by Sara N. Reardon

When it comes to weight loss, it seems that no one is an island, especially children. At the West Seattle YMCA, a program called Actively Changing Together! (ACT!), formerly known as Strong Kids/Strong Teens, is teaching families with overweight children and parents about healthy lifestyles by encouraging them to work together toward their weight-loss goals.

“We’re about helping parents and kids have better communication, creating an environment where fun experiences happen in healthy lifestyles,” said YMCA disease prevention director Lindsey Gregerson, who heads the program. During the 12-week course, families run relay races and obstacle courses together and discuss their food choices with a nutritionist. At the end of the class, the families cook a light meal to share. The goal, says Gregerson, is to “keep everything fun.”


Due to its popularity, Greenwood's Taproot Theatre is bringing Drama with Your Mama, a theater class for toddlers, back for a summer run.

Drama with Your mama launched last spring and provides parents and caregivers a fun and enriching way to bond with their children while encouraging social and self-awareness in the toddlers.

Taproot Theatre Education Director Sara Willy told the Ballrad News-Tribune in May that children get a lot out of the class. Future actors are learning skills that will serve them in that pursuit, while other children learn how to use their voices, bodies and space while being aware of others, she said.

She said the goal is to build confidence in children. For example, when asked to show what a tree looks like, young children will often look to adults to show them first. Drama With Your Mama will give them the confidence and ability to make their own choices and show what a tree looks like to them, Willy said.

The class, for children ages 1 to 3, takes place on Mondays from July 12 through Aug. 16 at Timberlake Church, located at 1460 N.W. 73rd St. The six-week session is $75 or $15 on a drop-in basis.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Teacher Jessica Brady applauds the three slithering snakes in front of her during Drama With Your Mama, Taproot Theatre's acting class for children ages 1 to 3.

After more than six years providing care for young children and hands-on learning for high schoolers, Casa Maria Montessori Language and Cultural Center was packed up this week and moved from its home at Ballard High School to a storage garage.

According to Seattle Public Schools, the termination of Casa Maria's lease, which was announced in December, was a result of a lack of space and the need for the high school make room for programs for students with autism.

Casa Maria Director Gail Longo said she was led to believe the partnership between Casa Maria and Ballard High School was long term. She said she the removal of the program was surprising and unnatural.

"I realized that I placed my trust in a system that I regarded as having shared goals for the education of youth, aware of the possibility that our program at Ballard High would open the way to greater understanding of what it means to be human in the 21st Century," Longo said.

Photo credit: 
Courtesy of Gail Longo

Casa Maria Montessori Language and Cultural Center Gail Longo and Ballard High School Family Consumer Sciences teacher Marcia Lalonde outside the now-closed Casa Maria.

Mary Dunlap became homeless at 13 and spent much of her teenage years living with friends and family. After graduating from high school, she applied to the University of Washington and was granted a full-ride scholarship.

While she said the four years of tuition are a blessing, the financial aid did not guarantee other basic living expenses. Desiring stability and structure, Dunlap moved into Crown Hill's Labateyah Youth Home in May.

“It’s more like a rent-savings program for youth," Dunlap said. "I like to think of it as a bank almost. They give you a loan in a sense."

Labateyah, located at 9010 13th Ave. N.W., was established in 1992 when founder Bearnie Whitebear noticed that Native American youth were disproportionately represented in the homeless community and often had trouble assimilating into traditional support programs. Whitebear hoped to provide Native youth with a nurturing environment and culturally relevant program.

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Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The nearly two-acre Labateyah Youth Home in Crown Hill offers shelter and support for homeless youth. It received a $17,000 grant from the city in April.

200,000 Huggies diapers will be given away

Kimberly-Clark, makers of Huggies brand diapers made an enormous delivery of 200,000 diapers today, June 23 to WestSide Baby 10032 15th Avenue Southwest in White Center. WestSide Baby is a non profit organization that collects and coordinates the distribution of used clothing, toys and diapers, lots of diapers to thousands of families throughout West Seattle and White Center every year.

The diapers were brought in by a semi truck, backing into the tiny parking lot outside their location.

The diapers WestSide Baby got will be distributed throughout the year by their distribution partners, established social service agencies such as food banks, DSHS or the Public Health Department.

Arriving promptly at 11AM the delivery truck was opened and Executive Director of WestSide Baby Nancy Woodland jumped in and began unloading with the help of her own children, board members, and other volunteers.

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Photo credit: 
Patrick Robinson

WestSide Baby Executive Director Nancy Woodland hands a box of Huggies diapers to her friend Emma during the unloading of a semi truck full of 200,000 diapers given to the organization by manufacturer Kimberly-Clark as part of their "Every Little Bottom" program.

The audience laughed heartily during Schmitz Park Elementary School's production of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, Thursday night, June 17. The performers, and director and other behind-the-scenes crew were from Craig Parsley's fifth grade class. In the play, a man and his slave become mistaken for another man and his slave as both are identical twins. The four meet at the end and the confusion is cleared up. While the slave-owner actors, Vincent Paddon and Ryan Kimsey resembled each other, their slaves are real-life twins, Anna and Lea Zuckerman, a nice dramatic touch.

Photo credit: 
Steve Shay

The sword fight scene plays out on Schmitz Park Elementary School's stage during Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors.

200,000 to be given to the local organization

WestSide Baby will be the lucky recipient of 200,000 diapers as part of a promotion by Kimberly-Clark, makers of Huggies diapers.

The company announced yesterday that it will donate millions of diapers to 10 diaper banks across the country. They will arrive at Westside Baby 10032 15th Ave. SW in White Center next week on Wed. June 23 at 11am. The company plans to give away millions of diapers starting this week and raise awareness about parents who struggle financially to provide them for their children.


The children of the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club got their hands dirty early June 12 planting vegetable sprouts and shoveling mulch.

The community garden they were building is part of the three-year Positive Sprouts project with the retail company Amway Global. Seven U.S. cities, including Seattle, were chosen to pilot the program intended to educate children about sustainability and healthy living.

“It’s phenomenal when kids grow their own foods," said Jessica Drench, program manager of the Green Eductation Foundation. "You might not believe it, but you see kids sprint to ripe tomato plants, to sugar snap peas, to pick off the vine. Kids are smart, they know it tastes better.”

North Seattle Boys & Girls Club Director Neil Aguiling said he hopes the hands-on learning will teach children how to grow organically and to later develop those homegrown products into healthy meals.

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Photo credit: 
Celina Kareiva

Members of the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club dig into a pile of mulch while building a vegetable garden for the club June 12. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

Starting point guard Sue Bird and coach Brian Agler took time away from the WNBA-leading Seattle Storm to host a free youth basketball clinic June 10 at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club.

During the clinic, which was a part of the Junior Storm Basketball Program, Bird and Agler answered questions from club members and led them through a series of basketball drills.

The clinic was open to all King County Boys and Girls Club members, and nearly 50 young basketball players filled the gym to get tips and advice from the professionals.

The Storm are currently in first place in the WNBA with a 9-1 record, and Bird leads the league with 6.7 assists per game.

Ballard Big Picture is a column of scenes from around the neighborhood. If you would like to submit a photo for use on this site and in the Ballard News-Tribune, please send it to Michael Harthorne at Be sure to include your name and information about your photo.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The Seattle Storm's Sue Bird and coach Brian Agler watch two finalists in a ball-handling competition during a free clinic June 10 at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club.

The iconic salmon slide in the Carkeek Park playground is showing wear and tear after years of use and will undergo repairs from June 21 through June 29.

The slide is useable, but the inside is pitted and bumpy, and the outside is faded in many places.

Tom Jay, the sculptor who installed the functional art piece almost 12 years ago, will be in the park to repair the inside of the slide to uniform smoothness and the outside to its original Chum salmon colors.

Cold or stormy weather may cause delays. Workers will install a fence to protect the restoration work while it is in progress.

This work is made possible thanks to a private donor and the assistance of the Carkeek Park Advisory Council and the Associated Recreation Council.

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