Category Archives: Kids

Op-ed: Measure D will not reduce soda consumption

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I was visiting recently with a fellow Berkeley parent while at the Washington Elementary School Fall Fair. He wanted to know if I was familiar with Measure D, and wanted to encourage me to support it.

Rather than avoid the topic, I agreed to indulge him and struck up a conversation about the pros and cons of this measure. After all, my family does not consume soda, and we have made healthy eating a cornerstone of our lifestyle. Additionally, I have … Continue reading »

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Beverage companies donate $800K to fight soda tax

The PAC against a soda tax in Berkeley has poured $800,000 into the No on Measure D campaign. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
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The political arm of the American Beverage Association donated $500,000 on Sept. 16 to fight a proposed tax on sugary beverages in Berkeley, bringing to $800,000 the amount of money it has poured into the No on Measure D campaign.

The contribution, which appears to be the single largest in Berkeley history, will be used to print materials, mail campaign flyers, send campaign workers door-to-door, and pay for advertisements in newspapers and on websites. (Full disclosure: Berkeleyside has a number of No on D ads on its site, as well as a Yes on D ad.) … Continue reading »

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State-mandated kindergarten program explains perceived student numbers squeeze at Berkeley schools

BUSD First Day 2014-15 0050
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When the Berkeley school district added two new kindergarten classes – one to Cragmont school and one to Malcolm X — just before school began, some parents were concerned about what impact the move would have on the schools, which, they said, were neither spacious nor overstaffed. In an opinion piece published on Berkeleyside, Joshua Room, former President of the PTA at Malcolm X, asked why the district couldn’t plan ahead better. Quite a few readers agreed with him.

In fact, this year’s incoming kindergarten class is smaller than last year’s class. The squeeze is instead coming from the fairly new – and growing — transitional kindergarten program, required by state law. And the BUSD admissions office said it was well aware of the crunch coming.

“I knew we needed more classrooms back in February,” said Francisco Martinez, district admissions director. But over the course of the spring, plans about where to put the transitional kindergarten classrooms went through several shifts. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley program, teens learn the law, leadership

Meea Sheard spent her summer interning at the General Counsel's Office of the Peralta Community College District. Photo: Nancy Schiff
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Jay-Z and Beyoncé are working out their relationship problems. The celebrities — impersonated uncannily by two 17-year-olds — are pretty angry at each other. But eventually they restore their romance, thanks to the help of an articulate 16-year-old mediator.

Mediation role-playing is just one sliver of the Summer Legal Fellowship Program at the Center for Youth Development Through Law. Each summer, the non-profit offers 30 disadvantaged youth from Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond paid internships and training in law and leadership.

This year’s program ended with a graduation ceremony last week. The teenagers worked hard until the end, juggling their internships at various government agencies and non-profits, attending college prep and constitutional law classes, and preparing their resumes for mock job interviews. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley park, free boxing program inspires young men

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It started when Manuel Buendía began taking his young sons to San Pablo Park in Berkeley to teach them to box. Soon others wanted to join in, and now Buendía runs an informal, free boxing training program for any young person who shows interest.

Buendía hopes the sessions are helping some of the participants stay out of trouble. As he says in the video above, “Instead of them fighting out on the street, they should bring it here. Here in the park, right? They can take their anger out here, with boxing.”

Luis Flores, a UC Berkeley student who also attended Berkeley High School, shot the video above through Youth Radio, a non-profit based in downtown Oakland. … Continue reading »

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Report: Berkeley spends $12.2M annually on children

A rousing game of capture the flag occupies city of Berkeley campers until their parents pick them up. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Last Thursday afternoon, 40-some kids sprinted around Willard Park, capturing flags and thwacking tether balls. That’s the typical scene at the park most summer afternoons, where the campers at Berkeley Day Camp’s extended care program keep busy until their parents come pick them up.

Recreation services like the popular day camp claimed a good chunk of the $12.2 million that the city spent on children last year, according to a brand new report that details — for the first time ever, according to the city — the funding spent on children’s programs and services in 2013. … Continue reading »

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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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