Spreading awareness of its Characters Unite Month (which advocates acceptance, understanding and respect for all), the USA network brings its nationwide “I Won’t Stand For” bus tour to the Windy City Feb 21–22. The award-winning public service campaign encourages participants to show zero tolerance for intolerance and pick current-events issues to personally champion.
As part of the network’s upcoming event at Millennium Park, visitors create free, custom T-shirts that draw lines in the sand. They’ll fill in “I won’t stand for…” blanks with stamped words like bullying, racism or homophobia. Following in the footsteps of campaigns like Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” initiative, guests can take pictures to share online or film “I won’t stand for…” videos to add to the rising tide of voices against injustice. Among the network’s staff of characters lending support day of is “Psych” co-star Dulé Hill. He’ll appear in Chicago on the 22nd from 11am–1pm to talk about the program.
The Chicago stop during USA Network’s Characters Unite Month offers a great teaching moment for kids and parents alike. For many, the activities will jump-start conversations about prejudice—and how we should all treat it when we see it. Prior to the campaign's stop in Chicago (its final), the tour traveled through Denver, Nashville, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Dearborn, MI. At that last site, the tour and town's Henry Ford Museum celebrated the 100th birthday of one woman who literally wouldn’t stand for discrimination: Rosa Parks.
The event takes place on Feb 21–22, 11am–8pm in Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St. Free.
Wicked, the musical phenomenon prequel to The Wizard of Oz that enjoyed a nearly four-year run at the Oriental Theatre from 2005 to 2009, will return for an eight-week engagement this fall, Broadway in Chicago says. An onsale date for individual tickets is yet to be announced.
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked imagines a pre-Dorothy backstory for the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good and several other characters familiar from L. Frank Baum's original and the 1939 MGM film.
The show has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman; though it lost the 2004 Tony Awards for best musical, book and score to Avenue Q, Wicked has gone on to set box office records in a number of cities. The new stop by one of Wicked's touring companies will hit Chicago October 30–December 21, coinciding with the ten-year anniversary of the musical's Broadway production, which opened October 30, 2003 and is still running.
One of Wicked's lead producers, Marc Platt, is also the father of Ben Platt, who's starring as Elder Cunningham in the Chicago production of The Book of Mormon at the Bank of America Theatre, a few blocks south of the Oriental.
Now through February 28, Build-A-Bear Workshop is seeking out young entrepreneurs looking to make a significant impact on their communities. Applicants need to be between the ages of 8 and 18 to be elible for the Huggable Heroes Program. Ten winners will be awarded $10,000 in the form of a $6,400 scholarship, a $2,500 donation to the charity of their choice, and a $1,100 Jefferson Awards GLOBECHANGERS mentoring scholarship to support their budding entrepreneurism.
Through the mntoring program, each young business mind is provided a mentor for a year, to give them skills in writing business plans, networking and fundraising, as they can continue to pursue their charitable duties. The Huggable Heroes will also receive a trip to St. Louis, home of Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters, participate in a Jefferson Awards bootcamp session, take part in a day of service, and have their photos taken to potentially be featured in the Build-A-Bear Workshop 2014 calendar. Past winners have included cancer charities, clothing companies and one 15-year-old who started a charity, donating eyeglasses to needy kids.
Entries will be narrowed down to 80 semifinalists in March and 30 finalists in May, who will also be recognized as Huggable Heroes. On June 10, the selected ten will be named 2013 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes. Kids, 8-18, can either nominate themselves or be nominated by others online, in store at any participating United States, Canada or Puerto Rico locations, or by mail.
I'm of the opinion that it's really not a parade unless a giant dragon is dancing its way through it. And every year, the Chinatown Special Events Committee puts on an awesome display for the Lunar New Year parade. Check out the craftsmanship on those dragons (and the adorable little drummers).
As you no doubt know, the president was in town yesterday, talking about the plague of violence in Chicago. Here's our list of 30 things you can do to help stop violence in Chicago. And here is the rest of the parenting news from the past week.
- I kind of hate this story about a family being awarded a discount at a restaurant for having well-behaved kids. Not for the reasons stated in the article (that the parents shouldn't be rewarded for doing what everyone else is doing, etc.). More because the whole thing strikes me as incredibly condescending, and also ignorant to the challenges of parenthood. Also, children aren't beasts that we should all suddenly be surprised and thankful aren't flipping tables and tearing up napkins. The whole thing speaks of a sort of fear and loathing of parents and kids that makes my skin crawl.
- Speaking of which, a 15-year-old high-school student in Utah was suspended for violating the school's dress code by dying her hair…red.
- Of all the duties foisted upon teachers, I'd imagine enforcing the dress code is one of the least relished. New Hampshire teacher Jessica Lahey talks about her time trying to lay down the law, and getting middle-school girls to lower their hem lines.
- A man talks about co-sleeping with his now 18-month-old, and asks for advice on how to make it stop.
- Meal times can be stressful with picky eaters. But what do you do if they can cook for themselves?
- And finally, if you haven't seen it yet, check out our slideshow from last week's family Valentine's Day dance at the Peggy Notebaert Museum. I really love these photos.
Every time I see innovative park and outdoor-play design, it's always coming from outside the United States. And it bums me out. This very cool playground design comes from Malmö, Sweden, home to the amazing puckleball pitch (You really should click that link). This "green wave" has a curvy climbing net at the top of a hill, and a giant, sloping side below it. Read more about it at the best playground blog on the web, playscapes, who writes more intelligently about these designs than I ever could. Here's hoping someone in the Chicago Park District is paying attention, and wants to keep with our city's tradition of architectural innovation, and builds us a park beyond swing sets and slides.
i Inform yourself
14 Chicago aims to halve the number of violent incidents in the city by 2020. Familiarize yourself with the city’s Youth Violence Prevention Plan, presented in Washington last April by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. cityofchicago.org. i
15 Tune in to This American Life on WBEZ tonight and Feb 22 to hear writer Alex Kotlowitz talk about spending four months with students and staff at Englewood’s W.R. Harper High School the year after 27 students had been shot. 7pm. wbez.org. i
16 E-mail Illinois Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence site to urge them to require background checks on all gun sales, including those at gun shows. bradynetwork.org. V
17 Volunteer as an after-school mentor or summer program coordinator with Enlace Chicago, which runs programs that focus on safety, grief support, art, advocacy, mentorship and violence interruption. 773-542-9233. V
Editor's note: This week at TOC Kids, we've been lucky to have Chicago eighth grader Mia Seeley interning with us as part of her class requirements. She's been hard at work doing interviews, research and picking up tips in the photo studio. And because seventh grade is such a pivotal year for city kids as they appply for high school and Mia just went though it, we asked her to provide parents with some tips. We're glad we did.
My name is Mia. I'm 14, and I'm in eighth grade.
The year of seventh grade is a obviously a very stressful time. So many tests and grades determining your future in so little time is scary–for kids and for parents. So, here are some things that you parents should know from someone who just went through it.
- Your kids are nervous about high school! High school will be a completely different scene for most middle-schoolers, and that's pretty scary to think about. The best thing you can do is understand, or at least try.
- If your kids seem to be struggling in a certain subject, give as much help as possible. A tutor is a great idea, but if that's not in cards, even helping to arrange a study group with friends can be a big help.