Category Archives: Education

AMERICA TO ZANZIBAR: Breaking Barriers and Celebrating Diversity by Zenab Toure

“America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far” is one of the newest exhibits to come to Philadelphia. Opening just a few short weeks ago at The Please Touch Museum in Parkside, this multimedia interactive exhibit highlights the Muslim Culture, Religion, art and traditions. Religion has always been a sensitive subject, especially Islam. Therefore, it was definitely a huge surprise when I learned that ‘America to Zanzibar’ was coming to the Please Touch Museum. One might ask, why the Please Touch Museum? Why a Children’s museum? Exhibit consultant Salima Suswell stated, ”In Islam, we have this term called Da’wa, which is to teach. So it’s a teachable moment for not just children but for their parents as well.” This exhibition’s targeted audience is not only children but for people of all ages as well from various backgrounds and religions.

We are currently living in an era when there is so much controversy and hate happening all over the world, particularly toward Islam and its followers. One way to help foster peace in the world is to teach one another about each other’s religion, cultures, and traditions. Islam is a religion of peace. Philadelphia happens to have one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States, with over 50 Masjids (Mosques), which the Exhibit showcases in one of the
galleries. Thus, one must ask once again, what better city to come to, other than The City of Brotherly Love?

The President and CEO of The Please Touch Museum, Trish Wellenbach, has this vision to break down barriers and bring/teach the importance of diversity to not only Parkside but most of all, to Philadelphia as a whole. After seeing the America to Zanzibar exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Wellenbach was determined to bring the exhibit to the Please Touch Museum, in order to see her vision of diversity come to life. She did it along with
Salima Suswell, who heads a community advisory group of approximately 20 members from different faiths and cultures. This group helped adapt the exhibit to reflect Muslim culture in
the city of Philadelphia. As a Muslim woman myself, I’d say they have done an excellent job recreating the flavors of the Muslim religion.

At the VIP Grand Opening of ‘America to Zanzibar’, it was evident that this exhibit was not going to be a clichéd, stereotypical version of how Islam and Muslims are usually portrayed. In other words, from the virgin drinks to the halal food, to the heartwarming speeches, to the guests from all faiths and backgrounds, and finally- to walking through the exhibit that has such an authentic depiction of this beautiful and peaceful religion. I must say that I was blown
away! As I have never seen this many Muslims at an event that is not specifically run by Muslims for Muslims. It felt surreal, yet so gratifying! It was so obvious that Wellenbach, Suswell, and the community advisory group worked on every detail to really embody and reflect the true meaning of Islam and its various cultures and traditions from all over the world.

There are so many fun activities that you can do in the exhibit. I can say this because I have already visited the exhibit 3 times, and I plan on visiting again, along with my family and friends. I say this because, to me, America to Zanzibar is not just fun, creative, bold, and filled with valuable and authentic information, but it feels like home. Where I feel safe to believe in my faith and proud of where I come from. This is the safe environment that Wellenbach was hoping to create “As you explore the exhibition and discover the prayer room, I invite you to think about the importance of creating a safe space where Muslim children and families can see their faith reflected with joy and respect and where visitors from all faiths can learn about the Muslim faith in a place of joy and without fear.”

Throughout the duration of the exhibit, there will be a range of art
workshops, led by the artists featured in the exhibit. “My whole idea was to create artwork that young people could then look and find other shapes and symbols in, to learn so it’s always easy to draw someone in, and teach them something then to try to just bang them upside the head with something.” Said Keisha Whatley, a Philadelphia Artist. “So for young people, this style really works, because it’s like all this going on! and they are kind of looking like oh look there’s a star! and hey, what’s that symbol? and oh that’s what that symbol stands for? Oh and that means this! and it opens up a dialogue about the faith, and the culture, the religion and all these other things, as opposed to just being like this is this.

There are other programming activities scheduled to run through
September 2, 2019. Therefore, I recommend asking for an event calendar when you visit the Please Touch Museum, in order to stay up to date with the upcoming events, programming, and workshops. Like the Festival they will have for the first Islamic Holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr on June 4, 2019.

The exhibit consists of five different galleries. You will find one of the
oldest Quran’s, dated from 1854, a prayer room, and a living room filled with objects donated from Muslim families in the community. There is also an architecture area where visitors will be able to see and learn about Mosques from various countries. A global marketplace is the perfect hands-on experience for youngsters. Children and their families will be able to see and smell spices and fruits, wear different African fabrics filled with beautiful colors, see rugs from Morocco and ceramics from Turkey. The representation of Islam and Muslims in artwork is magnificent. I could go on and on, but I would rather let you, the reader go see for yourself and indulge in this amazing journey that America to Zanzibar brings!

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Smith Memorial Playground’s Black History Month Exhibit Celebrates 120-Year History of Racially Integrated Play

In celebration of Black History Month, families are invited to Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse at 3500 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19121 on Saturday, February 23 from 10am-12pm for “120 Years of Integrated Play” presented by Ballard Spahr LLP, a free exhibition of historic photographs and artifacts that highlight Smith’s commitment to the African American community and integrated play spaces since 1899. Visitors will also enjoy special craft activities and a story collection room where families can share their memories of playing at Smith.

Even during the Jim Crow Era of segregation in public schools and facilities, Smith remained a racially integrated play space and operated additional locations that served large African American and immigrant populations. Smith has been an important part of many Philadelphia families’ lives for generations and continues to serve a diverse population, welcoming children from every zip code in Philadelphia and beyond for free family visits as well as a wide range of on-site programming, events, and community programs.

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse is a non-profit organization located in Philadelphia’s East Fairmount Park. Founded in 1899, Smith welcomes visitors from more than 500 zip code areas including every zip code in Philadelphia. The mission of Smith is to provide and promote opportunities for unstructured free play for children and it contributes to the development of healthy children, strong families, and safe communities by: 1) maintaining a proud tradition of free family admission; 2) partnering with community-based organizations to reach a diverse audience; and 3) advocating for the importance of play. For more information about Smith please visit http://www.smithplayground.org. 

Contact: Zoe Lowry

215.765.4325 x101 (O)
610.609.1590 (M)

zoe@smithplayground.org

 

THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE HOSTS 1ST ANNUAL BLACK HISTORY TRIVIA CHALLENGE

PHILADELPHIA February 5, 2019—The Franklin Institute and its Partnerships for Achieving Careers and Technology and Science (PACTS) program, host the first ever region-wide Black History Challenge, Monday, February 25. The event invites local teams to compete in a high-level trivia competition celebrating the contributions of African Americans to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) while raising awareness and funds for youth programming initiatives and scholarships provided by the Franklin Institute’s PACTS program.

The event takes place during the Institute’s monthly Community Night, where admission is free for all visitors after 5 pm. Hosted by the PACTS alumni association, the evening includes live science demos and educational resource tables from The Franklin Institute and local partners offering advice and support for future STEM leaders.

Tickets for contest registration are now on sale through February 15, or until full. Trivia challenge entrance fees are $25 per person or $100 for a 4-player team. All trivia proceeds go toward supporting PACTS youth programs and scholarship funds.  General Museum Admission is free.

For more information, or to register a team, please visit http://www.fi.edu/events.

About PACTS

Partnerships for Achieving Careers and Technology and Science (PACTS) is an academic youth leadership program offered by The Franklin Institute for middle and high school students in Philadelphia. It promotes science enrichment, career development, mentoring, and leadership opportunities through science workshops, field trips, educational resources, and research.

 About The Franklin Institute

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. For more information, visit www.fi.edu and follow The Franklin Institute on Twitter @TheFranklin and Instagram @FranklinInstitute, hashtag #franklininstitute.

Contact: Stefanie Santo, ssanto@fi.edu | 215.448.1152

Noah Lattanzi, nlattanzi@fi.edu | 215.448.1388

2019 SUBARU CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA Saturday, April 6 through Sunday, April 14, 2019

Presented by The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, PA (January 29, 2019) — The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival returns to Philadelphia in April to mark the start of spring. Presented by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP), the annual festival begins on Saturday, April 6, 2019 and ends on Sunday, April 14, 2019. It will feature family friendly events highlighting Japanese culture throughout the region. Attendees will experience traditional performances, music, and arts, learn how to make sushi and matcha tea from experts, and take part in the colorful contemporary cultures of cosplay and anime.

Sakura Sunday marks the exciting conclusion of the festival and transforms Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Center into the region’s largest Japanese cultural experience. This day-long outdoor event on Sunday, April 14, 2019 is a celebration of all things Japanese. It features a Sake Garden presented by Parks on Tap, Japanese food, live music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, crafts, the Little Akiba anime & cosplay area, access to Shofuso, Fairmount Park’s Japanese house and garden, and activities for all ages. For more information, visit subarucherryblossom.org.

Festival events begin on Saturday, April 6, 2019 with extended hours at Shofuso. The 17th century style house and garden will be open until 7:00 p.m. daily during the Festival, granting visitors plenty of opportunities to tour the house, visit the garden, and view the world class collection of koi. Attendees can also enjoy a drink at the Sake Garden, a pop-up beer and sake cocktail garden presented by Parks On Tap located just outside Shofuso’s walls on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 and from Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14.

In University City, the University of Pennsylvania will present a free public screening of Hirozaku Koreeda’s 2011 film I Wish on Wednesday, April 10. Internationally acclaimed taiko artist Kaoru Watanabe will bring a “musical dialogue” performance to the festival on Friday, April 12 at the International House Philadelphia. Sushi making classes led by Madame Saito, Philadelphia’s Queen of Sushi, will be held throughout the week at Tokio HeadHouse, culminating in an amateur sushi making contest on Thursday, April 11.  For seasoned athletes and casual walkers and runners alike, the Cherry Blossom 10K/5K returns to Fairmount Park on Saturday, April 13 with courses that offer great views of Shofuso, Memorial Hall, and MLK Drive. A complete listing of events is available online at japanphilly.org/phillysakura or call 267-237-3550 for more information.

The Cherry Blossom Festival takes its name and central inspiration from the fleeting beauty of the sakura, the Japanese name for cherry blossoms. The first blossoming cherry trees in Fairmount Park were planted in 1926 as a gift to the City of Philadelphia from Japan. Cherry blossoms are gorgeous pink and white flowers, a must-see natural wonder calling everyone outdoors to welcome spring, and an annual inspiration to artists and photographers. The events of the Festival celebrate Philadelphia’s rich cultural connections with the art, music, food, natural beauty, and industry of Japan.

The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia is a project of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) with support from Subaru of America, Inc as its title sponsor. JASGP inspires mutual curiosity, understanding, and respect between Japan and Philadelphia, and the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival builds on this mission by fostering the Japanese tradition of blossom-viewing and planting and maintaining cherry trees. JASGP has planted more than 1,000 cherry trees, supplementing the 1,600 flowering trees presented by the Japanese government as a gesture of friendship in 1926. Digital photos and additional information on cherry tree viewing, cherry blossom traditions in Japan, and the work of the JASGP are available at subarucherryblossom.org. Follow @phillysakura on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Dance Logic Program Open at West Park Cultural Center – by Niesha Kennedy

DanceLogic is a unique S.T.E.A.M. program offered by West Park Cultural Center. The program combines dance and computer coding leading to development of original choreography and performance. Teen girls’ ages 13 through 18 years old learn the value of focus, dedication, and teamwork, as well as industry standard computer coding language. This innovative program is designed to educate, inspire and cultivate girls of color to explore the S.T.E.A.M. field: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in a creative, active and exciting environment

The program uses dance to ignite an interest in STEAM, now and in the future. Shanel Edwards, co-instructor of dancelogic, says danceLogic is a space where creativity lives in arts and science, here young girls have infinite possibilities” . During the dance class, led by instructors Shanel Edwards of D2D The Company and Annie Fortenberry, a performer with Ballet 180, the girls learn dance skills and movement techniques. When the girls progress to creating their own choreography, they use coding as a reference. The dance portion of the class is followed by an hour of learning industry standard coding language under the direction of Coding instructor Franklyn Athias, Senior Vice President Network and Communications Engineering at Comcast.

Dancing and coding have similar language involving repetition, direction, and particular combinations.

“I’m helping the kids see that someone, just like them, was able to use Science and Technology to find a very successful career. The combination of dance and logic have good synergies. Learning something like dance requires practice, just like coding”, explains Franklyn Athias. He continues to say “Yes, the dance is more physical, but it requires the students to try, fail, and try again. Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is really the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you become good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”

Annie Fortenberry adds “My favorite thing about the program is that the students can explore leadership roles. By building their own choreography and supporting each other in coding class, they navigate creating and sharing those creations, as well as resolving conflict to make one cohesive dance. There’s a lot of beauty and bravery in that process.”

The very first session of danceLogic culminated with a special performance at the 11th Annual West Park Arts Festival in June of 2018. The girls performed choreography, showcased what they learned and shared how it has impacted their lives. They committed to continuing their coding education over the summer and into the new school year. danceLogic is offered in two sessions, fall and winter/spring on Saturdays from 12:00pm –2:30pm.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.westparkcultural.org/dancelogic 

 

Ujima Developers Invests in Real Estate Solutions for our Community – Leon D. Caldwell, Ph.D

Ujima Developers and Ujima Community Transformation Partners as a CDC were launched to help solve problems with existing residents. The mission is to co-create strategies for affordable housing while also re-designing neighborhoods so that people can live an optimal life, if they choose. It is no secret that many of the blocks in our neighborhoods have not had investments for some time. We can argue if this is intentional or happenstance however it will not move us closer to putting the chairs back on porches. At a certain point we need to move past the analysis and start working to restore.

This can all be done but it’s going to take people in our community voicing their vision for what is truly impactful for the neighborhood. This means giving developers projects, programs and long-term plans that improve your quality of life not just check off a box in an RFP. Too many times neighborhood associations and RCOs only flex their power for zoning hearings. Another form of power is looking for partnership opportunities with developers that create development projects that benefit everyone over time.

As a social impact real estate development group, Ujima Developers, demonstrates how to collaborate with neighbors for solutions to challenges in the community. For example, we are working on age-friendly housing strategies that are intergenerational, affordable and accessible. This could help many of our neighbors worried about aging parents living alone in big row homes. Or maybe you are reading this concerned that soon you will be faced with the decision to stay or move out of your row home. The narrow bathroom, steep flight of steps and high energy bills add up. What if we could design a row home that functions for grandparents just as well as it does for grandchildren? Can you imagine a community that has healthy food options, community owned stores with services for the entire family can enjoy? Or can you dream about a livable community that values your ideas for how to improve Parkside without inviting the kind of gentrification that disrespects people already on the block?

Ujima Developers is extending an invitation to contribute solutions for creating age-friendly row homes in our neighborhoods. We are planning an Age Friendly Row House Summit in East Parkside community. Dinner will be served and your ideas accepted. In addition, we will be discussing age-in-place remodeling solutions. This effort is being sponsored by AARP, American Institute of Architecture, West Philadelphia Financial Services, and American Society of Interior Designers, and Locus Developers.

 

Healthy Habits – Holidays and Beyond

by Maggie Davenport

With the Holiday season in full swing, physical activity has likely slowed way down and celebrating with family and friends is a regular occurrence. During this three to four-month period (from Halloween through New Year’s), the average person will gain between two (2) and 10 pounds. With the weight-loss and fitness
industry racking up profits in the billions, large numbers of the population are seeking help and it’s not just during the holidays.

Long before first Lady Michele Obama’s shout out for us to ‘keep it moving!’, it was a known reality that intake and output are what determines weight: If you eat (‘intake’) a meal that provides more calories (energy) than your body needs to maintain its normal functioning without burning the extra energy (‘output’), weight
gain will happen; if on the other hand ‘intake’ is less, then weight loss results. Our goal is to work toward a lifestyle that focuses on mindful eating plus finding a way to ‘move it’ that works for you.

No matter where you are in your healthy lifestyle journey, progress is within reach– even during the holidays. A good first step is being mindful of your actions, taking time to carefully consider the kinds and variety of food taken in and the amount that is needed to support a particular lifestyle. Secondly, an understanding of the kind and amount of nutrition that is needed helps to keep the focus on the ‘intake-output’ equation.

Activity

The experts all agreed that a well-balanced diet and activity are the foundation of good physical (and mental!) health. The US Department of Health and Human Services has set physical activity guidelines and recommendations for all age groups; the Department also suggests ways to adjust activity for a number of health conditions – like asthma and arthritis. Also, diet and activity help prevent ‘the big three’ diseases that large numbers of African Americans experience more often than other Americans: heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In addition to providing a social outlet for all ages, exercise also helps with the following:

Nutrition

Making sure to eat foods with good nutritional value is tough, the fast-food industry and ‘laid back’ lifestyles (code for low physical activity!) make it even harder. Knowing daily calorie (energy) requirements is helpful. The numbers range from 1,000 for a newborn to 3,200 for an adult male. To get some idea of the number of calories needed for your age, gender and lifestyle, go to ‘calculator.net’ and enter the required information. This information will make reading and interpreting product labels more meaningful.
Take a look at the label below, use the right side as a guide:

Additionally, many minority and ethnic communities prefer traditionally prepared food,
especially around the holidays; many times, these foods are not nutritionally balanced and are
heavy in salt and fat. The National Institutes of Health provides substitutions that are based on
the ways that minority and ethnic groups prepare food. Keep in mind that genetics play a
huge part and many times, a family history of disease can mean that exercise and diet alone
are not enough to improve health conditions. Be sure to consult your physician as needed.

Make A Plan!

The next step is to make a plan for eating and movement that will become part of your regular routine behaviors during the holiday season and beyond. Mindfulness involves developing the habit of thinking about and planning what you eat and what you do and being aware or ‘present’ while you are doing it. The SMART goal-setting approach helps maintain this focus and can be applied to help achieve any outcome. Here are the steps:

S-Specific: Set specific actions that you will take.

M-Measurable: Make sure that the actions are measurable. This could be in time, distance, amount or any other measurable quantity (like 1 serving of a food item).

A-Attainable: Be sure that your goal is ‘doable’ and can reached.

R-Realistic: (or relevant): Set a goal that is realistic to and for your purposes.

T-Time: Set a time-frame within which you want to achieve your goals. Make this the holiday season that you get the jump on extra weight gain- take control of your health!