Chatter // In brief

Woodbury teen Zach Manske, 13, is one of four boys who will alternate in the role of Billy Elliot in Billy Eliot the Musical, at the Ordway, beginning on Oct. 9. He has been touring with the production across the U.S., balancing performance and schoolwork; Last month we reported that Blooma was opening a new location in St. Paul on Selby Avenue (October 1 opening), this month we can report that Blooma is moving its Edina location and expanding into a new and larger space in Minneapolis at 5315 Lyndale Ave. S., in the former Boulevard Theater space; Hennepin County Library—North Regional is opening a new Early Learning Environment in partnership with the Minnesota Children’s Museum to help start kids on the path to learning and success. “It has been clear for a long time that we have a crisis in terms of not enough kids reading at grade level,” says Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat. “When kids can’t read, they struggle in school and with making progress in many other ways. … The Board is committed to improving child literacy rates and we will not stop until we see marked improvement.”; Valleyfair announced a $3.5 million dollar expansion including the addition of Dinosaurs Alive!, a multi-sensory and interactive dinosaur park that will allow people to experience the sights and sounds of over 30 life-sized animated dinosaurs. The seven main scenes found along a 2,837-foot long path spread over nearly five wooded acres tell a story of what the dinosaurs ate, when and where they lived, and how they protected themselves and adapted to their world.; Saint Paul Public Schools’ nutrition services director Jean Ronnei earned a national award for her approach to providing healthful lunch options to its 39,000 students each day. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a national nonprofit organization that promotes healthy diets for disease prevention, names Saint Paul’s school district the grand prize winner in the 2012 Golden Carrot Awards. “These Healthy Hits are a win-win for students, parents, and our schools,” Ms. Ronnei says. “Our goal is to make sure our students grow into healthy adults. These changes can go a long way toward fostering healthy eating habits.”; MEAN, the original anti-bullying musical from Youth Performance Co., will offer a special educator night on Oct. 4 from 6/30 to 8/30 p.m., open to anyone who works with kids in any capacity and who wants to help fight the epidemic of bullying. Tickets are $7 and include a pre-show reception, panel discussion, and a chance to share best practices and lessons learned regarding bullying prevention. For more information, go to and enter code ed10412 or call 612-623-9080; Local Benson teacher, Julie Carroll, Northside Elementary School is one of five grand prize winners who will receive $10,000 toward a classroom makeover for promoting child safety. The annual contest is sponsored by Got 2B Safe!, an abduction prevention program for elementary school students. Julie was selected for her inventive use of the four Got 2B Safe! rules in her classroom lesson plan and for her commitment to helping keep the children in her community safe.  

Tips for your sloucher

A picture can be worth a thousand words. Next time your kid doesn’t believe you when you tell them they are hunching over or slouching, get a camera. According to Dr. Steven Weiniger, an expert on posture and anti-aging, follow these steps with your child for greatest impact/

Get a camera (the one on your phone is fine) and have your child stand in front of a wall or a door, facing you. When you are ready to take the picture, say these words to your child/

Stand normally.

Look straight ahead.

Relax, take a deep breath in and let it out.

Now, show me your best posture!

Using these words makes your child form a mental note of their “best” posture. Kids (and adults) often experience a moment of uncertainty as they try to find exactly how their “best posture” feels…and that is part of the goal of this exercise. After you’ve taken a picture from the front, repeat the process for a back and side view picture. Print out the pictures, one to a sheet, and note how their posture looks.

Making kids aware of their posture is the first step to encouraging them to maintain strong posture. If nothing else, from a kid’s point of view, stronger posture equates to looking more attractive, having more confidence, and performing better at sports.

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Chatter // In brief

Minnesota Private College Week hits June 25 to 29 this year, helping families and prospective students get better introduced to private colleges and universities. Sessions will run twice daily on 17 campuses statewide. Read more about it here at/; Auditions for Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, also known as GTCYS, begins June 1 and runs through the 9th, depending upon the instrument. Any student from elementary to highly advanced ability from grades 2 to 12 may audition with any orchestral instrument. Register online at; Minnesota Birth Center, the first free-standing birth center in Minneapolis, has opened at 2606 Chicago Avenue. Visit for more information; Minnesota mom Vickie Weber invented IceHuggy, an insulated sleeve for frozen treats. The IceHuggy sleeve is adjustable for a number of treats to keep goodies cold, and hands warm and clean. About $7 for two at; Creative Kidstuff is partnering with St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development by launching Kidstuff Toys for Children with Special Needs on the website. At The Ordway in St. Paul, a few of the 2012–2013 offerings have kid appeal. They include Billy Elliot The Musical (October); Elf The Musical (December) based on the movie, Elf, a heartwarming tale of Buddy, an orphan who mistakenly believes he’s one of Santa’s elves; and Sing-A-Long Sound of Music (May 2013), a screening of the classic film with interactive fun included. 

New book/ 

Easy To Love but Hard to Raise

Hopkins mother Marsha Partington and 31 other parent writers shared their efforts parenting children with a variety of brain-based disorders in Easy to Love but Hard to Raise/ Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, a new book available from DRT Press. 

Partington writes of her struggle to parent a daughter with anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and an eating disorder, in her essay, Meeting Ed. When her daughter first began developing symptoms Partington sought help from teachers, therapists, and family, but she could not get anyone to listen until her daughter exhibited physical symptoms. “No one could see what I did,” she writes. “I felt like I was going crazy.” 

The book assures parents of children with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and behavioral challenges that they are not crazy, nor are they alone in their predicament.

Adrienne Bashista, co-editor of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, is the mother of a son who is developmentally and intellectually delayed as a result of his birth mother’s alcohol consumption. 

Bashista says, “Parents look around—at school, at soccer, at family parties—and they see no one else struggling with behavior challenges the way that they do. It’s isolating. But we want these parents to know that there is a huge community of moms and dads out there who are experiencing the same stresses and emotions [and] who face the unrelenting pressure of trying to help a child who may have intense mood swings, tantrums, sleep problems, or a complete lack of impulse control. Because these disabilities are invisible, the assumption is that the child’s problematic behavior is because of poor parenting. … In reality, children with these issues often function as well as they do because of intensive, constant behavioral intervention.”

You can find the book at for about $13.