As most of us born, raised and living in Western New York know we are a luck group of people despite the 50 years it has taken for the area to redefine itself from a rust-belt city into a new dynamic metropolis and region of the USA where young highly educated people want to go to live and thrive. Katie Couric at Yahoo News has done a great job of capturing some of the cities rebirth in her series “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.” Ms Couric has certainly done the city proud…Thank you
We all know the days we’re just not right and just not “completely there”. Perhaps we woke up late and did not have time to eat breakfast before we rushed out the door. Maybe we had an argument with our spouse that morning or the night before. Or perhaps we had car problems and could not get to work on time or at all because of it. These factors would frustrate and upset the most patient and calm of individuals. We certainly are not at our best functioning when these things occur.
Stay with me here. Think of these circumstances and the recent census statistics that found that the poverty rate for children in Buffalo increased from 45 percent in 2012 to 50.6. In a recent article that ran in Buffalo’s new alternative paper “The Daily Public”, entitled “Staggering Poverty Facing Buffalo Students“, by Florina Altshiler, Altshiler further elaborates on the census findings. I can tell you that it doesn’t sound like a comprehensive economic recovery to me! The Census Bureau recently released its annual American Community Survey. They found that Buffalo’s overall poverty rate is twice the national rate of 14.5, coming in at 31.4%. An astounding 29,726 children of the city’s 58,722 children live in poverty. As a comparison point, Albany’s was 25.7 percent and New York City’s was 20.9 percent.
What does this mean in terms of education on a daily basis? Think back to the beginning of the blog and when you are not at your best because of mitigating circumstances. Now, think of how this would be if these were your constant circumstances. As a Facebook friend astutely commented, the real concern in public education isn’t Common Core right now. It’s poverty!
The call came in at 5:56 am…school is closed! The cold and slippery road conditions seem to have finally convinced the local public school to close which means my daughters school closes. Why they waited till now is beyond me since the forecast was real clear about the cold and most other schools in the area decided they were not going to open by 11pm last night.
Oh well…but now the question becomes what do we do? We talked a bit last night and my daughter wants to go ice skating. That sounds pretty good and I think we need to take my son back to Canada today so we’ll bring the skates along and skate in the Great White North. One idea is the TD RINK at the Brink that is an open-air, outdoor ice skating rink located a snowball’s throw from the “brink” of the Horseshoe Falls, offering breathtaking views and a magical outdoor Niagara Falls ice skating experience. Open from December 1 to February 28, 2014. There is a parking and skating fee on most days. They also have skate rentals if needed. Going in the evening is great because they also have a large festival of lights you can walk (it is a very long walk!) or drive and they do fireworks over the Falls at 9pm on Fridays.
A Free option here in downtown Buffalo that is totally free unless you need to rent skates is the Buffalo Place – Rotary Rink. Outdoors but sheltered a bit from the elements and with a warming facility steps away the rink makes for a pretty enjoyable outdoor experience.
Another option in Western New York is the Healthy Zone Rink. Their web site tells the story of the regulation size NHL rink as:
On January 1, 2008, history was made in Buffalo, NY, as Ralph Wilson Stadium hosted the first-ever outdoor NHL game in the United States. The Winter Classic put the Buffalo Sabres up against the Pittsburgh Penguins before record-setting crowd of 71,217.
The Aurora Ice Association purchased the ice-making equipment from the NHL, and with the support of hundreds of passionate volunteers, private donations and corporate support, a tribute to this historic event is nestled in the Village of East Aurora.
The Healthy Zone Rink has become a true asset to not only East Aurora, but also the entire Western New York community. Since opening in the fall of 2008, the venue has added a pavilion-style roof, locker rooms and a warming hut for guests. The rink runs at full capacity from October through March and also added summer programming to its schedule for 2013.
Open skating time is limited and there is a fee. Information about this and renting the rink can be found at http://www.thinkrink.org/
One of my friends who recently moved to Buffalo is a huge opera fan. When he asked whether or not there was opera in Buffalo, my first response was to laugh. “Maybe at Kleinhans,” I said, finally, but a quick glance at the schedule for the year revealed a lot of great classical music, but no opera. “Sorry, man,” I replied, and we let the matter drop.
A few days later, I was reading The Buffalo News online when I saw a review of Faust produced by Buffalo Opera Unlimited at Buffalo State College. My jaw dropped. Apparently, finding Buffalo Opera Unlimited online is more difficult than you would think, and I haven’t been able to find a schedule for any more performances. The lesson I learned, though, is that you can find almost anything to do if you stay engaged in the community you live in.
I’ve always thought that living in Western New York offers a lot of opportunities that people may initially overlook. We’re in close proximity to two fairly large cities (Buffalo and Rochester) and within driving distance of an international city (Toronto). Syracuse, New York City, Boston, Albany, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and a plethora of other places have weekend trip potential. Our access to an international airport also makes other places within easy reach.
So find out what’s going on around you and take advantage of these things. Even if you’re trying to be budget conscious, there are plenty of free events around town. Some of the sites I use to find events include artvoice.com and thebuffalonews.com.
What are other places you find out about local events?
Sometimes, when your schedule is crazy, the only thing to do is add more things into it to keep your mind off how stressful everything is! A great local event (that ends the 17th) is Buffalo Navy Week. Last night we took a trip down to the beautiful Buffalo waterfront and got to see a few of the ships that have docked, including the very majestic 1812-era tall ship. While school makes it difficult to get to many of the events, which occur throughout the day, there are a lot of events planned for Saturday that families with school-age children can take advantage of.
Have you taken a trip down to the Buffalo waterfront to enjoy Navy Week yet?
This coming Saturday, the Buffalo Zoo will be hosting the Wild About Wellness Health Fair from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission to the Wellness Health Fair is free with regular admission (which means that for zoo members, it’s all free). While the event focuses primarily on physical health, Tutor Doctor WNY firmly believes that it’s just as important to keep your mind strong as it is to keep your body strong! With that philosophy in mind, we’ll be offering activities for the kids as well as information for parents, guardians, and older family members on what Tutor Doctor can offer your child for the upcoming school year.
We look forward to seeing you there!
It isn’t quite summer in Western New York until you’ve taken a trip to the Erie County Fair. While I can’t say with any certainty that I’ve attended the fair every year since my birth, it has definitely become a staple in my life. Aside from all the food and the rides, there are plenty of opportunities for education. Here are a few educational things that stood out to me on my trip today. Feel free to add more in the comments!
Where Does Food Come From?
A huge part of nutrition, I believe, is education on where food comes from. Whether it’s seeing the dairy cows in the animal barn or viewing prize-winning vegetables, the fair is a crash course in food education. 4-H does a great job putting up factual signs in their exhibits, so make sure to have your family stop and read them. A particular highlight is the full-sized cow replica in the Ag-sperience building, where you can learn how to “milk” a cow!
Seeing all the ribbons on everything from azaleas to quilts makes me want to become more skilled in certain fields, and it may have the same effect on your child. Whether its the 8-foot tall crocheted giraffe in the former casino building or the amazing carved fish in the woodworking building, your child might be inspired to try something new. Encourage your child to talk to the volunteers who are around the buildings. Many of them seem to have first-hand knowledge of the exhibits they work at and if not, are able to point you in the right direction.
The fair provides plenty of opportunities to exercise your creative side. This year, they even had a section of the fine arts exhibit dedicated to photos that were taken at last year’s fair! Whether it’s the inspiration to try a new craft (like crocheting) or to take a picture of a baby cow or to draw a Ferris wheel, the fair offers a unique opportunity to get the creative juices flowing.
Whether it’s figuring out prices at food stands or counting out how many tickets needed for a ride, there are lots of ways that math can be easily incorporated into a day at the fair. The rabbit barn provides a great opportunity for young learners to practice their counting in a fun way. Asking a child to count how many white rabbits or black rabbits they see is great, but why not take it a step further and have him or her create a graph when they return home?