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A first for Pittsburgh: The Mom Con

Lawyer Natalie Kovacic attended a conference for women entrepreneurs last fall, hoping to improve her own business as a financial advisor and estate planner.
Then she realized the conference she really wanted to attend: one for moms.
That's why the Lawrenceville resident is organizing Pittsburgh's first Mom Con for May 23 in Greentree.
"There are so many conferences held for women and for women entrepreneurs," she says. "A lot of us work for ourselves or we work [outside the home] but they don't talk about the other issues: How do I figure out how to be a good mom for my kids but still pursue my own passions and my goals for my life?
"Being a mom who works, there are two things that I struggled with, that I thought other women would benefit from having a conference about," she adds. First came the question of how to balance work, husband and kids. Second, as a young mom, she felt isolated. She was just weeks beyond passing the Pennsylvania bar exam at 23 when she and her husband discovered she was pregnant with their son.
"I didn't know any moms in Pittsburgh who had kids, nor did I know of any of the resources that were available," she says. "I had to figure it out on my own."
The Mom Con intends to help with both issues. Among the sessions are:
  • Going Beyond “Balance”: Creating the Life You Want by national commentator and life coach Jenn Lee.
  • Resilience for Moms and Kids: Raising People We Can Respect and Admire Without Losing Our Minds by local family physician Deborah Gilboa, whose Ask Doctor G blog has been featured in Kidsburgh.
  • From Superwoman to SuperYOU! by Janelle Buchheit, author of Lunch Box Lessons: Snack Size Skills for Mind, Body and Soul.
  • Junk Foods & Moods for the Busy Mom by Lindsey Smith, known as the "food mood girl."
  • Owning Your Story by Jessica Strong, founder of Strong Trainings consultants, who often speaks about behavioral health.
In addition, there will be a parenting roundtable, networking and other events, including massages and color and image consultations during lunch.
The Mom Con will also connect attendees by geographic area, so neighboring moms can get together later.
"I would encourage moms to take the day for themselves and take time to regroup," Kovacic says. "I don't think enough moms do that."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Natalie Kovacic, The Mom Con

International travel dreams come true for kids via World Affairs Council

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh will once again be sending a dozen local high-school juniors to as many countries on immersive trips that are "hugely transformative – it's an experience that transforms their experience of the world," says Annie M. Prucey, the Council's vice president and director of education programs.
The Global Travel Scholarship Program, in its 10th year, chose student from among 74 teacher-nominated applicants students who best demonstrated a passion for travelling and learning about the world, as well as maturity, leadership ability, school achievement and a need for the program.
"We want to make this opportunity available to students who wouldn't have the opportunity to go abroad," says Prucey.
Students from Pittsburgh Perry, Carrick and Brashear high schools, Pittsburgh Sci Tech Academy, and Penn Hills, South Side Area, McKeesport, Cornell and Ringgold high schools, as well as Winchester Thurston and Sewickley Academy, were chosen for three- to five-week trips this summer to Spain, Japan, Argentina, Botswana, Korea, China, South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica and Italy. The program is devised by The Experiment in International Living, a program of World Learning.
The World Affairs Council provides pre-departure orientation and leadership training as well as the scholarship, which pays for everything but incidental student costs, such as souvenirs.
Prucey labels the trips "a total immersion," in which students stay with a family in their country, often performing community service, taking language training and completing projects in the arts or the environment. The idea, she says, is for the travelers to become part of the community, learning how to interact with the rest of the world – how to cross ethnic, linguistic and other boundaries outside, and later inside, the United States. "They really become close and it creates a lifelong connection to that part of the world."
Traveling with two adult group leaders trained to facilitate the experience and other American high school kids, the Pittsburgh students also bond with peers from all over the country.
Prucey has seen program participants become more competitive for college entry and gain more appreciation for what they have in this country, because of the lack of resources they often encounter in other places.
"But they are surprised by how much we have in common with people from other countries," she says. "I have seen tremendous growth, a lot more independence and I have seen them set their sights higher."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Annie M. Prucey, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

Catching kids early may inspire climate change action, careers

Doctoral students in Carnegie Mellon University's department of engineering and public policy are giving back to the community – and aiming to teach climate change and inspire science careers – through SUCCEED, a free summer camp.
SUCCEED (SUmmer Center for Climate, Energy and Environmental Decision-making) is a five-day program at CMU for 9th grade students, this year run by doctoral students Paul Welle and Frauke Hoss.
"An army of Ph.D. students," says Welle, will give students a taste of their research pursuits, but the campers will also undertake many hands-on activities and field trips. They will visit coal-fired and nuclear power plants; the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; CMU's electric vehicle lab; and CMU's intelligent workspace, or "the office room of the future," as Welle labels it, with computers controlling the lights, temperature and other aspects to make it ultra-efficient.
They'll conduct a variety of experiments as well, including building wind turbines of different designs to see which is the most efficient and which might be a source of better energy systems in the future. "We don't want to bring them here just to give them more school," Welle says.
Beyond learning about climate change, he adds, "we hope the kids get to see what science is really like [and] to see what this type of science is. We really want to introduce them to what it would be like to have a science-related career. Hopefully they'll be excited. They're young enough where they're still making up their minds. Hopefully we'll be able to help them make a decision."
Applications, due June 1, are available here.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Paul Welle, SUCCEED

Youth leaders learn city government first hand, without getting elected

It's too late to enter the mayoral primaries, but kids can get inspired to pursue other civic service by enrolling in this summer's Youth Civic Leadership program created by the Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and part of the servePGH initiative.
"It's a good chance for youth interested in making a difference, particularly in the public sector," says Rebecca Delphia, chief service officer in the mayor's office. Kids participating in the free six-session program, which meets two times a week for three weeks, get to do everything from exploring the training facility for the city's emergency personnel to seeing the drinking water treatment process of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and meeting officials of the city planning department to see what tools they use in their work. The program culminates with a service project that each kid designs and executes him or herself.
It has its origins in the city's Civic Leaders Academy for adults, created several years ago. As a result of this youth version, says Delphia, there has been a real interest among the participants in learning about city careers and eventually seeking a post in city government.
Last summer, one participant learned about mini-grants for neighborhood projects available through the city's Love Your Block program. So he mobilized the sports teams and others in his school – Pittsburgh Obama – and partnered with the Save Race Street Committee in Homewood to transform two vacant lots into green spaces at Race and Collier streets. Another participant used his service project to partner with Zone 6 police in the West End for a playground revitalization, while another partnered with PWSA on storm drain stenciling, warning potential dumpers that each sewer drains to a river. One program graduate even joined the mayor's youth council.
Applicants must be 14-18 years old -- either entering 9th grade this fall or graduating at the end of the current school year. Application deadline is June 3; apply here
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Rebecca Delphia, Office of the Mayor

All-new theater, plus new luminaria creation: it's all at International kids' fest

What better description can you give about a kids' show than this: "The performers are wildly talented and the show is a huge mess: It ends in a grand messy finale, totally safe but fun."
So says Pam Lieberman, who heads the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival, about just one of the performances slated for this year's fest on May 15 through 19 at the University of Pittsburgh theaters and Schenley Plaza in Oakland.
None of the artists is a repeat from last year except Alan Parkinson and his Architects of Air, who will be building another luminarium. This time "Exxopolis" will be half a soccer field big and as tall as a three-story house, with colorful stained-glass effects throughout.
Among the artists this year from the U.S., Australia, Russia, Ireland and the UK are
Charlotte Blake Alston, a teller of interactive, participatory "African Pourquoi Tales," and the clowns who make up "Aga-Boom," who have performed with Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Brothers and the Moscow Circus and make all that mess mentioned above.

The "Dinosaur Petting Zoo" by Erth Visual & Physical Inc. of Australia in the Bellefield Hall Auditorium brings the Mesozoic alive with large-scale puppetry. "The dinosaurs look pretty darn real and they just come to life" and respond to individual encounters with audience members, says Lieberman. The UK's "Egg and Spoon," in Pitt's Studio Theatre, takes kids 5 and under through the seasons with "peek-a-boo puddles, fluffy snowflakes, blowing leaves, bursting cherry blossoms, a birdie egg that just might hatch and other splendiferous surprises," as the Festival describes it. Lieberman calls it a very intimate show and "a great way to introduce children to the theater. It is very lovely and creative and really sparks their interest."
For "The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly" from Ireland, in the Charity Randall Theatre, Louis Lovett tells the adventure of a girl who cannot sing but still sings loudly while the audience learns about "love, loss, [and] the reassurance of goats," in the Festival's description.
Also new this year are extended hours on Friday for after-school time until 6 p.m., and early evening performances, as well as free international film shorts created for 5- to 8-year-old kids, coming to Pittsburgh for the first time via the New York Children's Film Festival, plus free activities and performances in Schenley Plaza.
"The heart of the festival is the theater performances," says Lieberman. "The goal is to see as much theater as you can. It's the discussions that come out of it that are so valuable and spark creativity and imagination."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Pam Lieberman, Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival

Matchmaking between nonprofits and board hopefuls, and training, are Boardswork's missions

Nonprofits need training on how to find and use their boards wisely – and potential board members need training on how even to get started working on a board.
That's why BoardsWork!, a program of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University, is collaborating with the Forbes Funds to bring together 10 nonprofit organizations and potential board members for customized training in the process.
"You hear all the time from executive directors and board chairs – they're always looking to grow their boards," says Lulu Orr, program director of BoardsWork! "It is really difficult to find board members who not only want to hold a board seat but have the knowledge for what is entailed in sitting on a board.
"It's a learning curve on both sides," she adds. "We hear a lot of frustration from people serving on boards who say they wish the board meetings were more effective, and how they use board members' skills and talents.
"In this region, there are approximately 6,000 nonprofits. If an average board is 10 people, 60,000 people are needed to fill all those seats. It's a great opportunity for the whole sector."
The nonprofits taking part will first meet to discuss their common issues, since many such organizations haven't had opportunities to learn how common their problems are. Board chairs, who work as volunteers, don't necessarily know other board chairs with whom to exchange information, she says.
Each nonprofit will then take part in a custom board retreat focusing on whatever issues are most pressing for the organization. Next, they'll be linked to one or two new board members from a pool of executives chosen by Boardswork! among more than 150 executives from such businesses such as Alcoa, American Eagle Outfitters, Bayer, Huntington Bank and PNC. They all received special Boardswork! training on financial oversight, fundraising and nonprofit planning.
"There's great interest in serving on boards," notes Orr. "But a lot of people don't know how to go about it. What's been wonderful to see is how many of these business people want to serve on a board but had no idea how to do it."
The chosen nonprofits are Allegheny Family Network, Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, Mainstay Life Service, New Hazlett Center for the Performing Arts, Pulse, South Hills Interfaith Ministries, Northside Christian Health Center, Shady Lane School, Spina Bifida Association and Just Harvest Education Fund.
"We were looking for organizations who demonstrated that they really need more direction and more time to be spent with their boards," says Orr. "It's not that these organizations aren't functioning well … but we looked for, where are their holes? Where can they benefit from Boardswork!'s training, and who can benefit from coming together with the other nonprofits?"
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Lulu Orr, program director of BoardsWork!

You know you have a story to tell; learn how to write it

Creative Nonfiction magazine hosts only one conference in the country about learning to tell stories in the most effective way, and it's held right here in the birthplace of the publication.
"It's a great chance to hear some of the best writers in the region talk about the genre," says Anjali Sachdeva, the magazine's director of online education. "A lot of people don't even know what creative nonfiction is. If you're that kind of a person, it's a great way to learn about it and jump in."
"Creative nonfiction," of course, adds a personal perspective and voice to factual stories, taking them beyond daily newspaper-style accounts; it may even include elements of fiction and poetry.
The Best of Creative Nonfiction Conference, held May 25-26 in downtown's Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, has talks and workshops that focus on writing memoirs, magazine articles, personal essays and other pieces, touching on the latest marketplaces, motivational tools and ways to perfect your work. The presenters include Sachdeva, who also teaches at the University of Pittsburgh; magazine founder Lee Gutkind; Carnegie Mellon University professor and memoirist Jane Bernstein; Theresa Brown, author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between; Creative Nonfiction Managing Editor Hattie Fletcher; and Leslie Rubinkowski, author of Impersonating Elvis.
The conference will include sessions on "Why True Stories Matter," "Overcoming Writer’s Block," "The Literary Landscape," "Why Memoir, Why Not?" and "Polishing Your Prose." Overall, the conference will focus on "how you create a narrative that makes a reader want to keep reading," Sachdeva says.
"There are a lot of interesting questions right now about how honest or how fictional you need to be," she notes. One camp among creative nonfiction writers is intensely devoted to fact, frowning on pieces that take the reader inside someone's head (other than the author's own cranium) or reconstruct scenes that no one alive could have witnessed. Other such writers live at nonfiction's borders with fiction, producing fictionalized memoirs, or combining poetry and personal essays.
What makes the best creative nonfiction? "It has a narrative that quickly grabs our attention … and that is surprising in some way, either because of the way it is written or the story it is telling," says Sachdeva. "The unifying factor is its basis in a good story."
Register here for the conference; using the code CNFPOP during registration will get you 10 percent off the registration cost through May 17.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Anjali Sachdeva, Creative Nonfiction

Youth Invasion at the Warhol kicks off Hive Days of Summer

Hoping to create a buzz about the new Hive Learning Network, the Sprout Fund is kicking off the Hive Days of Summer at the Warhol Youth Invasion on May 3.
The Hive Learning Network in Pittsburgh, launched recently, provides funding, connections and support for groups with ideas for creating new learning and creativity opportunities for teens. Hive Days of Summer represents a summer-long campaign of partnerships with local groups that already have such programs, while the Hive has already accepted its first round of proposals for new programs to roll out later this summer and fall.
At the Warhol Youth Invasion at the Warhol Museum, more than 350 teens will be presenting a night of art, performance, music, dance, fashion and hands-on learning and creativity. The activities include: silkscreen printing and collage in the Warhol Studio; performances by Hip Hop on L.O.C.K.; the Internet Petting Zoo created by Assemble and teen committee members; a fashion show featuring designs by youth participants; LED jewelry and textile design by Invent-abling; and a dance party featuring youth DJs.
Through August 3, the Hive Days of Summer will then coordinate more than 20 activities, such as camps and workshops, with the aim of making summer learning more mobile, digital, collaborative, creative and connected, says Ryan Coon, Sprout program officer. It is "a way to blanket our city with these events so that people get familiar with the Hive," he says, and "a way to look at summer learning programs in a different way."
Other partners for Hive Days of Summer include the Labs@CLP (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh) where teens will be offered workshops and other activities centered on Web and media making, Hip Hop on L.O.C.K. for their summer music and leadership workshops, Pittsburgh International Children's Festival and others.
"We'll be holding the door open a bit for opportunities if people want to join the campaign," he adds. The Days of Summer will end this August with a Hive pop-up event organized by the Sprout Fund to bring together all the partner organizations and youth who have been involved so far.
"It's just the beginning," Coon says, with Sprout accepting funding requests in June and August. "This is a running start to kicking off the programming all year long."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Ryan Coon, The Sprout Fund

SiX Funding: Mixing Latino and African cultures for AfricAmericas

"This is a celebration of our common music, heritage and history, because there have been links throughout time," says Pamela Pennywell about the new, week-long AfricAmericas festival of culture and the arts at the intersection of Africa and Latin America, May 6-11. "We want to make it clear to everyone that we are connected in so many ways and we find it easiest to identify those links when we do it through the arts."
Pennywell is development and events manager for the Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association (YMWAHA), which is collaborating with Coro Latinoamericano-Pittsburgh (COROLA), the Latino choir, to offer film screenings, art exhibitions and workshops in Oakland and the Northside.
The event is supported in part by the Social Innovation Exchange (SiX), an initiative of The Pittsburgh Foundation led by Pop City and The Sprout Fund, after a SiX gathering last October resulted in Sprout's Fostering Multicultural Collaboration Initiatives to fund projects that create new joint community programs between diverse cultural groups.
Kenya Dworkin, executive director of COROLA, is Africamericas' principle organizer. She points out that Latinos are the fastest growing minority in America, but African Americans are still the largest minority. "These are communities who don't understand each other and are suspicious of each other," Dworkin says. For one, African Americans are applying U.S. racial categories to Latinos that Latinos don't relate to. But behind the confusion are cultural associations that connect the two groups in many ways. "The bridges we're building are through the culture and the arts," she says.
In fact, the more Pennywell learned about the links between the cultures, and the wide diversity among Latinos, she says, the more she "thought it was exciting and something I wanted to bring back to our youth.
"Our young people need to clearly understand the kinds of advantages they have here," she adds, "because it's not something everyone has." Indeed, AfricAmericas will have a special emphasis on the state of Africans in Cuba, opening with “Crossing Havana,” a photography exhibit exploring black life in Havana. So-called "Afro-Cubans," Pennywell says, "are going through what we went through 100 years ago with 'mulattos': if you have one drop of African blood in you …" you are subject to prejudice in housing, employment and education.
Several of the films document what happened to members of the Independent Party of Color in Cuba 100 years ago, or follow Cuban residents to illustrate their challenges. Others draw a portrait of English-speaking West African immigrants in Cuba and the African influences on two Latin American musical genres. There will be four workshops on the steel pan drum, African-Latin dance, African-Latin percussion and African-Cuban arts, music and dance (in Spanish). A fifth workshop features a panel from the international literary arts organization City of Asylum on civil rights in Cuba.
AfricAmericas is also supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Humanities and many departments at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Morris University. The events, held at YMWAHA, the University Center at CMU, the Frick Fine Arts Building auditorium at Pitt and at City of Asylum, are all free, but reservations are required for the latter event on May 8 and the workshops on May 11.
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Pamela Pennywell, YMWAHA; Kenya Dworkin, COROLA; Sandra Hartkopf, Sprout

Nonprofit Summit: all new presenters, always a winner for local nonprofit execs

In the nonprofit world, says Forbes Funds President Kate Dewey, "things are changing so quickly, so how do you begin to manage through the creation of different scenarios so you can be nimble and proactive?"
That's why Forbes is one of two hosting organizations for the May 23rd Nonprofit Summit, along with the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership. The biennial event, at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, usually attracts more than 1,000 local executive directors, senior managers and board members from small and large nonprofits that deal with human services, the arts and community development. Keynote speaker this year on the topic of "Sustainability: Aligning Around a Viable Business Model" will be Jeanne Bell, CEO of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in San Francisco.
One of the major themes of the Summit this year, says Dewey, will be "thinking about the disruptive – and I don't mean this as a negative – forces in the environment that will impact nonprofits in the next few years and how they will build cultures and strategies to manage that change. It's really thinking about what is new for the organization, how you set the filter for your organization and decide what's noise and what's important."
Workshop sessions will also address ongoing issues in the nonprofit world, including leadership development, funding trends, technology, community building, impact measurement and financial management.
All the presenters are new this year, and "they are all nationally recognized leaders and resources," Dewey says.
The luncheon will feature two awards; the first, to John Lovelace, recognizes him as an individual who exemplifies community leadership. Lovelace has been president of the nonprofit managed care organization UPMC for You since 2007. It offers coverage to eligible Medical Assistance and Medicare Advantage Special Needs recipients in 40 Pennsylvania counties.
"He has spent his whole life working to make the community better," says Dewey, including service on many boards. "People come to him to learn about where funding is headed." She also praises "all the work he does off the clock, that he doesn't have to do, but he does."
In addition that afternoon the Wishart Award for Nonprofit Excellence will be given to one nonprofit exemplifying best practices and management excellence. The winner will be announced among the three finalists: Jewish Family and Children's Services, Family Links and Community Human Services.
Overall, says Dewey, the Summit represents "an opportunity for organizations to connect with one another and to hear about the emerging thinking in the field."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Kate Dewey, Forbes Funds

Screenwriting contest adds to high-school short fiction, poetry competition from Carnegie Library

Leah Durand is excited about what she'll be able to read in this year's Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest for grades 9 through 12 at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
"Last year there were these amazing short stories that were well developed," says Durand, the contest chair who works at the Library's downtown branch. "The scenes were well developed and the characters were well developed, and you were really wondering what would happen next."
And, she adds, "What might this person come up with next year?"
May 1 is the deadline for entries in this anonymously judged competition, which is in its fifth year and was named for the library system’s director from 1928 through 1964. The categories this year are short prose, poetry and screenwriting; first prize in each category is $250 and second is $100. Entrants will be invited to a red carpet event on Aug 1, at which the winners in each category will be announced. Their work and selected works of other contestants will be published in the 2013 Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology, which will be given to the published teens and placed in all area libraries.
Some of the rules are new this year, says Durand. Entrants can submit only one work per category this year – two were allowed last year – and the teens themselves must submit their work. Previously, teachers could enter for their students.
Screenwriting is a new category this year, replacing nonfiction and graphic novels, which had been contest categories in previous years. The libraries are still offering a few writing workshops in April to help teens prepare for the contest.
Durand says she is happy if this contest introduces them to the process of writing: "It's just nice to read all the entries and see kids excited about writing. The hope is that they will work on their writing skills and that they're being supported."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Leah Durand, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

'Waterplay' at Children's Museum gets fun revamp, keeps serious purpose

Museum exhibits have a life expectancy of five to 10 years, says Anne Fullenkamp, associate director of museum experiences at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and their Waterplay exhibit was "well-loved" enough to warrant a revamp. A new Waterplay opens on April 27 with nearly 20 fresh hands-on components.
"We looked at this as an opportunity to rethink the concept of the exhibit," Fullenkamp explains.
"We wanted people to be aware of how much water they use. Once you use your water it's gone. It's not just this magic stuff that comes out of the faucet."
Making that concept clear for kids, she adds, is particularly important here, since Pittsburgh seems to be surrounded by water's endless flow.
When Waterplay was originally installed with the museum's expansion in 2004, the room contained standing basins of water in the center. Now kids will have to work to get the water into a waterwheel that feeds the rest of the room's exhibits. They'll need to use foot or hand pumps as well as buckets to get the water elsewhere in the room.
"It is a big change from what people are used to," Fullenkamp says. "But we've tried to create different zones where people really can get wet, and other options where they can do quieter activities" – and drier ones.
The waterwheel looks like wheels that can be seen in many an old farm or pond, but the water actually flows out of its central hub and, when kids pump it, the water returns there. Then it will flow into the beginning of the channel system that goes around the room, in which kids can float items, and ends at the spot where kids can build dams.
Other parts of the new exhibit will foster additional experimentation. A five-foot diameter table with shaved ice will encourage kids to mold the frozen water into sculptures and see how the LED lights embedded in the table pass through water in this form. A water vortex, resembling a drain, will constantly flow in a two-foot tall clear cylinder, into which kids can place objects to see how the objects react; they can also plug the bottom of the vortex to see how the water accumulates. A water wall, six feet long and four feet high, will have moveable magnets impeding the otherwise constant flow in different ways.
In revising the Waterplay exhibit, the museum also wanted to make the room more changeable, including the artwork inside of it. Waterplay will now feature the Rain Meander by Pennsylvania artist Stacy Levy. It is a 14-foot long snake-like shallow trough, eight feet off the ground and eight inches in diameter, with a hole every two inches to make it rain beneath. While this is a permanent part of the exhibit, other art will change throughout the year. The first such display will be 19 glass and ceramic insects by Joan Danzinger, viewable until November. From one to six feet long, they will be scattered along the Waterplay room's 16-foot high walls.
"We really hope that all of the kids will look at water differently and will appreciate how water is used," Fullenkamp says. "We're creating an experience where kids can play, but we really want to start conversations  … about how important water is in our lives. We're really excited to ask the visitors to be the active participants, the instigators, of a lot of the exhibits."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Anne Fullenkamp, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

What do kids bring to the table for solving childhood hunger?

Holly McGraw-Turkovic has spent April visiting local schools to teach kids about childhood hunger. As director of youth programs at Pittsburgh Cares, she has been using the national program called What Will You Bring to the Table? to teach them about the food problems they can see around them and those that may be invisible.
"They learn that when people depend on food banks they don't get the things we take for granted," she says. She has already taken the program to South Allegheny Middle School, Woodland Hills Junior High and West Mifflin Area Middle School, and is slated to bring it next to Propel Braddock Hills High School and Academy Charter School.
Participating kids experience educational games that illustrate how they can their time, talents and money toward the elimination of this problem. Some of the activities are designed to create empathy and illustrate the unequal distribution of wealth in the world, such as one in which one group is given a large bowl overflowing with snacks, another group is given just enough snacks for each person to enjoy a single choice and a third group is not given enough even for that.
The kids also hear guest speakers from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, then construct and paint a specially provided picnic table that will serve as a permanent location for, and reminder of, the school's anti-hunger project -- the last step in the program. One group's project is a "Birthday in a bag" drive, creating food-bank packages that contain cake mix and other supplies to help people celebrate family members' special occasions. Another group created "Pie a teacher to feed a child": For the donation of a canned good or a dollar, kids in their school will get to hit a teacher with a pie. Another school's "Can the principal" aims to fill their principal's office with canned goods to donate to their local food pantry, while a fourth group has simply set their collection goal at 1,000 pounds of food for a food bank.
McGraw-Turkovic says the program has been effective in bringing the issue of childhood hunger to the fore for these school children. "The kids describe experiences with friends and neighbors who are experiencing hunger," she says, "so they are definitely taking it personally and they are definitely taking it seriously."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Holly McGraw-Turkovic, Pittsburgh Cares

Athena Award nominations kickoff with panel on advancing women's leadership

"We're really excited about leveraging the Athena Awards to elevate the discussion of women and leadership in our region," says Beth Marcello, chair of the event's host committee and director of women’s business development at PNC.
The Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award, to be given on Sept. 30 this year, recognizes not only established women who are leaders, but through the ATHENA Young Professional Award honors an emerging leader age 35 or younger. While it's true that more American CEOS are female than ever, just 18 women – less than four percent – head Fortune 500 companies. So instead of simply calling for nominations, as Athena has done in the past, organizers are holding a special April 25 panel discussion and breakfast to kick off the nominating process this year, which ends June 28.
"Women in Leadership: The Male Point of View" features Robert Krizner (managing partner at KPMG), Daniel Roderick (president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company) and John Barbour (CEO, managing director and chairman of the board of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney). Tickets may be purchased for $25 here before April 22. The panel will be moderated by Bill Flanagan, Allegheny Conference executive vice president for corporate relations and host of "Our Region's Business" on WPXI.
"We wanted a strong diversity in terms of age and experience and men who have opinions and a story to share," says Marcello of the panelists. "These are all companies that are advancing women's leadership. These men are leaders in our community. Other leaders in the community in general value what they say." Thus, participants will have the chance for "a real program that explores women's leadership in our region, to talk about their perspectives, what their companies are doing and what their challenges are for our region."

To those who question why a male perspective is needed -- don't men always chime in, even if no one asks them? -- "hopefully we're going to get the views of the progressive men," Marcello says. "From a corporate perspective, women are only going to advance when men and women work together.
"We're trying to reach as many people as possible to stimulate the discussion and to get people thinking about the women in leadership in their companies who should be nominated for an Athena Award," she adds. "Hopefully the pool of our Athena nominees will really reflect the quality of who we have here."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Beth Marcello, The Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award

How do we reach fathers for greater school, home involvement?

What began for Anwan Wesley with the creation of Fatherhood magazine in Pittsburgh in 2006 for young and expecting urban fathers has evolved into a nonprofit called the Street Ministry Institute, reaching an increasing number of fathers and their kids in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
"We're trying to find innovative ways to get these men involved and stay involved," says Wesley, of East Liberty. "There are stereotypes of how fathers should be, and some of the men shy away from them, thinking it will make them look weak. A lot of these guys were in need of encouragement. That's what the magazine was always for -- to open people up."
Many of Wesley's Institute efforts use sports as the both the draw and the model for the father/son relationship. "When the men see their kids excelling at athletics, they want to be a part of it," he says. "That's a bridge they can cross. Then we try to transfer that into the schools."
Fathers and sons can join in his Steel City Thunder basketball teams for 3rd and 4th graders, 5th and 6th graders and 7th and 8th graders, as well as NFL Youth Flag Football for 2nd-12th grades and a baseball program as well. The fathers and team coaches also get involved in their children's school at the same time -- as a school coach should, he says.
Club D.A.D. (Doing it All Day) in the schools uses sports to encourage academic achievement. "My big thing is being accountable for what you learn -- because when game day comes you're going to have to [use] it," Wesley says.

"The same accountability we transfer over to schools," with fathers visiting classrooms or participating in parent-teacher conferences. "The presence of the father in the classroom is going to make the difference," because he can act as a kind of classroom coach. "If I show up in school and expect you to be doing this and this and you're not doing it, there are going to be consequences. Kids respond like they do on the basketball court -- but at the end of the day, they see their value rise, because their teachers are sending home good reports."
The Institute is also working with Homewood Renaissance Association on a sports-themed STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, teaching sports-themed STEM academics at the African American Music Institute and the YMCA in Homewood. "We're trying to open our kids' eyes to other opportunities around sports," he explains, such as being a sports lawyer, doctor, trainer or agent.
The Institute also has an arts initiative and donates socks each December to a nursing home in Homewood. On Father's Day, June 16, it will hold its largest annual program, a Father's Day Cookout at Mellon for the seventh year.
"There are other programs we will unveil in the coming months to rebuild the relationship between the child and the father," Wesley says. "We can't be everything to the kids if the parents are acting [badly]. There's a lot of broken homes. The only way to fix that is to get to the common ground -- the kid and his best interest."
He also hopes the cookout will be the beginning of his own push against violence in the community. "There's been too much gun violence," he says. "The violence [prevention], it starts with us. If we're not there, that's when violence and chaos consume the family. If you're quiet, it's like you're being held hostage by your own people."
In the end, it's Wesley's three sons who keep him dedicated to this cause, he says. "I see a lot of potential in them. I know their potential won't be realized if I don't do what I've got to do and make a path for them. Knowing that they don't know how great they are makes me go harder.
"I've got a daughter on the way," he adds, "and I believe the Lord is going to take me to another level."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Anwan Wesley, Street Ministry Institute
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