Category Archives: Education

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 

 

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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!

Grammy Nominated and Award Winning Children’s Music Artists Perform at Smith Memorial Playground for 5th Annual Kidchella Music Festival

Philadelphia, PA (June 28, 2018) The 5th annual Kidchella Music Festival is in full swing at Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse with remaining concerts on Friday, July 20 and August 17!  Each date will feature live music in the 6 ½ acre Playground by nationally acclaimed Children’s Music artists, youth performances, arts stations, and yummy food trucks.   

 At 4pm families are invited to Smith for free play in the Playground and family fun in the Youth Arts Zone which includes a youth music stage, arts stations, and giveaways.  Families may purchase dinner from a variety of popular food trucks or bring food for a picnic in the Playground.  

 The main concert will begin at 6pm and will feature a fantastic lineup of family-friendly music curated by Jeff Bogle of OWTK.com and emceed by Kathy O’Connell of WXPN Kids Corner.  Shine and the Moonbeams (Soul/R&B) and Grammy-nominated The Alphabet Rockers (positive Hip Hop) will perform in July and Red Yarn (foot stomping Americana Folk) and Vered and the Babes (Doo Woop inspired Acoustic Rock) will perform in August. 

Smith’s Executive Director Meg Wise noted, “Kidchella started in 2014 as a small performance on our front lawn for an audience of a few hundred people and grew to a summer-long concert series in the Playground welcoming over 2,000 children and adults from all sections of the City and surrounding suburbs as well as out-of-state visitors. This year, we are excited to give as many families as possible the opportunity to experience this awesome event by offering discounted tickets to PA ACCESS cardholders and free admission for families participating in our Play For All community programs.” 

 Kidchella is a rain or shine outdoor event.  Tickets are $10 per person (children age 1+ and adults) or $5 for Smith members and PA ACCESS Cardholders.  Purchase tickets, memberships, and learn more at: https://smithplayground.ticketleap.com/kid2018/

 Support for Kidchella provided in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, MetroKids, Power Crunch, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Inspire, Kia Motors America, Simple Society, Honest Tea, and Lee’s Hoagie House.  

Shine and the Moonbeams are singer-songwriter Shawana Kemp and guitarist John Heagle, two New York musicians who have collectively been in every musical genre from Musical Theatre to the circus. Learn more at Shine & the Moonbeams (Facebook) 

 Alphabet Rockers are known as the premiere children’s hip hop artists who focus on social change and racial justice. Learn more at www.alphabetrockers.com  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Zoe Lowry                                                 zoe@smithplayground.org                                                             215.765.4325 x101 

CENTENNIAL COMMONS OPENS IN WEST FAIRMOUNT PARK ON JUNE 13

Press Release

Cari Feiler Bender: 610-416-1216

What:   Ribbon cutting for Centennial Commons 

Join city officials, nonprofits leaders, and community representatives to formally open the first phase of this new park-within-the-park.

When:   Wednesday, June 13, 2018 (Rain or Shine)

12pm-12:15pm   Walk-through and photo op with VIPs

12:15pm-1pm     Speaking program

1pm                           Ribbon Cutting

Where:   Parkside Avenue at 41st Street, West Fairmount Park

Who: 

Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia

Jamie Gauthier, Executive Director, Fairmount Park Conservancy

Michael Di Berardinis, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Vanessa Lowery Brown, PA State Representative

Jannie Blackwell, Philadelphia City Council

Judilee Reed and Cara Ferrentino, William Penn Foundation

Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Program Director, Knight Foundation

Representative, Philadelphia Streets Department

Representative, Philadelphia Commerce Department

Debra McCarty, Commissioner, Philadelphia Water Department

Chris Spahr and Joyce Smith, Centennial Commons CDC

Calla Cousar, East Parkside Residents Association

Details: This site was the central hub of the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 but has been under supported for decades. With support from the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation, Fairmount Park Conservancy and its partners retained Studio Bryn Hanes to upgrade a 67,000-square-foot-area along Parkside Avenue.  The new design features freshly laid walking paths on what was before simply lawn, a rain garden featuring native plants, giant porch swings, and 68 new trees that will increasingly provide shade as they grow. Future phases of the project will be announced at the event.

 

Fairmount Park Conservancy exists to champion Philadelphia’s parks. We lead capital projects and historic preservation efforts, foster neighborhood park stewardship, attract and leaverage investments, and develop innovative programs throughout the 10, 200 acres that include Fairmount Park and more than 200 neighborhood parks around the city. For more information, please visit myphillypark.org, join us at facebook.com/fairmountparkconservancy, and follow us on instagram and Twitter @myphillypark.

West Park Arts Fest – Saturday June 9th, 2018

Founded by West Park Cultural Center in 2008, the West Park Arts Fest is moving to South Concourse Drive in West Fairmount Park. The site is adjacent to the Centennial Commons project along Parkside Avenue- an exciting public space project by Fairmount Park Conservancy as part of Philadelphia’s Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.

Fairmount Park Conservancy and Mural Arts Philadelphia are joining West Park Cultural Center as organizers for this free public event advancing the festival’s mission to bring communities together in the park, promote greater awareness of the area’s history and heritage, while celebrating the arts and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. The festival embraces partnership and has over the years been made possible in great part to the participation of many arts, cultural and community partners from West Philadelphia and across Philadelphia.

On Saturday June 9th from 12pm to 5pm attendees of all ages will enjoy stages of exciting culturally diverse performances by some of the area’s best dancers, musicians, vocalists, and spoken word artists. Some of the talent includes the popular West Philadelphia Orchestra, Badd Kitti, Gretchen Elise Music, Lauren Putty White, The Philly Clicks, Jasmin Yahne Dance Company, and many more. The event will engage attendees in dance, art making, and many other activities including guided historical trolley tours through the Centennial District. The Franklin Institute will showcase prototypes of its new exhibition “Game Masters” as well as providing PACTS program activities. Attendees can buy unique items in the Handmade Market, browse other vendors and enjoy refreshments from diverse food vendors. An estimated 3,000 are expected to attend. There are Sponsor and Vendor opportunities.

Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Arts & Culture Program, with the support of ArtPlace America, will commission one artist or artist team to create an outdoor art installation for Arts Fest with interactive elements that draw their inspiration from the neighborhood. Festival goers will also see a standing timeline created by Global Philadelphia that documents Parkside’s history and heritage with pictures and text.

To see more visit http://www.westparkcultural.org /westparkartsfest or call 215-473-7810

Niesha Kennedy, PR Manager West Park Cultural nkennedy@westparkcultural.org

Chess Cadets Championing West Philadelphia- by Jasmine Bullock

Chess mentor Fred Austin Working with students

Throughout the years, movies like Life of a King and Queen of Katwe have shown us how small, local clubs can change lives. This is happening at the 40th and Walnut Streets Library. The Walnut St. West Chess Cadets Chess Club has been practicing and competing for approximately ten years. The club is sponsored by the Local Friends of the Walnut St. West Library lead by group president, Alice Wells.

Each year 30 children ages 6 to 18 participate in the Walnut Street Libraries Chess Club. Children must be in first grade to attend and many of them return for several years. The current program consists of 32 students ranging from age 6 to 13. The children are expected to attend club sessions each week in order to make progress throughout the year. The students are broken into four groups based on skill level. Their continued participation and weekly commitment is exemplified through the wide range of growth throughout the year!

Student success would not be possible without the dedication of 8 coaches. Most of the coaches and mentors are solicited via word of mouth, the After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP) organization and local community groups. Current coach and mentor, Fred Austin, stumbled upon the club in 2011 when searching for a group to play chess with. He was impressed with the enthusiasm of the children and decided to share his talent and love for the game. In past years, former participants have returned to coach younger students while in high school. The club also has unwavering parent support. Each week, parents take turns helping during meeting sessions.

The team participates in approximately four tournaments, sponsored by ASAP, per year and has had several victories as individual competitors and as a team. In their most recent tournament, the Checkmate Violence Tournament at Temple University, Walnut St. West Chess Cadets competed with approximately 300 other participants and went home with four trophies including the 1st place prize!

Each year, the Walnut St. West Chess Cadets Chess Club meets on Wednesdays from September through June. Students are required to complete applications, which are available from librarians. The program runs on a rolling application process. Once spaces are filled, any additional applicants are placed on a waiting list. All students must re-apply each year in August.

For more information about the Walnut West Chess Cadets, contact library personnel at

https://www.freelibrary.org or wswlibraryfriends@gmail.com.