Thumbs up/down for Monday, July 22, 2013

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Sunday, July 21, 2013
Thumbs up to teaching children about dog safety. Some kids know nothing about how to safely approach an unfamiliar dog. They see a “puppy” and run up to pet it. Sometimes, the otherwise well-behaved pet is startled and reacts by biting to defend itself. Last year, the health department recorded 275 dog bites—about average for recent years. Thirty-three of those bites required medical attention. Forty percent involved kids ages 9 or younger, and most kids were bitten in the face. That's why it's good to see the Rock County Health Department providing lessons at the Exchange Family Resource Center. Among points of emphasis, children should ask the owner before petting a dog. The child should offer his or her hand for the pooch to sniff, and if it wags its tail and appears friendly, pet it under its chin rather than atop its head. To see a video example, visit liamjperkfoundation.org/meetDog.html.
Thumbs up to UW-Whitewater's Academic Excellence Program. The program received a grant of almost $217,000 from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. to help low-income and first-generation students prepare for college. Students from such families can find the steps required to get into college daunting. The free program offers a six-week summer camp at which 60 high school students live in dorms. They absorb college experiences and culture while reducing the risk of “summer slide”—the loss of knowledge during the typical break from school. Then, these and more students can attend sessions throughout the school year and get guidance or information on applications, financial aid and other critical details. The program should help these students compete academically and improve their chances of college success.
Thumbs down to Obamacare scammers. No doubt, provisions and requirements of the Affordable Care Act will leave many people confused. So it's no surprise that con artists are licking their chops. That's especially true as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches for the opening of health care exchanges. As McClatchy-Tribune's Lindsay Wise reported in The Gazette's July 14 Marketplace, if someone calls claiming to be from the government and offering you an “Obamacare card” or threatens to throw you in jail unless you buy insurance, hang up. The government is training and certifying navigators to guide the uninsured to sign up for benefits in the exchanges, but they won't charge fees. If someone demands a fee, or asks for your Social Security number, bank account routing number or cash through a wire transfer, do not be fooled. It's a scam.
Thumbs up to Habitat for Humanity bicyclists. A week ago, a group of college students scrambled around a house on Cherry Street in Janesville, applying plastic sheeting over insulation inside and strips of siding outside. Another group was toiling in Beloit. They might not have built or restored these homes in a few days ala TV's “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” but that's not the point. They served a purpose—to raise money and promote the great work Habitat for Humanity does in building affordable homes for low-income families willing to put “sweat equity” into the projects. The 30 bicyclists are pedaling 4,000 miles westward across the country, averaging 75 miles each day they ride. Along the way, they're stopping at communities to put muscle and volunteer spirit into Habitat homes under construction. Learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Rock and Jefferson Counties at hfhrjc.org.

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