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"The old clinic doesn't even compare," DuVal adds. "If people in the community could see the clinic, they would be amazed by what MCV can offer."

Much of the artwork displayed in the clinic was created and donated by artist Betsy Fowler, wife of noted wildlife expert, Jim Fowler. Colors for the clinic were coordinated with the colors in the original artwork. The unique frames and the hand-sculpted Penny Tree in the clinic were donated by Signs Unlimited.

The VCU Health System sponsored the opening event to honor ASK's contributions to the university and its hospitals.

ASK began discussing the possibility of relocating from the Dalton Clinic to a more suitable area with VCU Health System staff in fall 2001, DuVal says. The $400,000 project to relocate ASK to the Nelson Clinic was underway by August 2002, and the clinic began treating patients on Nov. 12.

ASK is a nonprofit 501-C3 tax-exempt volunteer organization that provides social, emotional, financial and spiritual support to children who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families. ASK also supports clinical and laboratory research at the VCU Health System to aid in finding causes and cures of childhood cancer.

Community Idea Stations seek entries for Ninth Annual

READING RAINBOW Young Writers & Illustrators Contest

Children in kindergarten through third grade are invited to write and illustrate their own stories and enter them in the contest. Entries will be grouped by grade level and reviewed by Richmond-area judges, and the wining stories will be sent to a national competition. The entry deadline is March 1, 2003.

"The Young Writers & Illustrators Contest encourages READING RAINBOW fans and all young students to take their love of books, and their imagination, a step further, by trying their hand at writing and illustrating their own stories," says Melissa Brown, a former teacher who now serves as Ready to Learn Coordinator for the Community Idea Stations.

First-place stories from the Community Idea Stations will be entered in the national READING RAINBOW Young Writers & Illustrators Contest, along with winners from other public television stations across the country. One story from each participating station will be posted on the national READING RAINBOW web site. Local winners in this year's contest will be announced by April 1, 2003.

Entries must be accompanied by a signed entry form. The entry form, as well as contest rules, are available online in PDF format at www.ideastations.org. If you do not have access to the web, contact Melissa Bown at 560-8134.

SPARC expands locations

Well known in the Richmond area for its classes and productions, The School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) will host three new courses at Bon Air United Methodist Church. The school also holds classes at First English Lutheran Church in the fan, The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen and Epiphany Lutheran Church in the West End.

"We have had requests for many years to bring programming into southside," says Liz Nance, project manager.

The new location will offer three new classes: Mini SPARC for ages 5 and 6, Advanced Mini SPARC for ages 7 and 8 and Beginning Acting. The Mini SPARC and Advanced Mini SPARC 13-week classes devote one hour to stage movement, theater games, children's songs and performer readiness skills. The 10-week Beginning Acting class provides a fun introduction to acting techniques through theater games, improvisation and simple scripted material.

"We are finding that there are many boys who want to pursue acting, but are less comfortable with the singing and dancing components of our training," Nance says. "We created the Beginning Acting course to meet that need. It will be taught by Swift Creek Mill resident musical director Paul Deiss, who teaches several other classes for us."

Last summer SPARC offered a camp at Bon Air United Methodist Church for young people ages 6 through 9. The camp will be offered again this summer along with its West End complementary camp at Epiphany Lutheran Church. In the fall, SPARC will add its CORE program to the Bon Air Class roster. The class offers graduated curriculum for ages 10 through 17 who progress through work on stage terminology, voice and speech, improvisation, scripted material, Broadway musical repertoire and a variety of dance styles used in stage choreography.

For more information on SPARC, call 355-2662 or visit SPARConline.org.

Welcome to

the Neighborhood

It's a good bet that most parents and children have at one time or another visited Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The show, which made its national debut on public television in 1968, has been recognized internationally as a unique, pioneering effort to communicate with young children about things that matter in childhood. Fred Rogers — Mister Rogers to his audiences — has been the recipient of every major award in television and education, and has received honorary degrees from more than 40 colleges and universities.

Soon, Mister Rogers will be coming to our neighborhood. The Children's Museum of Richmond (CMoR), the Community Idea Stations and Family Communications, Inc. are bringing the beloved host to Richmond on the weekend of April 4 for a weekend-long community festival. The highlight will be a public lecture for adults by Fred Rogers on Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. at VCU's Alltell Siegel Center. The event is to raise money for CMoR's Open Doors Open Minds scholarship fund.

Two educational seminars, offered on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Children's Museum, are designed for child-care providers, social workers, psychologists, pediatric medical professionals, mental health counselors and early-intervention and early-education professionals, as well as parents. Participants will be eligible for continuing education units from Virginia Commonwealth University. Scholarships are available for the seminars.

Special friends from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood — Mr. McFeely (the Speedy Delivery Man) and Purple Panda — will make appearances at the Children's Museum on Saturday, April 5, and Sunday, April 6, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Fred Rogers' lifetime of service to children and families has earned him The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood made its national debut on public television in 1968. Fred Rogers is currently chairman of Family Communications, Inc., the nonprofit company that he formed in 1971 to produce Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The company has since diversified into non-broadcast educational materials that reflect the same philosophy and purpose: to encourage the healthy emotional growth of children and their families.

For more information about the April event, visit the CMoR website: www.c-mor.org or call Tracy Hines, event coordinator, at 474-7006.

boys don't cry

Dr. Mary Polce-Lynch challenges adults to help boys express their emotions.

Have you ever had a boy tell you how he learned to hide his feelings? I have. The first time was about 20 years ago. His name was Michael and I was his middle school track coach. He was having trouble in school, so I asked him how things were going. He said, "Fine." Then he looked away and mentioned his dog had recently died. When I told him I was sorry, he told me he didn't feel anything. I asked Michael when he last remembered feeling sad. He looked further away before answering, "Probably last year, before I asked my friend Joey to push me down on my paved driveway, over and over and over, until I could get hurt and learn to not cry."

The driveway drill was successful. Michael learned to mask his vulnerable feelings. But now he had a new problem. He couldn't feel much of anything and his emotions were coming out "sideways" as acting-out behaviors and poor grades.

There are different stories about how boys (and men) make their feelings disappear. Sometimes it is a singular incident like Michael's; for others it's more gradual. Researchers who investigate this process continue to discover that the psychology of emotions is quite complex. My dissertation research identified one pattern: Boys and girls' emotional expression was the same in 5th grade, but boys' emotional expression was lower than girls' in 8th grade, and even lower by 12th grade. As a developmental psychologist and psychotherapist now, I find these and other statistical gender differences to be interesting insofar as they help us understand why boys learn to hide their feelings — and what we can do about it.

Why should we support boys' emotions? The answer is simple: Boys are people, too. Yet many believe that males don't readily identify or express feelings due to a biological sex difference. While genetics play a role with emotions, there are actually more differences between individuals than between sexes. Or at least before socialization begins.

If you think about it, no one likes to cry in public. Not even girls. But boys are more severely punished for showing their vulnerability. When tears swell or fear strikes, boys' feelings are more likely to be ignored than comforted. Or quickly snuffed out by, "Awe, man…don't be a wimp." Giving comfort to boys teaches them that their feelings are normal; it also helps them to get over it more quickly (contrary to common myth).

Behaviors we consider masculine in our culture are often necessary and indeed, valuable. The problem starts when boys become "straightjacketed" by strictly adhering to cultural ideas about how to become a man. I call these ideas The Pack Rules (e.g., boys don't cry). How do we re-write healthier rules? First, parents (and adults who teach or care for boys) must acknowledge the common but mistaken fear that supporting boys' emotions will lessen their masculinity. In reality, feelings don't feminize boys they humanize boys.

When parents decide their son's emotional development is as important as his cognitive, athletic, and spiritual development, we start changing culture family by family. Boys learn broader definitions of how to become a man: It's OK to be both strong and scared, winner and loser, logical and feeling. Such emotional intelligence helps boys develop the necessary relationship skills to be a good sport, son, brother, friend, (and later, husband). Doesn't sound like a bad investment, does it?

Michael eventually found his feelings again with some counseling and his parents' help. However, for every Michael there are many other boys who don't have the same opportunity. They get the Pack Rules instead. Over the years I've listened to boys and men talk about hiding their emotions. But even more important, they talk about needing to express them. This is best described by Kevin, a depressed 17-year old, "My parents and [guy] friends are great…they come to my games and stuff, but they never ask me what's going on inside."

Let's keep remembering to ask. FS

Note: Pseudonyms and composite vignettes are used for confidentiality purposes.

Mary Polce-Lynch, Ph.D. is Assistant Director, Counseling & Career Center and Assistant Professor of Psychology, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA and author of Boy Talk: How You Can Help Your Son Express His Emotions (2002, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Press)

Get acquainted with the Family Gallery Design Studio

By Joan Tupponce

Just outside the "Celebrating Art Nouveau: The Kreuzer Collection" exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, you'll discover an intimate room where children can test their artistic abilities. Part of the "Celebrating Art Nouveau: The Kreuzer Collection," the Family Gallery Design Studio invites children and their families to explore how art nouveau artists used nature as inspiration for creating works of art. Actual works of art and their real-life counterparts are on-view to inspire families to create their own art nouveau designs.

"This is a very user-friendly family activity," explains Sandy Rusak, associate director for education and outreach. "They have the opportunity to look at objects of art, some abstract, some realistic, and to understand the notion of decorative arts and how it is defined. It's an opportunity not just to observe, but also to think and create and put themselves in the role of the artist."

Popular from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, art nouveau marries art and nature. In the gallery, families can participate in five design stations with separate topics:

? Things That Grow — examines the importance of plants to art nouveau artists, who incorporated all manner of flowers, vines and seedpod designs into their art. Children can look at real seedpods and create their own design for a belt buckle similar to those found in the Kreuzer Collection.

? Feathered Friends — showcases a bird's freedom to move between heaven and earth. Families can study a mounted Great Blue Heron on loan from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, along with samples of peacock, pheasant and ostrich feathers. A magnifying glass allows children to study the feather patterns, then create their own drawings.

? Ideas into Art — encourages children to examine how art nouveau artists interpreted nature both realistically and abstractly. Insect-inspired buckles can be compared to actual butterflies and dragonflies.

? Where the Wild Things Are — looks at the wilder side of art nouveau and creatures that represent untamed nature, such as a Great Horned Owl (on loan from the Science Museum of Virginia) and a sculpture of an Canebrake Rattlesnake by artist Willy Wilmoth.

? The Art Nouveau Woman — presents a video of archival film showing L”ie Fuller, the most famous dancer in the world at the turn of the 19th/20th century and the inspiration for many art nouveau artists. Children are invited to create their own designs.

Children and their families may also pick up "Family Guide: Exploring Nature in Art," which encourages them to discover other works in the museum's permanent collection in which artists have taken their inspiration in nature. "Children can find the objects in the guide," Rusak says. "They'll be able to pick up trading cards that will answer the questions asked. We hope this will help children come to know and love the permanent collection as well as our special exhibitions."

"Celebrating Art Nouveau: The Kreuzer Collection" is on view through Jan. 19, 2003.

"The Nutcracker" — An annual tradition

This year, "The Nutcracker" performed by the Richmond Ballet will return to the Landmark Theater stage.

"We're very excited to be back at the Landmark this season," says Jennifer MacKenzie, marketing director for the Richmond Ballet. "It allows us to show off the production at its biggest and most magical."

Artistic Director Stoner Winslett agrees, "The size of the theater allows us to bring back some of the wonderful effects — like the flying sleigh — that have been absent from the production for the past eight seasons."

This will be the last year for the 19-year-old production. "It's time for a new face-lift," MacKenzie says. "We hope to unveil the new production with breathtaking new costumes and new sets in December 2003. Right now, the economic state is affecting funding. So, we welcome any help we can get."

Those who would like to help have the opportunity to buy a piece of the new production. "We'll recognize those people in the playbill and have a Christmas tree with their names on it," MacKenzie says. If your child has participated in the play at one time or another, you may want to fund the costume they wore for the new season.

Families who attend one of this year's matinee performances may also want to share the delights of the season at one of the Sweets Parties in the ballroom of the Landmark Theater following each matinee performance. You can enjoy delicious confections, games and entertainment, and meet Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King and their friends. Proceeds from the parties benefit Richmond Ballet and the School of the Richmond Ballet. Parties will be on:

Saturday, Dec. 14 at 4 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 21 at noon and 5 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 22 at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $9.50 per person, children ages 2 and younger are admitted free of charge. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 262-8100.

Tickets for "The Nutcracker" are $50, $35 and $20 for adults with discounts for students and seniors available for all performances. Tickets to "The Nutcracker" also are available through Ticketmaster 262-8100 or www.ticketmaster.com or Ticketmaster outlets including Ukrop's, Hecht's or the Landmark Theater box office. Shows begin Friday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. and run through Sunday, Dec. 22, with matinees Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22. For information regarding times and tickets, call Richmond Ballet at 344-0906, ext. 224.

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