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LifeSmarts arming teens with 'dollars and sense'

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National Consumer Protection Week 2010 is here! The annual week runs this year from March 7 to the 13th. NCL is an NCPW Steering Committee member, working with our consumer protection colleagues to provide free resources to help people protect their privacy, manage money and debt, avoid identity theft, understand credit and mortgages, and steer clear of frauds and scams. This year, NCPW partners—which includes AARP, Better Business Bureau, Consumer Federation of America, and a handful of federal government agencies and others—are focusing Dollars and Sense: Rated “A” for All Ages on highlighting consumer education for every stage of life – from grade school to retirement.

NCL has long sought to educate our youngest consumers on a variety of issues, and our 16-year-old LifeSmarts program captures the nuts and bolts of growing up consumer savvy. LifeSmarts is our fast, fun, nationwide coaching and competition opportunity that prepares today’s tweens and teens to be tomorrow’s informed, responsible citizens, consumers and employees. NCL runs LifeSmarts at the national level and is grateful for the support from volunteer state coordinators across the country facilitating the program in their states. LifeSmarts is a national program for high school and middle school youth, testing students in grades 7-12 with questions about real-life marketplace issues ranging from personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities.

So far in this 2009-2010 season, the program has recorded the highest numbers ever in its 16-year history. The curriculum conforms to National Education Standards and also offers extracurricular fun. Using game-show dynamics, the program adapts easily to any classroom, club, or community organization.

LifeSmarts makes a difference. A coach in the Illinois state competition recently had these words to say about our program:

“I can truly say that with your support through LifeSmarts, hundreds upon hundreds of students at West Chicago Community High School have learned vast amounts of consumer education. It has added an unbelievable amount of excitement to the classroom. It goes way beyond inspiring the students who actually compete at the state and national level. Classes love playing LifeSmarts ‘pickup games.’ And classes love to see their classmates perform well.

Kudos from another coach: “LifeSmarts arms students with knowledge that will be 100% relevant to their lives.”

Even students have seen the benefits of the program: “LifeSmarts really made me think about some of the things I will have to deal with as soon as I graduate.”

State competitions are heating up across the country, and as winners are determined, champion teams are prepping for their trip to Miami, Florida for the 2010 National LifeSmarts Championship. Follow the excitement of the coming weeks at NCL’s LifeSmarts blog or check out this printable practice quiz to learn how LifeSmarts is giving teens across the nation the "Dollars and Sense" they need to succeed.

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