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Connecting Connecticut’s special education parents
by Melissa Ezarik
Parents of students in the special education system spend a lot of time thinking about the big picture as well as scrutinizing the details. Navigating the system well requires the ability to envision a life for your child well into the future and then actively partnering with the school team each year (and throughout the year) to develop the broader goals and more specific objectives to help that child access an appropriate education — through the right supports — and live up to his or her potential as a contributing member of society. Often with multiple Brookfield SEPTA; diagnoses to understand brookfieldsepta@gmail.com and work through the Connecticut PTSA SEPTA’s page: challenges of, the sped ctpta.org/SEPTA.html parent may well feel the CT Special Education PTO Alliance; need to connect with, facebook.com/pages/CT-Speciallearn from, and feel supEducation-PTO-Alliance ported by like-minded Fairfield SEPTA; fairfieldsepta.org parents. With a number of active special educaNorth Star (Derby area parents); northstarsupportgroup.com tion parent groups in our area, these parents Pizza Moms (Darien); sites.google. don’t need to feel alone. com/site/pizzamomssite/ Here’s what any local SEPTO Network; septonetwork.org parent should know Special Parents, Special Kids of about the special needs Milford, CT; spsk-milford-ct.com parent and the groups they turn to for support. Spectrum Shelton, facebook.com/SpectrumofSheltonCT The stakes are high. “If you don't learn what SPED*NET Greenwich; you need to know, your spednetgreenwich.org child — and your whole SPED*NET New Canaan; spednet.org family — will struggle SPED*NET Wilton; spednetwilton.org through unmitigated stress without learnStratford SEPTA; ing the necessary skills stratfordsepta.org and strategies to be Trumbull Parents of Students successful,” said Eve with Learning Differences; Kessler, co-founder of www.trumbullps.org/departSPED*NET Wilton, an ments/pupil-services/ parent-support.html advocacy and supportive network for Connecticut West Haven SEPTA; special needs families. westhavensepta.wordpress. A night out is more com/ likely to involve a lecture than some liquor. “Knowledge is power when it comes to parenting your child with special needs. Parents need other parents and professionals to talk to and learn from,” Kessler said. In other words, sped parents are snagging babysitters and meeting up to take in presentations from experts who can help them navigate a complex system. Their conversations involve acronyms. “So anyway, we were in our PPT developing the IEP and I requested an FBA conducted by a highly qualified BCBA so that our BIP would be most appropriate.” It’s the kind of sentence overheard when sped parents are on the playground, in between discussions about their private ABA, OT, and PT therapy sessions. (And, yes, they know they talk funny.) Their children have various differences. Alan Llewelyn, president of Stratford SEPTA, said he’ll sometimes get asked if the “A” in “SEPTA” is for autism. But the organization helps support and guide any family involved in special education, including people still in the qualifying process or whose children have 504 instead of IEP plans. They think big. Jeffry Spahr of Norwalk, whose son has ADHD and autism, among other challenges, spent

Special Education Parent Groups

Patti Terrasi, left, co-author of ‘Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid;’ Katie Gallagher, a college freshman with Asperger’s and daughter of Gina, right, the co-author of ‘Shut Up,’ at a recent Stratford SEPTA event.

several years as president of the Connecticut Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities and cofounded Norwalk SPED Partners. When he felt his own district wasn’t doing enough to raise awareness of ADHD, he persuaded Gov. Dannel Malloy to proclaim ADHD Awareness Week in October 2011. Sped parent groups know district administrators like PTA presidents know principals. In explaining what his group is, Llewelyn will “start with the PTA part, as that creates a ‘onevoice’ common ground starting point for the conversation,” he explained. But the big difference, he’ll say, is that “as a townwide PTA, we do not have a principal so instead SEPTAs get to work with central office administrators.” He’ll add that SEPTA has a “more global focus as the discussions impact more than one building.” These groups are open to all. Stratford SEPTA, for example, is for anyone who cares about a child with any kind of individual difference that poses challenges in school and beyond.

“I sometimes hear that parents don’t participate because they’re not members,” Llewelyn said. “We have never turned anyone away from a meeting or a speaking engagement, so go ahead and join the PTA at your home school and then if you need support or guidance, just find us.” They want a voice. When the statewide Municipal Opportunities & Regional Efficiencies (M.O.R.E.) Commission put together a special education working group to collaborate on legislation that could save municipalities and taxpayers money, Spahr and others noticed that no parents were included as members. In response, his organization is partnering with local SPED*NET, Special Education PTA (SEPTA), and Special Education PTO (SEPTO) groups, as well as special education attorneys and other experts, and to form the Special Ed Parents Network Alliance. “As a parent of a special ed kid, you don’t have a lot of time for this stuff, you don’t have a secretary,” he said. “Legislators respond to voting blocks. We wanted then to know we’re not just an isolated parent. Collectively, we’re talking about 10,000 votes.” “It’s particularly appropriate for the people making decisions for our state to understand that there is a whole silent community out there with a common interest of making sure their kids’ special education needs are addressed,” he added.
Melissa Ezarik is secretary and a co-founder of Stratford SEPTA.


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• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• April 3, 2014 •

Natural Beauty Birthday Bashes
Try something new
by Melissa Ezarik
Manis and pedis and facials, oh my! As girls who have been guests or the guests of honor at a beauty birthday party know, the spa experience is most certainly not just for adults. Spa parties for kids are about having a wildly good time as much as they are about relaxation. Take the Glam Parties put on by Brit’s Beauty Bar, for example. At the make-yourown-lipgloss bar, partygoers may customize the color and flavor of their own edible lip glosses before having zebra stripes or peacock feather designs painted on their nails. During Pink Butterfly Spa Parties, meanwhile, girls sit back and relax with cucumbers covering their eyes and a warm towel over their faces, with soothing music in the background. Owner Lori Jones hopes the message comes through to the girls that real beauty comes from the inside and that each of them is special and amazing. Spa parties have Brit’s Beauty Bar, Glam Party (mobile been around for or at Nikki’s Candy Boutique in Shelton); decades, but parents britsbeautybar.com, 203-540-9666 today are particuMagical Memories Children’s Entertainment, larly interested in what Sassy Spa Party (mobile); exactly the beauty magicalmemoriesllc.com, 203-257-9621 products are made Above, a partgoer gets a manicure during a Pink Butterfly Spa party. The mobile Pink Butterfly Spa Parties (mobile); of. “Some parents are party business uses natural ingredients for its facials. pinkbutterflyspaparties.com, 203-560-5481 really into keeping Sundae Spa, 2457 East Main St., Waterbury, everything natural and and 1201 Boston Post Rd., Milford; organic for their kids, sundaespa.com, 203-528-3121 (Waterbury), what goes on them and • notmartha.org ingredients for make888-654-6577 (Milford) what goes in them,” Also keep in mind that it’s not just girls your-own products Trixie’s Cuts for Kids, Glamour and Spa said Britney Fernandes, who may wanna have fun. Fernandes has are vegan-certified, Parties, 1400 Boston Post Road, Milford; owner of Brit’s Beauty hosted co-ed beauty parties where girls make organic certified, and trixiescuts.com, 203-301-4268 Bar. lip gloss while the guys make their own body paraben-free, with Or, as Geraldine wash. Or girls have done a princesses craft skin-safe colorants McKeon, owner of while the boys make pirates instead. “We and fragrances. Trixie’s Cuts for Kids in Milford, puts it: tweak our parties to stay in the same theme,” The spas use chemical-free Good for You “Parents definitely dictate that everything is Girls brand facials and Piggy Paint nail polish. she said. natural and organic now.” Jones has noticed that parents tend to be At Trixies, Piggy Paint (“as natural as mud”) “Society is moving away from the parabens is another staple, along with Moodylicious for most attracted to the fact that her business is and the chemicals and going more toward mobile — but then they seem relieved when facials and skin care. things directly from nature,” said Fernandes, they learn that her facials are “made with real Another way to ensure spa party products who makes her products from ingredients food and that our lotions, creams and foot are safe is to go the do-it-yourself route. such as essential oils, coconut and almond scrubs are made in-house,” she said. “We are “There are a lot of blogs and websites about oils, and beeswax. “With natural products, how to make things from scratch,” Fernandes dealing with young girls and the less toxic you’re getting the full moisturizing benefits ingredients being put on the skin, the better.” said. She recommends DIY sites such as: and full cleaning benefits.” • wellnessmama.com/category/beauty An attendee of the mobile Pink Butterfly Spa Parties At Sundae Spa, which has two locations • bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/ Melissa Ezarik is a Stratford-based writer creates some jewelry. in Connecticut and includes build-your mhplibrary/parties-and-get-togethers/diy-kids- and editor who thinks there should be more own-sundaes for dessert, some products and moms-only spa birthday parties. spa-party

Spa party places and purveyors

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*Both these Performance Intensives run from June 23-July 3 and focus on technique, choreography, injury prevention, student choreography and yoga. They culminate in a performance that highlights work set by instructors and students.

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• April 3, 2014 •

• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


The Connecticut Children’s Hospital

Kids Walk in Shelton to benefit
The American Legion Department of Connecticut’s Third District, which includes all of the Legion posts in Fairfield County, invites the public to join in a walk-a-thon to benefit the Connecticut Children’s Hospital. Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post #16 of Shelton, in conjunction with the American Legion Department of Connecticut’s Third District, is sponsoring the Kids Walk to raise money for Connecticut Children's Hospital. The walk will take place on Saturday morning, April 19, at the Veteran’s Park on the Riverwalk at 10. Registration and donations will be accepted at the Farmer's Market that morning. The day's event will include a one to three mile walk. Bottled water and snacks will be provided for participants in the walk at the market. Along with the general public, alumni of American Legion programs are encouraged to join in the walk. Legion program alumni are men and women who have benefited from programs such as Boys State, Girls State and Legion Baseball — youth groups sponsored by the Legion. All pledges and donations to the walk will benefit the hospital. For more information, visit a local American Legion post in Fairfield County or call Post 16 at 203-924-9887.

Ride a vintage train to visit the Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny will once again pay a visit to the Danbury Railway Museum and you may take a ride in a vintage train through the historic railyard to visit him. This popular annual family event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 12, and 13, and Friday and Saturday, April 18, and 19. Museum hours are 10 to 4:30 on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4:30 on Sunday. Trains leave every 30 minutes from 12:30 to 3:30. The short train ride in a fully restored 1953 New Haven RR Rail Diesel Car Budd RDC will take visitors past the fully operational turntable, more than 70 vintage railroad cars and locomotives, and many pieces of railroad history, including a Boston & Maine steam locomotive built in 1907. The ride will stop at the Easter Bunny’s special railroad car. The museum’s beautifully restored circa1910 Railway Post Office (RPO) car will also be open. Of course, the exhibits inside the restored 1903 Danbury station will be open, along with a coloring station, temporary tattoos, Thomas play table and the operating model train layouts. A fully stocked gift shop will also be open. Admission is $10 (age 2 and over); each child will receive a small gift from the bunny. Reservations are suggested and may be made by visiting the museum’s website at danburyrail.org. The Danbury Railway Museum is a nonprofit organization, staffed solely by volunteers, and is dedicated to the preservation of, and education about, railroad history. The museum is in the restored 1903 Danbury Station and rail yard at 120 White St., Danbury. More info: 203-778-8337, danburyrail.org, info@danburyrail.org

The Easter Bunny will greet kids at the Danbury Railway Museum this month.

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• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• April 3, 2014 •

Why using a driving school is a plus for teens
by Julie Butler
While a parent might be a good driver, mom or dad may not be the best person to teach their teen how to drive. I white knuckled those initial drives through the high school parking lot and later, once my kid had his or her permit, I was constantly admonishing him or her not to drive so close to the side of the road, to slow down (even when they were driving at or under the speed limit), to apply the breaks far too early ... and so on. My sudden gasps only served to unnerve then. So, I decided to turn it over to an objective professional. Many states require new drivers to first obtain a learner’s permit and then to take a state-certified driver’s ed course. Even when it is not mandatory, such courses are often more comprehensive and efficient than a teen learning on their own or from a biased family member. The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles wants young drivers—who are statistically more likely to be involved in traffic accidents—to The Driving School of Fairfield; 203-255-7676, have as much educadrivingschooloffairfield.com tion and training on Fresh Green Light (Darien, Greenwich, Wilton); the road as possible 203-861-1188, freshgreenlight.com before they're out Howe Driving School (Monroe, Stratford); 203on their own. The 261-0500, howedrivingschool.com following rules have Lewis School of Driving; 203-972-0242, lewbeen put in place to isschoolofdriving.com ensure young drivers gain the necessary Milford School of Driving; 203-878-0918, milnot on the exam, will experience: forddrivingschool.com undoubtedly make • Drivers under 18 your child a better are required to take a driver. driver education class Teaching the importance of safety or complete home driver education in order In addition to modeling good driving etito apply for a license. quette and providing experienced instruction, • Drivers under 18 who have taken driver driving schools reinforce the best practices education must hold their permit for 120 — such as distraction-free driving tips — to days (180 days if they received home training) keep all of us alert and safe on the roads. before applying for a license exam. “Driving is a series of habits — habits that Driving schools do their research — they become subconscious once learned,” accordknow exactly what the state expects in the ing to Milford Driving School. “This is what written and driving tests. That means they we do; this is our mission. To teach collisionknow the best ways to prepare, including free driving and to make it a lifelong habit.” teaching a driver-to-be everything from Driving instruction schools may provide the basics of traffic laws and traffic signs to additional information specific to your area, fundamental safety tips that, even if they’re such as tips on highway driving, driving in

Driving Schools

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inclement weather and navigating busy urban streets, as well as the windy, country roads found so often throughout Fairfield County. Additionally, according to Lewis School of Driving in New Canaan (that serves students and adults in Fairfield County — Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton), for all 16 year olds looking to get a license in the State of Connecticut, they have to take a minimum of an eight-hour drug and alcohol course. With this class, they must have their permit for six months before they are eligible to test for their license. Four reasons to use a driving school Autos.com offers the following very good reasons to have your teen attend a driving school: 1) You can save on car insurance premiums. Many car insurance companies offer discounts or benefits to teens (or policyholders) who take part in a safe driving course of some kind. Check with your insurance agent before you take the course to see if they have a preferred one to recommend to you. 2) Your teen will feel more confident on the road. When your teen takes part in a driving course, they will feel more confident about their abilities as a driver and understand the safety guidelines better. This means they will naturally response better in a difficult driving situation and therefore become a safer driver.

3) Your teen is more likely to remember the rules of the road. When your teen glances through the driver's manual, how much of it is retained? Generally, a teen is glancing through the manual and remembering only enough to get them through the test. In a driving education course situation, your teen will be exposed to the information longer and will be required to put it into action before the testing portion. This will help them remember the information better and thus drive safer when out on the road. 4) It creates a greater sense of responsibility. When your teen is involved in a driving safety course they will better understand the great responsibility that goes with learning to drive and becoming a fixture on the nation's roads. When the time comes for your teen to learn how to drive, you should consider the possibility of enrolling them in a driver safety education course to learn more about how to drive. This will create a better learning experience for the both of you and a better driving future for your child. Remind them that driving truly is a privilege and not a right. Although I still grab hold of the passenger side arm rest when I ride in the car with my child — and my four kids are 18, 21, 29 and 30 — I am nonetheless grateful that he/she learned to keep the car on the road safely and soundly at the local driving school.

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• April 3, 2014 •

• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


How to be a good sports parent
by Dr. Aaron Krasner
After watching the Super Bowl or the Olympics, it’s easy to think our child might be the next sports prodigy. If only they showed some discipline, went to their trainers, worked hard. It may well be your child is a gifted athlete, but pushing them and becoming an over-involved sports parent will not only embarrass them, it creates unnecessary anxiety for them — at a time when they need it least — and can be detrimental to their long-term development. Of course, we all mean well. None of us would ever intentionally harm our children. Here are some tips that will help you help your super athlete grow into a super happy adult as well: 1. Let them decide in which sports to participate. You can expose them to many, but do not force one over another. 2. Follow their lead when it comes to extra practices. If they want extra coaching, they will tell you. 3. Ask if they had fun, not how they did. Study after study shows that what kids really care about is enjoying themselves, having fun being part of a team. Asking if they had fun shows you care about their happiness. 4. Don’t comment on their form, ability or how the team did as soon as they leave the field. 5. Don’t shout from the sidelines. 6. Don’t criticize or second guess the coach, nor those who volunteer or those who work for the school system. 7. Do not attend every practice and every game. Kids need to develop away from their parents. If they know you are watching, they can’t relax. Make a rule, like attending the home games, or the big games. And skip the practices all together. 8. Hug and tell them you love them when they lose — and let them figure out the rest. Learning how to fail and pull yourself back up is one of the most important lessons a child can learn from sports. Be sure to give them that gift.
Dr. Krasner is the adolescent Transitional Living Program service chief at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan.

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Residential and Day Programs America’s Original Computer Camp Now in Our 37th Year


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May 4 •1 to 5 pm

Open House

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Engaging Activities • Games • Arts & Crafts • Projects Picnics • Special Guests • Creative Cooking • Fun–Filled Days
16 Hickory Street • Trumbull • 203-261-0499 cornerstonekids.com


• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• April 3, 2014 •

What baby-sitting teaches our kids
For many years, teenagers have provided parents with an invaluable service. A service that allows them to spend time together, do important things and even experience a few hours of freedom from their kids. The babysitter is the single greatest invention for many parents and for some, the only reason they don’t end up on the 6 o’clock news. For most kids, baby-sitting will be their first job. It’s a great way to make a few dollars for a few hours of work, and many sitters find it quite enjoyable. Others may not, but that could be attributed to the fact that they were not cut out or prepared to take on the responsibility. Baby-sitting younger kids seems simple, but there are dozens of potential problems that can arise if the sitter is not prepared, and that’s why a baby-sitter course is strongly recommended. Parents looking to hire a babysitter are encouraged to consider someone who has at least completed a course, and most YMCAs or community centers offer one. A course will teach sitters how to pick up a baby, change diapers and feed it properly. It should also teach the sitter how to help toddlers use the bathroom and get ready for bed. Some courses, like the one offered by What to Do with the Kids (whattodowiththekids. com.), also teaches the sitter a number of games and activities that avoid TV and make the time spent with the kids fun. Safety, however, is the most important responsibility a sitter has. With training, a sitter will learn to ask the parents the right questions and recognize potential hazards and dangers before the parents leave. A prepared sitter will also know how to react in the event of an emergency. For most kids, taking a baby-sitting course is their first taste of leadership training. As a sitter, they must problem solve, make decisions and react to emergencies. That takes leadership. Sitters can also develop their social skills as well since they have to speak with the parents and the kids. With the parents, the sitter must be clear and concise. With the kids, they must also be clear, concise and it helps to be entertaining. Preparing for a baby-sitting job can also help develop the sitter’s organization and planning skills. A good baby-sitter is confident and comfortable with his or her responsibilities, qualities that will serve them well as they get older and especially when they are faced with a bully. Confident kids grow up to be confident adults and it can start with something as simple as baby-sitting. What to Do with the Kids website features a lot of games, crafts and activities that sitters may use when they are looking after the kids. You’ll also find party ideas, special events, downloads such as birthday cards, and awards that may be personalized with the recipient’s name.



Infants • Toddlers • Pre-School Transition Kindergarten

• Educating and caring for children for over 40 years! • Low staff turnover • Hours 6:30am - 6pm • Convenient location: Just off Exit 40, I-95
• 6 weeks to 36 months full time 5 days $273.00/wk • 3 to 5 years full time 5 days $228.00/wk • Part time days and hours are available • Call for other rates and availability • Ask about our referral program



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Let us put you at Center Stage for our kid’s singing and dancing parties where YOU become the star!


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69 Woodmont Road Milford Call for a Tour! 203-877-5167 Visit our Website! LittleWhiteHouseLearningCenter.com


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Summer Theater Camp July 21 –August 1 • 9:00 AM –2:00 PM • 8-14 Year Olds
Enjoy two weeks of theatre, dance and vocal training all culminating in a fun-filled musical presented on the last day of the session! We will motivate and share with the actors the joy of the art in a safe and supportive atmosphere.

Renaissance Ballet Theatre June 30–July 18 • 9:00–12:30 PM • All Ages
A three week one of a kind experience culminating in a fully staged production of a classical ballet! Each dancer will be accepted at his/her level of ability and will be motivated to develop their technique and performance skills. So join us this summer and make dance memories that will last a lifetime!

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477 Main Street Monroe, CT 06468 203-261-1347 www.connecticutdance.com

• April 3, 2014 •

• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


College Application Essay

Avoiding the Meltdown
by Sharon Epstein
A young woman called me the other day. “I’m so totally freaking out right now!” she cried. She had written her college application essay but hated it and didn’t know what to do. Overwhelmed, stressed and panicked, she had entered the meltdown stage. College application essays can carry a good deal of weight in the admissions process. According to college admissions officers, some can even make the difference between an acceptance and a rejection. It’s no wonder, then, that students feel the pressure. But pressure doesn’t have to become panic, as long as students understand the keys to writing a successful college application essay. • Know what colleges look for. Colleges look for three main elements in an essay: writing skills, organizational ability and what makes a student unique or special. Why do schools want to know what makes a student special? Schools use essays to gauge how well students will fit in on campus and to help assemble a diverse student body. So it’s important for a student’s individuality to shine through. • Identify positive qualities. One of the best ways to create a unique essay is to showcase a student’s positive qualities and values. Sometimes students have difficulty identifying their positive qualities. When that happens, I usually suggest listing their accomplishments and then identifying the value each accomplishment represents. For example, a student who convinces a reluctant newspaper editor to run an important story demonstrates perseverance; a student who finds time to visit an elderly neighbor illustrates kindness. Be sure to consider accomplishments that might be considered small or without fanfare; these moments can often reflect a student’s finest qualities. • Include a learning experience. Almost every essay provides the opportunity to demonstrate a learning experience. When that chance presents itself, grab hold. Colleges like to see how students have matured over time, because they know that it’s through these growth experiences that students often gain insight into who they are and what their futures hold. • Make it interesting. Boring essays are tough to read and, worse, easily forgotten. Transform the uninspired into the memorable by using a few simple writing techniques: First, let creativity reign. Brainstorm every possibility, and never set limits on what is or is not a “good” topic. As long as the essay portrays the student in a positive light, every idea should be fully explored. Second, grab the reader’s attention with an interesting introduction. These three methods work especially well: 1) Pose a question (“Why did I quit the football team?”); 2) Begin with an intriguing statement (“I do my best work at night.”); or 3) Start with the action in the story (“The bloody gurney wheeled past me. I closed my eyes and prayed for the strength not to pass out.”). All three techniques will pull the reader into the essay and create anticipation for what’s to come. Finally, add detail. A few well-chosen details, such as how something looked, sounded, smelled, tasted, or felt, will personalize a story and help it come alive. • Keep asking why. If it becomes apparent that 50 other students could have written the same essay, then the essay is not personal enough. Fix the problem by digging deeper and asking “why.” Questions such as, “Why did I make that choice?” and “Why did it mean a lot to me?” can individualize an essay and ultimately distinguish it from the pack. The college essay process can be stressful, but when a student understands what is expected and is given the tools to succeed, the results can be memorable. Minus the meltdown.
Sharon Epstein is a Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee. She owns First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, where she specializes in college application essay writing and interview skills.



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• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• April 3, 2014 •

Three Connecticut entrepreneurs

Moms you should know about
Darien mom and entrepreneurial expert Holly Hurd founded a website called VentureMom to support, encourage and increase exposure for mom entrepreneurs working hard to run successful businesses. Many of the venturemoms are Connecticut women who decided to follow their passions and create a business venture around what they love most. On the VentureMom website, these moms can connect with other women, offer advice and words of encouragement, and they can sell their products and services in the VentureMom Shop. Three of the women featured on VentureMom.com are Connecticut moms who have followed their dreams to run a successful business right from their own homes and their stories are now inspiring women across the nation. Kim Genzburg, founder of Stick Storage Kim Genzburg invented Stick Storage to provide a storage solution to the clutter and chaos created by kids’ sticksports equipment, yard tools, rakes, mops, and brooms. As a mom, her days were packed with active kids going from school to sports and she was fed up with tripping over her kids’ sports equipment all over the house. She envisioned a place to organize the usual stick-heave that happens the second they walked through the door, and wanted her kids to have a place to store their sports equipment that would keep it all neatly sorted and organized — some kind of storage caddy that they would actually use. “I am so happy to be able to share this tool with fellow moms and dads who struggle with keeping their kids’ equipment together and organized. It’s also great for long-handled yard and household tools,” Genzburg said. Stick Storage units retail for $119, plus shipping and handling, and are available through stickstorage.com. Ruth Frantz, founder of Henri’s Reserve Ruth Frantz wanted to create a career where she wouldn’t have to travel so much and could work from anywhere with just a laptop and cell phone and take care of her 10-year-old daughter. So she took a leap, quit her job to restructure her life and had no idea what she would do. Thinking about her next move, she was talking with a friend about the fabulous artisanal family estate champagnes that were nearly impossible to find in the U.S., when she had an idea. She knew there are hundreds of small wineries in the champagne region of France who produce small quantities of “amazingly special” champagnes, so she decided to offer these boutique champagnes via e-Commerce. As an entertainer at home with food and wines, marketing champagne was a natural extension of her talents and interests. Getting help from a friend with the website, she went from idea to launch in a short seven months. “I saw a niche that wasn’t being fulfilled,” she said. “Using my past experience and skill set I was able to start my own thing.” Henri’s Reserve champagnes are available at henrisreserve.com. Karen Barski, founder of Woombie baby swaddle Karen Barski excelled in her nursing career for 19 years, started a family and simultaneously started her own business, KB Designs, LLC, in 2007 when she invented the Woombie baby swaddle. In the middle of the night — and on her grandmother’s sewing machine — the first Woombie prototype was created out of frustration that her newborn was not sleeping. And it worked! In 2011, she left her full-time nursing career to focus more on her business, continuing to identify the needs of parents and babies, which always brings her to the drawing board to design new innovative, eco-friendly products. She remains a nurse and educator as a certified newborn infant care specialist and instructor, infant sleep consultant and parenting consultant, assisting thousands of new parents on everything from postpartum hormones to bringing baby home, nutrition and sleep scheduling. Woombie baby swaddles and other products are available online at woombie.com. More info: venturemom.com

Above: Darien mom Holly Hurd founded VentureMom to encourage other mompreneurs. At left: The original Woombie baby swaddle, an invention of Connecticut mother and nurse, Karen Barski.

April 8 & May 12 at 9:00 a.m.

Take a Look Tours

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Robust Academics Spiritual Depth Impressive Visual & Performing Arts


“It’s About More than Dance... It’s About Enriching Lives”
YOUNG DANCERS CAMP 4-6 YR. OLDS Session 1 • July 7th-July 11th AM Mon-Fri • 9am-11:30am “Dora the Explorer” PM Mon-Fri • 12:30pm-3pm “Alice in Wonderland”
DANCE FEVER 2014 7-12 YR. OLDS Session 1 • July 7th-July 11th Mon-Fri • 9am-3pm “Pop Star Week”

Excellent New England Prep School Athletics

Session 2 • July 21st-July 25th AM Mon-Fri • 9am-11:30am “Disney Princess” PM Mon-Fri • 12:30pm-3pm “American Girl” Join us for “Lunch Bunch” Session 1 or 2 11:30am-12:30pm

Session 2 • July 21st-July 25th Mon-Fri • 9am-3pm “Glee Week” 4 YR. OLDS Pre-Ballet/Pre-Tap Saturdays 9:45am-10:45am

Ages 11 & Up Intermediate/Advanced Levels July 14th-July 18th 9:45am-3:45pm • Mon-Fri
Experience 5 days of amazing master classes with professional artists from NYC! View website for artist bios.


Call to Register for Tours 203-261-6230, ext. 555

3 YR. OLDS Pre-Dance Saturdays 9am-9:45am

2014 Summer Programs

For the 2013-2014 academic year for all students in grades 9 through 12


575 White Plains Rd Trumbull, CT 06611



838 Main Street • Monroe


CREATIVE MOVEMENT & MODERN Session 1 • August 4th-8th 9am-11:30am • 3-5 yr. olds 2pm-5pm • 6-9 yr. olds Session 2 • August 11th-15th 9am-11:30am • 3-5 yr. olds 2pm-5pm • 6-9 yr. olds

• April 3, 2014 •

• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •


‘Tis the season:

Safety tips for fairs and carnivals
want to be sure you are comfortable. Check the weather before going and dress for the temperature. Wear hats to shield your faces from the sun and lather on plenty of sunblock for protection. Avoid wearing any dangling clothes and jewelry. Tie back long hair to reduce your risk of accidents on rides. • Identify security guards or a security kiosk upon entering. Let children know where safety personnel are stationed. Establish a meet-up point that is very conspicuous should anyone get separated from the group. This central location will be checked first and should be easily identifiable for young children. Instruct the child to stay there until you find him or her. • Put your mobile phone number in your child's pocket. Put your name or "mom/dad" on a sheet of paper with a contact number and put it in your son or daughter's pocket. Should he or she get lost, the child can approach a security guard and give that person your phone number. • Take a current photo of the kids. Use your smartphone or camera to snap a picture of your children when you arrive at the event. This way you will have a method of helping others identify them should they get lost. • Observe the rides in advance. Watch rides before you get in line to try them out. Figure out if it is appropriate for a child and acclimate anyone who is nervous. Carnival rides often have a "you must be this tall to ride" sign at their entrance gates. • Look for inspection stickers. Carnival rides often have to be inspected for safety. If the ride doesn't have a current inspection sticker, don't ride it. • Stay hydrated. Pack plenty of bottled water for the day. Fairs make a lot of money on concession sales, and buying beverages all day can get expensive. Dehydration is common when spending hours outdoors in warm weather. It can make a person dizzy and feeling sick to their stomach. If you feel thirsty, you already are dehydrated. • Eat light. If you will be riding a lot of rides, it's better to eat light meals beforehand. Heavy, greasy foods in your stomach coupled with motion sickness can lead to trouble. Wait until after you have gotten your fill of the rides before indulging in funnel cake. • Stick together. It can be tempting to separate when you get to the carnival, as older children may not be interested in the same rides as their younger siblings. But separating increases the risk of someone getting lost. Carnivals and fairs are staples of the warmweather season across the country. These enjoyable outings are even more fun when families play it safe.

Carnivals, county fairs and street festivals can make for fun family outings. The nice weather just beckons people outdoors, and weekend after weekend resourceful carnival goers can probably find a fair nearby throughout Fairfield County. But revelers need to make sure their experiences are as safe as they are fun. The Outdoor Amusement Business Association estimates 500 million guests visit carnivals, fairs and festivals each year. More than half of them participate in mobile amusement rides, among other recreational pursuits. Such pursuits can not only be fun, but they also can be dangerous, especially for young children. As a result, parents taking their kids along to enjoy this wholesome fun should consider the following precautions. • Be prepared. Research the fair or carnival and know what to expect when you arrive. How big is it? What are the types of attractions and what vendors will be included? What is the parking situation? Are strollers allowed? Knowing what to expect can make the occasion a little less stressful. If your child is old enough to understand, explain what the fair entails and how it can be crowded and noisy. • Dress for the weather. It is important to wear sturdy, comfortable footwear. Many carnivals are set up in fields or empty parking lots. There will be a lot of walking, and you

Things to consider before choosing a summer camp
Summer camp is often something kids look forward to, and something they will fondly recall long after they reach adulthood. For many kids, summer camp provides a first taste of independence, as youngsters spend significant time away from home without their parents for the first time in their lives. But as great an experience as summer camp can be for youngsters, it can be just as difficult an experience if parents don't find the right fit for their children. The following are a few things parents should take into consideration when seeking a summer camp for their kids. Staff The right summer camp staff can make all the difference. Many children are understandably shy when arriving at a summer camp, as their friends from back home might not be joining them. That can make kids hesitant to participate in activities or less enthusiastic about those activities. But a good staff will know how to make kids feel welcome, which should help them come out of their shells and make the most of their summer camp experiences. The quality of staffs can vary significantly depending on the camp, so it's important that parents ask camp representatives about their staffs before making any commitments. Ask how long the staff has been together and the types of training new and even veteran staff members undergo before the start of camp season? Does the training include first aid and emergency medical training and certification? It's also good to ask about the vetting process the camp employs before hiring new staff, including the extent of its background checks. Are criminal background checks conducted? How many references must potential staff members supply to be considered for employment? A good camp will be forthcoming with answers to all of your questions, so eliminate those that appear hesitant to share information about their staffs. A day in the life When vetting camps for kids, parents should ask what a typical day is like once the season hits full swing. Many parents want their children to have a well-rounded experience, while others might want their kids to attend a more specialized camp, whether it's a sports camp focusing on a particular sport or a music camp devoted to helping kids become better musicians. Regardless of the type of camp parents are considering for their kids, they should ask about what daily life at the camp is like. Ask to see schedules and how strictly camps adhere to those schedules. When considering specialized camps, ask the staff representative if kids will have the chance to simply have a little fun and which types of recreational activities are planned to give kids a break from what are often rigorous schedules. Camp goals Another thing parents must consider before choosing a summer camp for their kids is the goals of each individual camp. A camp should be dedicated to ensuring kids have fun, even when kids are attending more specialized camps that tend to be more strict. In addition, parents should look for a camp that wants its attendees to foster relationships with their fellow campers. Camp can be lonely for some youngsters, especially those attending summer camp for the first time, but a summer camp that strives to promote friendship among its campers can reduce, if not eliminate, any feelings of homesickness.

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• 10 •

• Kids World • Hersam Acorn Newspapers •

• April 3, 2014 •

2014 Summer Dance Camp Explosion
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The Dance Workshop

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