Posts Tagged ‘kids’




Photo: Parish of East Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission
Kids in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, compete in a sack race using equipment provided by the local parks and recreation commission. Mobile playgrounds designed to fight childhood obesity are catching on nationwide.

Did you always have some kind of gym class in elementary school? Something that kept kids running around and exercising even if it was only Dodge Ball? I did.

In recent decades, many schools have seen cutbacks in classes that are important for both intellectual growth and overall health — arts, music, gym, and more. Concerned communities are doing whatever they can to make up the difference.

Christine Vestal writes at the Washington Post, “In a state with the fourth-highest rate of youth obesity in the nation, the Baton Rouge parks and recreation agency wanted to lure Louisiana kids away from their screens and into the parks to get moving.

“But the low-income youths who needed exercise the most weren’t showing up at the parks. Officials learned that they didn’t have transportation, and their parents were too busy working to take them. So they decided to take the parks to the kids.

“With money donated in 2012 by corporate sponsors and a portion of their parish budget, the local parks and recreation agency, known as the Baton Rouge Recreation, or BREC, bought a box delivery truck, painted it with bright colors, and filled it with scooters, hula-hoops, balls, slack lines, trampolines, sidewalk chalk, and jump ropes.

” ‘The idea came to us one day while we were watching a bunch of kids turn flips on an old mattress someone had discarded near the office,’ said Diane Drake, who directs BREC’s playground on wheels. ‘We realized it wouldn’t take much to get kids moving if we put it right in front of them.’

“Naming the mobile playground BREC on the Geaux (a Cajun play on words for the word ‘go’), the agency in 2013 started what would become a daily program by holding community events at housing complexes, churches, parks, and schools in low-income neighborhoods.

“If peals of laughter and swarms of activity are any indicator, BREC on the Geaux was an immediate success, Drake said.

‘‘ ‘Once word spread, children would come running out of their apartments as soon as we pulled into the parking lot,’ Drake said. ‘It was all we could do to unload the equipment before they grabbed it and ran off.’

“A year after it began, BREC officials drove the mobile playground to a meeting of the National Recreation and Park Association in Charlotte.

“Since then, BREC has received dozens of e-mails and phone calls from other cities seeking advice on how to start a similar program, Drake said. …

“Transporting the joy and the health benefits of play to kids in underserved neighborhoods isn’t a new idea. A concept called ‘Play Streets,’ in which local volunteers work with police and health officials in urban neighborhoods to temporarily block traffic so kids can play, has been thriving for decades in places like London, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

“But the idea is now starting to take root in small- and medium-size cities — and in a handful of rural towns — where low-income children and adults are even more susceptible to obesity than in the nation’s urban centers, according to a June report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …

‘‘BREC started its mobile playground project with $110,000, half from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and half from the parish budget. A Play Streets project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported play events in four diverse low-income rural communities last summer — Warrenton, N.C.; Talihina, Okla.; Oakland, Md.; and Cameron, Texas — on a much smaller budget: $6,000 for a handful of community events. …

“In Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that similar events sponsored by BREC resulted in children getting about 50 percent more physical activity, as measured in Fitbit steps, compared with weekdays and weekends without Play Street events.”

More here.

Photo: Our Home Louisiana
Baton Rouge Recreation celebrates a new mobile-playground truck with Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Elizabeth Gollub, an evaluator of the anti-obesity initiative.


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Photo: WideOpenPets.com
The University of Maine used baby goats to calm student stress during finals. Valley Edge Farm, which specializes in Nigerian Dairy Goats, provided the rambunctious kids.

This is exactly the sort of offbeat story I love. (Feel free to send me other kooky stories.)

Emily Burnham writes at Bangor Daily News, “For the past few years, the University of Maine has brought in therapy dogs — mostly cuddly golden retrievers and adorable Pomeranians — to soothe the frazzled nerves of students during finals week.

“This spring, however, it decided to try something a little different: baby goats.

“Brittany Smith, a staffer with UMaine’s campus activities board, got the idea when a co-worker mentioned that her sister, Abby Skolfield, owned and operated a goat farm, Valley’s Edge Farm, in the western Maine town of Strong. …

“A few quick phone calls later, a truckload of baby goats was on its way to UMaine, bound for an afternoon visit with students — most of whom had no idea they were going to hang out with month-old Nigerian Dwarf goats. Once word got out, a line stretched all across the mall, full of students waiting for their chance to pet a goat.

“ ‘I thought maybe 30, 40 people would show up, but this is ridiculous,’ said Smith. …

“Skolfield’s goats are old hands at dealing with crowds. Her goats are mostly for show, and they visit daycares and walk in parades regularly.

“ ‘I get hit up for goat yoga more times than I can count,’ said Skolfield. ‘I don’t see how that’s relaxing, but hey, whatever works.’ …

” ‘They come when called. Their little tails wag,’ she said. ‘They are the most dog-like of all livestock.’ ” More here.

I had actually heard of goat yoga! The goats stand on yoga students’ backs.

Video: CBS News

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Shows how far we have come from ancestors who let nothing go to waste that making clothes out of leftover fabric is a novelty. But it’s a good idea nevertheless.

Katherine Martinko at TreeHugger writes that Beru Kids is a children’s clothing company in downtown Los Angeles that makes use of textiles that would otherwise be landfilled.

“The garment workers are mostly female,” she says, “and are paid higher than minimum wage (not per-garment, as is usual in the fashion industry).

“What’s really interesting about Beru is that it repurposes deadstock fabrics to make its clothes. ‘Deadstock’ refers to surplus fabric that has not been used by other factories. In LA, it is sent to a warehouse, where Beru’s founder Sofia Melograno goes on a regular basis to purchase whatever textiles catch her eye. Beru has also begun recently incorporating organic, traceable cotton into its garments.”

Traceability means the cotton can be traced back to its original source so it’s possible to assess whether all steps in the supply chain are environmentally and ethically sound.

Martinko adds that because the fashion industry is a huge polluter, finding a use for fabric that would otherwise get thrown away is good for the planet.

More here.

Photo: Beru Kids (via Facebook)

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I was first drawn to Joseph P. Kahn’s story about clowns in children’s hospitals by the cute pictures — and the fact  that my brother sometimes performs with a clown troupe at his church.

But what I especially appreciated learning from the article is that hospital clowning today is not just about getting a laugh out of a sick kid, important as that is. It’s also about giving children a little bit of control — to point out that the clown is doing something wrong, for example, or even to say the clown is not welcome and should go.

Kahn writes, “For hospital clowns Joyce Friedman and David Levitin, no two tours of duty are quite the same. Which is just how they like it.

“During rounds at Boston Medical Center, Friedman (a.k.a. Frizzle) and Levitin (Toodles) showed off their improv skills room by room, careful to assign an active role to each young patient they visited.

“At the bedside of 10-year old Cheyanne, the pair held a mock marriage ceremony, prompting Cheyanne to exclaim, through her oxygen mask, ‘You forgot to exchange vows!’ …

“Handed a joystick, a child might be encouraged to ‘control’ the clown as he or she chooses. Another patient, nervous or scared, might not want a visit at all. Either way, something positive comes from the encounter.

“ ‘Being empowered is really a key component of the healing process,’ says [Children’s Hospital endocrinologist Dr. Michael] Agus. ‘The more passive you are with an illness, the more challenging it is to heal.’ …

“Whatever a patient’s age or condition, said [clown Cheryl] Lekousi, she and her colleagues focus on the positive, even in the bleakest situations.

“ ‘Our message to the kids is, we’re a witness of you, of your childhood,’ said Lekousi.”

More here.

Photo: Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
Christopher reacts to the entrance of Cheryl Lekousi (a.k.a. Tic Toc).

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Kids ages 3 to 5 seem to have a strong compulsion to check out trucks up close. So when organizations like Concord Recreation decide to do a little fundraising by providing the opportunity, parents of preschoolers know they just have to go.

I was walking back from the store when John’s wife and son pulled up and said they were on their way to Touch a Truck. I couldn’t resist. I said we’d meet them there.

I don’t know the names of all the trucks, but I can tell you the array included an ice cream truck, a fire engine, a police van, a front loader, and a truck for drilling telephone pole holes. There was one with a bucket for raising a person up high. My husband pointed out the rubber gloves you have to wear if you’re working around high-voltage lines. He explained how many times the gloves get dipped in rubber and carefully checked during the manufacturing process.

My grandson tried all the trucks. You can see that it’s fairly serious business.













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A woman in my tai chi chuan class yesterday mentioned that she was taking her son to an “Instrument PettingZoo” this weekend to see if he could find an instrument he’d like to study.

What a great name for the event! With a title like that, no one needs to explain that the idea is to help children learn about different instruments — and have fun at the same time.

This weekend’s Instrument PettingZoo is at Powers Music School.

The school’s website provides some history:

“Powers Music School is a regional, not-for-profit institution established in 1964 to provide superior music instruction and performance opportunities to all interested students. Each year the School also provides musical outreach opportunities in the community through programs such as Belmont Open Sings, the Stein Chamber Music Festival, the Peter Elvins Vocal Competition, and the Mildred P. Freiberg Piano Festival.

“The founding principles, that all students are entitled to high quality musical instruction and that music is an essential part of our lives and belongs in the community, continue to guide the School today. During 2010-2011, the School worked with over 1,000 students who traveled from 50 surrounding communities. In addition, Powers gave over 70 student recitals/community performances.”

I love the school’s dual-meaning slogan, “A great place to play.”

Makes me realize my off-and-on-music education may have left out the playful side of “play.”

Photograph: PowersMusic.org

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Years pass, and I forget how delightful Drumlin Farm is and how close. The Audubon Shop there is also a wonder. You find things in the shop that you don’t find anywhere else. All nature related.

It must have been years since I visited, because it looks like the “new” entrance and parking lot have been there a long time.

It’s a good place to go on a day that feels like summer.

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