Foster parenting, new videogame, Columbus Parent EXPO and more.

Foster parenting: a priceless journey
By Bryan Winbush, foster parent recruiter, National Youth Advocate Program
Johnny and Rose Ford are the epitome of amazing foster parents. They foster with the National Youth Advo-cate Program and in 15 years, have adopted 6 boys with developmental disabilities (MRDD). Mrs. Ford's brothers also have MRDD so she felt compelled to work with special needs children. The Fords helped their boys "become what doctors say they wouldn't be." Jeremy, now 27, whom they've fostered since age 14 and later adopted, can catch the bus to work and says, "I am a part of the family." The U.S. Depart-ment of Health and Human Services reports the median foster child age is 10. Mr. Ford comments that it "has been a thrill to see how far a person can grow. It's priceless." To find out more about fostering, adopting, or volunteering, call (877) NYAP-CAN.


WOSU Public Media launches videogame to help students learn basic economics

WOSU Public Media recently announced the launch of The Bakery Shop, a video game designed to help teach second grade students about basic economics. Collaboratively developed by WOSU Public Media, the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) at The Ohio State University, and the Ohio Council on Economic Education, the Bakery Shop is an educational website where students learn how resources can be used in various ways, identify goods and services, and recognize money as a medium of exchange for goods and services. The game can be accessed for free online at www.thebakeryshop.org.


Watching wildlife with kids
By Peg Hanley, Columbus Metro Parks
Viewing wildlife in its natural habitat is a great way to nurture a child's love for nature and create knowledge of wild animals. Your 15 Metro Parks are a great place to see birds and animals. And they're free!
Begin your adventure at Slate Run Metro Park with a visit to the wetlands to check out all the birds migrating through, as well as regulars like Baltimore and orchard orioles along the tree rows. On a good day in May, you could see more than 100 species of birds.

Be sure to stop by the park's 1880s farm to see all the new piglets and baby calfs, along with chickens, giant Percheron horses and other barnyard animals.

Along the more than 140 miles of trails throughout the park system, you may see deer bounding through the fields if you're out early or around sunset. If you have a keen eye and are particularly quiet, you may see one of nature's cutest infants, a baby fawn.

If you are walking near one of the many ponds or streams, be on the lookout for turtles basking in the sun on a fallen tree log. At sunset, you will be serenaded by the sounds of frogs and toads calling for their mates.

You and your family can learn more about animals by taking part in one of the more than 300 free programs offered at one of the parks during May. Whether its getting a little wet and muddy in the creek searching for fish, or listening for wild turkeys at Blendon Woods, there's fun for the whole family.


Fill your kids' summer with music
Heard about the Jazz Arts Group's new Jazz Academy at the historic Lincoln Theatre? The sparkling facility opens Memorial Day weekend.
Looking to boost your kids' creative juices? Check out the Jazz Academy's 2009 summer camps, classes and workshops:
Summer camps include J is for Jazz Camp for ages 7-11; CAMP Blues for ages 14 and up; and CAMP Rock for ages 12 and up. Summer classes include Jumpin' JaKs (Jazz & Kids) with Rebecca Ogden, the "The Music Lady" for preschoolers with a parent or caregiver; and Conga Class: Rhythm of the Americas with Eric Paton for ages 14 and up. Summer workshops include Inside the Rhythm Section Workshops with Larry Cook for ages 12 and up. Please contact Carol Argiro at cargiro@jazzartsgroup.org, call (614) 294-5200, x107, www.jazzartsgroup.org, or visit www.lincolntheatrecolumbus.com for information.

Kids Stop You Shop
Would you like to go shopping without the kids? Do you and your significant other need a date night? Bring your children to Kids Stop You Shop - a drop in daycare center located in Polaris Fashion Place Mall.
Kids Stop You Shop was created as an alternative to daycare for parents who need services for special occasions. Kids Stop You Shop opens May 22 - just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.
Our staff will engage children in games and activities sure to keep them busy and happy. Children can stay up to five hours per day having a great time with our professional staff.
For more information, call (614) 436-KIDS (5437).


Columbus Parent EXPO
May 2 and 3, 11-5
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Don't miss this fun-filled weekend packed full of entertainment and activities for families:
Enjoy performances by nationally-known musical sensation, Laughing Pizza! Cheer on your favorite contestant during the popular Diaper Derby Baby Race! Green up your family at the Baby the Planet feature! Plan your summer vacation with the Experience Columbus 'Play in your own Backyard' Pavilion! Get free kids' tickets at central Ohio Papa John's locations.