children

Youth arts area at festival stirs young imaginations

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The juried artists selling their crafts at the Black Swamp Arts Festival Saturday likely had no idea what they were missing by not incorporating plastic spoons, duct tape and pipe cleaners into their artwork. “I’m making a super hero board game,” said Max Cragin, 11, of Bowling Green. His game, called “Wonder Woman Island,” looked a bit like the colorful winding path of Candy Land – but with more treacherous pitfalls along the way. Some of the perils along the pathway included “Get blown up and die,” or “Get clawed” at the black panther cave, or “Get zapped” by lightening. The Kiwanis Youth Arts Village at the Black Swamp Arts Festival again let the imaginations of children run wild. Using empty toilet paper rolls, buttons and beads, they became artists in residence. While the other end of the Black Swamp Arts Festival featured accomplished artists, the northern most block of the festival let unjuried artists do their own things. To be honest, some weren’t exactly sure what they were creating. “I’m making, hmmmm, I don’t know. Something cool, I probably will like,” said Lily Wilson, 8, from Oak Harbor. She and her sisters, Zoe, 6, were taking pieces of cardboard and duct tape and constructing buildings. Others were more certain in their handiwork. “I’m making a toy sword and a back scratcher,” McKenna Seman, Bowling Green, said as she proudly displayed her work. She huddled over a table of treasures with Hope Seman, Madison Cowan and Bella Karlovec as they turned popsicle sticks, beads and foam shapes into all types of creations…

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Ta-dah moment: Library & circus are compatible

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ta-Dah was the word of the day Friday morning at the Wood County Library. As part of the summer reading program, the Cirque Amongus from Michigan visited the library to give an introduction to basic circus skills – stilt walking tight rope walking, a ladder pyramid, riding a unicycle, balancing, and juggling. A successful, or even unsuccessful, attempt was concluded with a loud ta-dah! Accompanied by the hands flying out to the side. Children’s Librarian Maria Simon started off the morning with a cautionary note by reading the picture book by Elise Parsley, “If You Ever Want To Bring a Circus To the Library, DON’T!” But Simon clearly didn’t heed the book’s message. She welcomed Myrthia Hornshaw and Johan Yamine into the building with open arms. At first they demonstrated each skill, using drawing volunteers from the dozens of children in attendance.  After each skill was shown, the kids were instructed to scream ta-dah! They were itching to go. With the help of the library’s volunteens, the kids – for some walking a recently acquired stunt — then got to try for themselves. That meant riding bikes through the atrium. Tottering on a “high-wire” that was just a few inches off the ground. Tumbling, balancing, working with other kids to form a pyramid on the ladders. And they were the only ones having a blast. Diana Hensley, who as there with her two children, tried her hands with the balance sticks and then she even got on a tiny bike, not afraid to tumble. Hensley said the family frequently takes part in library activities,…


Skateboard, scooter sports teach more than stunts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cautious adults cringed as the carefree youth demonstrated their skate park skills – flipping and twisting in the air – seeming to defy gravity. The kids show up almost every day to use the skate park in Bowling Green’s City Park, riding their skateboards, scooters, BMX and mountain bikes. Last week, the youth demonstrated their skills for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Many of them have been inspired and instructed by Don DiBartolomeo and Matt Bowley, of The Right Direction, a non-profit organization that uses action sports to teach life skills. “He took a childhood activity, riding a bike, and parlayed it into a career,” Kiwanis member Scott Seeliger said of DiBartolomeo. “They’ve affected the lives of young people.” The Right Direction teaches kids far more than stunts on their skateboards and scooters. The organization teaches time management, organization and communication, DiBartolomeo said. The youth learn practical skills, like how to work on their bikes, and community skills like how to create a fundraiser to aid local organizations. Last year, the kids performed 3,500 hours of community service and collected 2,000 pounds of food to donate to local food pantries. “It gives the kids a chance to step out of their little bubble,” DiBartolomeo said, and be part of the bigger community. And the skate park in City Park gives them a safe place to practice their skills. When the skate park was first constructed, some questioned whether it would get much use. But nearly every day, kids are at the park, fine-tuning their stunts. “It gives these kids something to take…


BG Girl Scouts get real life government lesson in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares for another birthday, a group of Bowling Green girls will celebrate this Fourth of July with new knowledge about their government. Members of Girl Scout Troop 10799 recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they crammed in as many tours and sightseeing stops as possible in four days. They learned that George Washington didn’t smile for portraits because his artificial teeth would fall out. “He was a great leader, but his teeth … not so great,” said Girl Scout Natalie Hollands. They learned that while the Senate chambers is a serious and somber place, the House of Representatives is raucous and chaotic. “You could hear a pin drop in the Senate,” said Allie Parish. But not the House. “It was really crazy,” Paige Suelzer said. The leader kept banging the gavel for quiet. “They were like little kids.” And they learned that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is no place for giggling – even if one of their little sisters drops a water bottle that rolls close to the feet of the soldier on guard. Thirteen Bowling Green Girl Scouts, who will be entering sixth grade this fall, toured the city with their families. They visited the memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr., the memorials to those who served in the Vietnam War and those killed in the 9/11 attacks. They toured the East Wing of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon. The girls all had their favorite sites. For Sophia Nelson, a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, her…


Earth Camp gives kids peek at the wild side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of the day, nearly 250 kids left William Harrison Park – some wearing paper butterflies with pipe cleaner antennae in their hair, some with dirt on their hands, and some with new ideas in their heads. Elementary age children from throughout Wood County gathered at the park in Pemberville for the annual Earth Camp Tuesday organized by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District for kids in the Community Learning Centers STARS program. “We get every single one of the Community Learning kids outside for the entire day,” said Amanda Gamby, who coordinated the event. A parent herself, Gamby said sometimes after a long day at work, parents just don’t have the energy to take kids outside to play. So for the 18th year, the Earth Camp gave them a full day to explore nature. This year’s theme was wildlife. “It’s pretty great,” said Jamie Sands, with the Wood County Park District, which partnered on the camp. “This is for kids to be active in nature while learning about wildlife.” Children went from station to station, learning about the declining Monarch butterfly population, “habitracks” using a map to explore habitat components for animals, the importance of pollination, local amphibians, and Nature’s Nursery. “Then they get to go down to the river and see some critters,” Sands said. “They go home and they are probably all exhausted.” At one station, the children learned about the efforts of Nature’s Nursery to help nurse wildlife back to health and return them to the wild. Some of the lessons focused on what the…


BG’s Scruci tries to dispel rumors about bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci tried to stop the rumor mill from churning Monday evening. For 90 minutes, he presented details and answered questions from a packed meeting room at the public library about the school district’s building plans and the bond levy to support them. Scruci has heard “all kinds of stories” about the district’s plans. “We wanted to get this information out now,” he said. “We want to get out in front of those” rumors about costs, cuts, kids and more. So he started by explaining the building plans and the $72 million cost to taxpayers. “I’m going to be the first to tell you that’s a lot of money, and we know that,” Scruci said. The 6-mill bond issue will appear on the November ballot for the projects. “Schools are always going to be the investment in the future in every city,” he said. “If we kick the can down the road, the cost is going to grow.” For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that means an extra $210 a year. But since the average house value in Bowling Green is $170,000, Scruci said that would add up to $357 a year. And for those on the higher end, with a $250,000 home, the bond issue would mean another $525 a year. When he said the bond issue was for 37 years, someone in the audience whistled. “People are going to say that’s a lot of years, and it is,” Scruci said. But a bond issue with fewer years would mean greater payments that could be…


Energetic kids learn about renewable energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the young girl pedaled the bicycle, her efforts first turned on the radio. As she pedaled harder, she created enough energy to turn on LED light bulbs. And if she pedaled really hard, she turned on the old-fashioned light bulbs. Pretty sneaky way to teach kids about energy. “You’re pretty strong,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, told the young girl. “When you use these light bulbs, you’re making the electric company work really hard,” Stockburger said of the older bulbs. “Tell your parents to use LED bulbs.” Stockburger was talking about Bowling Green’s energy efforts recently to a group of kids gatherered at Wood County District Public Library. He talked about the new solar field, the wind turbines and hydropower. Stockburger, who is more accustomed to talking energy with adults, did his best to bring the discussion down to the level of the children. He was helped out by Maria Simon, head of youth services at the library, who is more accustomed to taking technical topics and making them understandable to young minds. Simon was the Gracie Allen to Stockburger’s George Burns. “She’s generating 5 amps,” Stockburger said as another girl tried pedaling the energy bike hooked up to appliances. “I think she should come to my house. I think she could run the dishwasher,” Simon said. The program was part of the library’s summer children’s program on Building a Better World. The children provided a challenging range, with one crawling around tracing the shapes on the floor, to another asking about geothermal energy. Stockburger talked about…