children

Tipping the scales – local fight against childhood obesity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Diane Krill was a child, she spent summer days playing in the park – not parked in front of the TV. “We were there from sun up to sundown,” she said of days of non-stop activity. “We didn’t go home until the dinner bell rang.” But times are different now, said Krill, CEO of the Wood County Community Health Center. Parents afraid to let their children roam the neighborhood sometimes prefer to use the TV as a babysitter. And when they do activities – like soccer or baseball – busy parents often rush through a fast food drive thru to pick up dinner. “We are seeing trends that are leading from childhood to adulthood,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The likelihood that an obese child will learn healthy eating and exercise habits as an adult is, well, slim. So on Tuesday, the Wood County Health Department held a meeting on childhood obesity for interested community members. A recently conducted Community Health Assessment showed that 72 percent of Wood County adults are overweight or obese – higher than the state average of 67 percent. That adds up to about 37,000 Wood County adults who can be labeled as obese. “That seems staggering,” Batey said. “What can we do about that?” The survey found slightly better results among local youth, where the number of obese youth dropped a bit in the last three years. “We’re seeing a positive trend with our youth, and we don’t want to lose that,” he said. A big problem appears to be that many Wood County adults are not modeling healthy exercise or eating habits for their children. And discussing people’s diets can be a potential minefield – like bringing up politics or religion, Batey said. When surveyed about exercise, many local adults said they don’t have time for physical activity. However, in the same survey, adults averaged 2.4 hours a day watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, and 1.4 hours on the computer for non-work items. “We’re not taking time to get up and move,” Batey said. “I’m not saying don’t watch TV. But get up and move while you’re watching TV.” Batey admitted to being a “couch potato” himself, and eating too much fast food – until he and his wife had their first child. “This is about childhood obesity. But kids…


Kids beef up their skills raising livestock for county fair

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Months of wrangling hefty cows, getting up for early morning swine feedings, and coaxing obstinate goats may pay off this week for kids showing their livestock at the Wood County Fair this week. As adults were setting up carnival rides and food stands Sunday in the front of the Wood County Fairgrounds, kids were getting their livestock ready to show. Kassie Fintel, 17, has been building a relationship with Tot, an 800-pound beef feeder, since February to prepare him for the fair. Basically, it comes down to teaching some manners to Tot (whose twin is of course named Tater). “It’s so much work,” said Fintel, who goes to Bowling Green High School. “It’s countless hours every summer.” In addition to the feeding and cleaning of stalls, Fintel spent quite a bit of time walking Tot. “We have to walk them or they won’t be broken for the fair,” she said as she nudged Tot into position. During judging, Tot will be asked to show that he can raise his feet when tapped with a stick, set his feet square, stand quietly in the ring, and walk without running. “Basically, manners,” Fintel said. At that moment, Tot decided to ignore Fintel and instead chew on a ribbon tacked to the fair pen. “I love his personality,” Fintel said. “He’s such a little dog basically. He doesn’t realize how big he is.” Fintel also shows her quarter horse, Tuck, at the fair. That is less of a challenge since she and Tuck have been partners for years. “My horse has been trained, and we know what we’re doing,” Fintel said. At the barn next door, goats were being weighed in for the week. Though many of the animals showed reluctance to comply with their owners’ wishes, the goats clearly won the prize for being the most ornery. Mason Roe, 11, of Weston, was waiting with his goats, Trixie and Scarlett – neither who were particular about the spellings of their names. “They’re funny,” Roe said. “They walk and jump.” Like the other kids at the fair, Roe has spent months feeding, cleaning, shaving and walking his goats. He found that the pair had a fondness for eating corn. However, since goats bloat up with too much corn, he usually feeds Trixie and Scarlett specialty feed and hay. His goats weighed in at 102 and…


Pirates play coming to Pemberville Opera House

From PEMBERVILLE OPERA HOUSE Pemberville Children’s Theatre Workshop will stage Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” Friday, Aug. 3, and Saturday, Aug. 4 at 7:40 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. in the Pemberville Opera House, 115 Main St, Pemberville “Treasure Island” is one of the most durable adventure stories of all times, with the villainous Long John Silver following young Jim across the ocean in search of a buried fortune on Treasure Island. Tickets are $8.0 and  $5 under 18 at at Beeker’s General Store or by calling Carol Bailey at  419-287-4848. Luke McHaffie plays Jim and Stephen Williams plays Long John Silver. Cast, directed by Angie Patchett, includes: Mercy Lanning, Chloe Holcomb, Eli Smith, Karena Lowe, Madison Fox, John Williams, Isabella Holcomb,  Titus Angel, Abigail Farris, Seamus Maxon, Kevin Williams, Devon Eidenour, Shane Meehan, Cozy Daniels, Deign Maxon, and Danielle Angel. Also, . Justus Angel, Hayden Cadaret, Ethan Headley, Finnian Maxon, Eamon Maxon, Neely Maxon, Rebekah McHaffie , Caitie Meehan , Delilah VanderWaarden , and Liam VanderWaarden. This year’s production of “Treasure Island” will feature “sea and sky” scenery.  Original to the opera house, it is approximately 100-120 years old. Each piece measures 9’ x 10’ and has small porcelain wheels in the bottoms. These were designed so that one person on each side of the stage could change the scenery with one swift pull. Each piece of scenery fits into a wooden slat at the top of the stage which serves as a channel. The canvas was repaired before artist Kim Baskey, of Toledo, touched in all the wear and tear to make it look like brand new all the while preserving its wonderful history. This is the 11th year for the Pemberville Children’s Theatre. Featuring 28 children between the ages of 7 and 16, who worked weeks to put this production together. Workshop made possible through the generosity of the Gale and Marlyn Williamson Performing Arts Fund.


Children’s Librarian Maria Simon on the mend from injuries suffered in crash

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maria Simon is back to work at the Wood County District Public Library. Though she’s not up to rocking out, the children’s librarian is feeling well enough to return to see the Libraries Rock summer reading program through the end of the summer. Simon was seriously injured June 6 in an automobile accident on I-75. She returned to work with restrictions a week ago. Simon said she was very pleased to be back, even if it’s just part time. She attended the library’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday. She suffered a broken sternum and a concussion, so she said she’s having to limit her contact with the public. “Just a wave is all I need,” she said of well-wishers. She said that the library is a very private place, so many people probably aren’t aware of where she’s been. They may assume she’s been on vacation, Simon said. The accident occurred just south of Cygnet Road in Wood County when the Toyota Prius she was driving struck another car that was driving erratically. While trying to avoid that car she also made contact with a tractor-trailer. She, her husband Marc Simon, Bowling Green State University professor, and her mother, Mary Roemer, of South Bend, Indiana were on their way back to Bowling Green after traveling to Cincinnati to see a show the Simons’ daughter and son were performing. Roemer was very seriously injured who was taken by air ambulance to St. Vincent’s in Toledo. She has now been transferred to a skilled nursing facility in South Bend. So in addition to her own recovery, Simon was monitoring her mother’s care. Simon said she appreciates returning to the library. “I love this place,” she said. “I love libraries. Libraries incredibly healing places, places of order and stability.  There’s answers here.” Answers are hard to come by in the world of medical care where even the experts can be baffled, especially when it comes to concussions and spinal injuries, such as those her mother suffered. That “world is full of care and concern, and definitely love and prayers. That’s very comforting, but it’s extremely scary.” Back in the library “is very comforting and knowledgeable and orderly. And this place is a lot more fun.” Simon said that she especially missed the children. Her injuries knocked her out of action just as the summer reading program with…


BG twins rescue toddler from deep end of hotel pool

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 6-year-old twins are unlikely heroes. The two blond boys, in their matching swimsuits, rescued a toddler who jumped in the deep end this past weekend at a hotel pool in Florida. The twins – Bryant and Peyton Switzer – who are taking swimming lessons this week at Bowling Green city pool, talked about the rescue before their class started on Tuesday morning. “Pretend over here is the shallow end,” Bryant said pointing to the city pool. “She was just playing in it.” But then the 3-year-old took off her water-wing flotation devices and jumped in the deep end. The boys were old enough to realize she needed help. “He jumped in and put his arm around her,” Bryant said of his brother, Peyton. “Then he gave her to me, and I got her out.” The little girl was frightened, but the twins stayed calm. “She was a little scared when she was in the deep end,” Bryant said. The boys’ mom, Amy Walters, of Bowling Green, said they had gone to Orlando, Florida, for a work trip. The twins were in the hotel pool with Walters’ fiancé, D.J. Dieter, when the incident occurred. “She had seen the big boys playing and splashing around,” and apparently wanted to join in, Walters said of the little girl. “They didn’t even think twice. They went into action,” Walters said. “We’re very proud of them.” The toddler’s mom expressed her thanks to the young heroes. “The mother was extremely grateful,” Walters said. The boys, she said, are very comfortable in the water. “They are little fish. They’d live in the water if you’d let them,” Walters said. Mia Schempf, the twins’ swimming lessons teacher at BG city pool, said the boys are strong swimmers for being so young. “They are super smart kids,” she said. It just happened that last week, one of their classes focused on water safety. “We teach them safety in and around the water,” Schempf said. “It’s awesome they were able to save someone.” After Monday’s swimming class, the boys’ bravery was recognized by State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, who presented Bryant and Peyton with certificates honoring their heroism.


Two visions of Wonderland presented by area youth theater companies

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Wonderland, it seems, is the place to be this weekend. The imaginary land comes to life on both sides of the Maumee as the Horizon Youth Theatre stages “Dorothy in Wonderland,” directed by Allison Kulbago, at the Otsego auditorium while the youth wing of the Waterville Playshop stages “Disney Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” directed by Shauna Newbold, in the Maumee Indoor Theater. The HYT show runs Thursday, June 21, Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23 at 7 p.m. (click for information) “Alice” runs Friday, June 22,  and Saturday, June 23 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 24 at 2:30 p.m. (click for information) And, yes, that is Dorothy who lands in Wonderland courtesy, of course, of yet another tornado. The conceit of the HYT production of the Brian Taylor script is that Dorothy (Terra Sloane) and her friends Scarecrow (Calista Wilkins), Tin Man (Thomas Long), the no longer Cowardly Lion (Nash Valantine) and Toto (Lila Stover) get blown into the middle of Alice’s adventure. They have to draw on the virtues, courage for the lion, for example, bestowed on them by the Wizard to cope with this new strange place and its crazy characters. Don’t fear, Alice (Sophia Nelson) is here as well as all the usual unusual Lewis Carroll characters. That includes the Mad Hatter played by M Clifford as a hipster clown, making the most of a few scenes. The script offers plenty of cameos, with even chorus members having names, or at least numbers when they’re part of the deck of cards. Dorothy is charged with defeating the queen of hearts played with haughty majesty by Isaac Douglass. Glinda (Ann Weaver) floats in from Oz to help. She and Alice share the most touching song “Just a Girl.” Interesting that in a show with so much action, to the point of being antic, that this ballad and the first act closer “Will We Ever See Home Again” are the songs that register most. Like “Dorothy,” “Disney Alice in Wonderland Jr.” uses recorded tracks instead of live music. In the case of the Disney musical, those are jazzy big band numbers that really drive the action. With high concept costuming and make up, “Alice” hits the stage like the animated movie come to life with the neighborhood kids spliced in to play the characters. Here the plot points of “Alice in Wonderland”…


Preschoolers celebrate crowning achievement in reading

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ken and Pam Frisch did their part to help their granddaughters earn their crowns. The granddaughters, Sophia Kulik, 3, and Savannah Kulik, 4, are among the 23 preschoolers who have met the mark in the Wood County Public Library’s 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge. The Frisches said they read to the girls, and then logged in the number of books. They were so impressed with the program that they stepped up to help fund it through their Frisch Family Fund. Both have backgrounds in teaching, “so reading has always been important and pretty special,” Pam Frisch said. “The library has been an important part of our family,” Ken Frisch said. Their daughters volunteered as teenagers, and now their granddaughters share that connection. Saturday, the library celebrated the first year of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. As part of the festivities, the children who’d reached the goal received cardboard crowns. Cassie Greenlee, who works in the Children’s Place, said 23 have met the goal. Julia Kulik, Sophia and Savannah’s mother, said the girls earned their crowns last summer. They started in May, and by August they’d notched 1000 books. “It was a lot of reading,” she said. “They love it.” The girls go to story times at the library. “Everyone in the children’s department is so great and so supportive.” Sophia will pile up picture books to her waist when she wants to read, her mother said, and that’s all the time. The grandparents said the girls go through phases in what they want to read. Right now Sophia is captivated by dinosaurs. But “we’re equal opportunity readers,” Pam Frisch said. The two-hour celebration featured a number of schools, programs and agencies that support children. Most had dinosaur-themed activities in honor of guest author Shari Halpern, whose “Dinosaur Parade” will be given to each child who signs up for the 1000 Books program. Halpern got her own start as an author-illustrator when she was a child. She enjoyed drawing and coloring. “I loved getting a new box of crayons.” She was always making things for school projects or her dollhouse. Going into art “was a given,” she said. Becoming a children’ book illustrator was her goal from the time she learned in college that it was a career opportunity. Halpern has been working in the field since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design…


Wacky Olympics & more as parks & rec summer programs begin

From BOWLING GREEN PARKS & RECREATION Bowling Green Parks and Recreation summer programs kick into gear this week. WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  8:00AM–12:00PM $61 Resident $70 Nonresident PRESCHOOL WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Ages 3.5-5.5 June 11-June 15  8:30AM–11:30AM $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Campers will get to compete in some traditional and also some  nontraditional wacky games and contests.  Sure to be fun for everyone involved!  NOTE:  Parents and non camper families are invited and encouraged to come participate in our Family Fun Wacky Olympic Picnic hosted by BG Parks & Recreation Staff on Thursday, June 14th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.  Families can bring their picnic dinner and participate in some fun and wacky competition against other participants. 5 DAYS OF FUN AFTERNOON DAY CAMPS Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  1:00PM–5:00PM 61 Resident $70 Nonresident Have your child get to experience a little of everything that Bowling Green Parks & Recreation has to offer in this weekly afternoon camp offered at City Park and get to enjoy plenty of supervised fun at the BG City Pool and Waterpark (weather permitting).  Each day of the week has a different theme.  Kids will report to the Veteran’s Building each day and go to that day’s activities from there as a group. MONDAY FUNDAY  AT THE BG CITY PARK Activities include camp games & ice breakers and  supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of  inclement weather, the kids will play games and do  arts & crafts projects at the Veteran’s Building. TERRIFIC TUESDAY AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will learn about the importance of health and   wellness and get some guidance on making healthy choices, and participating in some fitness focused   activities as well as get to play various games. WET & WILD WEDNESDAY AT  THE BG CITY POOL & WATERPARK Supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of inclement weather, the kids will play indoor games and  watch a movie at the Vet building THRILLER  THURSDAYS AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will decorate cupcakes & cookies according to a theme and get to watch a movie while they enjoy their snack as well as get to play various sports and games. FRIDAY FUNDAY AT THE BG CITY PARK & POOL Kids will play their favorite fun outdoor games like  capture the flag, hide behind a tree, tag, etc….


1000 books program gets new readers off to royal start

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Some local royalty will be crowned on Saturday. About 20 local preschoolers who have “read” 1000 Books before Kindergarten will get crowns of their own as part of the celebration Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wood County District Public Library. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program was launched last year, and it’s been a success, said Children’s Librarian Maria Simon. About 800 children are enrolled, with more being signed up each day. She hopes more will join on Saturday, moving the library closer to the goal of having 1,000 participants. The program encourages reading 1,000 books before children enter school. That’s not 1,000 different books. These are toddlers, and they may want to hear the same book over and over again, and then yet again. A book read aloud to a group by a child care provider or library staff member counts as well. Simon said she intentionally kept the record keeping simple. Just tally the books, without worrying about titles or minutes spent reading. Everything can be done online at wcdpl.readsquared.com. Every child who is enrolled gets a free book, and then they get stickers along with way to celebrate each 100 read. When they get halfway through, they get to pick a book from the library’s collection, and a bookplate noting their achievement is put in the book. At 1,000 they get a crown. For the inaugural year, the children received a book by Denise Fleming, who was the special guest author at last June’s kickoff celebration. Starting in Saturday, the children will receive Shari Halpern’s book “Dinosaur Parade.” Halpern will give a presentation at 11 a.m. Saturday and then sign books. Simon said both Halpern and Fleming were very supportive and enthusiastic about the program. Some of the older participants do enjoy seeing their numbers go up and up. But for most the biggest benefit of the program is the time spent with parents, or grandparents or childcare providers reading. And to get a 1,000 books read, it takes all of them. One child told, Simon that if it wasn’t for his two grandmas, he wouldn’t have read all those books. Simon said she enjoys watching children develop their taste. They get to explore the library’s large selection of picture books. They find characters they like, or realize they prefer funny books. Then after every 100 books, they get…


Courthouse tour lays down the law for BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a bit of disorder in the courts  Monday as Bowling Green sixth graders got a close-up view of “Lady Justice.” They sat in on a court case, they offered ideas for new laws, and they met with the sheriff. And as a bonus, they learned a bit on how the county handles emergencies. The kids were awestruck by the court proceedings, and suitably impressed by the grand Wood County Courthouse. But kids being kids – they sometimes found a different focus than the intended. For example, as architect Heidi Reger pointed out the intricate stone work on the front of the 1896 courthouse, she asked the students to find the faces and animals carved into the stone. “They liked to tell a lot of stories in the stones,” she said. But during one group’s tour, Reger had some competition from above when one of the Peregrine falcons roosting in the courthouse clock tower snatched a bird for breakfast. It wasn’t long before a burst of feathers came floating down from the clock tower. Once inside the courthouse, the students got to listen to cases presented to the Sixth District Court of Appeals. The lesson there might have been that real court cases aren’t necessarily as exciting as those portrayed on television. But the students sat respectfully with little fidgeting as a case was argued about who was responsible for paying for roadwork and causeway maintenance for Johnson Island. Though the legal arguments were tedious, technical and long-winded, the students sat quietly. One court constable suggested that the sixth graders were likely intimidated by the panel of three robed judges, or by the ornate courtroom with its stained glass ceiling. After sitting through the governmental arm that rules on the law, the students heard from state legislators that make the laws. State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, talked about their routes to the statehouse. Gardner started out as a teacher, and Gavarone as an attorney and part-owner of Mr. Spots – which seemed to impress the students. Gardner stressed to the students that they are the bosses of state legislators. “If you live in Wood County, that means you’re our boss,” he said. “We listen to you.” Both talked about bills they sponsored that involved kids – such as legislation against bullying, requiring vision screening…


Studying up on ‘neighborhood’ vs consolidated schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green area voters find the school levy numbers disturbing – not the monetary numbers but the numbers of students that would be using one centralized elementary if the levy passes. While some have protested the costs of the 5.7-mill levy spread out over 37 years, these citizens object to the merging of three elementaries into one centralized building. Supporters of the change say it will enable the district to provide consistency and equity in resources and opportunities for young students. Critics say students learn better in “neighborhood schools” as opposed to “factory schools.” Both sides of the issue have presented their rationale. And as with most controversial issues, there is plenty of data to support both points of view. Kimberly Christensen, of the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, said research shows pros and cons for smaller neighborhood schools and larger consolidated schools. Centralized schools offer “higher educational quality as a result of the wider menu of educational experiences” they can provide, Christensen said. There is more consistency and greater equalization, she said. In a building where all the grades are consolidated, the educational teams can offer more connected and integrated lessons, she said.  The children benefit from having all the support staff and specialized teachers in one location, she added. For example, if a student needs to see the school therapist, the child won’t have to wait days until the therapist makes rounds to that school building. And consolidated schools have higher fiscal efficiency, she said, since there are fewer redundancies. Smaller schools, Christensen said, tend to do a better job of making students feel connected. Studies have documented better relationships are likely to occur in smaller settings. “Students feel supported and cared for,” she said. Some research has shown reduced rates of student participation in extra-curricular activities in larger schools, Christensen said. And there are concerns about kids getting lost in the largeness. “Are you going to see some left out of the process,” she said. However, the latest trend seen in school districts seems to offer the best of both educational worlds, Christensen said. Districts are working to create small schools inside big consolidated schools. “If you create that environment, it makes the larger school seem smaller,” Christensen said. With this model, students can benefit from academic teaming, access to all support staff,…


Foster family opens home and hearts to 19 children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some parents dream of becoming empty nesters. Quiet dinners, no pediatrician appointments, less hectic households. But Chris and Melanie Feather, of Grand Rapids, felt something was missing when their four boys grew up and moved on. So they took a bold step – bigger than buying an RV or a warm weather winter retreat – they became foster parents. “We had empty rooms,” Melanie said. “We really felt that was something we needed to do.” That was seven years and 19 children ago. “I love kids. I could probably do this forever,” Melanie said, giving a sideways glance at Chris to check his reaction. It took a few seconds, but then her husband’s straight face broke into a big silly grin. The couple, who was recently named Wood County Children Services Foster Parents of the Year, has taken in children ranging from newborns to 17-year-olds. So they now have four adult children, one adopted, plus six biological grandchildren, and “a lot of honorary” grandchildren. “I always think there’s somebody else out there who needs us,” Chris said. “There are a lot of kids who need love,” Melanie said. “They come in as strangers and leave as family.” “Or they don’t leave,” Chris said, referring to all the kids that stay in contact with the Feather family. “It makes my heart happy,” Melanie said, smiling. The Feathers readily admit the job of foster parenting isn’t easy. It ranges from fun and a blessing, to frustrating and nearly maddening – and that can be all in one day. But they try to stay focused on the goal. They are in this to get kids through rough patches in their lives that are no fault of their own. Some children don’t want to be removed from their families, no matter how bad that environment might be. “Some of the kids are mad they are in foster care,” Melanie said. She and Chris explain to the children that they realize they aren’t their parents. “But we’ll be their mom and dad as long as they need us to be.” Chris, a school bus driver and farmer, learned early on what many kids need. “The kids just want an adult’s attention,” he said. They want consistency and unconditional love. They have chores, like cleaning their bedrooms, setting the table, unloading the dishwasher. “Some of them just appreciate…


Students petition for flexible seating to allow fidgeting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   So much for stiff, hard-backed chairs in this Crim classroom. The students in Amy Kenyon’s fifth grade had enough of the uncomfortable traditional seats. They wanted flexibility – and they took action to get it. “I read an article about it,” Chasey Walker said. “So I started a petition.” “It helps us concentrate more,” another student chimed in. “Most definitely,” Dylan Krupp said. It all began when students in Kenyon’s language arts classroom were working on non-fiction reading and opinion writing. They took their lesson a step further. “We’ve made a petition,” they informed Kenyon. “And I thought – oh no,” their teacher said. Kenyon advised the students that their petition would need to be backed up by an essay. “This group then grows,” Kenyon said of the students pushing for flexible seating. Maddy Baldonado and Isa Wan started working on a persuasive essay, while Dylan began researching the costs of non-traditional seating. “I was stuck,” Kenyon said with a big grin. “I can’t tell them not to research.” The students even recruited Isabella Nardone, from another classroom, to help their cause. “They bring her in because she’s really good with words,” Kenyon said. The students researched the value of flexible seating, which allows kids to fidget and use up energy that builds up if they are forced to sit still in rigid chairs. Kenyon agreed that some students’ brains work better when their bodies are moving. “As long as the students are working, they can be comfortable,” she said. The students were so committed, they used free time on their mission to get a grant for flexible seating. “They worked on it on their own time, before school, during recess, they ate lunch in class,” Kenyon said. Dylan’s research turned up all kinds of non-traditional seating – bungee cord chairs that allow children to sink into a web of stretchy cords, wobble stools that give kids the ability to wiggle around, standing “stability discs” that allow kids to wobble, camp chairs, stools low to the floor, bouncy bands under desks that allow for foot movement, and even bicycle pedals under a desk. “I was so impressed,” Kenyon said of their dedication. Then came the next step. The students had to present their proposal to interim Principal Gary Keller. “He thought it was really good,” Kenyon said. “I almost cried. They were…


Spring weather arrives in time for Earth Day event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After weeks of cruel winter-like weather, Mother Nature graced the region with springtime just in time for Earth Day. The sunshine was a perfect backdrop Sunday afternoon for kids learning about nature, recycling and energy at the ninth annual community Earth Day celebration. The fun lessons included serious messages, such as: An estimated 20 pounds of food per person, per month is thrown away in the U.S. Trees in public spaces in Bowling Green intercept more than 7.4 million gallons of stormwater each year. The Wood County District Public Library bookmobile runs on compressed natural gas, which is an abundant, low-cost, green alternative to gasoline or diesel. Turning off the water faucet when brushing teeth could save 5,480 gallons of water a year. The yard outside the Montessori School in Bowling Green was covered with kids learning about helping Monarch butterflies, protecting Lake Erie, planting trees and saving the Earth. Many of the children signed pledges that gave them specific ideas of how to help the Earth. To be a “Clean Water Superhero,” kids agreed to shorten their showers, pick up litter, adopt a storm drain and turn off the water when brushing teeth. Some agreed to “pick up pet poo,” to prevent bacteria from getting in water sources. The lesson, according to Bowling Green Sustainability Coordinator Amanda Gamby, is that kids can make a difference. “We can do things individually at home to help,” Gamby said. Kids learned about the importance of dragonflies, flower pollination, and nature’s food chains. They also learned how much energy is takes to operate small household appliances. With the help of Jason Sisco, engineer with the city of Bowling Green, kids pedaled a bicycle to get an idea of how hard they had to work to create enough power to run light bulbs, then a radio, a hairdryer and a fan. Children got to plant saplings and sunflower seeds to take home. They learned about the need for humans to protect Monarch butterflies. “I’m trying to get everybody excited about Monarch butterflies, and how to help them,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “Monarch populations have been plummeting for several years,” so much so that they are now on the endangered species list, she said. The reason is because the butterflies need milkweed plants for reproduction. “We’ve done…


Facts are what ignites author & illustrator Don Tate’s imagination

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Perry Field House at Bowling Green State University Saturday hosted scores of future Don Tates. Tate, a prolific illustrator of children’s books who has turned his talents to writing as well, was the guest author for Literacy in the Park. The Austin, Texas-based author and illustrator started out just like all the kids who raised their hands when he asked: Who likes to draw? He’s been drawing since before he could remember, and showed a picture he made when he was 3 of his mother, and baby sister, and some poop falling out of the infant’s diaper. Even then, he liked to include realistic details. When he was a kid growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, Tate said he particularly liked non-fiction, including the “Family Medical Guide,” which had pictures of bloody ulcers and pus-filled toe sores. And when he turned to writing his own books, as well as illustrating them, he turned to non-fiction, writing about strongman Eugen Sandow and early African-American poet George Moses Horton. Those themes were among those reflected in the dozens of activities available to children throughout the field house. Nothing, though, about pus or bloody sores. Still the activities showed how literacy is intertwined with construction, natural science, art, drama, and nutrition. Tate encouraged his young listeners to follow what they loved whether it was dancing, theater, or soccer. Tate said as a child he wasn’t as good at basketball as his father would have liked. He instead wanted to make puppets. He realized he could make a simple puppet with patterns and cloth. He wasn’t satisfied. Using an old wig his mother gave him, he made a more elaborate puppet modeled on the Muppets made by his idol Jim Henson. His mother loved it, but Tate’s father wasn’t impressed. “Your son is making dolls,” he told Tate’s mother. Young Tate persisted drawing, painting, doing macramé. His work progressed along the way and led to a career in illustration. He’s illustrated more than 50 books, including work by such notable writers as Jack Prelutsky and Louis Sachar. When he decided to write a book, he did about 30 drafts of “It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw.” It’s a true story of a man, born into slavery, who became a renowned folk artist. Then he showed it to a published author, who loved it, and told…