Free For All – There’s No Need to Spend Money to Have a Good Time

It’s wonderful when a community comes together for fun, entertaining, and educational events. Great Falls, Montana seems to be one community that does this well and often. The First Friday Art Walk is a great example of one of these events. On the first Friday of every month, local businesses, restaurants, and galleries stay open later than usual for this celebration of local artists and retailers.

Another free public event that runs from September through May is the Foreign and Independent Film Series, presented by the Great Falls Public Library. Films are shown on the first Wednesday of each month, as well as the next Saturday. Some of the films may not be suitable for all audiences, but the library provides brochures explaining the content of each week’s movie.

The Central Montana Astronomy Society, along with the USDA Forest Service, hosts a monthly star party from September through April. The Star Party Extravaganza is held at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. Learn how Lewis and Clark used the stars as nighttime guidance on their trek across the country. Telescopes are set up for public star viewing. Montana isn’t called Big Sky Country for no reason! Experts provide explanations about the big, beautiful night sky.

During the Christmas season, locals and visitors can enjoy the annual Christmas Stroll and Parade of Lights, organized by the Downtown Great Falls Association. Food vendors and live entertainers are present, as well as a Santa’s Village to delight children of all ages. Buying an official button promoting the Christ Stroll enters you into a drawing for prizes from local businesses. The association also awards one winner a $100 gift certificate to spend in any of the downtown shops.

There are also plenty of free things for visitors and residents to do year round. Hiking, biking, running, and walking on the many trails located throughout the city and the surrounding national parks is a wonderful way to spend any afternoon when the weather is nice. During the summer, floating or canoeing down the Missouri River is a nice way to spend a lazy day. You’ll want to visit the five waterfalls for which Great Falls is named.

Frequent festivals and free entertainment can be found throughout Great Falls during any given month. Whether you are a local or a visitor, be sure to check out the next free event, and take advantage of good, clean community fun!

Online Continuing Education For Medical Professionals

After a decade and a half of the “information superhighway” there are very few claims made for the Internet that people won’t believe. Of course, simply surfing random waves of facts and figures will never lead to wisdom, but using today’s online resources for continuing education clearly leads to better trained, up-to-date professionals. For medical professionals, in fact, most states and federal certifications require CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to maintain good standing, and these are increasingly available online.

It didn’t take long for educators to see that the vast network of interconnected computers, databases, archives and individual users could offer more than dictionaries and encyclopedias, not to mention cartoons and the modern version of “French postcards.” Some people are content to be entertained and titillated by the Internet while, fortunately for society, many others are interested in continuing their education via online colleges – and the medical profession has, as expected, been one of the biggest adopters of this “high-tech” distance learning.

Web classrooms

By the late 1990s, the World Wide Web – the “layer” of the larger network with a graphical user interface (GUI) and new, powerful tools for “data mining” – had matured to the point where it was stable, reliable and powerful enough to host “virtual classrooms.” There followed an explosion of Web-based colleges, seminars and training programs. For medical professionals, the ability to go online for continuing education (and earn college credits as well as state certifications) was a tremendous breakthrough.

Existing “brick and mortar” colleges were joined by new Internet-only educational enterprises as continuing education for such medical professionals as doctors, dentists, nurses and physical therapists went online in a big way. The various state and professional oversight agencies wasted no time certifying the curricula and awarding Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for study. People who were previously unable to attend on-campus classes because of busy work and family schedules could now do so.

Various approaches

Some courses might require lab time or a few on-campus sessions, but for many requirements a medical professional can earn CEUs, enhance existing expertise or even become certified in new specialties through online continuing education. The professionals climb the career ladder, get advanced degrees and certificates, and increase their salaries, while society as a whole benefits from better-trained doctors, nurses, therapists and paramedics. And that’s a classic “win-win” situation, without a doubt.

Costs, of course, vary. However, for working medical professionals, there are usually employer-funded plans for continuing education, and all it takes is a trip, call or online visit to Human Resources to find out. Online education is also being used at various colleges and universities for students in all majors to get class time in a variety of categories, and there are full-scale online college programs with accreditation (and degrees that are actually respected in the real world). The use of the Internet for education is a trend that will continue to grow and mature. 

Thinking About Character Education for Your Child

There was a time when all children had at least one parent stay home every day so that the children could come home for lunch and have a parent be at home. Besides a parent there also may be one or two grandparents that also lived in the same house with them. It was not unusual to have two or three generations of a family live in the same home. When this happened the children had numerous people who could and would shape their thoughts and minds. These different sets of parents or grandparents would have a lot of input in how the child thought or acted. They would be taught responsibility in the home along with other values that would eventually build their character education.

Today there is often no parent at home and a child does not always come home from school for lunch but will spend an entire day in the school or the school yard. There may not even be a parent waiting for that child to come home form school. They used to be called latch key kids but unfortunately there are far too many that fall in this category to call them latch key kids. Today it may be almost all of the kids fall into this category. So there will not be someone to greet them nor is there a person who will continually help the child with character education at all. Then just who is assigned this task? It generally falls to a teacher at the school or perhaps a scout leader or even someone at a church if they attend one regularly.

Character education means just that, to develop character of a child so that they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. So they can stay focused on their school work or other hobbies or tasks they may have to complete. This character development is necessary in today’s world just as it was twenty or thirty years ago. And if parents cannot provide it then the parents should be thinking about how their child is going to develop character.

Character implies so many positive words. It includes the words such as honesty and respect. Character requires courage and self discipline. When an adult goes to work they have to have integrity and so does a child as he or she gets older and enters the work force. But a child must have all of these things just to live a good life. If a child has been taught the rules of fairness then they may also have the courage of their convictions when faced with a dilemma or even some choices. Children are not born with these character traits but some children seem to acquire them faster than others. And a lot of this can be attributed to their living environment which includes their schools.

Character education is very important for children to develop and grow into mature responsible adults who can make good choices as they go through their lives.