-out to all kinds of people around the world to raise awareness and actually do something to stop global warming. People everywhere were encouraged to throw parties of their own, not just to watch the ones on TV, because you don’t need a concert hall to tell people how to save the earth. We, Team Gaia, an Atlantic Beach based teen environmental organization, decided to do just that. We decided to throw a big Live Earth party in our very own studio office in Mayport. We posted our party on MoveOn.org, an environmental and political website that acted as a HQ for people who wanted to go to a Live Earth party. People all over typed in their zip code, and if they were near us, our party showed up on their screens. We also got together and invited a bunch of our friends to join in! We got around 70 people, and their ages were very diverse. We had about 50 adults, some of them seniors, some middle age, and some of them even in their twenties. But at the same time we had about 20 teenagers from different schools in the area. Aside from the mere diversity, a lot of the people who came were very progressive. Members of local organizations like the Sierra Club and JaxTaxpayers.com came, along with lots of other concerned members of the community like UNF professors and school board members. All of us at Team Gaia were really excited to meet all these amazing people!

At the party we had a huge potluck where everyone brought in vegetarian and organic dishes, and we even organized getting some biodegradable silverware. The food that was there was absolutely delicious! People ate, mingled, and we showed the concerts from all over the globe on a projection screen in our studio. We kicked things off with an introductory piece from the Live Earth campaign by Al Gore, and then showed a 30-minute town meeting with different people running for government talking about the environment. We (Team Gaia) also showed our own pieces we ourselves produced about Global Warming. At Team Gaia we produce all kinds of videos spanning from global warming, to getting teens to vote, to organic food and healthy eating. We got some awesome feedback from all kinds of people, and it was really rewarding. The whole experience was simply exhilarating, and it was great to say that we took action, that we will continue to take action, and that we’ve encouraged others to take action.

Most importantly, you can take action against the climate crisis even as a simple reader of this blog! You don’t need to be a member of Team Gaia or Sierra Club or anything like that to make a change. You can change the light bulbs in your home to compound florescent, you can turn the AC up a couple degrees when it’s hot and down a couple when it’s cold, you can do what you can to use less hot water like take shorter showers, and on top of all that, you can drive less! Together, all of us can do our best to prevent global warming– that’s what ‘Party for the Planet’ and Live Earth was all about!

Here comes Team Gaia to save the day! That is April 28th, 2007.

While looking for an effective and productive way to get our name out there, AND save the environment (which is what we do best), Team Gaia has taken it upon themselves to spread awareness of the endless benefits of recycling by collecting the recyclable items at the first annual Jacksonville Irish Music Festival, being held at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, in Jacksonville FL.

“We’ve never seen recycle bins at other festivals so we thought this is something we can do to help make a difference,” stated Team Gaia member, Shane Reilly Rogers. We are hoping that Team Gaia will be able to travel to many local festivals as
“Rock-n-Recyclers” and keep the important message of why everyone should recycle spreading through the community.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

To help us with the Rock-n-Recycle project I have been contacting local hardware stores and retailers such as Home Depot to see if any of them would be willing to donate large plastic trash cans and garbage bags to help collect the recyclable items. To make these bins that much better, one of Team Gaia’s resident artists, Valerie Belzeski, has been designing the logos and messages that will be put on these bins and our booth. Along with asking for donations, we have also been contacting local news, radio, and television stations to see if any of them would be interested in doing a story on us and helping us with publicity. (What better way of spreading our cause than getting our message mass published?) And to top it off, Cheyenne-Light Smith, another of the team’s artists, has come up with some awesome T-shirt designs and has personally crafted Team Gaia’s “uniform” for the festival. She has been working very zealously to physically sew and transform ordinary T-Shirts into something worth a second glance. I’m sure I speak for everyone in my team when I say I look forward to showing my Gaia Pride!

We are all very excited about this upcoming event and know it will turn out great! I hope to see you all at the Jacksonville Irish Music Festival at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds April 28th, and don’t forget to keep your recycling rock’in! Please
look for my follow-up blog for all the post festival highlights!

-Chase-

Hey there! We hope you had a fantastic end to 2006! While we’re really excited about all of our plans for 2007, we thought we’d share a little bit of how we spent our Christmas vacation.

On December 16th, Team Gaia and From Jacksonville With Love delivered donated toys to an orphanage in Hancock County, Mississippi. Normally, the area’s police and fire departments buy the toys, but as their resources and funds are still considerably strained from the Katrina disaster, relief organizations like FJWL stepped up to help bring some joy to the children in the holiday season.

We set up a pizza party for the orphans at a local Legion Hall and distributed hundreds of toys and gifts, which included – among other things – sports equipment, CD players, board games, dolls and educational materials. It was truly amazing to be a part of such a huge holiday celebration and to do what we could to help our friends in difficult times. Team Gaia member Will Livingston kept a trip journal that we’ve posted below. Enjoy!

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Day One – 15 December 2006

When I cannot devote at least seven hours to sleep a night, I become a massive diva. By no one’s fault but my own, I was only able to scrape a measly five hours of sleep the night before our departure. Knowing I was about to take a short jaunt across half of this great nation into the heartland of the American South (or the “Redneck Riviera” as it is affectionately dubbed), I was frantically running around preparing last-minute items for a three day outing. The journey itself was uneventful. On the way there, I managed to contort myself into so many shapes on my half of the motor home’s “dining room” table, that I am still suffering muscle aches.

Day Two – 16 December 2006

Upon our arrival in the early evening, we trekked our way from the hotel parking lot (can one call it a hotel if the first floor is dominated by a casino?) in the comfort of an air-conditioned bus. Having dressed in about nine layers, I was pleased we would not have to drag our luggage, tired teammates and other various assortments in the bitter cold and fog. I like the cold about as much as I like a vat of grease and lard.

Waveland, Mississippi could not have been more pleasant. It was a wonderful thing to have worked with such lovely people. My heart truly goes out to everyone who has suffered and lost at the hands of natural disaster. These strong people helped us coordinate an effort to bring toys to one hundred-and-forty foster children from around the area. Seeing the lights in some of the children’s eyes as they walked through the double doors into the American Legion meeting hall was a humbling moment for me personally. It was a stunning realization that these children have been left with nothing.

The thousands of dollars of toys we collected were put to excellent use. I walked kids from station to station (starting with Santa Claus!) where they would pick a few stuffed animals and books, onto more complex toys (like Barbie, art sets, sporting goods, and many more). Seeing the difference helped remind me of the spirit of the season and the good we can all do in the lives of others by doing something so easy as donating or volunteering.

After a physically exhausting day of unloading toys and arranging books, I was pleased to return to the hotel…but we weren’t going back to the hotel! Hi-ho, New Orleans! The nightlife on Bourbon Street really wasn’t designed with me in mind. Although I applaud the fine city of New Orleans for their lively entertainment, delicious food and unique culture, I propose the following: moderation!

Day Three – 17 December 2006

There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!… Alright, you get the picture. What should have been an eight to nine hour drive became…well…much more than that. We stopped along the way for lunch, petrol (two or three times), and to tour the U.S.S. Alabama in Mobile. This was a fantastic reminder of the sacrifices America has made to preserve freedom (and I managed to score some fantastic souvenirs out of it). I could not have been more pleased to have done so much good in the lives of others, but it would have been really nice to have finished the book I was reading.

-Will Livingston

The new Team Gaia video on Global Warming is up! In this episode, the Team explains just what the global warming crisis is and what it means to you.

You can check out the Team’s 1st segment of a 4-part series on YouTube and on Google Video. Please check out the videos, rate them and forward the links to your friends.

Help us spread the word!

-Team Gaia

Hi Everyone! The first three Team Gaia videos have been posted on YouTube! Go check them out and see what the Team has been working on. We’ve got footage from the Team Gaia Town Meeting, our first political primer and a hilarious, but poignant short film on global warming.

Please sign up for a free YouTube account. You’ll then be able to rate, comment on and subscribe to all of our videos.

Click on the links below to see the videos:

Team Gaia Town Meeting – Starting a Gaia-lution!

Get Smart, America! – Starting a Gaia-lution!

Global Warming – Flesh Burning