Children’s Museum Birthday Bash Keeps Kids Fit

By Mary Murphy
Marketing Associate, The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast

The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast continues in its quest to keep kids active and fit. On August 2nd, we celebrated our 6th birthday with a bang. Along with bounce houses and balloons, we wanted to incorporate an activity where kids would associate physical activity with fun. We collaborated once again with Nancy Erlick and her Spiffy’s Once Upon a Farm series, and used her “banana jump ropes” to have a jump roping contest during the party. These fabulous jump ropes have faux bananas as handles to get kids to start thinking about wise food choices, all while having a blast jump roping!

Kids jump roping

Our birthday party would not have been complete without birthday cake. We make it a point to ask the kids, “Can you have birthday cake at a party?” Our answer is, “Of course you can!”

The Children’s Museum makes it a point to teach kids about making good choices when it comes to what they eat, but that they can also enjoy themselves and eat fun foods in moderation.

Teens showing off cucumbers from the garden

The museum’s interactive garden has been busy this summer as well. This summer’s garden included cucumbers, scallions, rosemary, and basil that were harvested by summer campers and museum staff. Kids got to make homemade pizzas, salsa, and salads from these wonderful ingredients, which came fresh from our garden. We strive to find ways to keep children active, healthy, and educated, and we’re excited to be bringing it to our community in Florida.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Early Learning, Health, Let's Move! Museums & Gardens | Comments Off

Poets on Poets: Aline Dolinh

Ed note: This is a cross-post from the AYAW Blog.  You can find the original blog post here.

Photo of Aline Dolinh

Inaugural National Student Poet and Northeast Representative, Claire Lee, returns to the AYAW blog to interview the 2013 Class of National Student Poets for her “Poets on Poets” series.


This week’s interview is with National Student Poet and Southeast Representative, Aline Dolinh!




Claire Lee: Hey! How’s your summer been? What have you been up to this summer, in terms of NSPP summer events?


Aline Dolinh: I’ve had a really great summer so far, though I’ve been missing my four fellow poets a lot. I was away from home for a month to attend Governor’s School for the Humanities, was a counselor at a kids’ debate camp, and I’m actually headed out to sunny California for the last week of August. In poetry-related activities, I’ve continued working on my service project and I actually had the chance to listen to the poet Nikki Giovanni speak back in July as well as talk to her briefly afterward—I not-so-subtly promoted the NSPP to her and offered her one of our matching t-shirts.


CL: Hahaha, that’s great! What were some of the major NSPP events you participated in? Which was your favorite, and why?


AD: This year, I had the chance to visit Frankfort for the Kentucky Writer’s Day celebration, which was a completely new experience for me. Kentucky is a state that I think defies a lot of outsiders’ preconceptions—it’s filled with the kind of magnificently vast, open space that you don’t get to see living in a sprawling suburb like mine, and the poetry community there is so tight-knit it feels almost familial. I had an amazing experience there getting to read alongside Kentucky’s past poet laureates and even befriending some of them (Frank X. Walker, the current Kentucky poet laureate, was one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, in addition to being strikingly talented—he bought me a pin as a gift before even meeting me). I got to know several members of the Kentucky Arts Council as well, who showed me everything from the best restaurants to a family-owned coffee shop. While I was there, I also lead a found poetry workshop at Western Hills High School, which was a lot of fun! I don’t think the experience I had in Kentucky could have been replicated for anyone else, which speaks volumes about how special this program is—I think it reflects the fact that poetry’s power is in its ability to transcend boundaries and connect people while simultaneously speaking to something slightly different in everyone.


CL: Yeah, the program is really great at what it does and what it offers to individuals and communities. In that regard, what was the highlight of your year as a National Student Poet?


AD: In general, I really treasured the connections I made—I loved leading workshops because of the chance to interact with such a wide variety of students, from non-native English speakers at my high school to fourth-graders in Harlem, because they really made me conscious of the idea that everyone can be a poet (even if they don’t think of themselves as such). My favorite thing about the NSPP is the people that it’s helped me meet, from those students to the amazingly hardworking staff who made this award possible to my four fellow poets, who are without a doubt some of the brightest and most beautiful people I’ve ever met. We came together as a group from day one – it sounds cheesy, but we definitely had that metaphorical “spark” they speak of when people talk about connection, and we’ve managed to keep in touch and support each other throughout the summer despite being scattered across the country. You’d be hard-pressed to find friends like them anywhere.


CL: What was one way in which your year as a National Student Poet changed you? In other words, what was the biggest takeaway for you?


AD: I realized this year that truly anyone is capable of becoming a poet, which I think is particularly powerful. The sheer spectrum of experience that I observed in classrooms was extraordinary—I was able to work with students who had grown up speaking no English at all to high-schoolers who were already in love with poetry to third and fourth graders who didn’t even think of themselves as writers at all. The fact that all of them were capable of creating such vibrant and diverse work, no matter if they thought of themselves as “poets” or not, really resonated with me. It made me recognize that poetry isn’t close to dead, not even a little bit—as long as it still belongs to our collective consciousness, it’s still overwhelmingly alive. 


CL: Wow, that sounds like an amazing experience. Were there any difficulties or obstacles that you encountered?


AD: I think one of my biggest challenges was figuring out what exactly I wanted to accomplish. As the youngest poet, I was definitely a little intimidated at first and didn’t want to seem out of my depth! I went into the year with a lot of ambition and energy but I wasn’t really sure where to aim it—and outside the bubble of poetry paradise that is the NSPP, outside organizations didn’t always grasp what the program was or why it was important. I think my experience forced me into adapting quickly to these kinds of situations—even when you can’t initially get through to people, there’s almost always a way in if you try communicating differently.


CL: If you could go back and change or do-over one thing about your year as a National Student Poet, what would it be and why?


AD: I’m not sure if it’s a regret, but I always found myself hating how brief all the event experiences seemed—the days I spent with my fellow poets were undoubtedly some of the best memories in my entire life, but to me they always passed too quickly. I also didn’t attend the Aspen Ideas Festival with them this summer because I had a prior engagement that wouldn’t budge, and in an ideal world I would have been right alongside them in Colorado. I definitely wouldn’t take any part of this year back—if anything, I just wish it was longer so we could have a little more time together!


CL: I know! When you look back on the year, it feels like it went by too quickly, which is a bummer… But it’s summer! What are you currently reading? Do you have any fun summer recommendation books?


AD: I know I’m late to the party, but I just picked up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I love it—it’s incredibly observant and poignant while also being funny. I’ve also been reading a lot of nonfiction, which might sound dry and scholarly, but it’s really not! In particular I’ve really been loving The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev, which is a super-engrossing biography of Caterina Sforza, who was an infamous Renaissance-era Italian countess. And in terms of poetry, I’ve been picking up a lot of bits and pieces—lately I’ve really been enjoying Tina Chang, who is a great storyteller and always seems to have a sense of history intertwined with her poems, and Anna Akhmatova, whose work is a blast from the past that I’ve just started getting into. Her works tend to be short but I think they always feel lovelier because of their brevity.


CL: Do you have any last thoughts you want to share with us?


AD: I just want to reiterate that I’ve made some friends for life and accomplished things that I had no idea I was even capable of before I got this opportunity—it’s one of those things that sounds too good to be true, almost infomercial-testimonial fake until you’ve actually lived it.  For anyone who does have doubts about submitting their work or doesn’t think they’re good enough—what do you have to lose by trying? I had no idea that the handful of poems I wrote in freshman year would have brought me all this.




The President’s Committee on the Arts and the HumanitiesInstitute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers partner to present the National Students Poets Program, the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. Each year, five National Student Poets are selected through the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for a year of service as poetry ambassadors, each representing a different region of the country.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Cultural Heritage/Sustainability, Education Support, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Meet the National Student Poets | Comments Off

Let’s Move Pittsburgh: Celebrating Champion Schools

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on To view the original post, click here.

Posted by Erin Saltmarsh, Program Assistant, Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on August 13, 2014

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens does a lot of work with area schools. From conducting field trips to teacher trainings to the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, we reach a lot of students and educators each year. Let’s Move! Pittsburgh, a program of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, is working to take this work out into the community to positively impact children’s health.

Let’s Move! Pittsburgh and Phipps are partnering with area schools by inspiring and celebrating champions committed to promoting healthy food choices and increased physical activity for local students. Children spend a large percentage of their time in school, presenting us with a great opportunity to impact their well-being. To this end, the Champion Schools Award program, supported by Giant Eagle, recently solicited applications from area schools, as well as organizations working within these districts, for both seed grants to fund new projects and awards to acknowledge existing efforts to foster healthy lifestyles.


Young explorers learn about building healthy lifestyles at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. (Photo by Cory Doman)

Young explorers learn about building healthy lifestyles at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. (Photo by Cory Doman)


As a result of this program, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh was able to provide resources and funding to 21 schools in Allegheny County that will implement programs and projects during the 2014-2015 school year related to the following themes: Bag the Junk—Increasing Healthy Food and Nutritional Education in Schools, Getting Kids Moving, and Inspiring Kids to Grow and Cook Food. Awards range from $500-$1,500, with priority given to public, charter and private preschool and elementary schools. To ensure success, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh offered resources, project examples and networking opportunities to assist with the development of programs that will have a measurable impact.

“As part of the Champion Schools Award program, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh challenged local educators to increase student access to healthy foods, develop opportunities for kids to be physically active, and incorporate cooking and gardening activities into the school environment,” says Hannah E. Hardy, Let’s Move! Pittsburgh director of programming and operations. “The response was wonderful, and we are really excited and inspired by all of the health-promoting projects we are now pleased to support.”

Want to make schools healthier? Here are some ideas:

  • Does your school have a wellness council? Consider joining or starting one!
  • Start a healthy fundraiser at your school.
  • Assemble a team to put on a health expo for families.

For more information about upcoming events and ways that you can make schools healthier, visit Let’s Move! Pittsburgh at or send an email to

Posted in Health, Let's Move! Museums & Gardens | Comments Off

Adults Celebrate Learning with Stories About Literacy

By Michele Farrell
Senior Library Program Officer

Being able to read and write is something that most of us take for granted. But, for 32 million Americans, this is not the case. Many who lack these skills don’t know where to look for help. Some find out about assistance through word of mouth from friends, others see advertisements that have been placed in their community by libraries and literacy providers. Once they do locate assistance, their lives are changed for the better.

In Oklahoma, the Department of Libraries works with the Literacy Resource Office to help adults obtain these skills. Their collaborative works resulted in a publication called “Celebrating the Journey,“ a compilation of the writings of the adult learners who received instruction in reading and writing. Each learner was invited to submit an original story of up to 300 words, and tutors or program representatives were asked to review the writing for editing. The tutors assist with correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

The latest issue, volume 8, contains 99 stories from 16 library and community-based literacy programs and adult learning centers. There are many stories of hope and inspiration like that of Steve Hohler, whose story, “New Confidence,” gives you a real sense of the challenges you face when you can’t to read.  He received his training through the Miami Public Library Literacy Program. As he says in the story, “I can read the words to the hymns at church. I used be so self-conscious about this, but I don’t have to fake this anymore. You can hear me sing out, not like I used to, mumbling or using other words.”

Sister Maria D. UgbeThe Bartleville Public Library provided training for Sister Maria D. Ugbe, an immigrant who arrived here from Nigeria eight years ago, and who hopes to become a U.S. citizen. She wrote in her story, “My Companion Word: Coraggio,” ’Life is lived by courage. Each one of us sees the world through a unique lens. Unfortunately, that is why not all can survive. We need to be there for one another to have coraggio (courage) and not give up

Authors will be attending their book signing on September 21 at the Fall Literacy Conference held in Norman and hosted by the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition. If you would like to read more from this publication click here to be inspired.

Posted in Education Support, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies, Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational | 2 Comments