Category Archives: Kids

CHP offers free safe driving course for teens

The California Highway Patrol wants to teach young drivers how to be safer on the road. Photo: Carissa Rogers
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For teenagers in America, getting a driver’s license is a crucial rite of passage into young adulthood. But for their parents, it is yet another source of anxiety, and for good reason. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers. That is why the California Highway Patrol offers Start Smart, a free program providing lessons on safe driving for teens.

Sean Wilkenfeld is the Oakland-area CHP spokesman and a local Start Smart instructor. Once a month, he invites teenagers and their parents to come into the CHP’s Oakland office for a two-hour session on safe driving.

The list of topics he covers is extensive and includes instruction on collision avoidance, the dangers of distracted driving, seatbelt use, how to check tire pressure and the differences between parent and teenage licenses. Most important about the course, though, is the dialogue it creates between teens and police officers, according to Wilkenfeld.

“What it boils down to is the chance for teens to interact with a police officer, ask questions that they may have heard theories about, and get the real answers,” Wilkenfeld said. … Continue reading »

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Tuolumne Camp vs Echo Lake camp: veterans compare

Photo: Mary Flaherty
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After the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp was destroyed in the August 2013 Rim Fire, the city created a “new” family camp at its Echo Lake camp. Families who had spent summers up near Yosemite have had to adjust to the new camp high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. How do the camps compare?

Berkeleyside contributor Mary Flaherty returned recently, and, for the most part, liked the new location.

“I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go to Berkeley’s Echo Lake Camp when I signed up,” said Flaherty. “My family had attended Tuolumne Camp for seven years and loved it more every year. We were heartbroken when it burned. Our experience at Echo Lake Camp was very different from Tuolumne – and yet the same in so many ways. “Out of body experience” my daughter called it, as we arrived in camp. I did miss the Tuolumne River a lot – but the incredible view helped make up for that. … Continue reading »

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Tilden Little Farm, merry-go-round re-open to public

Cow Barn at Tilden's Little Farm which has reopened to the public after 10 months. Photo: EBRPD
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Nearly 10 months after it closed in order for necessary sewer work to be done, Tilden’s much-loved Little Farm has reopened to the public. The park’s vintage merry-go-round is also spinning again, after being taken over by new management.

The timeline for the sewer construction project was originally five months, but the scope of the work became increasingly large, said David Zuckermann, Supervising Naturalist at East Bay Regional Parks District.

“We originally thought we would be reopening in February,” he said. “But then we had to keep extending that month by month.”

Zuckermann said that it was only when crews began trenching the area that the scale of the job became apparent. “The sewer system is as old as the park, and Tilden, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is one of the three original East Bay parks,” he said. (The other two are Sibley and Lake Temescal.)

During the work, several areas other than the farm were also closed, including Indian Camp parking lot, picnic area, play structure and restroom, and the Big Leaf picnic area and restroom. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley 7th graders present 3-D project at White House

Sam with Brook Drumm, founder of Printrbot, at the San Mateo Maker Faire. Photo: Tales of a 3D Printer
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Berkeley 7th graders Jane Yarnell and Sam Schickler and their Black Pine Circle School science teacher Christine Mytko will attend the first-ever White House Maker Faire today as “honored guests.”

The three were invited after the BPC Maker Club showed its 3D-printing projects at the Bay Area Maker Faire, held in San Mateo in May.

The Maker Faire, described on the Maker Media website as “the greatest show (and tell) on earth,” is a gathering of hobbyists and professionals interested in hands-on, do-it-yourself crafts, often involving technology. … Continue reading »

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Moe’s Books gets $7,000 from author James Patterson

Moes-Books-2010-courtesy-Moes-Books
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The bestselling author James Patterson has given a $7,000 grant to Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue, part of his pledge to donate $1 million to support independent bookstores.

Patterson is on a mission to increase childhood literacy and to help kids find books that will make them love reading. He created the grant program to strengthen independent bookstores to help them compete against chains and on-line book retailing. … Continue reading »

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Bridge Program helps narrow Berkeley’s achievement gap

Some of the kids in the Berkeley HIgh Bridge Program are (from left): Armando Maravilla, Jared Scott, Jacari Trent-Pontoon (in green shirt), Karina Juarez, Aia Abushareefh, Yakira Evans, Michelle Resendiz and Ariana Tamayo.   Credit: Jessie Luxford
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Four years ago Armando Maravilla came out of Longfellow Middle school a C-student.  Due to graduate from Berkeley High School next week, Maravilla is now heading to San Francisco State University, planning to study psychology.

How he got from there to here has a lot to do with the Bridge Program at Berkeley High, he believes.

The Bridge Program takes C-students from middle school – about 30 every year — and offers them summer programs, afterschool homework support, and lots of advice, nagging and hand-holding by dedicated teachers. The goal is to keep those C students from slipping, and hopefully make them B and A students.

“It felt helpful – all the advice, the summer programs, the information — how you’re supposed to talk to teachers,” said Maravilla. … Continue reading »

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BOSS to honor Berkeley’s ‘Rising Stars’ on Thursday

Kyle Evans, one of the Rising Star honorees, has been accepted to Brown University. Evans was homeless only last year
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A year ago, Kyle Evans and his family were sleeping in motel rooms and, at times, their car. Despite his circumstances, Evans focused on keeping his grades up and being a role model for his younger sister. He had to forgo various activities enjoyed by his peers, as his family didn’t have the money to pay for them. He managed to keep a positive perspective and achieve success despite the odds.

“Adversity is a chance to find the God in you,” said Evans, who has been accepted to Brown University and plans to become a doctor. “It makes you a stronger person.”

Evans is one of 20 youth who will be honored Thursday at the first annual “Rising Stars” gala, put on by local advocacy organization Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) to recognize youth for achievement in the face of adversity. The group is also raising money this week for a scholarship fund for award recipients; scroll down for details.

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Michael Lewis: Save a boy’s life, feel like a million dollars

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Above is a picture of 6-year-old Baylor Fredrickson, from the little league team I coached last season — the Red Wings we were called. Our team stayed together this year, but without Baylor. Baylor just vanished, which was a mystery, because a) he played with such enthusiasm, and b) we loved him and we thought he loved us back. Plus he was tough and smart: a born catcher. I just learned why Baylor Fredrickson didn’t show up for opening day: he has cancer.

For Baylor to survive he needs to find a bone marrow transplant. To receive a bone marrow transplant he needs a bone marrow donor, in the next three months. This I just learned from Baylor’s mother, Shari Fredrickson. “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE,” she wrote to me, “reach far and wide to get our plea heard. When he says things like, ‘When do you think I’ll be able to come home for good?’ or ‘I can’t wait to go play laser tag when I’m better, can we?’ I don’t really know what to say. As a parent you want to give your child the world. To give them the opportunity to achieve whatever their hearts desire. I just want to give him his life.” … Continue reading »

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New ‘morality clause’ at Catholic schools prompts outcry

School of the Madeleine Berkeley. Photo- Natalie Orenstein
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Controversial new language in the contracts of teachers who work at schools that come under the jurisdiction of the Oakland Diocese has provoked an outcry in the East Bay Catholic education community.

The language, which was added by Oakland’s recently appointed Bishop Michael Barber, pertains to how teachers conduct themselves in their personal lives. It asks them to pledge to conform to church teachings outside the workplace, and is seen by many as targeting non-heterosexual teachers. The move has prompted some teachers to resign, rather than sign the contract, which, the Diocese says, is mandatory. … Continue reading »

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Kids

10 super fun kid-friendly outings for Berkeley families

Kid’s club at BAM/PFA. Photo: BAM/PFA
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1. Admire the chalk art as you chomp on chocolate! Even if your children are too young to participate, there’s so much to see (and eat!) at the Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival, an annual North Berkeley annual street fair, happening on Saturday May 31.

2. Children who are motivated by goals and lists should sign up for the East Bay Regional Parks Kids Challenge; this popular self-guided program includes activities, tips, maps, and more for getting the most from our area’s parks. Berkeley parks’ challenges include: swimming at Lake Anza and finding frogs at Jewel Lake. Preschoolers can join Tilden Tots for age-appropriate adventures. … Continue reading »

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Thursday May 8 is Bike to Work and Bike to School Day

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Thursday May 8 is Bike to Work and Bike to School Day and local bike groups and schools are geared up to encourage as many people as possible to participate.

Bike East Bay is hosting hundreds of Energizer Stations throughout the area, distributing goodie bags and “celebrating the joy of biking.” Last year over 15,000 cyclists participated throughout Bike to Work Day.

“We had a record number of children bike to school and mayors leading by example and biking to City Hall,” the nonprofit said on its website. 

Many local schools are participating this year, including Berkeley High. … Continue reading »

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At the Write Home Project, the young homeless are heard

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By Victor Casillas Valle

Nestled behind St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, on Bancroft Way in Berkeley, is one huge set of steel steps covered in rust and foliage. Walking up them, there’s a feeling of urban beauty, something that is calming with a rush of city excitement. Reaching the top, you enter a high-ceilinged auditorium with huge windows and an airy sense of natural light. Every Monday, the room is filled with conversation rising from the writing workshop, or occasional open mic, provided by the Write Home Project.

Conceived and run by two UC Berkeley alumni and working poets, Gabriel Cortez and Natasha Huey, The Write Home Project facilitates creative arts work by homeless youth (under 25). Write Home provides an outlet for its participants to be heard while they tell stories about, and create a dialogue around, the state of homelessness. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley 8th graders raise $80K to build their own library

REALM library
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A Berkeley middle school’s successful campaign to crowd-fund the creation of its first library is one for the books.

Still in its infancy, REALM charter school was lacking a library, so its eighth grade class launched a Kickstarter campaign in March. In one month they raised the nearly $79,000 that will allow them to realize their innovative design for a room full of books and multimedia tools. Quest Foundation, a grant-making organization in Danville, contributed $30,000 in matching funds to the campaign.

The ultramodern library, called “X-Space,” is the product of months of brainstorming and building in teacher Hallie Chen’s design class, Studio H.

“Because we’re a new school, the instinct for students is to look around and say, ‘These are the things we don’t have yet,’” said REALM’s creativity director Emily Pilloton. “My response is always, ‘Okay, well, let’s go build it.’” … Continue reading »

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