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YMCA of Lansing receives grant from Consumers Energy Foundation

A $30,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation will help fund facility improvements to two branches of the YMCA of Lansing, and enable the nonprofit to continue expanding services that focus on health, wellness, and special needs of children, teens and adults.
 
 "Youth development, social responsibility and healthy living are part of our mission," says Cheri Schimmel, development director of the YMCA of Lansing. "We're grateful for support of the Consumer Energy Foundation in helping us reach our goals through our ongoing Capital Campaign."
 
Renovations to the Oak Park branch in South Lansing will include improvements to the childcare center and kids' gym. The Consumers Energy Foundation grant will also be used toward the creation of a recreational outdoor sports park on the branch's backgrounds.
 
The Oak Park YMCA opened in 1982 and provides childcare and recreational programs for the community. Estimates are that 82 children each week will be served by the branch's improved childcare center. About 250 children a week currently use the kids' gym, and will continue to use the improved facilities. The YMCA projects that about 3,000 youth will find a safe, controlled place to play through the new recreational outdoor sports park each year. 
 
At the Parkwood branch, funds will be applied toward extensive renovations to the wellness center and improvements of the indoor track. The Parkwood YMCA was established in 1961 and serves 13,000 people each month. About 750 scholarships are awarded each year to enable qualifying families and individuals to participate in programs and activities.
 
"The Lansing Y has been here for 137 years," says Schimmel. "We reflect the needs of the community and work to serve those needs."
 
The YMCA of Metropolitan Lansing has six operating units, including Mystic Lake Camp near Clare, and branches downtown, on Lansing's west side, in the Oak Park area to the south, in East Lansing, and DeWitt. The YMCA employs nearly 500 individuals, and serves nearly 16,000 memberships throughout the community.
 
Sources: Cheri Schimmel, Development Director, YMCA of Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

St. Vincent's partners with Firecracker Foundation

A limited number of child survivors of sexual trauma will have access to therapeutic services through a new partnership between the Firecracker Foundation and St. Vincent Catholic Charities. The services are free and available to children whose families would not otherwise be able to afford high-quality, consistent care.
 
"This is one more step in helping us make valuable services available to people who lack the financial resources," says Tamra Johnson, community relations and marketing director for the Lansing-based St. Vincent's. "We are looking to serve as many children as possible."
 
The program began January 1 and is already serving one client. St. Vincent's provides therapists with specialized skills for working with survivors of sexual trauma, while the Firecracker Foundation provides funding supported through community donations. Clients may be referred to St. Vincent's through the Firecracker Foundation, or may call St. Vincent's directly for information on how to access services.
 
National statistics reveal that one in three girls and one in six boys will experience sexual trauma before the age of 18. Of those children, many will be among the 25 percent of children who live in poverty in Michigan. Further statistics reported by the Firecracker Foundation indicate that the lifetime economic burden of child abuse is estimated to be about $124 billion for communities across the United States.
 
"We are excited to partner with a local organization that is an essential resource to so many in need," says Tashmica Torok, executive director of the Firecracker Foundation. "This collaboration will help us extend treatment and prevent the consequences of untreated trauma for some of the youngest survivors in the tri-county area."
 
Torok says donations from the community will be crucial to sustaining the services of the Firecracker Foundation and the partnership with St. Vincent's.
 
"Every little bit helps," says Torok. "We hope to raise $65,000 by the end of 2015."
 
To learn more about services and how to apply, call St. Vincent's at 517-323-4734 or visit the Firecracker Foundation here. 
 
Source: Tamra Johnson, Community Relations and Marketing Director, St. Vincent Catholic Charities
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Area partners invests in kids with innovative education savings initiative

Families of kindergarteners in Lansing are getting a boost toward saving for their future education thanks to a new financial program unveiled in mid-January through the City of Lansing, the Lansing School District, and the MSU Federal Credit Union.
 
Lansing SAVE—or Student Accounts Valuing Education—involves opening up an MSUFCU savings account for 357 kindergarten students at five schools to help families save for their child's post-secondary education. Students at Cumberland, Lyon, Reo, Riddle and Willow schools were enrolled in the first phase of the program. Other schools and groups of elementary students will join over the next four years, with the end goal being an MSUFCU savings account for every kindergartener in the Lansing School District.
 
"We all have the same goal to see our children be successful in life and be a positive contributing member of the community," says April Clobes, MSUFCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "That ultimately leads to a better community for everyone."
 
The MSUFCU provided the initial funds to open up the individual accounts for students. Lansing SAVE will seek private sponsors to contribute to accounts, while family members and friends are encouraged to make regular contributions. The credit union has also committed to provide a $100 graduation gift to students that complete the program, graduate from high school, and go to college.
 
Lansing SAVE account holders will also receive in-school financial education from the MSUFCU in cooperation with the Lansing School District. The programs will include teaching children about money through a progression of age-appropriate courses. Subjects will include how to save, spend and donate, as well as future lessons on budgeting and understanding credit. All the lessons are paired with activities children can do at home with their family.
 
"Our children are our future," says Clobes. "They're our future employees, parents and elected officials. Investing in children and helping them to be successful is how we continue to have a vibrant and successful community."
 
Source: April Clobes, Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, MSU Federal Credit Union
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Non-profit ITEC to put STEM on the road in Lansing low-income neighborhoods

A bus outfitted with high-tech instructional gear will start rolling into Lansing's low-income areas this summer to help kids with math and science concepts, prepare for college, and train as tomorrow's scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.
 
The TechTransport Bus is among the latest innovative strategies of the nonprofit Information Technology Empowerment Center to bring STEM education to local communities whose residents have limited access to home computers and the Internet.
 
The bus serves as a mobile computer lab, bringing courses in robotics, digital media, game design, animation programming, and web and app development. A "spaceship simulator" will enable students to travel to distant planets and serve as members of a crew. Basic computer literacy, college readiness workshops, after school tutoring programs in math and science, and GED prep and entrepreneurship classes will also be part of the curriculum.
 
"We're looking at fantastic educational opportunities that can help people develop the skills needed for 21st century jobs," says Luke Kane, director of education programs at ITEC. "We hope to take the bus to whoever wants to use it."
 
ITEC expects to have the bus on the road as early as July 2015, with stops anticipated at local schools, community centers, business parking lots, summer camps or special events. The bus can accommodate up to 14 students at a time. ITEC expects to serve 2,500 students annually throughout the Capital region through TechTransport programs.
 
Kane says ITEC plans to hire several staff to provide programming, and is in the process of recruiting students from Lansing Community College to work on the bus.
 
Lansing's Dean Transportation donated the bus, while the R.E. Olds and Joe D. Pentecost foundations helped outfit the bus exterior with a high-tech look. ITEC is seeking additional funds to help cover the costs of hardware, classroom materials, maintenance and upkeep.

Source: Luke Kane, Director of Education Programs, Tech Transport
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Innovation News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Hatching contestant pitches Mini Maker Space

With the introduction of various Maker spaces in the area, inventors and creatives are getting more opportunities to bring their ideas to life. But, with all these opportunities, Melissa Rabideau Allen noticed a particular group that was being left out. “Kids are pretty much geniuses,” says Rabideau, “but their creativity isn’t always harnessed.”

As part of the team that brought us The Poochie Bowl, Rabideau presented her idea for a Mini Maker Space at last months’ Hatching and brought home the grand prize. The space will be open to kids ages 4-12, but Rabideau says they won’t exclude those older or younger that would like to participate. “A lot of the time kids have ideas, they just don’t know how to make them happen,” says Rabideau. 

The space will have hands on tools, technology and other inventors available to them that can help with the logistics of their idea. They will have access to 3D printers and scanners, motors, circuits and anything else that will help them take an idea and turn it into a product. 

The Mini Maker Space will have a flagship store in the Meridian Mall and will look to other Maker Spaces to connect with them. They expect to hire at least 10-12 people within the next 6-12 months. 

Source: Melissa Rabideau Allen, Founder
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Art For Charlie Foundation to hold first bereavement conference

The Art for Charlie Foundation is holding a Conference on Pediatric Hospice and Bereavement Support on Nov. 1. The goal of the conference, according to Richard Graham-Yooll, is to bring attention to the gap in hospice and hospital care for children and begin to move toward a solution. 

The gap was brought to the attention of Yooll’s family with the diagnosis and death of Charlie (who was diagnosed at 2 and died three years later). The family learned the importance of coordinated palliative and hospice care for children in Michigan and this conference is a step toward providing that care. 

The conference will bring together professionals, catalog the resources in the area and bring others up to speed on the state of care in the area. “It’s important that hospitals everywhere have the details of centralized pediatric care around them,” says Richard. Even if they can’t provide it, it’s important they know where to send their patients. 

There will be discussions, panels and Yooll is hoping all the attendees will participate and exchange ideas. “This is not a money making conference. We want to see people who are interested. We want results.” 

Yooll also recognizes the advantage of doing something like this in Lansing and being so close to the government. 

Source: Richard Graham-Yooll, Art for Charlie Foundation
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

MSU Extension hosts Friends Day Camp, teaches health, nutrition

Earlier this month, MSU Extension hosted the Friend's Day Camp; a camp that focuses on health, nutrition and keeping kids active.

The major goals of the camp, according to Suzanne Pish, Extension Educator, are to teach kids that physical activity can be fun and affordable and you don't have to go to the gym to stay active. They also learn about nutrition, 4-H and being a good friend.

The camp relies heavily on the support of the community, volunteers and grants to keep growing but this year they were able to hire summer help to assist with the program. They utilize youth assistants, many of who are past participants in the camps. When they are too old for the camp, and not old enough to become a counselor, they can still participate as volunteers and Pish says that's one of the most positive experiences from the camp. "We've had participants who have gone from campers, to volunteers, to counselors. It's great to see their willingness to come back."
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The coordinators of the camp are always trying to top the previous year, and this year the campers were given the opportunity to visit the MSU Gardens. Pish says, "For many it was their first experience on a college campus."

The program also has scholarship opportunities for those that can't afford it, "We don't ask questions, we just offer the scholarship." 



Source: Suzanne Pish, Extenstion Educator
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

4-H and Veterinary Science Camps educates, creates opportunities

Last week, the MSU Extensions Program held the first ever 4-H Animal and Veterinary Science Camp.
The goal of the camp's first year according to camp director Julie Thelen, was to better connect Michigan youth with MSU, the professors and the programs so that they are better prepared for life on campus and experiences later in life.

Julie was hired a year ago to expand the curriculum, 4 veterinary students were hired to assist with the program and others are hired annually to help with programs like this. They needed all the help they could get considering the interest in the program. They received 124 applications and had to max participation at 60 students. After the deadline they had 60-80 more interested. They even had an application from Singapore and a few others from out of state. 

Throughout the camp students are given hands on experience, able to work with live animals (some for the first time) and are faced with everything they would need to do to get into veterinary school. At the end of the week they are given real world situations to respond to and have presentations with one of the head professors from the Vet school.

"It's a big deal for them to be able to interact, learn and get behind some of the misconceptions concerning agriculture," says Thelen.

Source: Julie Thelen, Michigan State University Extension Children and Youth Institute
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Sparrow and MSU partner to offer unique, hands on experience for youth

MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and Sparrow Health Systems have teamed up to create a one of a kind experience for a group of Lansing High School students.

FutureDOCS kicked off on June 5th and is giving a group of 16 outstanding students from Eastern, Everett and Sexton High Schools the chance to pursue an interest in a career in medicine. A hands-on experience, Program Director Floyd Hardin says one of their goals is to make students "work force ready." They will learn what it's like to attend medical school, get time in an actual ER and even get instructions on how to create a resume and personal statement.

Since the students are from communities that may be under resourced, Hardin also stressed the importance of helping these students become active participants, or even future leaders, in their community. "We want to instill pride and turn them into leaders that can someday give back," says Hardin.

The program is all about providing resources to under- served populations and providing tangible experience the students can take into the work force. To aide in this, and because of the quick growth of the program, a new Program Assistant was hired and Hardin says they expect to need more.

The students will work closely with MSU faculty, Sparrow physicians and be mentored by MSUCOM students.

Source: Floyd Hardin, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 

Camp helps youth improve athletic movement

Young athletes between the ages of 6 and 10 will have the opportunity to improve their athletic movement through an expansion to the Speed and Athletic Enhancement camps offered by the Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program (SNAPP).

SNAPP supports young athletes in the Lansing area by providing training, testing, sports nutrition expertise and a research library at Michigan State University.

“Physical education has been cut out of the public school curriculum in the last decade,” stated Joe Eisenmann, director of SNAPP and professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. “This program is in response to a call out from the community and parents of younger athletes who want to help their children develop fundamental motor skills.”

The FUNdamentals of Athletic Movement is scheduled for every Sunday from 6p.m. to 7p.m. starting April 27, 2014 and ending on May 25, 2014. The camp will be held at Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. For more information or to register, visit SNAPP.msu.edu or call 517-884-6133.

Source: Joe Eisenmann, Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

4-H Renewable Energy Camp introduces local students to innovative technologies

Local youth between the ages of 13 and 19 are invited to apply to attend the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp.

Starting June 23rd, students will reside in dorms to experience college life and participate in off campus tours around the state to learn about the unique role the state of Michigan plays in renewable energy.

Topics of study will include solar, wind and cellulose power sources. Instructors will show students the process of growing crops like soy beans, corn and sugar cane specifically for the purpose of converting them into energy that can be utilized by the community they live in.

“It will be a dynamic experience that exposes children to renewable energy and how they might be a part of it,” said Jacob Dedecker, Stem Program Leader for MSU Extension. “We provide youth with examples of what careers look like now and what they may be like in the future.”

There will also be a Teen Challenge component of the camp announced in the future.  Participants will work with leading researchers and industry leaders to find solutions to renewable energy problems and make their own experiments.

While creating awareness for the work that Michigan State University and local industries do within the different facets of renewable energy technology, the camp organizers seek to highlight successes and initial endeavors in the field for students interested in pursuing a career in the field.

The application for the camp is available online here. The cost of the camp is $190 for 4-H members and $200 for non-members. The fee includes meals, lodging and camp materials. 

Source: Jacob Dedecker, MSU Extension
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Eli Broad Museum, MSUFCU partner to display preschool artwork

Art created by young artists from the MSU Child Development Lab is on public display in the lobby of MSUFCU thanks to a partnership with the Eli Broad Art Museum.
 
“Introducing young children to art gives them the opportunity to practice critical thinking in a creative way that is not offered in public schools today,” said Aimee Shapiro, Director of Education for the Broad. “You create lifelong learners when you support a child’s ability to make choices and the confidence that what they choose is important.”
 
Staff members of the Broad shared the artwork of Beverly Fishman with each preschool class before asking them to create their own masterpieces. Children were able to choose from an abundance of materials supplied by the museum. Students from both the Haslett and East Lansing campuses participated in the project.
 
“This was an effort to broaden our relationship with different communities and institutions outside of the University”, said Shapiro. “It is really important to us that the people in our area not only view the Broad as a free resource but as a part of their community.”
 
Members of the community can view the display which includes two pieces of Fishman's own art for the next three months at MSUFCU's headquarters at 3777 West Road, East Lansing.

Source: Aimee Shapiro, Eli Broad Museum
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

CAWLM donates $15,000 to Lansing Promise with partner AT&T

The Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine (CAWLM) and AT&T donated $15,000  to Lansing Promise.

This is the second year that the CAWLM has chosen Lansing Promise as the beneficiary of their annual 80s Flashback Fundraiser. Dedicated to helping students continue their education after high school, Lansing Promise awards college scholarships to Lansing students.

“Anytime we give back to a local cause there is a larger goal of positively impacting the community as a whole, not just the specific organization we give to," said Emily Caswell, Managing Editor of the CAWLM. ”From the start, the event has been, not only totally rad, but a fundraising event for a community cause.”

During the fundraiser, the University Club’s Henry Center is transformed to give guests the feeling that they’ve been transported back in time. Popular 80s cover band Starfarm provides the entertainment while costumed attendees dance, perform in an 80s Idol Contest, enjoy a candy table and a cash bar with a signature 80s drink. AT&T works as a partner to secure funding for the event.
 
“I believe that students who receive this funding for college or post-high school job training will not forget how their community supported them and in turn, when they are ready and able, will do great things for their community.” asserted Caswell.

The CAWLM 80s Flashback Fundraiser will be held on March 22, 2014 and tickets are on sale now at www.cawlm.com

Source: Emily Caswell, Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Study Finds 'Hip-Hop' Students Face Disciplinary Discrimination

A new study finding that Black and Latino students who identify with ‘hip-hop’ culture face unfair disciplinary practices in urban schools may help shape more equitable school districts in the Greater Lansing area.
 
Professor Muhammad Khalifa performed an ethno-graphic study to understand the full cultural context of schools in Southeastern Michigan over the course of two years. The study gathered individual responses, field notes, school data and involved shadowing subjects to create a more in depth picture than what could have been represented with interviews and surveys.
 
Khalifa, a Michigan State University assistant professor of education completed his investigations during his Doctoral work.
 
“Traditional schools have casted aside ‘hip-hop’ culture as a deviance,” said Khalifa. “There are achievement, suspension and disciplinary gaps that can be resolved if educators begin to view these students as assets instead of burdens.”
 
The findings of this study follow a recent charge from the Obama administration to discontinue zero tolerance policies that critics believe marginalize students that do not conform to their school district's cultural norms. Based on Khalifa’s study, schools can perform an equity audit to determine which students, parents, teachers and non-instructional staff are feeling excluded by the school system.
 
“We are very clear on which teachers are struggling and how to map a plan for improvement,” asserted Khalifa, “Until we have a handle on our equity data and a plan to create a district that is inclusionary instead of exclusionary, than we are not serious about reforming education.”

Professor Khalifa is currently working with a team to provide area schools with access to an online equity audit that can be performed and returned electronically. This inexpensive resource would generate a report giving school leaders and communities an equity benchmark for their school, as well as a way to move forward in an inclusive and culturally responsible way.
 
Source: Muhammad Khalifa, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor
 

Grant Award to Fund STEM Education for At Risk Girls

Young girls in the Greater Lansing area will have the opportunity to participate in ‘girls only’ STEM clubs through a new program called 2020 Girls.
 
A partnership between the Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) was recently awarded a $26,000 Women’s Initiative Grant by the Women’s Leadership Council of the Capital Area United Way to support this new program for at risk girls.
 
“15% of Computer Science students at Michigan State University are women and 85% are male,” says Kirk Riley, Execituve Director of ITEC. “That’s an incredible disparity.”
 
Since its formation in 2008, the ITEC has worked to provide resources to help students improve their grades in science and math. Their IT based programs are implemented at community locations like the Capital Area District Library, the YMCA and Lansing Community College. Students are given the opportunity to learn robotics, basic programming, digital media and game design.
 
“We try to play to a child’s inner geek and help them learn through play,” Riley said.
 
2020 Girls will have an innovative laser focus on improving the way that at risk girls experience science and math.  The ITEC is proposing that STEM clubs be set up at schools within the Lansing School District were young girls will experiment with building robots, developing apps and designing their own video games. 

The hope is that 2020 Girls will teach young girls 21st Century skills like problem solving, analytical thinking, collaboration and creativity while encouraging them to keep their sights on STEM careers past middle school when they typically lose interest.

Source: Kirk Rily, Information Technology Empowerment Center
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor
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