Spark learning + creativity + friendship at a local
Summer Camp! Find dozens of options in our popular guide
Where to find local makerspaces Tips for raising resilient kids
FISHING k ayaking Mountain biking campfire cooking camping hiking
cyourh adventure oose today!
Features 8 Navigating Today’s Top Parenting Challenges
Free virtual summit features 20 national experts
10 Mom Docs to the Rescue
Digital health platform helps parents & kids talk about puberty & sexual health
40 Oklahoma’s Childcare Challenge The pandemic’s effects on the industry & how to move forward
48 Summer Camp Guide
Spark learning, creativity & fun with dozens of close-to-home options
Departments 12 Real Dads of the Metro Greg Jones inspires entrepreneurship
14 Family Mental Wellness
Strategies for raising resilient kids
18 Local Family Fun
Get creative at a local makerspace
24 Mom Talk
Raising a teenager with special needs isn’t that different
26 Calendar of Events
Springtime festivals & family fun
36 Exploring Beyond Oklahoma History & outdoor adventure await in Little Rock, Ark.
46 Talking to Kids About Sex
EXPLORING THE LITTLE ROCK, ARK. AREA
Tips to teach body safety & autonomy to young children
62 Last Look
5 things we love in OKC this spring
On the Cover Summer Camp Guide page 48
Where to Find Local Makerspaces page 18
Tips for Raising Resilient Kids page 14
4 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
WESTERN EXPLORERS SUMMER CAMP AT NATIONAL COWBOY AND WESTERN HERITAGE MUSEUM
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 2021
THE (MODERN) ART OF Join us for FREE!
don’t like to accept help from others. Maybe you can relate? I’m a Type A, Enneagram 1, recovering perfectionist who likes to do things, my way, myself. But I’ve been reminded recently about the healing power of community.
Managing Editor Erin Page
Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo
April Deocariza, Lance Evans, Ronneal Mathews, Debbie Murnan, Sarah Soell
Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin
Art Director Stacy Noakes
Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder
Director of Events Casey Shupe
Editorial Assistant Emiley Bainbridge
In the midst of caring for a sick child and grieving the loss of a loved one, a friend unexpectedly placed a care package on our porch. While quarantined with my crew and (mostly unsuccessfully) trying to balance work, virtual school and rest, I received constant uplifting messages, plus treats, activities and groceries dropped by our front door. People who care about my family brought what we needed — and what I didn’t even know I needed — to help us be well. During the same timeframe, I’ve also seen this level of support on a much broader level as our MetroFamily team prepares for our first national parenting summit, The Modern Art of Parenting. Experts from around the country are coming together to ask how they can help, encourage and support today’s parents as we face both challenges and opportunities unlike any other time in history. We are carrying such a heavy load right now as parents. From tips
on prioritizing mental health and raising resilient kids to affirming our kids’ identities and tackling tough conversations about grief, sexual health and racism, I’m thrilled to help connect overwhelmed parents (me included) with experts providing the tips and tools we need now to help us be the best versions of ourselves. We aren’t meant to do this parenting thing alone. Sometimes that’s hard for me to accept. But I find that when I do, there’s always beauty and growth in togetherness. Thanks for letting MetroFamily be part of your village, and thanks for helping me see the depths of value to be found in a vibrant parent community. With gratitude,
Erin Page Managing Editor See page 8 for details on speakers and topics at the FREE Modern Art of Parenting virtual summit, held April 1 through 8. Watch presentations by 20 nationallyrenowned speakers on demand.
Account Executives Dana Price Laura Beam
Mailing address: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: 405-601-2081 email@example.com www.metrofamilymagazine.com MetroFamily Magazine is published bimonthly. Copyright 2022 by MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Proud member of
Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Moore Chamber of Commerce
On the Cover Twin sisters Evyn and Eryn are the winners of MetroFamily’s 2022 Cover Kids Search in the sibling category! The 6-year-old first graders have very different personalities but share a love of celebrating the individuality in the people around them. Evyn and Eryn are serious fashionistas and are quite adept at sketching designs and creating doll clothes out of everyday items. In 2020, the girls and their mom started a clothing company, Sundara Kids, with the slogan “every child is beautiful.” The kindhearted sisters enjoy homeschooling, swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School, gymnastics classes at Metro Gymnastics, playing outside and filming dance videos. The girls also love all things science and STEAM and were very excited to check out Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma’s STEAM-focused Camp Trivera for their photoshoot. Evyn and Eryn are the daughters of Jayla.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
OFF THE PAGES
Join us March 12
We can’t wait to see your family on Saturday, March 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Geekapalooza! Join us at Camp Trivera, the new STEAM-focused urban camp of our partner Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, for a full day of kid-friendly activities on subjects like robotics, coding and geosciences, plus live music, food trucks, great prizes and a Geek photo contest. The event is sponsored by Boeing, Presenting Sponsor; Google, Continental Resources, Oklahoma Oil and Natural Gas, Community Partners; Pelco, Chesapeake and MidFirst Bank, Supporting Partners; Francis Tuttle, University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, Oklahoma State
Learn about saving and spending with our fun, short videos!
ENJOY HANDS-ON STEAM FUN AT GEEKAPALOOZA.
University College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology and Extreme Animals, STEAM Partners. Purchase tickets at metrofamilymagazine.com/ geekapalooza. Tickets are $8 for kids and $5 for adults in advance or $10 for kids and $5 for adults at the door.
OKLAHOMA CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, THE E.L. AND THELMA GAYLORD FOUNDATION, AND THE AD ASTRA FOUNDATION PRESENT
UP NEXT: D R U M TAO T U ES DAY, M A R C H 2 2 • 7: 3 0 P M
FO L LOW E D BY: AN EVENING WITH R E N É E E L I S E G O L D S B E R RY F R I DAY, A P R I L 2 9 • 8 P M
6 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
Shout Out Your
It’s that time of year again! We need your help to crown the best of family-friendly businesses and organizations in OKC. From dance studios and splash pads to restaurants and attractions, our reader-voted Family Favorites awards make it easy for OKC parents to find the top local resources. Show some love and nominate your favorites between March 23 and April 13 at metrofamilymagazine.com/vote. Then, vote to determine the winners May 4 through 18. The winners and finalists will be highlighted in our Everything Guide, which will be published in July.
Take advantage of warmer weather and longer days with our lists of family-friendly festivals around the state, 50 Things to Do for Under $5, farmers markets, Spring Break camps and family fun, ways to celebrate Earth Day, Easter eggstravaganzas and much more at metrofamilymagazine.com/spring.
Once Upon A Summer....
SUMMER DAY CAMP 2022
Summer Day Camp at the Y lets kids ages 4-12 thrive and experience their world while having a blast! From building leadership skills to expressing their creative sides, our camp is designed to help your child grow and learn.
Registration Now Open!
Learn more at ymcaokc.org/daycamp
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
Register today for our FREE virtual summit April 1-8! You’re not raising your mama’s child! Times have changed drastically since today’s parents were kids, which means, either by force or by choice, we have to parent our own kids in entirely new ways. To help parents navigate today’s challenges, MetroFamily is hosting our first FREE virtual summit for families around the country April 1-8. The Modern Art of Parenting summit features nationally-renowned parenting experts providing 20 sessions on topics like raising resilient kids, talking to kids about sexual health, alleviating parent overwhelm, finding the balance of technology and social media, affirming kids’ gender identities, encouraging kids to explore nature and much more. All presentations will feature practical and positive tips you can implement now. No preachy parenting advice here, just actionable tips that make sense and will help bring back the joy in family life! During the eight-day summit in early April, each of the 20 sessions will be available for FREE to watch on-demand at your convenience within a 48-hour time frame. Additional paid options will provide the opportunity to watch and rewatch all sessions during your membership plus other perks, including additional parenting resources, live workshops with parenting experts and more.
Our mission: To provide the hope and help parents need now Find details and register for FREE by March 31 at modernartofparenting.com
Our speakers have been featured in...
Meet the Speakers
Hunter Clarke-Fields Raising kind, confident kids through mindful parenting
Audre & Danielle Daughty Are kids really behind academically?
Diana Graber How to guide kids to develop a healthy relationship with technology
Michaeleen Doucleff What ancient cultures can teach us about raising happy, helpful little humans today
Dr. Tamecca Rogers How to talk to kids about racism and social injustice
Richard Louv How connecting with nature improves family mental healths
Cathy Cassani Adams Zen Parenting: Taking care of our kids starts with caring for ourselves
Erica Komisar Addressing anxiety and depression in children and teens
Dr. Hansa Barghava Stress busting tools for parents & kids
Stacey Johnson, LPC Tips to alleviate parent overwhelm
Jameka Lewis How to teach kids to love to read and build a diverse family library
Dr. Paula Durlofsky Social media's impact on mental health and how to address it
Vicki Jay Helping children cope with grief & loss
Dr. Anne Fishel Why family dinners are critical for our mental well-being (and tips to make them happen)
Erin Page, APR Managing Editor, MetroFamily
Kirsten Holder, Senior Project Manager, MetroFamily
Skye Latimer, PR and marketing entrepreneur, Folded Owl
Dr. Laura Markham Using mindfulness and connection to raise resilient, joyful children and rediscover your love of parenting
Dr. Michele Borba 7 teachable skills that set happy, healthy kids apart
Dr. Melisa Holmes Talking to kids about sexual health (even if you were never taught yourself)
Sara Cunningham Affirming and normalizing gender identity in children and adults
"Mr. Chazz" Lewis Instilling an empathetic mindset in children and raising world changers
Meet the co-hosts:
Fear Less, Know More Digital health platform provides puberty & health education for parents and kids BY EMILEY BAINBRIDGE
Early in her practice as an ob-gyn, Dr. Melisa Holmes was shocked by how many women didn’t understand their bodies and how they worked. She wanted to change that, not just for adults but for young girls, too, so they could grow up armed with both facts and confidence to advocate for their health. In 2003, a mom in her community asked Dr. Holmes if she would talk with her daughter’s soccer team about puberty. Dr. Holmes and her friend Dr. Trish Hutchison, a pediatrician, created an educational program for the girls and their caregivers. In addition to their professional experience, the two doctors are also mothers with five daughters between their two families. The program was such a hit, with repeated calls to present it again, that the two physicians knew they had struck a chord, and the digital health platform Girlology was born. “Most parents today didn’t grow up with great education around health and wellness, especially reproductive health,” said Holmes. “They want to do a better job for their children as well as protect them from all the misinformation and ‘noise’ out there on social media. Through Girlology, we help young people get accurate, shame-free information that builds confidence and improves their ability to advocate for their own health and wellness.”
Hear from Dr. Melisa Holmes at The Modern Art of Parenting virtual summit April 1-8. Get more info on reserving FREE tickets on page 8.
Girlology’s online community is dedicated to making girls’ lives healthier by providing medically-accurate, shame-free information and support through short video tips, on-demand classes and live-streaming events. When the Girlology program began, Holmes noticed many of the moms were learning as much as the girls, and everyone was becoming much more comfortable having conversations about puberty and sexual health. “There’s this sort of parenting cliff that we reach as moms — there’s tons of support and advice out there when our children are infants and toddlers, but suddenly as they’re heading into late childhood and adolescence, that support seems to go silent,” said Holmes. “We feel like we’re filling in that gap.” Girlology supports parents as their daughter’s most trusted guide, providing families access to hundreds of tips and classes to navigate every health and body topic that could come up during adolescence and puberty. The content is relatable with a touch of fun and humor. From bra shopping and skin care secrets to period solutions, eating disorders prevention and even friendship, Holmes and Hutchison, who call themselves the “Mom Docs,” guide families through every age and stage of girl life. “We hear from a lot of moms how we’ve improved the way they communicate and connect with their children,” said Holmes. “That’s one of the most important things we can do because there’s a lot of research confirming that parent-child connection is incredibly protective for adolescents’ health and wellness. We all want to raise informed, confident and healthy children – we’re grateful that so many families trust us to be that resource.”
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As the content continues to expand, Holmes says the volume can get overwhelming for families. So Girlology has recently created a “Quick Start Guide” with suggested playlists to help families easily locate the content the physicians believe is most essential for each age and stage of development, based loosely on third through eighth grades. This resource helps caregivers know what their kids should be learning at each age, plus what’s coming next.
Girlology and Guyology books, with their sixth book releasing this spring. You-ology: A Puberty Guide for Every Body is the first book of its kind, published in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics, embracing an inclusive, gender-affirming approach and normalizing puberty for all kids through fact-based, age-appropriate and body positive information about the physical, social and emotional changes of puberty.
Over the years since Girlology’s launch, Holmes and Hutchison have expanded the content to cover topics like body image, media literacy and mental health. They also launched Guyology in 2012, a parallel program on boys’ health and puberty. The physicians have written five
Especially after launching Guyology, it quickly became apparent to the physicians that all young people have similar questions and curiosities about their own bodies but also about bodies that are different from their own. Holmes and Hutchison have long encouraged parents to let their daughters read Guyology and their sons read Girlology, but writing Youology was the next step to create a more inclusive community that embraces families with gender diverse children. “Every child is wonderfully curious and loves learning how the body works and grows,” said Holmes. “We explain the physical and emotional changes of puberty in kid-friendly language. That means boys, girls and gender-diverse kids can all understand each other better. When children understand what their peers experience, they grow up more empathetic and supportive. This understanding helps grow respect for all and creates a better world for everyone.”
Learn more Girlology provides a substantial amount of free content through their social channels and newsletter. Plus, they offer an on-demand video library for members, with monthly or yearly membership options available. Visit girlology.com for details.
GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY! Join us Saturday, March 12 from 10 am to 3 pm for Geekapalooza, the best STEAM festival of the year! This year's event is being held at Camp Trivera, the Girl Scouts' state-of-the-art urban camp. Don't miss the hands-on fun!
metrofamilymagazine.com/geekapalooza METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
REAL DADS OF THE METRO
The Community Mural
We’ve seen them before. They’re important images in the Black household: a portrait of Black Jesus, leading ladies in fabulous hats, droves of Black folk sharply dressed and dancing at small juke joints. These paintings still decorate the walls of Nana’s house and give us brief moments to experience and recall Black joy. More importantly, they’ve become an essential part of American history. They remind us of our voice and the importance of community engagement. Real Dad Greg Jones has seen these images his entire life. Along the way, he’s had allies helping him illustrate his own life. To understand Greg as a real dad, you must first acknowledge his supporting cast. These vibrant characters are more than just affable supporters taking up space in family portraits—they are his story.
Childhood lessons Greg was born in Long Island, N.Y., and he would move with his family to Oklahoma at the tender age of 4. His parents were in search of community. “My mom was from Oklahoma and dad was from New York,” said Greg. “They met in the service. My dad always wanted to live in a community where he could have acreage and a small farm. Oklahoma was perfect for that.” His father’s dream of acreage would take on a new meaning as Greg’s family settled in Spencer, Okla. The family would acquire more than just land. They would soon meet an entire community of Black folk who would become important figures in Greg’s life for years to come. After his mom, Ineze Jones, and dad, Amos Jones, retired, they began impactful community service jobs as pastor and first lady. “What I learned from my mom and dad was all about getting information and helping your community with the information and knowledge that you have,” said Greg.
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BY LANCE EVANS PHOTO BY HANA’ AHMAD COLEMAN
Greg recalls there were important male figures in his life growing up who consistently taught him the value of community. “There were quite a few older men who shaped my direction,” said Greg. “Willie Bryson was always very resourceful. He always talked about community from the perspective of ‘what I have is what you have.’ A lot of growing up was watching him bartering, trading and sharing his resources.”
The value of community Willie Bryson has been Greg’s neighbor for more than 40 years. Their friendship began in the community of Spencer and continues today in the JFK neighborhood of Northeast Oklahoma City. Their relationship remains themed around the concept of prioritizing community. They offer each other much more than a smile or neighborly hello. Their friendship has been a cathartic experience for Greg, providing him with valuable resources and affirming his belief in community. When it came time for Greg to start his own family, he knew building his own community would be pivotal to his family’s success. He would use the lessons learned from his parents and Mr. Bryson to establish a set of core values. Greg would find the perfect partner to help. During a college winter break from the University of Oklahoma, Greg traveled home with best friend Charles Henry. Charles invited Greg over to a childhood friend’s home. As Greg walked into the house, he immediately saw a young lady standing near her mom’s stove baking cookies. “The smell and aroma of those chocolate cookies caught my attention,” remembered Greg. That moment stuck with Greg for an entire year. He convinced Charles to take him back to his friend’s home and, finally, he was able to talk to Ericka. After dating for a few years, the happy couple married in 1998. Greg and Ericka’s union welcomed the birth of three children: daughter, Jordan, and twin boys Erick and Elijah. When it came time to educate their kids, Greg and Ericka settled on homeschooling. They discovered early on in their journey that learning never really stops when you teach from kitchen table.
Passing on an entrepreneurial spirit It was the summer of 2016 and Greg was returning home from a long workday. When he entered his house, he found his kids lounging on the couch, filling time before dinner. Greg saw the moment as a special opportunity. How could he keep his children engaged and busy by also teaching important concepts of community? After working as an insurance agent for years out of college, Greg started his own company working as a small business consultant. The same tactics and business strategies he was using to help build Oklahoma City’s workforce would serve as a catalyst to change his children and entire community. That day before dinner, Greg grabbed all three of his kids and a lawnmower. The rest is history. Greg walked his children to almost every home on his street and offered his neighbors an interesting proposition: “I will let my kids cut your grass for free!” Many neighbors accepted his offer while others insisted on payments. Greg graciously accepted the money but waited until the end of the summer to let his kids see the fruit of their labor. When it came time to decide what exactly to do with the $1,500 they raised that summer, Greg’s children made an interesting choice. They chose to invest their money back into their business. Today, all three of Greg’s children run successful businesses. Jordan, 18, runs Skin by J. After completing cosmetology school, Jordan opted to use the entrepreneurial skills she developed from the lawn care business to develop her own skin care line. Erick, 16, is passionate about culinary arts. He works weekends at the Eastside Eatery. The blend of everyday people mixed with delectable cuisines inspired him to start his own business, True Joy Bakery. His twin brother, Elijah,
also followed his passion. His interest in production and development led him to create his own t-shirt line, Big Cap Apparel. “The entrepreneurial spirit, based upon them being able to have their own business, funded their dreams,” said Greg.
Vision for the future Today, Greg and his family are making incredible strides to build community within vacant spaces that once thrived, much like the scenes from those paintings in an elder’s home. Through his service on the board of Northeast Renaissance, Inc., Greg is a catalyst for ethical, place-based community development in Northeast Oklahoma City. “Northeast Renaissance is an attempt to remove or break down silos within our community so we can understand one another and leave a lasting impression on our next generation,” said Greg. Through his career, volunteerism and family, Greg is bringing a vibrant community mural to life. “It’s important that we do all that we can to be highly collaborative to find common ground with each other,” said Greg. “When one wins, we all win.” Editor’s note: This article is the second in a year-long series celebrating local dads. Author Lance Evans and husband Chris are fathers of Chrystian. Lance is director of communications for Variety Care, and he and Chris were voted MetroFamily’s 2021 Cool Pops.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS
Raising Resilient Children BY APRIL DORNIDON DEOCARIZA. PHOTOS PROVIDED.
While there are many skills parents long to instill in their kids, one quality that can carry them through life’s ups and downs is resilience. Big life changes — like moving, parents getting divorced or experiencing the death of a loved one — can force kids to learn resilience, but Edmond-based clinical and school psychologist Dr. Lisa Marotta says there are everyday moments that provide opportunities for resilience building, too. “Resilience is the ability to bounce back when life does not go the way that you think that it should,” explained Dr. Marotta. “Resilience is dealing with the unpredictable and uncertain. We have to be able to quickly respond, adapt and be effective in how we adapt.” MYA WILLIAMS PREPARES FOR HER FAMILY’S MOVE TO VIRGINIA.
Dr. Marotta is quick to point out that many families have already had a lot of practice in resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. Dealing with things like school closures, adapting to virtual learning and missed events like birthday parties have all been resiliencebuilding opportunities for families.
Resilience in action
4 quick tips to help kids navigate challenges
The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy in recognition of the sacrifices military children face day in and day out as their parent, or parents, are serving in the Armed Forces. Oftentimes, military kids have to learn resilience at a very early age as they navigate constant change with deployments, frequent moves to a parent’s new duty assignment and new schools.
1. Acknowledge the child’s emotions. 2. Model a sense of calm. 3. Concentrate on effectiveness rather than efficiency: don’t rush them to resolution and don’t solve the problem for them.
For the Williams family, the biggest challenge came when they had to uproot their family from Oklahoma City to Virginia. Josh, an Air Force Major, and Amanda, a photographer, had to identify varied coping strategies for their two daughters, 4-year-old Mya and 12-year-old Ava Casillas, as they responded differently to the change.
4. Encourage kids to ask for help when they need it in processing emotions and solutions.
AVA CASILLAS BOARDS HER NEW SCHOOL BUS AFTER THE FAMILY MOVED TO VIRGINIA.
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“In our culture, there is this tendency for parents to look at childhood as kind of this blissful time where kids are innocent and don’t need to be stressed by the world,” said Dr. Marotta. “But actually, from a psychological standpoint, we want them to be able to learn how to manage stress because life is stressful. There are tricky things that happen all the time where kids need to be able to get calm, manage their emotions and have clarity of mind to be able to say, ‘So what do I do now?’ You figure out what you do, you make that choice and then how you evaluate that is where you get further growth.”
Summer Fun at
“Resilience is the ability to bounce back when life does not go the way that you think that it should. Resilience is dealing with the unpredictable and uncertain.” Dr. Lisa Marotta BOTH KRISTINE AND MICHAEL CORSER ARE MAJORS, AND THEIR FAMILY HAS EXPERIENCED 13 DUTY STATIONS AND 11 DEPLOYMENTS.
“Mya was outspoken with her feelings but Ava became very quiet and withdrawn,” recalled Amanda. “She seemed very indifferent, so I had a ‘come clean night’ with her, which is what my own mom would do with me growing up. It was a time for us to sit down and have a conversation with the understanding that I was not going to get angry with her but that I would help her work through whatever mess she was in.” When Amanda asked Ava how she liked Virginia and how she felt about making new friends, Ava broke down in tears. “So we started talking about how to be intentional with maintaining old friendships while also making new friends,” said Amanda. “When she did start making friends at her new school, I had her get their numbers so we could invite them over for pizza at our house. It really is important for parents to give their kids that safe space to talk through whatever they are feeling.” The Corsers also know all too well the importance of communication in their dual-military family. Parents Michael and Kristine are both Majors, Michael in the Active Duty Air Force and Kristine in the Air Force Reserve. The Corser kids have experienced several big life changes over the years, as Michael and Kristine have had 13 duty stations and 11 deployments, as well as countless stateside work trips and a short tour in Korea. Their oldest child, Damien, has attended 10 different schools. “Our family’s schedule is busy, constant and ever-changing,” said Kristine. “We’ve found that open and honest communication is key
to any process of change. As much as we can, we let our kids know what changes may or may not happen, how the process will go and what the expected outcome is.” They also create fun experiences to engage their children and prepare them for change. In addition to Damien, age 20, the Corsers have two daughters, Isabella, 14, and Adilyn, 3.
Spend the summer exploring the arts, playing stickball or tinkering in the lab!
“My husband and I love to plan special ways to announce our next move to the kids,” said Kristine. “Last time we sent them on a scavenger hunt throughout the house where they found clues that they pieced together to figure out where we were going. It is OK to have mixed feelings of sadness, loss, hope and joy. In the end, no matter where we go, we know we are in this together.”
When it’s time to seek professional help Dr. Marotta advises that parents may want to seek professional help from a counselor if a child is stuck in their emotions and starting to think things like “there is something wrong with them or they are stupid.” Also, if a child is acting out, using maladaptive ways to cope (e.g., drugs, hanging out with friends instead of doing schoolwork) or avoiding their problem entirely, it may be time to seek professional help.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
FAMcamps will provide learning experiences for youth entering grades K-8 in an Indigenouscentered environment.
June & July 2022 Learn more at famok.org/famcamp
Now Enrolling Ages 2.5 - 5th grade St. Mary’s Episcopal School is an independent Christian school educating children ages 2.5-5th grade with exceptional early childhood and elementary programming designed to help each child achieve his or her personal best.
St. Mary’s 51-acre campus in north Edmond features outdoor classrooms, athletic fields, walking trails and more. They believe that learning through experience is powerful and strive to give their students those opportunities.
Tips for building resilience in kids Military or non-military, there are many simple moments throughout a child’s day that can contain a wealth of learning and resilience-building opportunities. “For example, if I’m a kid and I forgot to bring my lunch to school one day, but I don’t like what they are serving in the cafeteria, I might feel upset,” described Dr. Marotta. “But I have to get myself calm, think about what my options are and then I have to make it work. And it’s that ‘making it work’ which builds my confidence that I am capable of making things turn out OK. If you think about that across a day for a child, then there are many opportunities for them to learn confidence that they can solve their problems.” When dealing with a tough situation, Dr. Marotta first advises parents to acknowledge their child’s emotions, recognizing that it is normal for the child to feel distressed no matter how big or small the issue may be. Oftentimes, parents also need to find their own sense of calm. “A lot of times, we’re all melting down at the same time!” laughed Dr. Marotta. “But think about effectiveness rather than efficiency. There is a bigger picture and it’s not about getting your kids to feel better immediately. It’s about all the learning that happens from this point of distress to the point of resolution. If you are solving their problem and trying to rush them through to feel better, you’re not being that learning model of how we return to calm.” Dr. Marotta also reminds parents that it is a sign of resilience to ask for help. “That’s true for parents as well as kids,” said Dr. Marotta. “If a kid is trying to problem solve exclusively on their own and continuing to meet obstacles and disappointment, we want them to know that they don’t have to figure it all out by themselves. Having a trusted person — parent, teacher, coach — that is able to help sit with your child in those hard feelings and get to the other side of it, that’s what gets them more and more ready for ‘adulting.’”
505 E Covell Rd, Edmond 405-341-9541 smesedmond.org
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THE WILLIAMS FAMILY
Resilience resources For Young Kids • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst • Fortunately by Remy Charlip • Sesame Street’s The Big Moving Adventure app
For Elementary Kids • After the Fall by Dan Santat • Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
For Middle & High School Kids • When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (graphic novel) • Front Desk by Kelly Yang • I am Malala (Young Readers edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
For Parents • Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine by Dr. Michele Borba • Building Happier Kids: Stress-busting Tools for Parents by Dr. Hansa Bhargava • Chicken Little the Sky Isn’t Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety by Erica Komisar • Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook: Using Mindfulness and Connection to Raise Resilient, Joyful Children and Rediscover Your Love of Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham
Each of these for-parent authors will be featured speakers at MetroFamily’s The Modern Art of Parenting virtual summit, held April 1-8. Learn how you can attend for FREE at modernartofparenting.com.
LOCAL FAMILY FUN
Making, learning, sharing Makerspaces in the metro
BY LINDSAY CUOMO. PHOTOS PROVIDED.
SCIENCE MUSEUM OKLAHOMA ENCOURAGES KIDS TO TINKER IN THEIR TWO DEDICATED MAKERSPACES.
What is a makerspace? A makerspace is a collaborative, modern workshop! From the low-tech to the high-tech, there are a lot of different makerspaces out there, according to Aaron Pence, the computer training center manager for the Pioneer Library System. Pence oversees the Maker Lab at the Norman Central Library and the thing he gets most excited about when families use the lab is that kids are learning how to transition from consumer to creator. “Kids get to go in to create and come out with something new they can use!” said Pence. However, the finished product is not the only goal in a makerspace. Pence pointed to valuable soft skills that can be cultivated.
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“Sometimes you can follow all the instructions and [your project] does not come out looking like you intended,” shared Pence. “Mistakes are part of the experience and that is a wonderful benefit of the learning process. It’s OK to fail your first, or even thirteenth, try.” Rondia Banks, manager of the Bethany Library, which is home to the Metropolitan Library System’s first in-library makerspace lab, said she loves that kids can get an early introduction to technology. “Technology is so ingrained into our careers and workplaces and that is going to keep growing, so why not learn how to use things like a 3D printer now?” posed Banks. Linda Maisch, the vice president of community engagement at Science Museum Oklahoma, sees the activities happening in makerspaces as “exercise for the brain.” “There is lots of research that shows that our brains are always changing and rearranging,” Maisch explained, an idea that is explored in the temporary exhibit Mind Mirrors, on display at Science Museum Oklahoma through April 24.
Where to visit a makerspace? Depending on your child’s interests, there are a variety of makerspaces your family can visit within the Oklahoma City metro.
TINKERING GARAGE AT SCIENCE MUSEUM OKLAHOMA
Science Museum Oklahoma is like one big makerspace. Within many of the exhibits, kids can get hands-on with scientific principles such as building dams to combat erosion, constructing with large scale blocks, digging with excavators in the gardens or perfecting the art of a paper airplane. While tinkering is encouraged throughout, the museum does have two dedicated makerspaces. The Tinkering Garage, located in the center of the museum, is a space designed for “kids 7 to 700,” according to Chris Seyfrett, tinkering and special projects educator at Science Museum Oklahoma. Tinker Works, a neighborhood garage in Curiocity, is perfect for young kids. In each of the makerspaces, activities change regularly to engage kids with a variety of STEAM experiences such as animation, puppetry, robotics, plastic fusion, snap circuits and even something called automata, which are mechanical toys driven by crankshafts.
JELLY BOX 3D PRINTER AT MLS STUDIO
The Metropolitan Library System currently has one in-library makerspace lab, called MLS Studio, and a mobile makerspace that visits libraries throughout the system. The new Belle Isle Library will include a makerspace lab and a third is planned for the new Almonte Library. Each of the libraries will have different tools and programs in their makerspaces. MLS stands for Making, Learning, Sharing, highlighting the goal of the makerspaces to support educational, professional and personal growth. The all-ages makerspace serves local entrepreneurs as well as families, providing free access to materials, tools and software. The only thing you need to use the makerspace is a library card.
In March, the Tinkering Garage will feature take-aparts where kids can see what is inside computers, toasters and more.
Families go through orientation to learn safety and operational guidelines and sign a user agreement. Kids ages 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Both spaces are open during museum hours and are free with admission. Science Museum Oklahoma is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more about the exhibits, plus school break camps, at sciencemuseumok.org.
Visit metrolibrary.org for more information on programs offered at libraries throughout the metro.
The Bethany Library MLS Studio is open on a first come, first served basis, Monday through Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment only on weekends.
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Pioneer Library System has a dedicated Maker Lab at their Norman Central Library and a traveling makerspace, the Maker Mobile, that visits all the system’s libraries to provide STEAM-focused programming. The Maker Mobile makes appearances at other locations and events in the community, too. The Maker Lab includes professional-grade tools like a sound lab, video lab, 3D printer, laser cutters and engravers, CNC router and more. “When the lab is at its best, you get so many different levels and walks of life,” shared Pence. “It’s pretty easy to get started.” PIONEER’S MAKER MOBILE TAKES PROFESSIONALGRADE TOOLS ON THE GO.
The lab is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m. A library card is not required. “For a quick activity and a tour, you can come in any time,” said Pence. “For a more involved activity or your first time really using a piece of the equipment, it’s good to make an appointment.” Visit pioneerlibrarysystem.org for more information.
KIDS AS YOUNG AS 3 OR 4 CAN ENGAGE WITH THE TOOLS IN THE MAKER LAB.
Trashy “You look a little tire-d, pick-up can I give you a lift?” line #34
Arcadia Lake Sweep Join Us and Help Keep Arcadia Lake Clean. Saturday | April 2 | 8 to 11am Free T-shirt & Brunch | ArcadiaLakeOK.com 405.216.7470
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Oklahoma Contemporary’s Learning Gallery offers open-ended, creative art projects to take kids on a deep
dive into the themes on display in the museum’s galleries. During Open World, an exhibition centered on video games, families could create their own avatar, learn about careers in the video game industry and even play a 3-person video game together. Beginning March 24, the Learning Gallery will focus on biology and the natural world in conjunction with an animal-centric exhibition by John Newsom called Nature’s Course. Jaime Thompson, director of education and public programs for Oklahoma Contemporary, said she intentionally incorporates STEAM principles into the programming at Oklahoma Contemporary because so much of contemporary art utilizes science, engineering, technology and math. FAMILIES ARE ENCOURAGED TO CREATE TOGETHER IN OKLAHOMA CONTEMPORARY’S LEARNING GALLERY.
“Contemporary art expands what you think about art and what you think goes into art,” said Thompson. March’s Second Saturday event, happening March 12, takes place in the museum’s sculpture garden and will explore how scale and construction are part of art-making. Camps and in-studio classes at Oklahoma Contemporary are another way kids can learn more about how technology, science and math are used to create art. “Parents often think ‘if my kid is into science, let’s go to a science center,’ but there is so much more to that,” shared Thompson. “Our programs encourage kids to tinker and explore to figure out what they enjoy. We work with local artists to dream up new ideas and every year is a little bit different.” The Learning Gallery is open during regular museum hours. To reserve free tickets to visit or learn more about camps and other programming, visit oklahomacontemporary.org.
For more information, contact Rebecca Skarky, Director of Admissions, at 405-524-0631 ext. 123
Pre-K through eighth grade 600 NW 44 Street, OKC 405-524-0631 westminsterschool.org
Westminster School admits students of any race, color, religion, or national and ethnic origin. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, or national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, financial aid program, athletic, and other school-administered activities.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
How can families create a makerspace at home? While the makerspaces Pence and Banks reference are high-tech with recording studios, Cricut makers, laser cutters and robots, at-home versions don’t have to be quite as involved and can be easy to curate. The two experts point to the process as the best confidence builder. “To me, if you can dream it and you can see it, you can create it,” said Banks. “Focus on the process of creation and invention and also the story that goes into it and what comes out of it. Asking questions and making mistakes are vital pieces to developing cooperative solutions.” Dig into your arts and crafts supplies and even your pantry to find paper, glue, tape, clay, LEGOs, uncooked spaghetti, marshmallows, pipe cleaners, cardboard, anything goes! Pence said there are lots of free digital tools available, too. “You don’t need fancy equipment to cultivate a making mindset,” said Pence. “It’s just helpful to have a space to begin and that mom and dad play, too.” Seyfrett said parents shouldn’t be concerned about being an expert or knowing everything about a project before getting started. He recommends parents focus on modeling behaviors that promote openness, curiosity and that it’s OK to fail. “Part of being an expert is realizing you don’t have to know everything and that’s OK,” said Seyfrett. “Just grow along with your child.”
For families new to makerspaces or those looking to take the concept to the next level, Thompson, suggests checking out a book called The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich. The book encourages kids to take things apart and explore tools and materials all in an effort to create art that is part science, part technology.
Other metro venues offering makerspaces & STEAM programming: • AR Workshop, 1020 NW 192nd St, Edmond, arworkshop.com • Camp Trivera, 2508 NE 50th St, camptrivera.org • iCode Edmond, 2217 NW 178th St, Edmond, icodeschool.com/edmond111 • Main Event Play Academy, 1441 W Memorial Rd, mainevent.com • Oklahoma Hall of Fame, 1400 Classen Dr, oklahomahof.com • Oops I Arted, 3400 S Bryant Ave, Edmond, oopsiarted.com
COMING SOON—Hello, Spring! Festival
Saturday, May 7 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
April 8-10, 2022, Earlywine Park, OKC
2022 SEASON: Seven Unique Events!
Call for Vendors! Interested Vendors-Apply online! EARLYWINE PARK | WILEY POST PARK | MERREL MEDLEY PARK
FRIDAY-SUNDAY COME HAVE FUN!
LIVE MUSIC! ENTERTAINMENT DEMOS & CLASSES FAMILY-FRIENDLY
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Yukon City Park - 2200 S. Holly Ave. $5 in advance
$7 day of event
Ticket Outlets: Children’s New World YNB Locations Yukon Parks & Rec Facilities cityofyukonokgov
Spring into Free Family Fun! March 17-19 10 AM - 2 PM each day Recommended for children ages 3 - 8
Spring Scout Saturday April 2 10 AM - 2 PM Families get in FREE with a scout in uniform!
NEW PROGRAM !
Visit OklahomaHOF.com for more info.
1400 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City 405.235.4458
Raising a teenager with special needs isn’t all that “different”
(LEFT) THE SOELL FAMILY. PHOTO BY PAIGE POWELL.
SARAH AND DAUGHTER KERSTIN CELEBRATE WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY ON MARCH 21. PHOTO BY TAYLOR MADE PHOTOGRAPHY.
BY SARAH SOELL
I have three children, ages 18, 15 and 12 — two girls and one boy. Kerstin, my 15-year-old daughter, has Down syndrome. She is the glue that holds our family together. She brings us joy, laughter and love. I can’t imagine our family without her. My husband and I decided early on we would raise Kerstin like any other child, have the same expectations and love her unconditionally.
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Setting clear expectations When it comes to raising a teenage child with special needs, it really isn’t any different than raising a child without. With Kerstin, we have always corrected poor behavior with consistent messaging. We also try to set a good example, as children mimic adult behavior. In our household, everyone is expected to be respectful and kind. When it comes to Kerstin and behavior we don’t support, we talk through the situation so she has a clear understanding of what she did wrong. The challenge we face is many people want to give her a pass. For example, if Kerstin wants a snack at the concession stand, she will walk up and ask for a one, and she will be given it without paying. I will then have to walk her back to the stand with money in tow. She must pay for the snack she “took” and apologize. But I always get the same reply from those working: “Oh it’s fine, she can have it.” While I understand the gesture, Kerstin needs to learn that not all things will be given to her. She can’t do that as an adult. Of course, like all teenagers, Kerstin gets embarrassed when called out, but she now asks for money to go to the concession stand. And we use this as an opportunity to teach her about money management.
Talking about sexual health When it comes to puberty, dating and sexuality, I am very transparent and open with Kerstin. We speak in literal terms when we talk about bodies and developmental changes. We discuss how things work, their purpose and hygiene.
SARAH AND DAUGHTER KERSTIN. PHOTO BY PAIGE POWELL.
Giving and gaining independence The hardest part about Kerstin growing up is her wanting independence. I still struggle with this, especially when she wants to go to the restroom alone. I can’t help but worry something might happen or she might need my assistance. She doesn’t want mom going with her and tells me, “I can do this by myself!” I am learning to find the balance of letting her try new things with low risk. We talk about what to do in different scenarios if she can’t find her way or gets separated from me. Fortunately, Kerstin has a good sense of her surroundings and is not afraid to ask for help.
Teaching tech skills Just like any other teenager, Kerstin has a phone. She doesn’t use it for social media, but she loves YouTube. We have set time limits on her phone and use it as a motivator. It has been a great asset for her to be more independent. She uses the voice command, which helps with speech, and the calculator for math and money management. Her favorite thing is to listen to music, which helps keep her anxiety at bay. Her phone is also a way for her to connect with family and friends on her own. She can call her grandparents anytime she wants to share with them about her day or tell them something important. Everyone in our family enjoys their FaceTimes or calls from Kerstin! She is currently working on learning to text, which is another opportunity to work on social skills.
As for dating, we haven’t experienced this with Kerstin yet, but she does want a boyfriend. Just like with any teenager, we will set boundaries suitable for her but also encourage her. I want her to have the opportunity to date and experience falling in love. I also want her to know she can discuss these experiences with me. It might be harder on me if she does get her heart broken, but that would also be a perfectly normal situation for us to discuss and learn from.
Transitioning to adulthood Kerstin is a person first. I don’t want the first thing someone notices to be that she has Down syndrome. This is probably the biggest obstacle Kerstin faces as she transitions into adulthood. I know she will be judged by her looks and disability first, and that is hard to explain to her. She knows she has Down syndrome, but she doesn’t see why everyone perceives her as “different.” It is very hard to get people to see that she has likes and dislikes and the same feelings and emotions as everyone else. For example, she loves animals, so she shows sheep in FFA. She also enjoys projects in 4-H, with some tasks modified for her, but she completes the project and that is what is most important.
Join us for
Make this a summer to remember! Fun, adventure, riding lessons, horse grooming, crafts, barn activities and games. Campers learn how to care for their horses and acquire lots of general horse knowledge in a safe, interactive environment. SPRING BREAK CAMPS IN MARCH SUMMER CAMPS FROM MAY THRU AUGUST 9am-3pm Camp hours 9am Ages 7-14 $425/camper LOCATED 15 MINS FROM DOWNTOWN OKC
Kerstin knows her limits. She also knows her abilities. She has already decided what she wants to do as an adult, and my job is to give her the resources and tools to be successful. Raising a teenage child with special needs is no easy task but it is no different than raising any other teenager. We get to experience all the same emotions and behaviors and share in some of the best memories. This is Kerstin’s world; I am just lucky enough to be part of it and love her unconditionally. With all the love and support she receives and her determined spirit, I am certain it will be a life full of joy and happiness and many surprises along the way! My job is to follow her lead. And that brings me more joy and happiness than any mother could want. Editor’s note: Sarah Soell is a wife, mom of three and the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma. Learn more about the organization at dsaco.org.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR 2022 CAMP DATES
Spring Break! March 12
Geekapalooza: A Steam Festival for Kids at Camp Trivera (2508 NE 50th St) features a hands-on expo and interactive workshops on robotics, the science of flight, coding and geoscience, plus musical performers. In advance: adults, $5; kids, $8; at the door: adults, $5; kids, $10. 10am-3pm. metrofamilymagazine. com/geekapalooza FREE Second Saturday at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a family-focused day of hands-on art making, performances and gallery adventures for visitors of all ages. Activities will take place in the museum’s sculpture garden. 1-4pm. oklahomacontemporary.org
BrickUniverse LEGO Fan Expo at Oklahoma City Convention Center (100 Mick Cornett Dr) features handson LEGO attractions and activities, including guest speakers and vendors selling the latest LEGO sets, mini-figures and accessories. $14.99 & up; kids (2 & under), free; $18 at the door. 10am1pm & 1-4pm. brickuniverse.org/okc Repticon Reptile & Exotic Animal Show at State Fair Park (3100 General Pershing Blvd) features reptile pet
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vendors offering supplies, feeders, cages and merchandise as well as live animal seminars and raffles. Adults, $11; kids (5-12), $5; kids (4 & under), free. Saturday, 9am-4pm; Sunday, 10am-4pm. repticon.com
Spring Break Pop-ins at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features hands-on activities and come-and-go experiences including stories, crafts and other adventures suited to each day’s theme. Free to attend; donations welcome. 10am-noon. myriadgardens.org Spring Break Drop-in Activities at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features family-friendly activities and a different make-and-take craft each day such as mini-weavings and illustrated letters. Free with admission. 10am2pm. nationalcowboymuseum.org Spring Break Activities at Unpluggits Paint & Play (575 Enterprise Dr, Ste 110, Edmond) features storytime and art-making sessions. Activities vary daily. $25 per session; $100 for the week. 11am & 1pm. unpluggits.com
FREE Family Discovery Week at Oklahoma City Museum of Art
(415 Couch Dr) features family-friendly activities, special guests and art. Visit a Metropolitan Library location March 2-15 to get a free admission pass for each adult 18 & over while supplies last—kids 17 & under are always free. Wednesday & Thursday, 11am-5pm; Friday, 11am-8pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. okcmoa.com
visitors of all ages. Explore historic and modern farm life, plus learn how food gets to our tables. 10am-3pm. okhistory.org FREE Heard on Hurd Street Fest in Edmond (1st & Hurd, Broadway Ave, Edmond) features local food, unique shopping and live music. 6-10pm. Also held: April 16. Facebook.com/heardonhurd
sham-ROCK the Gardens: St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features live entertainment, face painters, dance demonstrations, crafts and more. 11am-2pm. myriadgardens.org
FREE Spring Thing! at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features complimentary admission, plus familyfriendly activities and crafts. All ages welcome. Thursday & Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday, 9am-2pm. oklahomahof.com
Farewell Winter! Welcome Spring! at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features storytime, a demonstration, nature hike, science experiment and suncatchers craft. Preregister. Members, $7; nonmembers, $10. 10-11am. myriadgardens.org FREE Oklahoma Farm-to-Table Family Festival at Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features perspectives from Colonial America to modern day with hands-on activities for
ENJOY HANDS-ON STEAM FUN AT GEEKAPALOOZA ON MARCH 12.
Kids Take Over the Cowboy March 5 • 10:00 a.m. – Noon with Storytime at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Explore the world of Wild West fashion in Western Wares! Design your own paper vest, bolo tie and Western cuffs.
Spring Break Drop-in Activities March 14 – 18 • 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Drop by the Museum and participate in family-friendly activities and create a different make-and-take craft each day. Free for Museum members or with Museum admission. Activities are available while supplies last. No reservations required. 1700 Northeast 63rd Street Oklahoma City, OK 73111 (405) 478-2250 • nationalcowboymuseum.org/kids
2/1/2022 10:21:14 AM METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
JUNE 6 –10 // 9AM–3PM This creative, week-long, day camp is designed for kids who have finished 2nd-6th grade. Students explore their creativity through hands-on projects & fun games. The gallery show is at 6pm Friday! $150 • Register now!
JULY 11 –15 // 9AM–3PM This fun, week-long, day camp is created for kids who have finished 2nd-8th grade. Students will enjoy music, costumes, choreography and more. The full length musical is at 6pm on Friday! $175 • Register now! Early Bird rate: $150 ends May 1st!
Get details and register online: CROSSINGS.CHURCH/AWA
14600 N PORTLAND, OKC, OK 73134 405.755.2227
Top events for March Through March 31
FREE Zoo Admission for Healthcare Workers & Emergency Responders at the Oklahoma City Zoo (2101 NE 50th St) features free general zoo admission and 50% off general admission for up to four guests. Present a valid work ID at the zoo’s ticket window to receive complimentary admission and discounts. Prices vary. okczoo.org
OU Women’s Gymnastics vs Michigan at Lloyd Noble Center (2900 Jenkins Ave, Norman). $8-$10. 7:45pm. soonersports.com
Backwoods Hunting & Fishing Expo at State Fair Park (3001 General Pershing Blvd) features outdoorfocused vendors, exhibits and seminars as well as kid activities. Adults, $10; kids (10 & under), free. Friday, 11am7pm; Saturday, 9am-7pm; Sunday, 10am-5pm. backwoodsshow.com
FREE Kid’s Trout Fish Out at Welch Park Pond (615 Annawood Dr, Yukon) features a fishing derby for young anglers with prizes and other fishing-themed activities. Bring your own fishing poles and lawn chairs. 8-11am. yukonok.gov
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Kids Take Over the Cowboy at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features hands-on activities exploring cowboy fashion. Design your own paper vest, bolo tie and Western cuffs. Free with admission while supplies last. 10amnoon. nationalcowboymuseum.org FREE First Thunder Fest at the First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd) features stories, songs, hands-on activities, film screenings and more that celebrate the arrival of spring. Free to attend; gallery admission discounted. 11am-3pm. famok.org
Cinderella at Oklahoma Children’s Theatre (2501 Blackwelder Ave) features a kid-friendly adaptation of the classic fairy tale. Best suited for ages 5 & up. Adults, $11; kids (2-12), $9. 2pm. oklahomachildrenstheatre.org
Rhea Lana’s of Edmond Spring Consignment Event at the Edmond Marketplace Shopping Center (3325 Boulevard, Edmond) features highquality, gently used items including clothing, shoes, baby equipment, furniture, toys, nursery dècor, books and more. Free to attend. See website for hours. edmond.rhealana.com
Redbud Classic April 2 & 3
The iconic OKC event is back this year and features active options for the whole family, including a 5k, 10k, bike tours, 1-mile kids’ fun run, the inaugural 1-mile Woof Walk, baby stroller derby and more, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofit The CARE Center.
Saturday, April 2 • 10-Mile Bike Fun Run Ride, 7am. Waterford Complex, NW 63rd & Pennsylvania. Registration starts at $40. • 30-Mile Bike Tour/50-Mile FONDO, 7am. Waterford Complex, NW 63rd & Pennsylvania. Registration starts at $40. • 1-Mile Fun Run, 11am. Nichols Hills Plaza, N Western Ave & Avondale Dr. Perfect for kids ages 1-12. Activities begin at 11am and the fun run begins at noon. $15 registration includes a shirt and medal, plus all participants will enjoy refreshments from Little Caesar’s Pizza. • 1-mile Woof Walk, 12:30pm. Nichols Hills Plaza, 1203 Sherwood Ln. Enjoy a stroll with your dog! $15 registration.
Sunday, April 3 • 5k, 1:30pm. Waterford Complex, NW 63rd & Pennsylvania. Registration begins at $25. • 10k, 1:30pm. Waterford Complex, NW 63rd & Pennsylvania. Registration begins at $25. • 2-mile Walk and Stroller Derby, 1:30pm. Waterford Complex, NW 63rd & Pennsylvania. Registration begins at $25. • Redbud Bash, 12pm. Nichols Hills Plaza, N Western Ave & Avondale Dr. Enjoy food trucks, free family-friendly games and activities and entertainment. All registrations come with a T-shirt, virtual goodie bag and access to the Redbud Bash, where there will be a variety of food from some of Oklahoma’s premier food trucks, beverages from COOP Ale Works and other sponsors, free family-friendly games and activities, music and other entertainment. Register for all events at redbud.org. Learn more about the beneficiary of this year’s Redbud, The CARE Center, at metrofamilymagazine.com/2022-redbudsupports-the-care-center.
3 COOL PERKS of
FROZEN VEGGIES 1. Frozen veggies cost less. On average, frozen spinach costs around $2.56 per pound — but fresh clocks in at a whopping $6.88!
2. They have a longer shelf-life. Say goodbye to that forgotten bag of wilted spinach in the back of your produce drawer. Frozen veggies last 3 – 12 months!
3. They’re as healthy as it gets! Unlike fresh, frozen veggies aren’t exposed to excessive heat or light, so they retain more nutrients. They’re also picked at peak ripeness, so they taste great!
Want a chance to win one week of FREE groceries? Show us what you can do with frozen veggies! Enter the contest + browse more healthy tips and tools at ShapeYourFutureOK.com.
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Our weekly video podcast featuring community guests Watch at MetroFamilyMagazine.com/ raising-okc-kids or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
Top events for March & April March 25
Harlem Globetrotters at Paycom Center (100 W Reno Ave) features amazing feats of basketball in a humorous exhibition-style game. $20 & up. 7pm. paycomcenter.com
Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light – Closing Weekend at OKC Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr). In preparation for the reinstallation of a new exhibition featuring more Chihuly glass, celebrate with the museum as they say goodbye for now to this landmark exhibition, reopening in June. Adults, $12; kids (17 & under), free. Friday, 11am-8pm; Saturday, 10am5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. okcmoa.com
March 26-April 2
Just Between Friends Consignment Sale at State Fair Park Pavilion (3212 Wichita Walk) features gently used toys, clothes, shoes and baby supplies at bargains up to 90% off retail prices. Walkups welcome; priority given to ticket holders. Sunday, $5; no admission charged for other days. See website for shopping hours. okc.jbfsale.com
Medieval Fair of Norman at Reaves Park (2501 Jenkins Ave, Norman) features arts, crafts, food, games, educational exhibits, demonstrations and ongoing entertainment. Free to attend. 10am-7pm. medievalfair.org
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FREE Big Hike for Bigfoot at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd). Follow clues during a guided hike around the park to help find Bigfoot. Preregister. All ages welcome. 2-3:30pm. okc.gov/parksignup
Discovery Family Series: Musical Whizkids at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features a onehour, family-friendly concert designed to entertain and educate youngsters 13 years & under. Enjoy movie tunes, classics and popular songs played by the full orchestra, plus pre-concert lobby activities, including The Instrument Playground. $10.50. 2pm. okcphil.org
Hello, Spring! Festival at Earlywine Park (3101 SW 119th St) features live music, art, gardening classes and activities for kids, plus a spring fashion show and local food trucks and businesses. Free to attend. Friday, noon-9pm; Saturday, 9am-9pm; Sunday, noon-5pm. okcpopupseries.com
Oklahoma Jazz in Bloom Festival at Ice Event Center (1148 NE 36th St) features live entertainment by professional local jazz artists and educational activities to learn about the history and vibrance of jazz in Oklahoma, plus interactive
community art, a silent auction, food trucks and vendors. Free to attend. 11am-9pm. okjazzinbloom.com OKC Daddy Daughter Dance at Scissortail Park Sky Rink (655 S Robinson Ave) features a fairy garden-themed dance with food, refreshments, a DJ, photo booth, cotton candy, horse-drawn carriage rides and more. Preregister. All ages welcome. $35 per couple; $10 each additional child. 2:30-4pm, 5-6:30pm & 7:30-9pm. okc.gov/parksignup
Festival of the Arts at Bicentennial Park (500 Couch Dr) features performing arts entertainment across three stages, visual arts from 144 different artists from across the United States and an array of sweet and savory foods from a variety of restaurants. Benefits Arts Council OKC. Free to attend. Tuesday-Saturday, 11am9pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm. artscouncilokc. com/festival-of-the-arts
Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in downtown OKC combines the personal challenge of running a race with the emotion of a shared national tragedy. Runners and walkers of all levels can participate in a variety of events, including a marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 5k and kids’ marathon. Prices vary. See website for full schedule. okcmarathon.com
FREE Norman Music Festival in downtown Norman (various locations) features dozens of performers providing live entertainment. Artists include The Drums, Mothica, Husbands, Luna Luna and more. See website for full schedule. normanmusicfestival.com
Puffs at Lyric Theatre’s Thelma Gaylord Academy (1801 NW 16th St) features a magical musical telling the story of the Puffs who attended Hogwarts at the same time as Harry Potter. Hear the comedic tale of those who have never been destined to save the world but firsthand experienced Harry Potter conquering evil. $10. 7pm. thelmagaylordacademy.com
FREE Steamroller Print Fest at Artspace at Untitled (1 NE 3rd St) features an outdoor festival highlighting printmaking with live demonstrations, family activities, live music, food trucks and more. 9am-6pm. 1ne3.org
SUMMER ART CAMPS AGES 5-12 Member registration opens 10 a.m. March 21 General registration opens 10 a.m. March 28 Learn more and register at okcontemp.org/camps
405.951.0000 | @okcontemporary METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
11 NW 11th St, OKC, OK 73103
For Toddlers Thursdays in March
Toddler Open Gym at Metro Gymnastics (7420 Broadway Ext) features open playtime in the gym for kids ages 4 & under with a caregiver. Reservations encouraged but not required. $8. 9:30-11:30am. metrogymokc.com
Fairy Tea Party at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features an hour of songs, stories and crafts to reconnect with nature’s little helpers. Learn about a fairy’s favorite teas and the plants that make them. Attendees will get to sample the teas and enjoy snacks. Best suited for ages 3-8. Preregister. Members, $7; nonmembers, $10. 10-11am. myriadgardens.org
Perked Up Playdate at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a playdate with refreshments, crafts and more at the Friess Family playground. Free with admission. 10am-noon. nationalcowboymuseum.org
For Teens March 22
Drum Tao at OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center (7777 S May Ave) features a high-octane performance of the Wadaiko drum tradition, a Japanese drum art. $17 & up. 7:30pm. occc.universitytickets.com
Beginner’s Archery Class at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd). Learn some of the dos and don’ts of the sport, including how to use a bow and arrow safely and practice shooting targets. For ages 10 & up. Preregister. $5. 2:304pm. Also held: April 16. okc.gov/parksignup
Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features a screening of the seven-time Academy Awardwinning movie and the exciting John Williams score performed live by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. $27 & up. 8pm. okcphil.org
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OKCine Latino Film Festival at the Yale Theater & Capitol Hill Library (227 SW 25th St, 327 SW 27th St) features a variety of feature films, documentaries and short films from local and international filmmakers as well as short films created by teams of high school students through the OKCine Latino Youth Film Institute. $25 & up; screenings at the library are free. Friday, 6-10pm; Saturday, 1-5pm; Sunday, 1-5pm. historiccapitolhill.com/okcine-latino
FREE Bike the Bluff at Bluff Creek Park (11301 N Meridian Ave) features mini clinics, group rides and representatives from OKC Parks and local bike shops. Participants must wear a helmet when on their bike. All ages welcome. Preregister. 10am-2pm. okc.gov/parksignup DRUM TAO. PHOTO BY IMG ARTISTS
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
Top Events for Date Night March 3
3.21 DSACO Fashion Show at The Criterion (500 E Sheridan Ave) features 21 self-advocate models and peer models, cocktail hour and a live performance by American Slang. Benefits the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma. $25$75. 6-9pm. dsaco.org/FashionShow
Ballroom with a Twist at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features dance performances with music by the OKC Philharmonic. Enjoy selections from Rhumba to hip hop. $27 & up. 8pm. okcphil.org
Rachmaninoff Festival at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features Alain Lefèvre on the piano with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. $27 & up. 8pm. okcphil.org
March 31-April 2
Piano Tales at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center Te Ata Theater (11 NW 11th St) features a celebration of storytelling and music by OKC Rep. The audience chooses which tales will be told each performance and in what order by selecting objects from a trunk. $30-$40. Thursday, 7pm; Friday, 7 & 9:30pm; Saturday, 8pm. okcrep.org
Head Over Heels at Lyric’s Plaza Theatre (1727 NW 16th St) features a new musical mash-up following the escapades of a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction. $25 & up. See website for showtimes. lyrictheatreokc.com
An Evening with Renée Elise Goldsberry at OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center (7777 S May
Ave) features the Tony-Award-winning original Angelica Schuyler from Hamilton. She’s performed lead roles in Rent, The Color Purple and The Lion King. $17 & up. 8pm. occc.universitytickets.com
April 29-May 14
As You Like It at Oklahoma Shakespeare Gardens (2920 Paseo) features the beloved comedy of mistaken identity, mismatched love triangles and a melancholy clown. $37-$42. See website for showtimes. okshakes.org
Find a full list of local events at metrofamilymagazine.com/ calendar. Editor’s note: Please enjoy family fun responsibly by following current CDC recommendations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend contacting each business directly to verify current offerings.
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EXPLORING BEYOND OKLAHOMA
THE MURNAN BOYS ENJOY THE VIEWS FROM STOUT’S POINT OVERLOOK IN PETIT JEAN STATE PARK.
Wonders in Central Arkansas ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY DEBBIE MURNAN
36 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
BARNYARD FRIENDS AND STABLES ATOP PETIT JEAN MOUNTAIN
Springtime in Arkansas always arrives in full glory, with waterfalls coming alive amid lush green landscapes and sunshine filling the days with warmer weather. Petit Jean State Park and the city of Little Rock both sit in the heart of the Natural State and are perfect destinations for families seeking outdoor play and historical learning opportunities. Little Rock draws in visitors with its beautiful riverside parks and attractions. Plus, the dining scene is expansive, from Southern comfort food to unique artisanal fare. When your family is ready to break away from work and school this spring, check out the Murnan family must-sees of Central Arkansas!
Petit Jean State Park
Arkansas’ first state park is a little over 4 hours from the Oklahoma City metro. Petit Jean State Park is an incredible place to start your trip and relish in the great outdoors. This is one of our family’s favorite state parks, always inviting us to explore its vast natural treasures and historic places.
Lodging The Mather Lodge is a focal point of the park, welcoming travelers with an onsite restaurant and 24 rooms overlooking the Cedar Creek Canyon. Nearby, there are 33 rustic cabins to choose from, all with equally impressive canyon views. Lake Bailey, not far from the park’s visitor center, has a large campground, bathhouses and plenty of opportunities to fish, pedal boat or kayak along its pristine waters. For a unique lodging experience on the lake’s shore, consider renting a YURT (year-round universal recreational tent), which is a tall, round tent large enough for six people that comes complete with electricity, wood floors, lanterns, cots and a stove. The experience is definitely a step up from traditional tent camping!
(ABOVE) HIKE TO CEDAR FALLS FOR SPECTACULAR VIEWS. (BELOW) KIDS ESPECIALLY ENJOY CLIMBING BOULDERS AND EXPLORING SECRET PASSAGEWAYS IN PETIT JEAN STATE PARK.
Hiking, overlooks and fun Many of the park’s trails are short and often boast distinct features to help keep kids excited to explore. Rock House Cave Trail is one of our boys’ favorites because they enjoy hopping to and from the “turtle rocks” as they make their way to a large rock shelter and premier spot for viewing ancient Native American rock art. Families can also enjoy hiking from Mather Lodge to the spectacular 95-foot Cedar Falls, where massive boulders and towering trees adorn this trail that descends into the canyon. Another favorite is Bear Cave Trail; while it doesn’t actually have a cave, kids of all ages still love climbing above and below the gigantic sandstone boulders that beckon exploration through secret passages. Seven Hollows Loop Trail offers beautiful scenery, creek crossings and a quiet grotto with a small waterfall. While the length of the entire trail may deter some families with young children, there is a truly remarkable natural bridge just 1.3 miles from the trailhead when hiked clockwise. Shortening the trip to this marker is still a great way to enjoy this popular trail! Petit Jean State Park sits about 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River Valley, lending to the sweeping views one can enjoy at various overlooks. Stout’s Point overlook is a peaceful spot to learn more about legendary Petit Jean, a young French girl who disguised herself as a boy so she could join her fiancé on a voyage to the “New World,” which ultimately brought her to the area. She thought the views here were so breathtaking that she actually chose it as her final resting place. Also from this overlook, a portion of the Trail of Tears can be seen, designating the park as a certified Trail of Tears National Historic Site. After a day of hiking, let the horses take you down the trail at Barnyard Friends and Stables, which sits atop Petit Jean Mountain. Families can enjoy 30 to 50 minute horseback rides (for ages 5 and up), hay rides or pony rides for the youngest travelers. The barnyard also allows guests to hand-feed and pet a variety of farm animals, all eager to keep you company and put a smile on your face.
Local eats While in the park, consider popping in to Petit Jean Coffeehouse, a cute little A-frame café with rave-worthy scones and specialty coffee drinks. They also have brown-bag lunches to grab for a day on the trail. For dinner options, check out Elia’s Mexican Grill outside the park in the city of Morrilton, just 25 minutes away. This family-owned restaurant offers up fresh taco salads and all the classic Mexican dishes your family will be craving after a busy day on the mountain. Besides delicious food, the restaurant gets consistent applause for the friendly, attentive staff.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
Just an hour southeast of Petit Jean State Park awaits the spirited city of Little Rock and its bustling River Market District in the heart of this capital’s downtown, offering plenty of places to shop, dine and play. The neighboring Riverfront Park stretches 11 blocks along the shores of the Arkansas River and features the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, a gorgeous outdoor labyrinth of art, as well as an impressive playground lined with boulders and secret tunnels for kids to navigate and climb. Make your way east along the scenic 15-mile Arkansas River Trail to the William E. Clark Wetlands, where boardwalks wind through a 13-acre preserve and lead guests to wide-open views of the river and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, a grand pedestrian bridge connecting the north and south portions of the trail. Nearby, the Museum of Discovery invites children to embark on a Mayan archaeological quest and captivates all ages with engaging, interactive demonstrations that spark learning and imagination.
Local eats Many restaurants in Little Rock proudly share a common thread for giving back to their community, and The Root Café is one of the best. They source most of their ingredients, including all of their eggs, meat and bread, from local farmers to craft their delicious homemade dishes morning to night. Biscuit sandwiches, omelettes and pancakes are all tasty options to start your day, or try one of their fresh salads, sandwiches or burgers to refuel your crew for lunch. They also offer several gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menu items. Grab a mid-day coffee at Nexus Coffee and Creative in the River Market District, where they roast their own coffee beans in-house for fresh, high-quality taste. The shop is incredibly warm and peaceful, welcoming all to come in for rest and community with others. Dinner at The Pantry Eatery is a must for your family, where they feature Czech and German classics among other perfectly plated American dishes, like flatbreads and burgers. The appetizer and dessert menus are simply delightful but it is their overall service and attention to quality food that has kept this restaurant at the top of Little Rock’s “best of” lists for years.
Historical treasures History was made in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School when nine Black children bravely paved the way to desegregation in an all-white school and opened doors for those seeking equality in education around the world. Today, families can visit the grounds of the school as well as its National Park Service Visitor Center to view an interpretive film and exhibits. Children can participate in the NPS Junior Ranger program to learn more about the sacrifice and struggle endured by the Little Rock Nine, who were a catalyst for change in our country. Another historical site worth visiting is the Old Mill in north Little Rock, famous for its appearance in the opening credits of the movie Gone With the Wind and thought to be one of the last still-standing structures that can be seen in the film. The surrounding grounds are beautifully landscaped and are a perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
38 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
(ABOVE) VIEW TESTAMENT: THE LITTLE ROCK NINE MONUMENT AT THE ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL. (BELOW) GONE WITH THE WIND BUFFS WILL WANT TO VISIT OLD MILL IN NORTH LITTLE ROCK, WHICH CAN BE SEEN IN THE MOVIE’S OPENING CREDITS.
(ABOVE AND BELOW) RIVERFRONT PARK INCLUDES A SCULPTURE GARDEN AND PLAYGROUND.
(RIGHT) ENJOY CZECH AND GERMAN CLASSICS AS WELL AS AMERICAN DISHES AT THE PANTRY EATERY.
Nearby attractions There are an array of outdoor activities at Burns Park, the largest urban park in the state, which rests along the northern shores of the Arkansas River. The park has both golf and disc golf courses, a BMX track, playgrounds, trails and a covered bridge fashioned after those found in New England. There’s even a mini amusement park open seasonally for young children to enjoy. Big Rock Mini Golf and Fun Park is another highly entertaining and affordable place to enjoy activities for all ages. Families can play mini golf, race go-karts, climb a ropes course, take a swing in the batting cages or get lost in an outdoor maze. Round out your trip at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, just 20 minutes west of Little Rock, where visitors are rewarded with a birds-eye view of the city from its summit. This landmark park has more than 20 miles of trails and a gorgeous arboretum to wander. When winter melts into spring this year, let your family delight in exploring Arkansas’ captivating wonders. The beauty of this particular spring break adventure is that not only will your family cherish all the moments of play, but your children will also be rewarded with valuable conversations and lessons learned surrounding the history found in Little Rock.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
The Childcare Challenge The pandemic’s effects on the industry in Oklahoma & how to move forward
BY ERIN PAGE
At the height of the pandemic in 2020 when many families were sheltering together at home, working parents across the metro discovered with renewed understanding just how much they rely on childcare. As schools were closed and childcare centers were primarily serving essential workers, working parents tried to simultaneously (and sometimes impossibly) work from home and care for their children. Employers and employees alike realized the critical role childcare plays in the community. “The pandemic proved the childcare industry is vital to the economic success of Oklahoma,” said Brittany Lee, director of childcare services for Oklahoma Human Services. “Our goal is to provide licensed, affordable, high-quality childcare, offering a variety of options.” Lee reports childcare centers that were operating at 20 or 30 percent capacity during the height of the pandemic have begun to rebound, with many reaching pre-pandemic levels of 70 to 80 percent capacity. But like many industries negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the childcare industry is still in a tailspin, and experts predict those effects will last long beyond the pandemic itself. The biggest challenges are all cyclical in nature, each compounding the others: a shortage of workers, loss of income for childcare providers due to loss of enrollment and a lack of childcare options for parents. “What happened in the pandemic was disastrous but it was just a culmination; the issues existed way before the pandemic
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and the pandemic exacerbated them,” said Paula Koos, executive director of Oklahoma Childcare Resources and Referral Association. “We’ve been losing childcare homes for six to eight years and they are not being replaced because other people don’t see the childcare business as [a way to] make a living.” According to Oklahoma Department of Human Services, more than 115,000 Oklahoma children are in childcare every month. The same childcare facility directors and employees who stayed open to essential workers at the height of the pandemic, operating often at 20 to 30 percent of their income with the same pre-pandemic costs, are now fighting to make ends meet longterm, all amidst a general lack of respect for the industry. “People in the childcare industry truly go into it because they love children,” said Koos. “What’s really sad is that they need to [also] be a business person to be able to end every month in the black, and that takes the joy out of it for so many people.”
The Problems Reduced enrollment and workforce At various points during the pandemic, many parents who were able to work from home or who didn’t work outside the home opted not to send their children to childcare. “In many cases, enrollment fell by 50 percent,” said Koos. “You have the ongoing expenses of a business — the rent doesn’t change, utilities don’t change, insurance doesn’t change, but you have 50 percent fewer children and that makes it more difficult to make ends meet.”
While more kids are coming back to childcare, Koos says ongoing issues due to COVID are still causing providers to struggle and their income levels, in general, are not back up to what they were pre-pandemic. When kids have to be quarantined for a week or more, classrooms must be closed and cleaned, and when there aren’t children to care for, teachers may temporarily be without a job or pay. Some providers are having to close their doors. “During the pandemic we saw childcare homes who were really committed and had been serving parents for a long time, even when they weren’t breaking even, they continued to operate,” said Koos. “We heard from a lot of providers who said it totally wiped out their savings. There are people who are leaving the industry who unfortunately probably won’t come back.” Unlike in some other industries where family-owned businesses are passed down through the generations, childcare providers in the 60- to 65-year-old age range who are retiring from their businesses don’t typically have children stepping in to take over, according to Koos. “They don’t see it as a financially-viable way to make a living,” said Koos of the next generation. Even for those providers able to stay open, finding quality employees has been a significant struggle. Ramona Johnson, director of Rainbow Fleet’s Early Education Center in Oklahoma City, says this has been her top challenge since the center opened in October 2020. Upon opening, the center already had a large enrollment and Johnson was able to hire quality teachers to get the program running. But as the need continues to grow to serve more children, Johnson worries about sustainability. “We want to find those perfect providers to come take care of our kids,” said Johnson. “It’s a struggle, and you get to the point
where you want to hire anybody because you know what it’s like to be without a minimum of staff. But I will go without to find what I’m looking for.”
Koos. “Families are paying more than they can afford to pay and people are saying if I’m paying so much then why can’t the childcare worker be paid more?”
Johnson is proactively searching career websites and scheduling interviews with potential candidates, some of whom don’t show up for interviews after all her work of vetting them. While the process has been frustrating at times, she says the time and energy are worth it to find the right employees.
The problem is the ratio of staff to children in quality, licensed childcare settings can’t — and shouldn’t — be changed in order to ensure safety of the children in care. Those ratios often make it unfeasible for providers, based on their income, to pay staff a living wage. Very few childcare workers receive benefits packages, health insurance, vacation or sick leave.
“I’ve found good, credible teachers and we’re continuing to hire until we get where we need to be,” said Johnson. “We have to put in the work and keep a positive mindset. Sometimes that’s a struggle — everyone knows this is not the best-paying field so you have to love what you do.”
Childcare deserts Nationally, childcare deserts are defined as geographic areas where there are more than three children for every licensed childcare spot available. In Oklahoma, childcare availability varies drastically, especially comparing urban and suburban areas to rural areas. “If you look at the three counties in the Oklahoma panhandle combined, there are five children for every available licensed childcare slot,” said Koos. “You’re competing with four other people, which makes it difficult to find the facility, quality and location you want.” In the OKC metro, Koos reports there are about 1.65 children for every childcare spot. “Even if you have two people for every slot, that means someone doesn’t get care,” said Koos. The other significant issue in Oklahoma is a lack of facilities providing childcare outside traditional hours. Families who need childcare between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. have a much better chance of finding available, high-quality childcare in their desired location than a parent who works from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., overnight or swing shifts.
Cost and pay In Oklahoma, the average annual cost of full-time childcare for an infant is $7,000, or $6,300 for a toddler between ages 3 and 5, according to Koos. “That’s a huge expense for a family,” said
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“The pandemic proved the childcare industry is vital to the economic success of Oklahoma.” Brittany Lee
“The only way childcare employees receive a living wage and childcare owners make a profit is there has to be some government support to childcare,” said Koos. “I know that parents can’t absorb any more costs and childcare facilities can’t afford to pay any more. As a society we have to decide if childcare is important enough [to fund].” While OKDHS does offer a childcare subsidy program based on income, Koos says many parents who qualify are unwilling to use the service because they don’t want to accept financial assistance from the government. On the flip side are families who make just a little too much to qualify for assistance, and the impact on their budgets can be devastating. “We call it the cliff effect,” said Koos. “You have a job and you’re working but you make $20 per pay period too much to get assistance. So there goes 50 percent of your paycheck [to childcare expenses].”
Economic repercussions Even those who don’t have children at home or whose kids don’t require childcare are affected by the trickle-down effects of the challenges the childcare industry is experiencing. Koos reports that in December 2020, the third top reason people couldn’t work in the United States was the inability to find childcare. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
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What often happens for families that have two incomes, particularly working jobs that pay around minimum wage or a bit more, is that paying $6,000 per year, or $12,000 for two kids, to attend childcare is not an economically feasible calculation. “It doesn’t add up — you don’t make enough,” explained Koos. “Lots of families make the decision that it’s more cost-effective for one parent to stay home.” According to Washington Post calculations from the U.S. Census Bureau’s September 2021 Current Population Survey, there are 1.3 million fewer employed mothers than there were in February 2020, but only 734,000 fewer employed fathers, all in the 25 to 54 age category. Oklahoma Sen. Carri Hicks initiated an interim study on childcare in September 2021, which found that 1 in 5 women have left the workforce permanently, citing family obligations as the main reason.
rate as of December 2021 and “hiring” signs displayed at fast food restaurants, childcare facilities and other minimum wage jobs. “There aren’t a lot of people floating around to take those minimum wage jobs,” said Koos.
“It’s going to take money, time and creative thinking to figure out how we manage to provide childcare to those families where parents need to work in an environment where childcare employees can make a living wage.”
That decision then impacts the workforce, leaving their previously-held jobs open and reducing the labor pool. Koos says the phenomenon is very apparent right now in Oklahoma, with a 3 percent unemployment
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When the workforce is saturated and yet jobs remain open, it’s not often childcare jobs that are the most sought-after. Lee adds oftentimes what childcare workers could make is less than what the fast food restaurant down the street could offer them. The Washington Post reported 100,000 fewer childcare workers nationally in October 2020 compared with October 2019. “We can’t [always] compete — and yet the work is so much more important,” said Lee.
The Solutions Assistance for providers and families In 2020 and 2021, OKDHS has been able to use federal funds to support the local childcare industry, directly helping childcare providers sustain and thrive during the
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pandemic. CARES monies have provided quality and sustainability payments based on a childcare provider’s capacity, star rating on the Quality Rating and Improvement System and providers’ compliance to licensing and permit requirements. Funds have also provided sanitation payments to help with added cleaning costs, an increase in absent pay days (where providers still get paid for those families on childcare subsidies even when that child cannot attend due to illness), an increase in the daily subsidy rate paid to providers, coverage of family co-pays and payment for the full-time childcare rate for school-aged children. American Rescue Plan monies have provided stabilization grants for childcare programs as well as incentivized quality improvement, access to care and workforce development to support Oklahoma families. Providers can spend the funds on a variety of key operating expenses, including wages and benefits, rent and utilities and cleaning and sanitation supplies. Specialty grants will be available beginning in spring 2022 to help start new childcare programs, assist with staff retention and address childcare deserts,
particularly in low-income and special needs communities. OKDHS will also use ARPA funds to cover 3 months of childcare subsidy for those unemployed due to COVID, provide continued increased subsidy rates, provide business training resources for providers and make available an increase in stipends awarded to program staff who meet professional development hours, among other initiatives. ARPA funds will be available through September 2024. “The sustainability grants had a huge impact [in 2021],” said Lee. “We heard relief from people and how much it helped. DHS has plans for those to continue for at least a year. That gives us time to look at the future and how we can help going forward.” While it’s not quantifiable, another result of the pandemic is a likely increase in unlicensed childcare homes. In Oklahoma, if you’re caring for children other than your own in your home on a regular basis, you must be licensed to do so, and that requires start-up costs to meet licensing requirements and receive a permit, according to OKDHS. Lee says in many cases an unlicensed home is the case of a friend or neighbor offering childcare
on an ongoing basis so a parent can work or attend school. Oftentimes those individuals may not be aware of the licensing process or the level of support provided by OKDHS. “We want to keep children safe; we assist financially and provide the educational component,” said Lee. “We know people are concerned about the monetary part.” For families who need childcare, those who are income-eligible can receive childcare subsidies. Those who qualify do not have to pay out of pocket for childcare, and Lee says OKDHS plans to continue that for as long as possible. But those who qualify aren’t always aware of the financial assistance or willing to use it. “There is a stigma of being on subsidy,” said Lee. “It’s really just supplementing and supporting getting children into quality programs.” OKDHS is planning a mass marketing campaign to seek out potential qualified childcare employees. The agency also provides free training for childcare teachers and directors, as well as business resources for providers and other support.
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“If you love working with children, this is the time because we are in need of the right people,” said Lee. Johnson says the efforts of OKDHS and other community organizations are paying off, even though the full effects are not being felt yet.
“We have to put in the work and keep a positive mindset. Sometimes that’s a struggle — everyone knows this is not the best-paying field so you have to love what you do.” Ramona Johnson
44 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
“[They] are working right now to figure out ways to get more quality care and more teachers coming in [to the field],” said Johnson. “There are lots of people that are taking classes wanting to get into this field. We have to continue working together.” Johnson stresses that it’s critical that both providers and employees have support from each other and the parents. For her as director, that means she collaborates with her employees to get their feedback and consistently reiterates to them that they have her support and that they must take care of themselves and their families, too. She also notes, especially for the center’s first-time parents, the childcare workers’ years of child development experience are invaluable. “Their position is significant,” said Johnson of her employees. “I want to make sure they feel valued.”
How the community can help Lee calls the childcare industry a “vital space and a sacred space.” While much like in the education industry, there has been a lack of respect paid to teachers and childcare employees, but Lee says that tide is beginning to turn in her industry. “The reason we have so much money from the government [to support childcare] is because this is a vital service,” said Lee. Prior to the pandemic, Lee said parents and the community at large were more likely to undervalue childcare workers, often calling them babysitters, when in reality providers do so much more than simply play with children. “We are instilling into someone’s life, and that’s an honor,” said Lee. “The physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive development … early educators have the insight to mold and guide that for children.”
Valued childcare providers who are knowledgeable in children’s health and wellness, development and using researchbased curriculum often become instrumental parts of a family’s village, helping raise children who know how to have healthy relationships and are exposed to new cultures and ideas. Lee says childcare providers are providing the educational components that help form children into who they will become, and they often become parents’ first point of reference when they have questions about parenting, their child’s health or development. “There is nothing like watching a child’s development firsthand,” said Lee. “You see those light bulb moments unfold.” Even for parents who don’t work outside the home, Lee advises it’s important for young children to have access to early childhood educators and other children so they can develop the skills to be successful as they begin school. Childcare centers deserve the same support from the community as other local businesses, adds Lee.
“To really shift the tide, let’s uplift [childcare providers] as another local business we should pour into,” said Lee. Lee suggests community members ask their local childcare facilities what donations they could provide that would be helpful, from Post-it notes to diapers. Families clearing out gently-used toys or books their kids have outgrown could donate them to a childcare facility. Grandparents or college students with extra time on their hands could offer to read to the children. Johnson hopes to see childcare providers band together to ensure the industry grows. She’d like to see Rainbow Fleet become a lab school, where early childhood education students and those interested in childcare services could observe, complete practicums and receive training from the lead teachers in their program. “We have to support each other,” said Johnson. As has become very clear during the pandemic, quality childcare is a vital part of keeping the economy running, and that means the community at large has a responsibility to
support the industry moving forward. “There’s not a simple solution,” said Koos. “It’s going to take money, time and creative thinking to figure out how we manage to provide childcare to those families where parents need to work in an environment where childcare employees can make a living wage.”
To find high-quality childcare near you, as well as tips for choosing the best childcare option for your family (or to find a local childcare facility or in-home provider to support), visit rainbowfleet.org, oklahomachildcare.org or childcarefind.okdhs.org/ childcarefind.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
t o g K n i id k l
The Elementary Years
BY RONNEAL MATHEWS, THRIVE OKC
Talking to kids in elementary school about sexual health may feel scary and confusing for parents and caregivers. What concepts are young children ready to learn and able to understand? While it may be tempting to “wait until they’re ready,” the truth is, we should be teaching our kids at every age about their bodies, their relationships with people around them and about our family values regarding sexual health. Early childhood is a great time to build the foundation of healthy relationships, body awareness and autonomy and respect for self and others. Specifically, when kids enter elementary school (around age 6), they begin to think more about how the world around them affects not only them but others. They are becoming much more aware of their bodies and they may begin to experience feelings of attraction to others. They may not yet be skilled at abstract thinking, problem solving and thinking from alternative perspectives. Older kids in this group (ages 11 to 12) may still struggle with abstract thinking, but they are beginning to develop the ability to understand that issues are not always clear cut and may be understood and interpreted in different ways. When it comes to sexual health, this means the elementary years are a good time to: • Educate yourself and position yourself as a trusted adult that the children in your life can ask questions of and talk to. • Help kids learn about and understand how their bodies work. This may include discussions about current and impending changes, puberty and self-care. • Teach the importance of giving and receiving consent for affection from family and friends (i.e. hugging, giving kisses, holding hands or touching someone else’s body). • Teach what it means to be a good friend and how to tell the difference between healthy, respectful relationships and ones that may not be healthy.
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Let’s Talk About... HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS • Children at this age may become interested in developing more complex friendships and may also begin to experience feelings of attraction to others. Discuss with them that good communication is the foundation for all types of healthy relationships; that it’s not OK to physically hurt or be hurt by others; that abuse can be emotional, mental and/or physical and that all people deserve respect and dignity. • Start having conversations about intimate relationships. What is a relationship? What’s great about being in a healthy relationship? Our kids are bombarded with images of people in all kinds of relationships in the media and in their own lives. Talk to the kids in your life about how you met your partner, what makes a good relationship partner and your personal family values about love, sex and relationships.
CONSENT • Teach kids that people get to decide what happens to their bodies and that different people like different kinds of touch (i.e. hugs, kisses and holding hands). They have the right to say yes or no to different kinds of touch based on their level of comfort. This is called bodily autonomy. Show children that you respect their bodily autonomy by not forcing them to hug or kiss relatives or friends, asking them if they would like hugs or kisses from you (and respecting their answers!) and explaining when certain kinds of touch may be needed for their health and safety (i.e. holding hands to cross the street or being examined by a medical professional). • Teach them that kids cannot consent to sexual activity and that anyone who tries to seek consent from them to engage in such activities is wrong and they should tell a trusted adult immediately. If someone does something sexual to them, make sure they know it is never their fault and, even if the person asked for permission, they did not have the right to do so.
• Help kids understand that they should always ask for consent to touch, hug, hold hands with or kiss others. They should respect people’s answers and preferences when they indicate that they prefer not to be touched.
ANATOMY AND PUBERTY • Elementary school is a good time to begin talking to kids about the bodily changes they will experience. For example, teach about physical changes such as hair growth, sweating, breast growth, menstrual cycles and changes to reproductive organs. In addition, talk about emotional changes they may experience. • Instill healthy hygiene habits and discuss the necessity of keeping their bodies clean. This may also be a good time to teach children how to use the washing machine, as they may sweat more frequently and the smell of their perspiration may change. In addition, children with penises may experience nocturnal emissions and children with vulvas may start their menstrual cycle. They may feel more comfortable washing their own clothing and sheets during this time — and it’s less work for you!
SEXTING AND SOCIAL MEDIA • Kids have access to cell phones and laptops at younger ages than ever before. Talk to your children about what sexually explicit messages are and how predators may target children on the internet. • As kids get older and begin experiencing feelings of attraction to others, they need to understand that even receivers of unsolicited nude or explicit pictures of children can get into trouble. As such, it is important to never send such images and to inform a trusted adult if they ever receive them. • Talk about your rules for using the internet, cell phones and social media and closely monitor your child’s use of these tools.
Resources for parents of elementary-aged kids Books: 1. 30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 8–11: Empowering Your Child with the Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy by Educate & Empower Kids 2. I Said No! A Kid-to-Kid Guide to Keeping Your Private Parts Private by Kimberly King and Sue Rama 3. It’s Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Families and Friends by Robie H. Harris 4. Girlology: There’s Something New About You: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up (ages 8+) by Dr. Melisa Holmes and Dr. Trish Hutchison 5. Guyology: Just the Facts: A Guy’s Guide to Growing Up (ages 8+) by Dr. Melisa Holmes and Dr. Trish Hutchison 6. Youology: A Puberty Guide for Every Body (April 2022) by Dr. Melisa Holmes and Dr. Trish Hutchison Website and video resources: 1. Sex Positive Families: sexpositivefamilies.com 2. Amaze: amaze.org 3. Thrive, Inc. Resources for Trusted Adults: thriveokc.org/resources/ trusted-adults 4. Girlology: Girl Health & Puberty Education: girlology.com Editor’s note: This column is the third in a series of four by the experts at local nonprofit Thrive OKC to empower families and caregivers to talk to their kids, in developmentally-appropriate ways, about sexual health. Each column focuses on a different age range of child and provides ideas of topics to cover, conversation starters and resources. Find the full series of Talking to Kids About Sex articles, plus a podcast with expert advice on how to handle topics like consent, puberty and pornography, at metrofamilymagazine. com/talking-to-kids-about-sex. Find additional resources for parents and caregivers at thriveokc.org.
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Summer Camps, Classes & Activities Spark learning, creativity, friendship and fun with our Summer Camp Guide! Peruse dozens of opportunities for your child to try new things, learn new skills and meet new people. Whether your child loves STEAM, horseback riding, robotics, outdoor adventure, art or anything in between, find just the right fit in these pages. Find the searchable version of our Summer Camp Guide at metrofamilymagazine.com/ summer-camps.
JUNIOR ELEPHANT AMBASSADOR CAMP AT OKLAHOMA AWESOME ADVENTURES
YMCA Camp Classen 10840 Main Camp Road, Davis (580) 369-2272, firstname.lastname@example.org ymcaokc.org/camp-classen Late May-July, $825 per week session
ummer is coming, and there’s no better place to spend it than Camp Classen! Imagine a summer filled with all the staples like hiking, canoeing, swimming, s’mores and horseback riding. With eight week-long sessions to choose from, campers can attend a single week, two weeks or even come for the whole summer. Camp options available for ages 6 to 17 years old.
“The love, support and patience Aubrey received really helped him. His counselors supported and uplifted my son. He felt like he was at home at Camp Classen.” Tyler Bombach, parent
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Rose State College Kids College 6420 SE 15th St, Midwest City (405) 733-7488, email@example.com trainingatrose.com June-July, Free-$198/week
t Rose State’s Kids College and summer camps, kids can explore aerospace, geoscience, rockets, meteorology, chemistry, rocking climbing, movie making and so much more. Six camp options are available for kids in grades 1 through 12. Registration is a la carte by class, by the week or the whole summer. All classes are taught by certified teachers and instructors with small class sizes. “Kids College has been the highlight of my son’s summer. He is always learning new things, making wonderful memories and has made connections with amazing faculty, staff and kids that will last him a lifetime!” Erin Karl, parent
Western Explorers Summer Camp National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd St (405) 478-2250, firstname.lastname@example.org nationalcowboymuseum.org Late June-July, $125 per week, $100 for Museum members
et’s explore! This adventurous camp offers kids ages 6 to 10 opportunities to learn, play and create at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Led by Museum educators, each four-day, small-group session features age-appropriate themes, crafts, games, art projects and stories. Campers explore the Museum’s collections, exhibitions, gardens and trails to inspire their imaginations and provide the foundation for fun-filled, creative selfexpression. All supplies are included in the children’s sessions. Some activities may be messy, so campers should dress accordingly! “My kids had a great time. They have been to lots of different camps this summer and really seemed to like this one a lot. They have asked if they could do it again next year.” parent
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Academy of Worship Arts: Musical Theatre Camp & Visual Arts Camp Crossings Community Church 14600 N Portland Ave 405-755-2227, email@example.com crossings.church/awa
ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts 3251 Market Pl, Ste 130, Norman 405-397-1824, firstname.lastname@example.org artworksacademy.com June-August, $70-$325
June-July, $150-$175 In Visual Arts Camp, students in grades 2-6 learn to explore their creative side through immersive, hands-on projects, guided learning and encouragement through self-expression. During Musical Theatre Camp, campers in grades 2-8 will put on a full-length musical with choreography and costumes. Registration opens in March.
ArtWorks Academy camps and classes are guided by a longstanding commitment to providing students with a comprehensive arts education. Camps are available for ages 3-18, as well as 6-week classes for 2-year-olds to adults. Explore everything from dance to musical theater and visual arts. Multi-camp/class and sibling discounts available.
Cadence Equestrian Center 14150 S Pine St, Edmond 405-348-7469 cadenceequestrian.com
APEX Dance Studio 610 S Kelly Ave, Ste F, Edmond 405-330-9010, email@example.com apexdancestudio.com
June-early August, $525 per week
June-July, $165 Join in on summer fun at Princess Tea Party Camp, Broadway Dance Camp and Confidence Camp! Weekly summer dance classes are also held June 13-July 28 in jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, contemporary and acro. Camps and classes are open to ages 3-18.
Learn all about horses and horseback riding at Camp Cadence! Weekly camps for ages 6-15 provide indoor and outdoor riding experiences with individualized riding lessons in a safe, familyfriendly environment. Campers also enjoy fun specialty days including fishing day and water day.
Summer Camps! Multiple weekly camps for ages 4-16 held June-August. $95 for half-day camp; $150 for all day
Lil’ Kickers program Ages 18 months-9 years learn soccer skills at their age-appropriate level, all with an FAMILY emphasis on fun. FAVORITES METROFAMILY
soccercityokcity.com Mention this ad to receive two free Lil’ Kicker classes*! * Available upon registration
Check our website for details and enrollment or Call TODAY! 50 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
4520 Old Farm Road, OKC (west of Meridian, south of 122nd)
405-748-3888 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
Canterbury Voices, Oklahoma City University 2501 N Blackwelder Ave 405-232-7464, firstname.lastname@example.org canterburyOKC.com
Three metro locations: Mustang, Yukon & Choctaw 800-968-4332 invent.org/local
June 6-10, $200
Spark your kid’s creativity and build their confidence with a new Camp Invention® program, Explore! Children in grades K-6 will collaborate with friends in hands-on, open-ended STEM adventures. They’ll dive in to ocean research, develop inventions for space exploration, build a spinning robotic artist and design a mega marble arcade.
Camp Canterbury is a week-long camp for children in grades 2-8 who love to sing! Held on the campus of Oklahoma City University, students are taught by seasoned music professionals and receive instruction in developing vocal artistry, good choral techniques and music literacy. Students can also choose two breakout classes to learn about music theatre, folk dancing, songwriting, drumming and more. A performance will be held on the last day of camp.
Child Care Inc.
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center 11 NW 11th St 405-951-0000, email@example.com okcontemp.org/camps
Locations: Acorn Children’s Center: 3601 NW 51st St, OKC; Kindercastle Children’s Center: 309 Bizzell, MWC; Linwood Early Learning Center: 3034 NW 17th St, OKC; Children’s Lighthouse (3 OKC locations); 540 N Council Rd, 5816 NW 36th St, 6624 NW 63rd St 405-942-1250 childcareinc.com
May 23-Aug 5, $235
Keep your children engaged with Oklahoma Contemporary’s weeklong camps for ages 5-12. From drawing and painting to music and ceramics, experienced art educators will ignite creativity in your kids.
Full-time care for infants through age 12 as well as short-term drop-in options. Summer programs for school-age children include field trips, educational tours, art classes, crafting and more. Immediate openings and no enrollment fee.
FISHING • camping • k ayaking hiking • MOUNTAIN biking campfire cooking CHOOSE YOU ADVENTURE TODAY @ edmondparks.com
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City of Edmond Parks
First Americans Museum FAMcamps
2733 Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond 405-359-4630 edmondparks.com
659 First Americans Blvd 405-594-2100, firstname.lastname@example.org famok.org
May 10-Aug. 13, cost varies
June 6-July 29, $225 per week
Day camps are available in a variety of topics, including outdoor adventures like fishing, archery and kayaking as well as science, drama, sewing, photography, art, video gaming, computer development and guitar. Day and week-long options available for ages 3-17. Scholarships available. Registration opens March 21.
FAMcamps at First Americans Museum will provide learning experiences for youth entering grades K-8 in a uniquely Indigenouscentered environment. Taught by experienced educators, each weeklong, thematic course will focus on arts and culture, health and wellness or STEM. Before/after care and scholarships available.
Cottonwood Creek Ranch Horse Camp
Francis Tuttle Technology Center — Rockwell Campus
907 N Chisholm 405-888-7379, email@example.com cottonwoodcreekranch.com May-August, $425 Fun and adventure await at Horse Camp! Campers learn how to care for their horses and acquire general horse knowledge in a safe, interactive environment. Take part in riding lessons, barn activities, games and more. Day camp options available for ages 7-14.
Camps for all ages! We offer camps for kids from Pre-K through 6th grade in the spring, summer, and fall. Camp themes vary each season and camps never repeat a day, ensuring your young scientist gets a new experience each session of camp. To register or for more information visit ScienceMuseumOk.org or call (405) 602-3760.
You belongAT VDC! REGISTER NOW FOR DANCE CLASSES! 405.721.8807
Text Metro for a special offer
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12777 N Rockwell Ave 405-717-7799 francistuttle.edu/summer June Summer Quest at Francis Tuttle is a great opportunity for students ages 11-15 to enjoy fun, engaging, hands-on classes. Participants can take multiple classes throughout June, exploring everything from cooking to engineering and everything in between. Enrollment opens April 4.
Does your kid LOVE horses and farm animals? Choose from a variety of camps at our two locations! Horse back riding Farm Camp Roping Rodeo And More!
Summer Camps Jun-Aug, Mon-Fri 9am-3pm Half day camps also available.
Call or text Chasney (405) 604-1653 See our events on Facebook! @SilverWindStables @thepatchok Stables Address: 24413 N May Ave, Edmond The Patch Address: 16315 N MacAuthur Blvd, Edmond SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
Girl Scout Camp E-Ko-Wah E1660 Rd, Marlow 405-528-4475 GirlsGoCamp.org June, $300 Unplug and explore new things at this incredible Girl Scout sleepaway camp for girls in grades 2-12. Enjoy horseback riding, canoeing, paddle boarding, archery, singing, crafting, STEM and more. Scholarships available.
Girl Scout Camp Trivera 2508 NE 50th St 405-528-4475 GirlsGoCamp.org July, $225-$325 This week-long day camp for girls entering grades K-12 offers a new adventure every day, including ziplining, rock climbing, canoeing, swimming, building robots, making slime and mural painting. Extended care and scholarships available.
Harn Homestead 1721 N Lincoln Blvd 405-235-4058, firstname.lastname@example.org harnhomestead.com June-July, $7 per student Students spend time in a turn-of-the-19th century farmhouse, barn and schoolhouse experiencing and learning about early pioneer life. Activities include old-fashioned hard work and kids’ games. Field trips for groups of 20+ children are available Tuesday-Friday, 10am-noon. Must book in advance.
Junior Elephant Ambassador Camp Oklahoma Awesome Adventures 2647 E 2070 Rd, Hugo 508-743-5849, email@example.com oklahomaawesomeadventures.com/summer-camp June 19-July 21, $1,250 This one-of-a-kind experience includes a one-week overnight camp (5 days/4 nights) right next door to the Endangered Ark Foundation, one of the nation’s largest private elephant facilities. Participants will have a unique opportunity to learn about one of the world’s most endangered species – the Asian Elephant – up close and in person and take part in enriching activities that focus on team building, leadership and recreation. Four sessions available for ages 9-14.
Lyric Theatre Thelma Gaylord Academy 1801 NW 16th St 405-524-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org thelmagaylordacademy.com LyricTheatreOKC.org June-August Kids ages 5-18 can take part in a series of camps focused on performing arts. Campers will be acting, singing and dancing while learning performance basics and how to put on a show. Auditions for summer camp productions are April 2; Frozen, Aristocats & Madagascar will have ticketed performances.
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Metropolitan Library System
Oklahoma Hall of Fame
Summer Reading 2022 300 Park Ave 405-606-3837 metrolibrary.org/summerreadingiscoming
1400 Classen Dr 405-235-4458 oklahomahof.com
June 1-July 31
Spend your summer with the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and enjoy free family fun every Thursday in June and July. Enjoy free admission, story time, crafts and outdoor activities. Open to groups — call in advance so space can be reserved.
Every summer for more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Library System has offered a Summer Reading Program to keep kids and their families reading all summer long. Because reading is a fundamental skill and a gateway to success in life, MLS creates a motivational framework for learning for all ages, even parents! Programs and takehome kits available at all 19 libraries.
Nichols Hills United Methodist Church Sports Camp 1212 Bedford Dr, Nichols Hills 405-842-1486, email@example.com nicholshillsumc.org June 6-10, $85 Ages 4 through 6th grade can enjoy basketball, cheerleading, soccer or Team 45 (fundamentals of motion, rhythm and balance development for 4-5 year olds), all while experiencing God’s love!
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Every Thursday in June & July, 10am-2pm
OHOF is also kicking off a new scouting program for Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA on April 2 from 10am-2pm. Scouts will be able to learn about programs coming soon and take part in a variety of activities. Scouts in uniform get in free! Groups can contact OHOF to book private classes after the program launch.
Oklahoma Youth Literacy Program 3663 N Lottie Ave 405-822-9990, firstname.lastname@example.org okylpokc.org Begins May 31, $50 weekly Camps provide educational enrichment, field trips and meals Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. One-time $60 registration fee required. Drop-in and after care available.
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Pioneer Library System
Rose State College Kids College
Southwest OKC Public Library 2201 SW 134th St 405-979-2200, email@example.com pioneerlibrarysystem.org
6420 SE 15th St, Midwest City 405-733-7488, firstname.lastname@example.org trainingatrose.com
With one-time events, week-long series and recurring programs, Pioneer libraries have something for everyone, including activities in STEAM, health, literacy and more! Registration requires an active library card number but there is no cost to register. A Summer Learning Challenge runs May 1-Aug. 15 for all age groups (even grown-ups!). Check out the Moore Public Library and the three locations in Norman, too.
Explore aerospace, geoscience, rockets, meteorology, chemistry, rock climbing, movie making and so much more during six camp options available for kids in grades 1-12. Register by the class, for a week or for the whole summer.
Rancho Verde Horse Camp 11300 S Rockwell Ave 405-693-2978, email@example.com ranchoverdeok.com $350 Saddle up for fun! Rancho Verde’s summer camps are perfect for beginners and seasoned riders. With tailored horseback riding lessons, kids ages 5 & up can learn about horsemanship and horse care, plus take part in horse-themed art projects, fun team-building activities, swimming and more.
Science Museum Oklahoma 2020 Remington Pl 405-602-3713, firstname.lastname@example.org sciencemuseumok.org May 31-July 29, grades 1-6, $275/week for non-members; $250/ week for members; ages 4-Kindergarten, $150/week for nonmembers, $125/week for members Kids in pre-K-6th grade can explore STEAM all summer long with the educators at Science Museum Oklahoma. Camps will be jam-packed with science fun in a safe, small-group instruction environment. Themes vary each week and camps never repeat a day, ensuring your young scientist gets a new experience each session of camp.
at Harn Homestead!
Learn about the early settlers in Oklahoma and enjoy Harn House scavenger hunts. Most activities are outside and masks are required in the indoor settings. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10am-4pm
harnhomestead.com 405-235-4058 1721 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
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Summer Camp Production Audition day: April 2nd Frozen JR: June 6-19 Ages 8-16 Aristocats KIDS: June 20-24 Ages 7-13 *no audition required Madagascar JR: July 5-17 Ag 8-16 Ages One-Week One-Act: July 18-22 Ages 12-14 Shiny Little Stars (Creative Dama Camp): July 25-29 Ages 5-7 Audition Prep Camp: August 1-5 Ages 8-12 and 13-18
Silver Wind Stables & The Patch Summer Camps 24413 N May Ave, Edmond 16315 N MacAuthur Blvd, Edmond 405-604-1653 June-August, $400-$600/week for full day/full week camps (call for halfday/half-week options) Does your kid love horses and other farm animals? Choose from a variety of camps offered at each location. Activities include horseback riding, Farm Camp, roping/rodeo and more. Before/after care available upon request. Find more details on Facebook: @SilverWindStables, @The Patch.
Skate Galaxy OKC 5800 NW 36th St 405-605-2758, email@example.com skategalaxyokc.com May-August, $6 per session Enjoy day skate sessions 11am-2pm Wednesday-Friday from May-Aug. 5. Family Nights are held on Wednesdays, 6-8:30pm; Thursdays, 7-10pm; and Sundays, 6-8pm. $6 per skater (includes basic skate rental) for day skate and Family Nights. Purchase a summer pass for $30/person and get unlimited summer day skate sessions (includes basic skate rental; non transferable).
SoccerCity OKC 4520 Old Farm Rd 405-748-3888 soccercityokcity.com June-August, $95-$150 Ages 4-15 enjoy soccer drills, games and scrimmaging against other campers, all led by trained instructors. Multiple weekly camps offered throughout the summer with half and full-day options available. The year-round Lil Kickers program for ages 18 months to 9 years also continues in the summer.
St. Crispin’s Summer Camp 36302 St Hwy 9, Wewoka 405-232-4820, firstname.lastname@example.org stcrispins.org/camp June 5-July 16, $175-$450 St. Crispin’s is an inclusive camp where they strive to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all. Campers leave St. Crispin’s forever changed by the beauty, joy and friendships found. Camps available for kids in grades K-12.
St. Mary’s Episcopal School
Camps are all 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Frozen, Aristocats & Madagascar will have ticketed peformances. Enrolment will open shotly after Spring Break!
For more information or tickets: (405) 524-9310 ext. 100 https://ThelmaGaylordAcademy.com
505 E Covell, Edmond 405-341-9541, email@example.com smesedmond.org/student-life/summer-at-st-marys.cfm June-July From KaleidEscape in June to enrichment camps in July, the faculty and staff at St. Mary’s are serving up tons of fun and learning all summer long! Campers ages 3-11 can learn about science, art, musical theater, baking and more. Find dates and pricing online. Space is limited in all camps; sign up soon to reserve your place.
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Trinity School at Edgemere
Unpluggits Paint & Play
3200 N Walker Ave 405-525-5600, firstname.lastname@example.org trinityschoolokc.org
575 Enterprise Dr, Ste 110, Edmond 405-340-7584, email@example.com unpluggits.com
July 11-15 & 18-22, $450-$650
Unpluggits offers a variety of painting and craft drop-in activities for all ages in a studio designed with families in mind. Paint and sketch on big kid-friendly easels, squish play dough, draw on the chalk table and climb on a two-story, indoor play structure, plus enjoy special themed weeks such as Shark Week! Grown-ups have nights set aside just for them on select Sundays.
Trinity School at Edgemere’s Summer Up! program is a 2-week summer day camp combining reading therapy, math intervention and summer fun! Register your student for an academic refresh followed by an afternoon of fun in the sun before returning to school next fall. Academic intensives are held 9-11am each day followed by other activities such as video gaming, science projects, water games and more until 4pm.
Twist and Shout Training Center Tumbling and Cheer Camps 14801 N Lincoln Blvd, Edmond 405-775-9491, firstname.lastname@example.org 3431 Macdonnell Dr, Norman 405-573-9974, email@example.com Shouterspirit.com
Velocity Dance Center 11122 N Rockwell Ave, Ste A-11 405-721-8807, firstname.lastname@example.org oklahomacitydancestudio.com July, price varies Classes and mini-camps offered in ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop. Check website for details.
May-August, $60-$85 Weekly Monday through Thursday cheer and tumbling camps for ages 5 & up. Campers learn from expert teachers.
HORSE CAMPS! Camp Cadence (all levels) Spring Break Camp March 14-18 9-12 daily $350 Summer Camps June 6-June 10 June 13-June 17 June 20-June 24 June 27-July 1 July 11-July 15 July 18-July 22 July 25-July 29 Aug 1-Aug 5 9-3 daily $525/week Ages 6 & up!
(405) 348-7469 • 14150 S Pine St, Edmond
Enroll at: cadenceequestrian.com
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Western Explorers Summer Camp
YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City Day Camp
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd St 405-478-2250, email@example.com Nationalcowboymuseum.org
Multiple locations throughout OKC firstname.lastname@example.org ymcaokc.org/y-programs/summer-day-camp
Late June-July, $125 per week, $100 for Museum members
Kids will discover not just the wonders of day camp but the joy of exploring their unique traits, talents and interests and the power of sharing their strengths and skills to benefit a group. That’s why 2,600 kids in the Oklahoma City Area attend the Y’s summer day camps. Ages 5-12 (some sites allow up to age 15) can sign up for the entire summer or just one week. Financial assistance available.
Western Explorers offers kids ages 6-10 engaging opportunities to learn, play and create at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Led by Museum educators, each four-day, small-group session features age-appropriate themes, crafts, games, art projects and stories. All supplies are included in the children’s sessions.
Late May-early August, starting at $120 per week
YMCA Camp Classen 10840 Main Camp Road, Davis 580-369-2272, email@example.com ymcaokc.org/camp-classen Late May-July, $825 per week session Campers ages 6-17 can enjoy a summer filled with all the staples like hiking, canoeing, swimming, s’mores and horseback riding. With eight week-long sessions to choose from, campers can attend a single week, two weeks or even come for the whole summer.
Find a searchable directory of our Summer Camp Guide at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer-camps.
GALAXY E T O
Spring Break Activities!
k Spring Brea
Session Times at
11am and 1pm
Includes Play All Day Admission
Party Animal Ceramic & Story Time Bubble Art Plate or Mug Build & Paint (Boat, Plane, Bird Feeder) Canvas Initial Painting Tie Dye T-Shirt
After School Art & Play Thursdays in April 3:30 - 5:30pm, $25/child
03/14 TO 03/18 1 PM TO 4 PM
$6 per person
Birthday Parties Let us do all the work!
ing mer Staff r i H w o N um e and S m Part-Ti
us fo Call or visit
r more info
405-340-PLUG • www.unpluggits.com 575 Enterprise Drive, Edmond (South of 15th, off Kelly)
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June 6-10 2-6 Grade
A week of Singing, Fun & Friends!
Oklahoma City University Monday-Friday | 9-4 pm
Singing Music Theatre Drumming Folk Dancing and MORE! CanterburyOKC.com/CampCanterbury | 405-232-7464
LIFE IS A GIFT The more you give, the more you save.
Sadly, for many in our community, life can quickly feel like less of a gift and more of a burden. That’s why United Way of Central Oklahoma is here, to connect community resources with responsive and accountable health and human services agencies. Through us, your gifts truly make a difference. We respectfully ask that you contribute to our 2021 Give Campaign – and help us pass it on.
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Enroll now for St. Crispin’s Summer Camp!
GRAND LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
Camps are from June 5 - July 16 for grades K-12 St. Crispin’s is an inclusive camp striving to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all. Campers will be forever changed by the beauty, joy, and friendships found here.
36302 St. Hwy 9, Wewoka,OK 405-232-4820 Camp director: firstname.lastname@example.org Registration: stcrispins.org/camp
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Group & Private Lessons Boarding Training & Showing Summer Camps Day Camps Clinics Breeding Horse Sales
Saddle up. Let’s ride.
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The youngest minds deserve the greatest attention. A child’s natural curiosity is boundless. By nurturing that with a thoughtful balance of play and structure, we spark lightbulb moments every day. Learn how our approach inspires a lifelong love of discovery.
Primrose School of Edmond 15000 N Western Oklahoma City, OK 73013 405.285.6787 | PrimroseEdmond.com
Primrose School of SW Oklahoma City 1520 SW 119th Street Oklahoma City, OK 73170 405.793.6000 | PrimroseSWOklahomaCity.com
Call to set up a tour today. Each Primrose School is a privately owned and operated franchise. Primrose Schools is a registered trademark of Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. ©2021 Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. All rights reserved.
5 things we love in OKC this spring The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer … and we are here for it! Peep 5 things giving us all the spring inspo in this season of renewal. BY METROFAMILY’S EDITORIAL TEAM
Good Times at the Gardens
The brightly-colored WOBLII® sensory ball grows with kids from the babyhood stage of chewing and chasing to the tween years when sensory fidgets are all the rage. The MetroFamily team needs these during press week! Visit local store Green Bambino or greenbambino.com to get your hands on one — perfect for Easter baskets!
The Myriad Gardens, that is. Enjoy Spring Break pop-in activities, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, a fairy tea party, Easter egg hunt and so much more! Find a full list of events and classes at myriadgardens.org.
Art Appreciation If the green grass makes you think it’s sports season again, don’t miss the iconic photos by Walter Iooss Jr. in the OKC Museum of Art’s new exhibit The Perfect Shot, which captures athletes from high school sports to the NFL. While there, see Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light before it closes March 27 for refurbishment. okcmoa.com
THE BLUE DUNK, MICHAEL JORDAN, LISLE, ILLINOIS BY WALTER IOOSS JR.
Summer Camp Prep Top of the spring to-do list for parents: get kids enrolled in summer camp! From STEAM and art to horseback riding and sports, find options for every child’s interest in our Summer Camp Guide on page 48. Or search the online directory at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer-camps.
62 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAR-APR 2022
Park Play Pick a new-to-you playground to explore. One of our faves is Piedmont Community Park, which has features for every age. The seated zipline, climbing walls and balancing planks and ropes get rave reviews from kid visitors. Find our full list of area parks at metrofamilymagazine.com/metro-parks.
10/30-MILE CYCLING TOURS
50-MILE FONDO 1-MILE KIDS’ FUN RUN 1-MILE WOOF WALK
5K WHEELCHAIR EVENT 5K / 10K RUNS 2-MILE WALK 2-MILE BABY STROLLER DERBY
REGISTRATION INFO & COURSE MAPS - REDBUD.ORG
June 7th - July 1st Tue - Fri 9am - 3pm
Francis Tuttle Technology Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Shari Parish, Director of Human Resources, email@example.com, Dr. Jaared Scott, Deputy Superintendent, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Bryan Roybal, Special Services Advisor – 504 Coordinator, email@example.com. 12777 N. Rockwell Ave, OKC, OK 73142. (405) 717-7799 Francis Tuttle Technology Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Shari Parish, Director of Human Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr. Jaared Scott, Deputy Superintendent, email@example.com, and Bryan Roybal, Special Services Advisor – 504 Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org. 12777 N. Rockwell Ave, OKC, OK 73142. (405) 717-7799