Monthly Archives: July 2008

Lincoln Students Raise Easter Seals Funds with Dancing

Deb Carroll has had children dance in her second grade class, but it wasn’t until she took on a project in Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership program that she decided to enroll the whole school in dancing, and raising money for a good cause at the same time. The Chicago Daily Herald reports.


Wheaton Students Kick up their Heels for Charity

by M.J. Porter

Just six minutes of dancing was all it took for the students at Lincoln Elementary School in Wheaton to raise more than $800 to help others.

Deb Carroll of Aurora, a second-grade teacher at Lincoln, has seen the power of dance at work in her classroom for the last five years.

“I saw the benefit of taking a break and dancing in the morning,” she said. “So I thought we could create a break for the whole school.”

That’s how the more than 400 students from kindergarten through fifth grade took time out of class to begin dancing to Sister Sledge’s late 70s disco hit “We Are Family” and then start working on their cha-cha-cha steps.

Carroll said the funds will be donated to Easter seals of DuPage and Fox Valley, a not-for-profit agency that helps children with disabilities become more independent and that helps their families by providing support programs. For Carroll, the best part was the benefit to the students.

“It was so fun to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they were dancing,” she said.

Be Heard, Be Visible

melinda_taylor.jpg‘Be Heard, Be Visible’ is the brainchild of artist, entrepreneur and web designer Melinda Taylor. During the Self-Expression and Leadership program of landmark education, Melinda Taylor became reacquainted with the childhood desire to sing. This led her to take voice lessons from friend and performance improvement specialist MaryBeth Smith. Truly hearing her voice during the initial lessons provoked the desire to bring the gift of this experience to other women.

For her project in the program, Taylor took her love of artistic collaboration and decided to team with Smith and training and development specialist Merilyn Fance in creating a program to deliver this experience. The initial presentation of ‘Be Heard Be Visible’ is being created as a gift to women experiencing challenge in their lives from women in the Houston business community who are going to be sponsoring the event. The event is designed to be a profound experience for women in having choices, incorporating experiential processes designed to allow participants access and recognition to both new and familiar possibilities without judgment.

To get involved, contact taylor at or 832-721-0511.

Jamaica Gleaner Writes about Step Up For Life

mary-kay-lsd.jpgMaryKay Mullally, a Jamaican born woman whose Self-Expression and Leadership Program of training women to run marathons and half-marathons led her to form the “Step Up For Life” organization, was recently interviewed by the Jamaica Gleaner, a leading Jamaican newspaper. Mullally talked about being honored by ABC News and Prevention Magazine as one of five winners of their Picture of Health contest, which gave the award to women making an inspiring difference in the health of other women.

MaryKay Mullally — Making a Difference

by Barbara Nelson

Tired of running a software development team in California, Jamaican-born MaryKay Mullally became involved in self-development seminars. One of her courses involved developing a half-marathon-training group. The result? “I ran my first marathon in January 2002, two months before turning 41,” the now vibrant 47-year old mother of two, said.

“It was one of the most challenging yet exhilarating things I’ve ever done. I had to dig deep physically and mentally to keep going when my muscles were burning and the voices in my head said I wasn’t going to make it. It required that I be present in each moment, focus on the finish line and just take the next step. Completing that marathon made me feel like I could do anything.”

twists and turns

She was one of five women featured in the June 2008 issue of Prevention magazine, vying for the top prize in the second annual Prevention/ABC News Now Picture of Health contest. The women were selected because they showed that “life does get better after 40, and that you can find your healthy path no matter how many twists and turns it takes to get there.”

This charming woman, who attended St. Andrew High School in Jamaica as a young girl, ran two more marathons in 2003 before creating Step Up For Life in August 2004. Step Up For Life was initially launched as a project in the Self Expression and Leadership Program, one of the core programs of Landmark Education. This program gives people an opportunity to express themselves fully, make a difference in their community and have other people people participate.

“I wanted to empower women with this program by helping them to do something they would never have done and never thought they could do so they could take that into other areas of their lives and know they could do anything by taking one step at a time with the support of other women just like themselves. I wanted women to experience the freedom I felt when I ran and have a tool they could use to reclaim their health. I had 50 people sign up and had to turn people away,” she said.


Of the original 50 women, 40 made it to the starting line at the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco and all finished. For many it was the most empowering experience of their lives.

In January of 2005 MaryKay launched Step Up as a business, running three sessions per year to train for local San Diego Half marathons. Just fewer than 1000 women have participated to date.

“I have now expanded my business into a wellness coaching practice and have helped hundreds of men and women to lose weight and reclaim their health and wellbeing. So my focus is more on this aspect of my business,” she explained. MaryKay also coaches people via the phone over a period and helps them to achieve their individual health, weight or fitness goals.

Since being profiled by Prevention magazine and ABC News, she has been contacted by scores of people including high school friends with whom she’d lost touch.


“One phone call I will never forget,” MaryKay said, “came from a woman in Texas on the morning the competition was announced on ABC’s Good Morning America. She told me that she weighed 300lbs and had tried every diet in the book and had failed miserably. She said she hated herself and the night before had gone to bed hopeless and resigned. That morning she turned the TV on to the segment and for the first time in months she had hope through my story. At that point she immediately went to her computer, cast her vote for me, looked me up on Google and called me. When I hung up realizing that my dream to impact millions of people was already being fulfilled, it was all I could do to not breakdown and cry.”

ABC News declared all five finalists winners and MaryKay donated her winning cheque of US$5,000 to NEADS (Dogs For Deaf and Disabled Americans), of Princeton, MA. The organization trains rescued dogs to assist persons who are deaf or physically disabled in leading more independent lives. To learn more about MaryKay’s wellness program visit Step Up for Life

To see the story in its original form, visit the Jamaica Gleaner website.

Cleaning up along the Chicago River

chicago-river-day.JPGWayne Fetman decided to have his project in the Self-Expression and Leadership Program be about cleaning up. He had heard that Friends of the Chicago River was having its annual spring cleaning, the Chicago River Day, on May 10, and he decided to make sure his local community participated.

In all, Fetman managed to get about 70 people to come volunteer at two different river sites (Trail Way and Park Avenue West0 from his Highland Park Community for a day of cleanup and celebration. Volunteers worked side by side from nine in the morning to noon to collect and sort trash for recycling, remove unneeded brush, and learn about the Chicago waterway.

The entire Chicago River day had almost 4,000 volunteers working along 100 miles of waterway. Fetman himself worked with one of his teams at the Danny Cunniff Park, and worked hard to remove buckthorn and other invasive vegetation.

Pass It On

pass-it-on.jpgChris Gardner wished to find a way to encourage random acts of kindness in the world. To this end, her project in Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program, “Pass It On,” involved creating acknowledgment cards for people to give away to thank others for their acts of generosity. The idea is for that person to then pass the card on to someone else to acknowledge them, and onwards to countless other people.

Participants in the project distributed these numbered acknowledgment cards to anyone they saw committing an act of kindness. The recipient is then encouraged to register the card by emailing the information to Gardner. Gardner created a website that in addition to displaying many acts of kindness she comes across, includes the contents of all these emails and thereby further celebrates these acts of kindness and generosity.

Gardner summarizes the point of this process on her website:

“This allows the global community to be witness to a growing chain of generosity and compassion. Not only are the givers and receivers of cards affected, but so are those who witness this process by visiting the website. Kindness is contagious.”
Additionally, the website also features inspirational quotes, acts of kindness in the news, links to other sites promoting acts of generosity, and updates on the project. Please visit to see the site and get more information.

Classical Evening in South Beach

Miami native Gustavo Briand had a musical idea in mind for his project in the Self-Expression and Leadership Program. He Created “An Evening with Music”, an evening of classical music held May 30 at 7:30 pm at the Standard Hotel in Miami Beach.

The evening was a free concert featuring some of South Beach’s best classical musicians in an informal gathering, fusing strings, Arias, and even a DJ. The South Beach Chamber Ensemble and Orchestra Miami were directed by Elaine Rinaldi. The musicians performed a variety of classics, and to give the event a unique Miami flavor, DJ Tavin provided his unique musical stylings as accompaniment.

Featured musicians included Thomas Moore and Melissa Palichat on violins, Richard Fleischman on viola, and Michael Andrews on Cello. Arias were sung by Eduardo Calcano (Tenor), Suana Diaz (Soprano), and Maria Aleida Rodriguez (Soprano).

The evening was designed to include fun and socializing as well as great music, and didn’t take itself too seriously–The dinner offerings for those patrons who ate at the hotel while attending the show, included a special discounted menu for “Classical Music and Opera Haters”.