Quick hits of news and fresh ideas for busy parents.


Mobile Art
Heather Wirth believes in giving kids the tools they need to develop their creative side and discover a passion for life.

Wirth, a painter and floral designer, engages kids through art.

"I grew up loving art, and not really ever feeling connected to anything or anyone else," said Wirth, who studied the arts at the University of Maryland and the Columbus College of Art & Design. "I can't even think of where I would be in life if art wasn't at the center of everything I do."

Alarmed by the growing cuts to art programs, Wirth brainstormed ways to bring art to young people. The Clintonville resident eventually worked with other artists to create Artmobile, a traveling art class staffed by volunteers. The program launched its first after-school class in January.

The Artmobile also is available to the public at community events. Look for it at Goodale Park and the North Market this spring and summer. Visit columbusartmobile.com for more details.
-Melissa Kossler Dutton


Changing the Rules
Not every one of our kids will grow into leaders, but as parents we have opportunities to help them recognize their leadership and decision-making skills early if we remove the pressure of real life.

Consider encouraging your children to take leadership roles by sitting down to a board game or card game with the kids and letting them take the lead.

One of the strategies I use with my children is to let them set the house rules when we play. Feel free to let them make nonsense rules and see how they work out, and when they succeed or fail, help them to understand why through discussion and let them change the rules again.

We encourage our children to make decisions about not just what we play but how. If you've got the family together at the table, it's a great opportunity to break out of traditional roles and watch and learn.

Consider how you interact with your children and help them by giving decision-making roles to them instead. Most kids will naturally expect Mom or Dad to be banker or judge in games, but you can foster you child's inherent leadership skills by
surrendering that role.

Seek out games where one or more players have to make decisions and then work to encourage your children to take on these roles. Help guide them, but resist the urge to countermand. Games are a great way to teach children about sportsmanship and how to handle victory and defeat gracefully. Encourage improvisation when problems arise and work with the family to find small ways to change the traditional rules to common games.
-Shawn Sines




Cookie!
Somehow we think the Cookie Monster would approve. The Girl Scouts have gone high-tech in their mission to keep the world stocked with Thin Mint, Samoa and Trefoil cookies: There is now a mobile app that will help you locate where they are being sold.

Girl Scout troops took orders from Jan. 15-31, and they'll not only be delivering those orders in March, they'll also sell cookies at booths in public locations. Central Ohio Girl Scouts - who are part of the Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland Council - will be one of 21 councils nationally to pilot the Cookie Locator app this year, which will tell you where and when those booths are open for business.

The free app, which also will supply cookie nutritional information, e-mail alerts when cookies are available nearby, and a "discover your cookie personality" quiz, will be available for iPhone and Android smart phones, and a version for Blackberry phones also is expected. You can get the app it by calling **GSCOOKIES (**472665437) from a smart phone, or by visiting the iPhone App Store or Android Marketplace.
-Jane Hawes



New Friendships on the Field
Not only does the Pickerington Central High School Girls soccer team have game, they've got grace, too.

During a non-conference game scheduled with Columbus East High School, the Pickerington girls not only noticed that their opponents lacked uniforms and cleats, they took their concern a step further. In eight days the team and their community raised enough funds - nearly $1,800 - to provide two sets of new uniforms to the Columbus East team.

The two teams' coaches have kept in touch and said they have witnessed new friendships bloom on and off the field.
-Gina Jacob

Green Education
A paperless middle school is scheduled to open this fall.

Students at New Media Middle School, 43 S. Douglas St., will have 24/7 internet access to complete and submit school projects. The tuition-free community school is being developed by leaders of The Arts & College Preparatory Academy with help from the middle school's design team, which is comprised of representatives from area universities, organizations, businesses and government.

Visit newmediamiddle.org or call 614-448-7203 for enrollment information.

-Elizabeth Seufer