MetroFamily Magazine

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Fabulous Fall! Fest ive events for family fun

Hit the Road! Awesome adventures in Austin, Texas

One Place, Many Nations The inside scoop on OKC’s new First Americans Museum

We’re Open! Come on in.

All Metro Libraries are open for reading, computer use, book checkout, study rooms & more! Find out more at

Kids in the Kitchen Kids today are home alone after school and some evenings, what are they going to eat? Do they know their way around the kitchen? This course teaches children the basics in the kitchen. Children will learn how to properly use kitchen utensils and heat. How to prepare simple meals on their own from items in the pantry. Ages: 6–17 | Mondays Session 1 | Aug. 30–Sept. 20 5:30–7:30 p.m. | $85 Session 2 | Oct. 4–25 5:30–7:30 p.m. | $85 Session 3 | Nov. 1–22 5:30–7:30 p.m. | $85

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On the Cover

12 Having a Ball

Fabulous Fall!, pages 14 & 31

Child development fueled by fun

Explore the First Americans Museum page 26

14 Fall’s Best Bets

Autumn adventures from our advertising partners

22 Education Trend

What narrative grading reveals that traditional letter grading cannot

52 Celebrating Differences Success and supports for children with hearing loss

Departments 18 Real Dads of the Metro

Lt. Wayland Cubit on mentorship, race relations and justice



Visit Austin, Texas, page 48

26 Local Family Fun

Sneak peek of OKC’s new First Americans Museum

31 Calendar of Events

Festivals, fairs and trick-or-treat fun

48 Exploring Beyond Oklahoma

Take a road trip to Austin, Texas

58 Family Mental Wellness

Trauma’s impact on parenting + tips for healing










Sarah Taylor

Managing Editor Erin Page

Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo

Contributing Writers George Lang Dr. Lisa Marotta Debbie Murnan

Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin

Art Director Stacy Noakes

Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder

Director of Events


ring on pumpkin-flavored everything: my favorite season is here! My fall fanaticism is tempered, though, by the fact that we’re still enduring this pandemic and it’s far-reaching effects in our communities, schools and homes. While we’d all hoped that fall 2021 would bring a return to normalcy, instead we find ourselves in the midst of yet another frightening wave and pleas for everyone to do their part to keep each other safe. In the uncertainty, the MetroFamily team will continue to support you, our parent readers, with mental health resources, safe family fun options and inspirational stories of people who are making our community a great place to live, work and play. The powerhouse team behind local coffee shop Not Your Average Joe shares how they are not only serving up tasty eats but fulfilling an unmet need to employ adults with disabilities on page 10. Plus we catch up with former Super Kid of the Metro Courtney Gaines on page 11 to learn how she continues to advocate for families impacted by Down syndrome. Lieutenant Wayland Cubit provides a history of his mentorship with youth in and around Oklahoma City, plus he discusses steps necessary to heal divisiveness between law enforcement and the community at large on page 18.


Three local students and their families share their journeys with hearing loss, including the organizations and people who are providing instrumental support in the metro and what they want kids and parents to know about including others with disabilities on page 52. In the midst of planning your family’s fall fun, I hope these community heroes will inspire you as they have me to consider how you can impact your corner of the world with your time and talent in this season. Happy fall!

Casey Shupe


Dana Price Laura Beam

Office Manager

Erin Page Managing Editor

Andrea Shanks

Contact us

NEW MAILING ADDRESS: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: 405-601-2081 MetroFamily Magazine is published monthly. Copyright 2021 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.

On the Cover Sadie is the winner of her age category in MetroFamily’s 2021 Cover Kids Search. She is 6 years old and in the first grade in Moore Public Schools. She loves to play the piano and create works of art. Her favorite places to visit in OKC are Scissortail Park and the OKC Zoo. Sadie is the daughter of Linda and Steve and big sister to Landon.

Proud member of

Also a member of Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Moore Chamber of Commerce




Is your child our next

Cover Kid?

Enter our Cover Kids Search by Sept. 30! We are looking for local kids ages 2 to 12 with big smiles and bright personalities to feature on a MetroFamily cover in 2022! Enter our virtual Cover Kids Search by uploading a photo of your child, answering several “about me” questions and submitting a $10 fee, which provides your whole family access to a virtual swag bag with prizes, activities and coupons. Readers will vote on their favorite Cover Kids submissions in early October, and the top five finalists from each age category will be interviewed virtually by a panel of local judges. We can’t wait to meet your Cover Kid hopefuls!


Enter today at

Feeling spook-tacular? We want to see your kids’ Halloween costumes! Whether their attire is sparkly, silly or spooky, snap a pic of your child (or entire family) and upload it to our Halloween Costume Contest by Oct. 31 at midnight. Then vote on your favorites Nov. 1 through 4. Prizes include a weekend at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, a package from Arcadia Lake and a Myriad Botanical Gardens family membership. Find out more at


Celebrate STEAM at Geekapalooza Geekapalooza: A STEAM Festival for Kids, hosted by MetroFamily and Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, encourages kids to learn about science, technology, engineering, art and math through a variety of hands-on activities. This year’s event will be held Nov. 6, just a few days before National STEAM Day!

participation in the event. The event is sponsored by Boeing (Presenting Sponsor) and many others. Learn more and secure your tickets at COVID safety protocols will be in place; find details at the web page above. Masks will be required and we’re making decisions about timed entry in the next few weeks.

Join us at the Girl Scout’s new STEAM-focused urban camp facility, Camp Trivera, in northeast OKC for a day of kid-friendly activities on subjects like robotics, coding and geosciences, taught by market leaders and local experts. Live music, arts presentations, food trucks, prizes, giveaways and our popular annual “Geek” costume contest will round out the fun. Geekapalooza is an annual program of Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma and MetroFamily, and Girl Scouts can earn badges for their


STORYBOOK FOREST October 23–30 (Closed on Halloween)

5:30–8:30p ( Times may change) | $12 Per Child Starting October 1st all tickets will be for sale ONLINE ONLY at

STORYBOOKFORESTOK.COM Volunteers & Additional Info please call 216–7471 Sponsored by Arcadia Lake and Edmond Electric Vehicles not purchasing a child’s ticket will be charged the daily entrance fee.




Kinley in the Kitchen BY ERIN PAGE. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

Congratulations to Kinley, the winner of our Healthy Kids Cooking Contest, sponsored by Shape your Future Oklahoma! Kinley is in the 4th grade at Crossings Christian School, and she’s been flexing her chef skills for the past several years. Inspired by her Nana, who Kinley says makes the best ever Sloppy Joe’s, scones and strawberry shortcake, Kinley wants to open her own restaurant someday called K & P Toast to serve up her favorite meal of the day: brunch. The P stands for twin sister Paisley, who Kinley says is her number one taste tester. Kinley is a competitive cheerleader, and she’s learned the value of cooking with and eating healthy foods to support both her muscles and her brain. “I didn’t know this but candy actually makes you more tired!” shared Kinley. “It’s important for kids to eat veggies and healthy food so they can be strong, smart and have energy.” Kinley loves to make banana pancakes with her dad on Saturday mornings, as well as tacos, guacamole and her mom’s banana bread. She doesn’t forget the family dog Molly, recently making doggie donuts for her pup’s birthday. Learning to cook has helped Kinley practice math, science and reading skills, and the kitchen is also a place she’s learned it’s OK to make mistakes.


make smoothie bowls together, but Kinley took the contest a step further to figure out how to incorporate a hidden vegetable into her breakfast recipe. Sister Paisley and their mom and dad helped taste and give feedback. “I put frozen cauliflower rice in it because it makes it fluffier,” said Kinley. “It’s almost like ice cream! You can drink it in a cup, eat it out of a bowl with a spoon or put strawberries, bananas or granola on top.” Check out Kinley’s winning recipe on the opposite page and follow her family @mathandmusicmommy to see our top chef sharing and testing recipes once a week.

“Cooking is mostly like science because you can try whatever you want and see if it’s good or not,” said Kinley. “If it’s good, you know how to make it again. And if it’s not, you can learn from it. My parents always tell me it’s OK to make mistakes because that’s how you learn.” The recipe Kinley created and entered in the Healthy Kids Cooking Contest is a testament to her creativity and problem-solving skills learned as a chef. Contest entrants had to create and submit a recipe using fruit, vegetables or whole grain. After getting a bit bored of eating the same kinds of things for breakfast each morning, Kinley decided to use the contest as a way to create a new and delicious morning meal. The family loves to



Fruit Smoothie Surprise by Kinley Hines Ingredients 10 oz almond milk ½ cup frozen cauliflower rice ½ cup frozen berries 1 scoop organic vanilla protein powder (optional) Directions 1. Place all ingredients in a blender. 2. Blend. 3. Pour into a cup or bowl and enjoy! You can even top with bananas, strawberries or granola.



Kids Take Over the Cowboy: Mexican Independence* September 4 • 10:00 a.m. – Noon • Storytime at 10:30 & 11:30 a.m. Día de Los Muertos* October 2 • 10:00 a.m. – Noon • Storytime at 10:30 & 11:30 a.m. Perked Up Playdate* September 21 • 10:00 a.m. – Noon Meet up with friends at the all-new Friess Family Playground. Enjoy refreshments for both adults and littles. Todos Somos Americanos. We Are All Americans. September 21 • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. (Special School Program) Join in a celebration of the rich and varied cultures of North, South and Central America. Enjoy musical performances and dance from local cultural groups representing their countries of origin. Schools must register online. Fall Break Activities* October 11 - October 15 • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Drop by and participate in family friendly activities. Create a different makeand-take crafts each day.

Kids & Family at The Cowboy

1700 Northeast 63rd Street Oklahoma City, OK 73111

Steampunk Fall Celebration* October 30 • 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Come in your best Steampunk (or Halloween) get-up for the fall celebration. Create your own Steampunk accessories, explore the Design-a-Robot maker space and create your own mini ‘bot out of everyday objects. Try fast-draw target practice, look out for a penny-farthing and learn a dance or two. *Free to Museum members or with Museum admission.




Local Coffee Shop

Serves Up Up Hope Not Your Average Joe coffee shop opened its first location in the Oklahoma City metro in January 2019. In addition to serving exceptional coffee and food, the nonprofit organization also creates accept-ional opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The organization provides eight to 12 jobs for adults with special needs in each of their four locations in Midtown, Norman and Oklahoma City, but the team is also providing hope far beyond their own walls.


During the opening of the newest NYAJ location in the Homeland at May and Britton Avenues, Executive Director Tim Herbel witnessed one of the most remarkable moments yet in the organization’s short history. “A family drove in from Alva to be at the grand opening because they wanted their daughter to know there is hope for her after graduation,” said Herbel. “Most families who have children with disabilities are brutally aware of the statistic that 80 percent will be unemployed after high school. They don’t have a place to belong or feel safe or hang out. We’re giving families hope.” Herbel speaks regularly at schools around the metro to assure students with disabilities that there are opportunities for them in adulthood. Danielle Robinson is a prime example. She’s both an employee of and ambassador for Not Your Average Joe, serving up coffee and conversation throughout the NYAJ locations. “I love talking with customers and getting connected to them,” said Robinson. “And I love inspiring people. Someone with disabilities can share their experiences with others and just be themselves.” Not Your Average Joe has a coordinator of special needs who creates individual work plans for employees with special needs like Danielle, helping her learn the job and life skills she’s interested in acquiring, like getting her liquor license. Two other baristas at the Norman location are working on their specialty coffee certifications. The lack of job skills training, transportation and other barriers are the reasons the unemployment rate is so high for adults with disabilities, said Herbel, a fact his team is trying to change in the Oklahoma City market. “Danielle has been included her whole life at school,” said Herbel. “We don’t want [high school] graduation to be a death sentence to the social life [of individuals with disabilities]. We want it to be commonplace to include people of all abilities, and we want to inspire other employers to do this, too.” In addition to visiting Not Your Average Joe to sample the coffee, tea, speciality drinks, breakfast and lunch foods or homemade ice cream, community members can support the organization by volunteering. Individuals can work with employees with special needs by helping provide transportation or shadowing non-verbal employees to assist with their duties. The organization is also seeking volunteers to assist with accounting and marketing. Learn more at


What to Order at Not Your Average Joe Danielle’s favorites

• Drink: S’more (with graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow) • Eat: Chorizo burrito (with black beans, bell pepper, egg, cheese and avocado), Midtown/Sooner Club sandwich (with roasted turkey, smoked bacon, pesto, provolone, tomato, spinach and avocado on whole wheat bread) and homemade Dr. Pepper Chocolate Chip ice cream Tim’s favorites • Drink: Cortado (espresso and steamed milk) or mango smoothie • Eat: Suspicious sandwich (NYAJ’s take on Elvis’s favorite with peanut butter, banana, bacon, Made in Oklahoma honey and jam served on blueberry bread) At the Homeland location, sample a variety of Made in Oklahoma products. NYAJ teamed up with Edmond’s former Super Scoop ice cream store, offering the homemade products in their stores and for catering events both large and small.

Where is She Now? An update on Super Kid Courtney Gaines Courtney Gaines was first featured in MetroFamily’s January 2020 issue as an inspirational Super Kid of the Metro. The Choctaw High School student had just made headlines as the first Oklahoman to participate in the Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Fashion Show in Las Vegas, a major fundraiser for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. That experience, plus her longtime efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities, have continued to propel Courtney forward to share her infectious spirit and advocacy in everwidening circles. Courtney enjoys being a role model for other kids and using her talents to help others. As the reigning Miss Choctaw Midwest City, Courtney competed in the Miss Oklahoma Teen USA pageant in summer 2021, a historic occasion. Courtney was the second contestant with Down syndrome selected to compete in a Miss Teen USA pageant and the first African American contestant with Down syndrome to compete in any of the franchise’s pageants. “Oftentimes children with Down syndrome and African Americans with disabilities are not seen,” said DeAnna Gaines, Courtney’s mom. “It’s not because they can’t do it, we’re just not seeing them take advantage of [these opportunities]. Courtney is a visual advocate, encouraging others to pursue whatever they want to do.” Though she was disappointed she didn’t win Miss Teen USA, Courtney declared she’ll be back to compete. In the meantime, she continues to pursue her loves of modeling and acting, working on a pilot TV show through Green Pastures Studios and in her role as assistant to producer Lazara Gonzalez for the Soul Music Festival and Independent Soul Music Awards over Labor Day weekend. Courtney’s advocacy extends beyond the entertainment realm as well. She and mom DeAnna are U.S. ambassadors for the 4th Congressional District for the


National Down Syndrome Society, focused on community outreach and increasing access to resources for other families of children with Down syndrome. Their first project is to bring Courtney’s Law to Oklahoma, modeled after the Down Syndrome Information Act that has been passed into law in 20 other states. The act helps ensure parents receiving a prenatal or postnatal Down syndrome diagnosis will receive immediate, accurate, evidence-based information and connection to resources. Oftentimes, when a parent receives the diagnosis, the information they receive is outdated or they receive no information at all about local resources, said DeAnna, who adds African American and minority families tend to experience more limited access to current, accurate information, leaving their children even further behind. “A lack of information can lead to a lifetime of hurt for a child,” said DeAnna. “It’s stressful for parents and families, and when you don’t know the options and you get a late start, it affects the longterm development of the child. The law will require all doctors to disclose [information and resources].” Courtney and DeAnna are working with Oklahoma State Senator Brenda Stanley and the National Down Syndrome Society in hopes that Courtney’s Law will be heard in the legislative session in January 2022.




These are not your traditional soccer drill classes! What makes the Lil’ Kickers program different?

Learning to Have a Ball (before picking it up)

Chasing bubbles, playing with giant parachutes and building cone towers … these do not sound like a line-up of activities for a typical soccer class, do they?! The Lil’ Kickers program at SoccerCity in Oklahoma City takes a unique approach to soccer skills training by focusing on highly creative, highenergy, developmentally-appropriate games to help kids reach developmental milestones, learn to be good teammates and develop a love of sports. The Lil’ Kickers Program was created over 20 years ago and is now taught through 100 venues nationwide, including at SoccerCity in OKC. Kids ages 18 months to 9 years old develop social, emotional and cognitive skills, enjoy plenty of energy-burning fun and get an introduction to soccer skills, all to benefit them in the long-run, whether or not they choose to pursue sports. We asked Hayden Wagner, Lil’ Kickers director at SoccerCity OKC, for insight on their unique approach. ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY KIRSTEN HOLDER


Lil’ Kickers classes focus on child development just as much as they do soccer skills. We play games and do drills that not only work on dribbling, passing, scoring, etc. but also team work, listening skills and, for younger kids, activities that develop brain cognitive functions and understanding.

What are the developmental skills or milestones you are focused on for each age group in the Lil’ Kickers program? Each class has a very different approach based on the age group. For ages 18 to 24 months, we work on developing brain cognitive functions, understanding and following instructions, hand-eye and foot-eye motor skills and coordination and just being active. Parents are welcome to take part in classes alongside this age group. The 2 to 3 year olds work on understanding and following instructions, hand-eye and foot-eye motor skills and coordination, being active and forming independence from a parent for the fun games and drills. Parents are weaned off the field for this age group. For kids ages 3 to 4 years, we work on more soccer application skills that you might recognize, like learning not to use hands, working as a team, boundaries such as out of bounds, introduction to competition and team concepts and definitely rewarding their effort. Then, from ages 5 to 9 years, we add technical skills such as dribbling, passing, scoring, etc. We also hone general cooperation skills and following complex instructions.

What are some of the most-loved games and activities that parents could replicate at home? Easy play-at-home games I’d recommend are “Red Light Green Light” and “Freeze!,” which promote understanding, following instructions and motor skills. If you have a ball and goal you can also play favorites such as “Hungry Hippos,” where the kids will hand the coach their ball (or hula hoop!) and the coach will throw the ball into a space. The player runs after the ball, picks it up and runs back to the coach and hands the coach the ball. The coach continues to throw the ball in different directions. There’s also “Relay Race” that can enforce passing the ball to another child, as well as “Alien Tag” where kids are assigned the role of either “alien” or “spaceship,” and they try to keep the balls from hitting the spaceship.

Why is it important that kids get to focus on fun and love of the game rather than competition at these ages? In some cases, children do not understand competing or maybe they do not enjoy it because their skill does not match their peers. We emphasize having fun and giving it your all so that all kids, whether highly skilled or just beginning, will enjoy themselves.

What are some of the ways in which kids learn to be good teammates — and how will this help them in the future, whether or not they play team sports? We play drills that require kids to work together and have fun doing it. Some games ensure they work as a team to score a certain amount of balls or relay races where they cheer on their teammates to finish an activity and get back before the opposing team. The fundamental lesson in each of these activities transcends sports and can help children as they grow and mature to cooperate in other aspects of their lives — not just soccer! Editor’s note: Lil’ Kickers programs are for ages 18 months to 9 years. Sessions run about 13 weeks and are priced at $15 per class. A yearly membership fee of $25 per individual or $40 per family with multiple children also applies. New classes are starting all the time — for more information, visit




Offer ends September 15


You can SAVE $15 when you purchase an advance carnival ride armband. Advance prices are good through September 15, 2021.

OKC Fairgrounds Box Office, 405-948-6800, or

*Each armband will have a $1 activation fee added.

Monday – Thursday: $20, regular $35 Friday – Sunday: $30, regular $45


CHICKASAW COUNTRY ENTERTAINMENT STAGE Concerts FREE with outside gate admission

September 16 – 20

Thursday, September 16 – 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 17 – 12:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 18 – 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 19 – 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Monday, September 20 – 7:30 p.m.

September 16 THE OAK RIDGE BOYS 7:30 PM September 17 SAWYER BROWN 7:30 PM

September 18 JACKYL 8:00 PM September 19 BEATLEMANIA LIVE! 7:30 PM September 20 WE THE KINGDOM 7:30 PM

September 21 GARY LEWIS & THE PLAYBOYS 7:30 PM September 22 ELVIS EXTRAVAGANZA 7:30 PM September 23 JAMESON RODGERS 7:30 PM

September 24 GINUWINE 7:30 PM September 25 SKID ROW 8:00 PM September 26 LA FIERA DE OJINAGA 7:30 PM



Fall Fun Guide The temperatures are getting cooler, the leaves are starting to change color … and is that pumpkin spice we smell?!? Autumn adventures: we are ready for you! From pumpkin patches and farm fun to trick-or-treat events and festivals, plan your family’s perfect fall day from our advertisers in this guide, which is generously sponsored by Rustic Roots. Check out all our fall guides at Editors note: Please enjoy fall fun responsibly by following proper protocols. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some events may have adjusted hours, programming or safety protocols. Check with each venue to verify.

Rustic Roots Pumpkin Patch Sept. 18-Nov. 7 105340 Greer Rd, Lamont 580-716-3608, Rustic Roots Pumpkin Patch features pumpkins and fall décor as well as a 10-acre corn maze, a milo maze for littles, a petting zoo, corn cannon, giant slide fort, tractor tire playground, hayrides, yard games, jump pad, barrel train and concessions. On Oct. 16, families can enjoy a special fall festival with live music, food trucks, vendors and all of the farm activities. Pumpkin patch admission is $10. Tuesday-Thursday, 3-7 p.m.; FridaySaturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. & Sunday, 1-7 p.m. Extended hours Oct. 14-17, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Ongoing Events Fall Art & Outdoor Classes with City of Edmond Parks and Recreation September-November 2733 Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond 405-359-4630, Family members of all ages can take part in a variety of classes including sewing, pottery, cooking and outdoor adventure such as camping, fishing, kayaking and more. Brush up your skills or learn a new hobby by registering for a fun class this season.

P Bar Farms Sept. 18-Oct. 31 1002 Old 66 Rd, Hydro 405-556-1069, Located an hour west of the OKC metro, P Bar Farms offers a variety of fall fun activities, sponsored by the Oklahoma Beef Council, including hayrides, a beef-themed corn maze, pumpkin patch, petting zoo, train rides and more. Admission is $10 on weekends and $5 on weekdays with limited activities.


Wings Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch Sept. 24-Oct. 17 13700 N Eastern, Edmond 405-242-4646, Wings’ four-weekend pumpkin patch welcomes families to enjoy hayrides, inflatables, games, a maze and more, plus shop for pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. The play patch is open Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, 1-6 p.m. Play patch admission is $7 for ages 3 & up. Families can get a 4-pack of play-patch wristbands for $25. Proceeds benefit the programs at Wings that enhance the lives of adults with developmental disabilities.

Chester’s Pumpkin Patch Sept. 25-Oct. 31 5201 Cimarron Rd NW, Piedmont 405-373-1595, Pumpkins, hayrides and a mystery maze, oh my! Fall fun abounds at Chester’s Pumpkin Patch where admission includes unlimited pony rides (75 lb. weight limit), a petting zoo, pumpkin chunkin’, festive games, a pumpkin to take home (while supplies last) and more. There will also be live entertainment on the weekends. Admission is SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

$10 + tax for ages 2-10, $6 + tax for ages 11-64. Kids 1 & under and seniors 65 & older are free. The patch is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. & Sunday, 1-6 p.m.

Arcadia Lake’s Storybook Forest Oct. 23-30 7200 E 15th St, Edmond 405-216-7471, Fairytales come to life on a fun, not scary trail filled with roaming characters at Spring Creek Park. Additional activities include story time and a campfire. Admission charged for children; adults in the same car with child(ren) are free. Admission is $12 per child and tickets can be purchased online only. The trail is open nightly from 5:308:30 p.m.

Fall Y’all at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Oct. 13-15 1400 Classen Dr, OKC 405-235-4458, Welcome fall with the whole family at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s Fall Y’all celebration. Enjoy pumpkin painting, crafts, festive movies, story time and carnival games. Activities vary each day from 10 a.m.2 p.m. Museum admission is free throughout the day. On Thursday, Oct. 14, the museum will also stay open late and host special activities from 5-7:30 p.m.



Day Events Oklahoma Czech Festival Oct. 2, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Downtown Yukon The day-long festival officially kicks off Saturday at 8 a.m. when thousands line Main Street for a parade beginning at 10 a.m. Following the parade, festivities shift to the Czech Building at 5th and Cedar with polka bands and traditional Czech and Slovak folk dance performances throughout the day. Sample delightful Czech foods including kolaches and sausages. Shop dozens of arts and crafts booths and festival food vendors. The festival concludes with the Royalty Coronation Ball at the historical Yukon Czech Hall located at 205 N Czech Hall Rd.

foods, live entertainment, contests, Civil War demonstrations, gunfights, vendors, craft booths, the Kids Korral, pony rides and a petting zoo. Admission is free and free parking is available on the north side of the farm at Yukon Middle School.

This family-oriented event at Mollie Spencer Farm celebrates the western history of the famous Chisholm Trail with living history re-enactors of the Old West, a variety of


Bricktown’s Brick or Treat Oct. 25, 4-7 p.m. Reno Ave & Mickey Mantle Dr, OKC 405-235-3500, Brick or Treat is back! Bricktown’s popular trick-or-treat event returns Monday, Oct. 25 when families can enjoy trick or treating at Bricktown businesses, hanging out with favorite characters and local mascots, dancing to spooky tunes and more. This family-friendly Halloween event is for kids 14 & under in costume.

Chisholm Trail Festival Oct. 16, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 1001 Garth Brooks Blvd, Yukon 405-350-8937,

Get your tickets early for this popular outdoor trick-or-treating event. Old-fashioned games and crafts add to the fun. Friendly costumes are encouraged. Find all details about this event on Harn Homestead’s social media.

SkateGalaxyOKC’s Spook and Roll Haunt the Harn at Harn Homestead Oct. 21 1721 N Lincoln Blvd, OKC 405-235-7058,

Oct. 29, 7 p.m.-midnight 5800 NW 36th St, OKC 405-605-2758, Go retro at SkateGalaxyOKC’s Spook and Roll Halloween party. Families can skate to spooky tunes, play games to win prizes and


compete in a costume contest! Admission is $15 ($12 if in costume). Also check out the Fall Break day skate on Oct. 14 from 1-4 p.m.

Trick-or-treating Characters & mascots Photo ops Spooky tunes & more

Free family-friendly Halloween event for kids in costume 14 and under

Steampunk Fall Celebration at The Cowboy Oct. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 1700 NE 63rd St, OKC 405-478-2250,

Fun and fantasy abound at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Create your own Steampunk accessories and explore the Design-a-Robot maker space to create your own mini ‘bot, while supplies last. Try your hand at fast-draw target practice, look out for a penny-farthing and learn a dance or two. Activities are free with museum admission. In addition, families can enjoy special activities at the museum during Fall Break. Drop in Oct. 11-15 to create your own masterpieces from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Yukon’s Pumpkin Harvest Craft Festival Nov. 6, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 1200 Lakeshore Dr, Yukon 405-350-8937, Yukon’s Dale Robertson Center comes alive with fall spirit featuring more than 45 booths from across Oklahoma selling candles, repurposed wood art, handmade soaps, home décor and more, plus a bake sale with proceeds benefiting Friends of the Park and the Pumpkin Patch Café. Admission to the craft festival is free. The Friends of the Library Book Sale is held in conjunction with the festival, with deeply discounted books for sale. Stop next door at Mabel C. Fry Public Library.




Wayland Cubit

on mentorship, race relations and seeking justice


While 17-year-old Wayland Cubit lay in a hospital bed recovering from a fall off a horse, resulting in a broken hip, his aunt foretold to him over the phone that he’d be instrumental in the life of a young man. Cubit laughingly says he shrugged the conversation off, much more intent on recovering and getting out of the hospital than volunteering with kids. BY ERIN PAGE. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

Yet when the high school junior had recuperated, he found himself pulling in to the parking lot of St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, a former group home for boys in the metro, where he followed the exact path his aunt had predicted, only his influence has exceeded far beyond one youth. Through becoming a dad, foster dad and granddad and serving 25 years in law enforcement, Cubit has never stopped mentoring and making a life-long difference in the lives of young people. And he’s continued to gather others around him to do the same.

Showing up At St. Joseph’s, Cubit recruited friends to play sports and dominoes with residents to help provide them positive male role models. On the police force, he launched FACT (Family Awareness and Community Teamwork) in 2007 to provide police officer mentors to at-risk youth. In his 2020 campaign for Oklahoma County sheriff and his daily life as a community leader, Cubit seeks out reciprocal conversations on tough issues like racism and the relationship between law enforcement and community members to help ensure a better future for the next generation. Growing up in Oklahoma City, Cubit was surrounded by family and friends, giving him a sense of the value and importance of community. His sense of belonging has inspired him to ensure others experience that, too. “Sometimes families screw things up and the community has to fill in the gaps,” said Cubit. “If I had something to add value, I would. Showing up is the key.”


Cubit hasn’t always felt equipped, as a mentor, as a dad or when he and wife Cree fostered eight children, but he’s always felt that if he would simply show up, God would do the rest. He equates the feeling to his service as a police officer, trusting that he has the training, tools and resources though he never knows what each call will bring. “We take the call and show up no matter what,” said Cubit. “We have a 10-code in law enforcement. 10-8 means in service, ready for any call. My personal philosophy is 10-8.” The Cubits’ biological kids are in their 20s and 30s, and the eight children they fostered or adopted were all kinship placements. Cubit said he and Cree didn’t always feel they had the knowledge, space or financial resources to provide for more kids, but their hearts were burdened to help and somehow they always made it work. In the midst of getting kids to school and planning for their futures, the blessings of serving as a foster family weren’t always readily apparent. But they are now. “As they come back for birthdays or family celebrations, they point back to certain moments or something we taught and you see a legacy that lives far beyond the short amount of time in your space,” said Cubit of his foster and adopted children. “The blessing is the legacy building. They aren’t what the odds said they would be.” Between mentoring kids from hard places in the community and fostering family members, Cubit’s parenting philosophy in responding to kids’ negative behaviors shifted. “As you evolve and become more empathetic to what’s happening in the world, you change from asking ‘What’s wrong with you?’ to


‘What happened to you?’” said Cubit. “The question changes, your response changes.” Cubit has witnessed that philosophy focused on empathy and understanding change the entire trajectory of a youth’s life, it’s fueled his passion to continue mentoring kids and it’s inspired those around him, too.


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Healing conversations That same inherent ability to listen, learn and empathize is clear in Cubit’s professional life as well, and he encourages that posture in his fellow officers. A few years ago, Cubit’s unit had the opportunity to make a presentation about the FACT mentoring program at a Washington D.C. national mentoring conference. The group also toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture and while there noticed two groups of uniformed police officers on a tour. Cubit discovered that visiting the museum is part of the D.C. officers’ mandatory training, and the Oklahoma City unit was invited to join their tour group, which Cubit says was a powerful learning opportunity for them all. “The recurring statement was that your job as police officers is to do justice, and look at all the opportunities law enforcement has had to do justice [throughout] the African American story, but we were actively ushering in injustice the entire time,” said Cubit. “When we know symbolically what our uniform has represented to you, we get the opportunity to prove we’re not going to be that way. To do justice is to give people what they deserve, not more and not less.”

Cubit says the officers become like extra parents for the youth. Where there may have been initial distrust, engaging together creates a new norm and a new future story for the youth and officers alike. Cubit saw that in action when, in the civil unrest after the December 2020 officer shooting of local Black, homeless man Bennie Edwards, the FACT youth were consistently checking on their officer mentors to find out how they were faring amidst community protests. The officers’ work and relationships with the youth earned their trust and compassion. In another recent officer-involved shooting of a Black man in Oklahoma City, Cubit says a white officer was being portrayed as racist. Unbeknownst to most, in the months prior, that same officer had been called a “pig” by a young Black male while pumping gas. Noting identification on the young man’s vehicle, the officer called the man’s employer, not to get him in trouble but to request to have lunch and a conversation with him because he wanted to better understand him. The two continue to meet occasionally. Cubit believes if the community knew the officer’s backstory, they might have reacted differently.

These kinds of educational connections, as well as candid, open conversation between law enforcement and the community, are what Cubit believes can heal staunch divisiveness and turmoil between law enforcement and community members. “The community does not hate police officers, they hate policing,” said Cubit. “If they knew the police officers they couldn’t hate them. And if the officers became the community — if they knew their story — they couldn’t hurt them. We have to invite officers into the community in other roles besides enforcing — out of their uniform — working on boards and nonprofits and at churches, getting to know people for who they are.” Cubit sees the power of officers becoming part of the community through the FACT mentorship program every day. Plainclothes officers seek to address gang or delinquency concerns with at-risk youth and their families. The officers assigned to the unit believe with early intervention they can help at-risk youth ages 10 to 17 fight the pressure of gangs and involvement in juvenile delinquency. The officers focus on instilling good character traits and life skills through positive learning opportunities with the youth in the program. Weekly events give kids the chance to gather in a positive environment. CUBIT, CENTER, WITH OTHER OFFICERS WHO SERVE AS MENTORS TO AT-RISK YOUTH. PHOTO BY LUCERO PHOTOGRAPHY.


When Cubit has considered — and asked community members — what the reaction would be if he made a mistake or shot someone in the line of duty, he receives affirmation that while he wouldn’t get “a pass,” his work in the community speaks volumes, and that incites him to encourage that level of engagement among other officers. “They know I care about the community, that the last thing I want to do is kill somebody, and they only know that because of my body of work,” said Cubit. “Let’s spread that body of work throughout the agency.” Cubit says the “bad guys” are thriving in the current divisiveness, thriving in the confusion of officers who don’t want to be too heavyhanded and a community who doesn’t want to call the police because they might not respond correctly. “We’ve got to find the balance,” said Cubit. “We have to ask how people want to be policed and what they expect out of us because we work for you.”

Finding hope In his 2020 campaign for Oklahoma County sheriff, supporters from all parties and all walks of life often noted about Cubit his willingness to listen and engage in tough conversations. Even though the outcome of the election was not what Cubit or his supporters desired, he still found a great deal of hope in the process and is grateful for the opportunity to have met so many people he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to know.

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“The reason they cared so much, when knowing so little about me, is that they have high hope in our community,” said Cubit of his campaign supporters. “Leaders are supposed to represent solutions, not problems, and they saw a solution wrapped up in my campaign. We’re really good at ‘stopping’ things — stop police brutality, stop racism — but somebody has to represent the START of something.” Through his mentorship program, his podcast and in regular conversations in the community, Cubit says discussions about race and racism are becoming more commonplace, and that’s a good thing, which he hopes is the start of something positive. “I’m hopeful about what comes from these conversations,” said Cubit. “A shared history and memory is formed. Now we have the opportunity to blend our stories so our kids have a different shared history.” As Cubit considers the necessary changes needed to make Oklahoma City a more equitable place for all community members, he encourages local parents to consider what did or didn’t happen to them growing up in regards to race relations, how that formed their opinions on race and racism and how their views are different from those of other races or those who grew up in a different part of the city. As parents, Cubit says, we can together create a brighter future for all kids if we’re committed to having hard conversations now. “I would challenge the white, middle-class Oklahoman to examine the fact that there is no growth in comfort,” said Cubit. “Race relations is supposed to be uncomfortable. But if it’s hard for us, that means it will be easier for our kids. That’s all I want, and all parents can relate.”

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The Benefits of Narrative Grading An alternative to traditional letter grades BY GEORGE LANG

Before he started Odyssey Leadership Academy in Oklahoma City, Dr. Scott Martin taught at private and public schools in central Oklahoma, both higher education and K through 12. What he saw in every school he taught was an overreliance on grades as a measure of success. And the students were suffering. “I had a student who got a 34 [on the] ACT,” said Martin. “She got accepted on scholarship to Brown, and she was a brilliant, hard working student — just so full of life, so full of energy. And she ended up trying to take her own life. She took two razor blades and cut her wrists. Thankfully, she didn’t succeed, but it was because she was so stressed out about maintaining her 4.0 GPA.” Based on his experience with that student and several others who either did not receive proper motivation to excel or were caught on the hamster wheel maintaining high averages, Martin had to do something. He decided that, if he could help it, he would never give another grade to another student. Now starting its seventh year, Odyssey Leadership Academy still has not issued a grade, but its students are thriving. Last year, graduates of the small private school amassed $800,000 in scholarships, armed mainly with narrative assessments that tell the story of the students’ educations and accomplishments. “I’ve never had a school say, ‘No GPA? We’re not going to take your kid,’” said Martin. “It’s been the exact opposite of that.”


Grading grades What does an “A” mean? For more than 120 years, its use in the standard letter-grade system employed by most K through 12 schools and universities connotes excellence and closeness to perfection. Every letter that follows it in the grading system — B, C, D and F — symbolizes diminishing returns on that student’s performance. It is a measurement so deeply rooted in our culture that, if it didn’t exist, literally hundreds of situation comedy episodes involving kids bringing home bad grades would make zero sense. It is also a built-in stressor in the American psyche. Grades are still a relatively new development in education systems. In the late-1700s, Yale University issued a kind of prototype letter grade based on the Latin alphabet and the concept of “best, worse and worst,” which does not seem particularly encouraging for anyone who does not score “best.” Nevertheless, Yale’s innovation established a foundation for the modern grading system. The earliest recorded use of letter grades came from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., in the late Victorian era, and due in part to an enormous influx of students, the beginning of a shift from an agrarian to a manufacturing society and the increasingly mandated concept of public education, letter grades became a kind of necessity, a Henry Ford-like way to assess performance, assembly line-style. The advent of multiple choice tests and quizzes was borne out of the same need to provide feedback in a timely, easy-to-produce manner.

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What is narrative grading? Rather than assigning students a traditional letter grade, a narrative grade is typically several paragraphs written by the instructor providing feedback on the student’s performance in the class, noting their strengths, areas for improvement and how they met the objectives for the course.

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A partial example of a narrative grade given to students on a quarterly basis is below:

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[Student*] participated in each and every one of our in-class discussions. As teachers, working online and remote, we cannot state how much of a blessing this was to us. While not being the only student who talked, [Student] was someone we could always count on to bolster any given group of students partaking in conversation ... [Student] is unafraid to ask questions and think deeply; he’s also willing to admit when he doesn’t understand and is able to serve as the mouthpiece for a larger audience who more than likely had the same question(s)! [Student] ... showed up [to] each of his four class periods on time, prepared and full of encouragement for his classmates. On our days more full of discussion, [Student] had question after question at the ready ... but, more than anything else, [Student] demonstrated that he’s someone capable of talking to anyone about anything with an ease and comfort not often displayed in those of us who’ve left our college years behind, let alone for someone who is only just beginning his high school career. *The student’s name has been removed for privacy.

But increasingly, the reliance on letter grades as an arbiter of scholarship and success is being scrutinized. Alverno College, a four-year liberal arts school in Milwaukee, Wis., was an early adopter of narrative reports in lieu of letter grades, creating a more individualized account of a student’s progress. “The system of student assessment at Alverno College does not include reference to letter grades,” reads the college’s course catalog. “In fact, one tenet of the College’s educational philosophy is that the faculty do not evaluate students comparatively using letter grades. Instead, we establish criteria for effective performance in each course. In the graduate programs, these criteria reflect standards for achievement within the discipline and professional areas, which guide all courses in the specific program.” Narrative assessments are closer to the way real life works. For example, with the exception of the military, most employee evaluations are narrative — rarely does an adult receive an A-to-F grade for what they accomplish in the workplace. According to Alexander Astin, author of the 2016 published book Are You Smart Enough? How Colleges’ Obsession with Smartness Shortchanges Students, a narrative assessment will tell students and parents far more about individual progress than a letter grade with no supportive data to back it up.

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“Narrative evaluation provides students with individualized, detailed feedback,” wrote Astin. “Students are not only informed about how well they have mastered the course content but also provided with specific information about their strong points and areas where improvement is needed. This kind of evaluation also affords the professor an opportunity to give the student feedback about basic cognitive skills, such as writing and critical thinking. Narrative evaluations can not only be extremely helpful to the student but also, because the process itself requires the professor to get to know the student’s work personally, strengthen the relationship between the student and faculty member.”

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Changing the narrative In Oklahoma and in most areas of the country, a premium is placed on letter grades and standardized tests in public schools, and funding is directly tied to such tests. The stress placed on 3rd grade students taking literacy tests that determine a school’s funding is felt by everyone involved. Martin, whose school operates on a social justice curriculum that teaches through the study of real-world examples, said grades are an expediency from another era, and that given another option for determining whether a child is accepted to college, admissions personnel are ready for one. “I saw in my own classroom over the years just how much damage grades were doing,” said Martin. “The leading thinkers in education, especially as you work towards 21st century learning, are 1,000 percent in this boat. And again, what colleges are telling me now, when we send those narrative assessments out is, ‘Thank you. That tells me what I need to know.’” Sometimes, the college admissions system is simply not prepared to accept something that is, at its core, a story about one student’s educational experience. Martin shared one example about a student applying online to one of Oklahoma’s state schools. When the student reached a pull-down menu to register her grade point average, the system would not let her proceed without a proper number.


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Martin said he simply went to bat for the student, like he does for all students as they near the end of their studies at Odyssey. “This girl would be the valedictorian at any school anywhere,” Martin shared about the student. “She, as a seventh grader, was staying late after school asking us questions. She’s done brilliant work. I’ve had her in multiple classes. I will vouch for her. I will put my experience, I’ll put my PhD, I’ll put everything on the line to tell you, this girl has it.” Martin’s pitch went well, but it still needed to go up the flagpole. He met with the dean of admissions and provided the office with pages upon pages of stellar writing. Ultimately, the student not only earned admission but received the President’s Scholarship based on that work. So, while public schools are still mired in a post-industrial system of grades and GPAs, Martin said there can be rewards for going deeper with assessments — rewards that will be felt by the students themselves. “I tell our kids this all the time, if you will do your part — take the classes, work hard, go above and beyond — we will do our part and we’ll see where we land,” said Martin.



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One Place, Many Nations




The inside scoop on the new First Americans Museum in OKC BY LINDSAY CUOMO. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

The much-anticipated First Americans Museum will welcome visitors for the first time this September to learn about the shared history of the 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma today. Utilizing art, architecture, first-person narratives and multi-media experiences, the 40-acre complex guides families through the cultural diversity, authentic history and contributions of First Americans. Explore the galleries, watch Native films, taste traditional foods and Indigenous ingredients and engage in family-friendly programming that illuminates a uniquely Native perspective in this world-class museum.

A shared history FAM’s mission is to honor the Indigenous people who inhabited Oklahoma before it was a state, before our nation was even established, as well as those who would later call Oklahoma home.

“After nearly 200 years, our histories and cultural life ways are now interwoven into this landscape,” explained Underwood. FAM seeks to help visitors understand the individual and collective experiences by telling 39 sovereign stories in one place. Underwood said the galleries and attractions highlight a variety of first-hand experiences that relate to a single timeline.

“Today, 39 distinct tribal nations reside in Oklahoma,” shared Ginny Underwood, marketing and communications manager at FAM. “We are as diverse culturally and linguistically as the nations on the European continent.” Eight tribes have historical relationships with Oklahoma, from occupied villages to seasonal migration and hunting: Apache, Caddo, Tonkawa, Wichita, Comanche, Kiowa and Quapaw. Other tribal nations were removed and relocated such as the Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole, who were once assigned the land upon which the museum now resides.

“It is Native people telling their story,” said Underwood. “There was a lot of community dialog that contributed to what the museum would look like and be like. We hope to be able to look at history, which is sometimes ugly, and reinforce the importance of different perspectives and understanding of our shared history.”





The grounds Right away, museum guests will notice many unique features including the buildings’ architecture and the large mound that pays tribute to the mound-builder civilizations who lived in Oklahoma dating back to around 500 A.D. Families can walk to the top of the mound, which is designed to be a metaphor for the life journey and the Indigenous connection to the sun, moon and stars, and take in the views of downtown Oklahoma City. Underwood said the round trip walking tour to the peak takes about 45 minutes. The mound wraps around Festival Plaza, which will be the center of the grand opening celebration on Sept. 18 and 19 and will later host powwows, stick-ball games, concerts and cultural festivals. Even the orientation and the composition of the structures have meaning. The Remembrance Gate aligns with the rising sun, the Hall of The People is inspired by a traditional Wichita Grasshouse and the 10 columns that support the Hall represent the estimated 10 miles a day traveled by Native people during the forced removal to Indian Territory. “The whole architectural design is a cosmological clock, incorporating cardinal directions and solstice events,” shared Underwood. The museum features three exhibits, two theaters, two restaurants and a large gift shop, in addition to the outdoor attractions. The only sections of the museum that require admission are the galleries and events in the FAMTheater. “We want people to come back and spend time at FAM, eating at our restaurants [and] shopping,” shared Underwood.

The galleries The museum galleries feature three long-term exhibitions, all designed to be family-friendly with activity sheets to help kids engage with Native stories and the objects on view. “Parents will be pleased with the logistics of a gallery visit,” said Adrienne Lalli Hills, associate director of learning and community engagement. “Strollers and baby carriers are permitted in the galleries, although we ask parents to front-carry their children. All of our objects on view are installed behind glass, so grown-ups don’t need to fret about stray hands accidentally touching the art.” In the Tribal Nations gallery, OKLA HOMMA focuses on the 39 Tribal Nations, immersing visitors in tribal origin stories and historical accounts. “FAM collaborated with digital media and film specialists to integrate video, immersive audio and animation into the galleries,” said Hills. “Each space is specially crafted to create an immersive environment. Our 320-degree Origins Theater encircles visitors with vivid animations of tribal origin stories. In an area dedicated to Native sports and games, young visitors will delight in playing virtual Chunkey, a traditional game requiring great strength and agility.” Twenty-nine multi-media experiences bring history to life, sharing both historical and contemporary voices. Visitors can hear a reallife account from a young girl about her family’s experience during the forced removal and climb inside a powwow van to learn about different dances and ways tribes celebrate.



“The shared timeline is divided into chapters and the gallery fills in the historical gaps between what most people have learned,” said Underwood. “Most history books stop including the Native perspective in the 1920s but the museum goes beyond [that timeframe].” WINIKO: Life of an Object features selections from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The exhibition compares the way non-Native scholars have represented Native objects and connects the objects to their families of origin. “We have curated approximately 130 objects that were stored at the Smithsonian,” said Underwood. “The exhibit starts in full color with the objects in context, next when they were taken out of context. Then we were able to connect these objects with the families that originally owned or created the item to discover the story behind the piece, adding that cultural knowledge.” A third exhibit shares the story of the museum itself and the efforts and people involved in its creation. The idea for the long-awaited museum was initiated in the 1990s and construction began in 2006, though it was delayed between 2012 and 2019 when state funding ran out. The FAMily Discovery Center is still in the fundraising phase but will feature a pop-up book world that explores important cultural values such as respect, community, resilience and stewardship. Kids will be able to take on physical challenges and engage with hands-on, media-rich interactives in a playful, sometimes silly space. “The cool thing about the design is that over the course of an hour the center goes from night to day and through the four seasons,” said Underwood. In the meantime, families can enjoy special programming during the museum’s Weekend FAMily Fun hours, and these special activities are free with admission. “From 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, FAM will offer handson activities in the galleries and in the Hall of The People,” said Hills. “These activities will change regularly, ensuring that there’s always something new to do at the museum.”

Shopping, dining & more FAM offers several amenities the community can access without museum admission, including public art, a full-service restaurant, a café and a museum store that carries authentic Native-made items. The museum has 19 commissioned original pieces of art including three public art features and 14 FAM-specific films. The exterior of the Origins Theater, at the beginning of the OKLA HOMMA exhibit, looks like Caddo pottery. “Three artists contributed in different ways to this piece,” said Underwood. “Different generations using mediums, it’s a stunning piece.” The restaurant and café will serve Native-inspired dishes. Many of the restaurant’s menu items focus on produce and game indigenous to Oklahoma and will highlight the distinct culinary differences between the tribes. Museum admission is $15 for adults, $5 for kids ages 4 to 12 and free for kids 3 and under. The museum is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Tuesdays. Plan your visit at

Grand Opening Details FAM Grand Opening: Sept. 18 & 19 The grand opening of the First Americans Museum on Sept. 18 and 19 will be a celebration on a grand scale. The celebration begins with a tribal procession followed by special guest speakers including Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Muscogee). Families can enjoy art, field games, dance performances, tribal demonstrations, fashion shows, storytelling and live music. “There will also be eagles from some tribal aviaries,” said Underwood. The restaurant and café will be open and there will be several food trucks on-site. Admission for grand opening events is $5 and advanced purchase is required. Timed entry into the galleries will be limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. No parking is allowed on the museum grounds during opening weekend. Four parking lots will be available for parking and visitors will be shuttled to the museum. Parking is $10 per vehicle, with proceeds benefiting the Crooked Oak athletic and JROTC programs. The opening celebration is from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. $5 discount admission will continue through Monday, Sept. 20. SEASONAL PROGRAMMING WILL CELEBRATE THE WINTER AND SUMMER SOLSTICE AS WELL AS THE SPRING AND AUTUMNAL EQUINOX. PHOTO BY JAMES PEPPER HENRY.



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Integrated Arts Thanks to our friends at Oklahoma A+ Schools, we’re continuing a year-long series of easy, fun and engaging arts integration activities that kids and families can enjoy together. For this seventh installment, we’re exploring structure. Bonus: Integrating the arts with students’ everyday academics is proven to increase comprehension and retention!

Structure and Architecture A structure is something that is constructed. A building is an example of a structure. It is arranged in a pattern of organization. Architecture is the process and product of planning, designing and constructing structures. Architects plan and design buildings for a certain purpose. A house is designed to be lived in. A library is designed to hold books, provide space to read and places to check out books to take home. A school is designed for learning. Think about your school or home. What rooms does it have? How do you get from place to place? Think about why an architect may have designed your school or home the way they did.

Creating Structure with Unusual Materials Plan, design and construct a structure using only marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti noodles. You will need those materials, plus a pencil and paper. We will be working with two- and three-dimensional objects. A twodimensional, or 2D, object has only height and width, meaning it is flat. In visual art, this is called a shape. A three-dimensional, or 3D, object has depth, which gives it volume, like a cube. In visual art, this is called a form. 1. Look at a photo of a building. What two dimensional shapes do you notice? Draw each of those shapes on a piece of paper. 2. Make 2D shapes with marshmallows and uncooked noodles. Use your materials to make flat shapes that can lay on the ground or table. Look at your reference photos. What shapes are easy to make? Which ones are more difficult? 3. Turn your 2D shapes into 3D shapes. Look at the room you are in. It most likely has four walls, a floor and a ceiling. That is a cube, a 3D shape. Now that you have made a base, make other squares with your material and connect them to make a cube. Practice making other 3D shapes, like turning your triangles into the base of a pyramid. 4. Plan and design your building. Now that you have worked with your materials, imagine a larger structure you could make by joining more 3D shapes. Draw the structure you would like to create. 5. Construct your structure. Using your materials or other materials of your choice, build the structure you drew, using the plan you made as a reference. If part of your design doesn’t work, think about how you could adjust it.


Integrated arts activities are created by certified teachers and provided by Oklahoma A+ Schools to meet the Oklahoma Academic Standards across multiple content areas. Find more activities at metrofamilymagazine. com/integrated-arts and share your creations with us on social media by tagging MetroFamily and OKA+ Schools Institute!


Top Events in September Editor’s note: Please enjoy family fun responsibly. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend contacting each of these businesses directly to verify current offerings.

Sept. 9-11

Pottawatomie County Free Fair at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center (1700 W Independence, Shawnee) features livestock competitions, arts & crafts, commercial vendor and educational booths, fair food, old-fashioned midway games, live entertainment and evening carnival rides. Free to attend. Thursday, 8am-8pm; Friday, 9am-8pm; Saturday, 9am-8pm.

Sept. 9-12

Cleveland County Free Fair at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds (615 E Robinson St, Norman) features a midway with carnival rides and games, live entertainment, livestock exhibits, petting zoo, wiener dog races, baby crawl races, car & motorcycle show and more. Free to attend. Thursday, 9:30am-10pm; Friday, 8am-10pm; Saturday, 9am-10pm; Sunday, 10am-6pm.

Sept. 10

FREE OKC Ballet Under the Stars at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features professional company dancers as well as students from the Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School. 6:30pm.

FREE Movie at the Park at Mitch Park (2733 Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond) features an outdoor screening of Trolls World Tour. Families can bring food and refreshments. Movie begins at dark.

Sept. 11

Piedmont Founders Day in Olde Town Piedmont (Piedmont & Jackson, Piedmont) features a vintage, boutique & craft sale, parade, 5k, inflatables, kids’ obstacle course, train rides, pony rides, a petting zoo and more. Free to attend. 7am-4pm. FREE Kiwanis Club Fishing Clinic at Joe B Barnes Regional Park Creek (8700 E Reno Ave, Midwest City). Kids ages 6-15 can learn how to cast, knot tying, outdoor ethics and more. A limited amount of poles will be available for use. 8-11am. FREE See You Saturday at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features free family fun at the museum. Create a craft in Makerspace, explore exhibits, get your selfie in Picture Yourself and see new art and history exhibits. All ages. 10am-1pm.

Doggy Dip ‘N Dash at Earlywine Park and Family Aquatic Center (3101 SW 119th St) features a 1.5-mile dash around the park and a dip in the pool (for dog swimmers only). $8. 10am-1pm.

Sept. 12

Cleveland County First Responders Clash for a Cause at Reaves Park (2501 S Jenkins Ave, Norman) features the annual first responders’ softball tournament, food trucks, touch-a-truck, carnival games, bounce house and more. Benefits Center for Children and Families. Free to attend. 1pm.

Sept. 16-26

Oklahoma State Fair at State Fair Park (3001 General Pershing Blvd) features concerts, food and shopping vendors, Disney On Ice, exhibits, games, carnival rides and more. Midway opens at 1pm weekdays & 10am weekends. Adults, $8-$12; kids (6-11), $4-$6; kids (5 & under), free.




Sept. 17

3rd Fridays in the Arts District (California to NW 4th, Classen to Hudson Ave) features treats, drinks, giveaways, art, live music and more from participating businesses. Free to attend. 6-8pm. Friday Night Bites at Moore’s Central Park (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features a food truck festival with live music by Blackwater. Free to attend. 6-9pm. Spoke Street Night Market in the Wheeler District (1701 S Western Ave) features pop-up shops, live music and food trucks. Free to attend. 7-10pm.

Sept. 18

FREE Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day at participating museums (various locations) features free general admission for two people. museumday/museum-day-2021

Sept. 24

FREE Live from the Lawn Mayor’s Mic Drop Anniversary Concert at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features alternative country/ Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers. 8pm.

Sept. 25

Down Syndrome Parade & Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) benefits Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma and features an awareness walk, festival activities and a 5k. The festival will feature raffles, moon bounces, face painters, carnival games, music and more. All ages welcome. 5k, $40; parade, free to attend. 8am.

Sept. 25-Oct. 2

Just Between Friends Consignment Sale at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds (615 E Robinson, Norman) features new and gently used children’s clothing, toys, furniture and accessories. Walkups welcome but those with tickets will be let in first. Sunday (noon-4pm), $5. See website for shopping hours.

Sept. 26

FREE Mesta Festa at Perle Mesta Park (1900 N Shartel Ave) features live music, family activities, sand volleyball and artist and vendor pop-up booths. Noon6pm.

Sept. 18 & 19

Grand Opening of the First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd) features a tribal procession, special guest speakers, Native artists, live entertainment, tribal demonstrations, Native films, a community mural project, field games, fashion shows, storytelling and more. $5. Saturday, 8am-10pm; Sunday, 8am-8pm.


Doktor Kaboom Family Concert at the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts (705 W University Ave, Stillwater) features an over-the-top German physicist with a passion for science that knows no bounds. Created by David Epley, Doktor Kaboom performs original interactive science comedy shows that will thrill all ages. Adults, $10; kids (12 & under), $5. 3pm.

Sept. 28-Oct. 3

My Fair Lady at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” Best suited for ages 8 & up. $35 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 1:30 & 7pm.

Top Events Oct. 8-10

FREE Norman Pride Festival and Parade in Campus Corner and downtown Norman (various locations) features a parade and festival with music, live entertainment, artists, vendors and kids’ activities. The festival is all day Saturday, parade is Sunday evening. See website for a complete schedule of events.

Oct. 9-31

Haunt the Zoo at the Oklahoma City Zoo (2020 Remington Pl) features a trick-or-treat trail with candy stations, family-friendly decorations and photo opportunities. Familyfriendly costumes encouraged. Zoo admission plus treat bag purchase required. $7; members, $6. Saturdays & Sundays. 9am-4pm.

Oct. 22-24

Alice (in Wonderland) at the Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave). Fall down the rabbit hole into the fantasy world first imagined by Lewis Carroll. This stylish production is an incredible spectacle of dance, theater and puppetry and features numerous students from the Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School. $15 & up. Friday & Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm.

Oct. 23

FREE Edmond Pride at Hafer Park (1034 S Bryant Ave, Edmond) features live music, performances, food trucks, vendors and more. All ages welcome. 11am-5pm.

in October Oct. 23-30

Storybook Forest at Arcadia Lake Spring Creek Park (7200 E 15th St, Edmond) features a fun, not scary trail filled with roaming characters and lots of treats. All tickets must be purchased in advance. Adults in same car with child(ren) are free. $12 per child. 5:308:30pm.

Oct. 26-31

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The New Musical at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features an all-new production with songs from the original film including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” Best suited for ages 6 & up. $37.16-$96.90. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 1:30 & 7pm.

Read! Write! Win! A Contest for Oklahoma Students

This fall, readers in Grades 4–12 are invited to write a letter to the author of a favorite book, expressing how the book affected them personally. Oct. 30

Steampunk Fall Celebration at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a variety of themed activities including create-your-own Steampunk accessories, a design-a-robot maker space and more. Costumes welcome. Free with admission. 10am-4pm.

Oct. 30 & 31

Halloween Train at the Oklahoma Railway Museum (3400 NE Grand) features a 40-minute Halloween train ride, mini-golf course, scavenger hunt and costume contest. Familyfriendly costumes encouraged. 13 & up, $12; kids (3-12), $5; kids (under 3), free. See website for departure times.

Cash Prizes awarded to the student writers of the top three letters in each of three levels. Contest Levels Cash Prizes Grades 4–6 Grades 7–8 Grades 9–12

First Place: $500 Second Place: $250 Third Place: $100

First place winners will also select their school library or public library to receive a cash prize of $1,000! For more info please visit

Funding provided by OKLAHOMA

Friends of the OKLAHOMA



Fall Festivals

Sept. 10 & 11

Western Days Festival in Wild Horse Park (1201 N Mustang Rd, Mustang) features a Stampede Fun Run, parade, best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl contest, art show, gunfighters, coloring contest, games, pancake breakfast, chuckwagon dinner, rodeo, corn hole tournament, live music and more. Free to attend; participation prices vary by activity. Friday, 5-9pm; Saturday, 6:30am10pm.

Sept. 10-12

FREE Downtown Edmond Arts Festival (Broadway between 2nd & Campbell St, Edmond) features more than 140 artists, food vendors, live art demonstration, children’s activities and live entertainment. Friday & Saturday, 10am-dusk; Sunday, 10am-5pm.

Sept. 11 & 12

Iron Thistle Scottish Festival at Mollie Spencer Farm (1001 S Garth Brooks Blvd, Yukon) features live entertainment including Celtic and pipe bands, Scottish and Irish dance troupes as well as traditional Scottish heavy athletics, sheep herding demonstrations, Celtic merchandise, Scottish and American cuisine, kids’ crafts and games. Free to attend. Saturday & Sunday, 10am6pm.

Sept. 24-Oct. 17

Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch at Wings Special Needs Community (13700 N Eastern Ave, Edmond) features hayrides, food trucks, maze, inflatables,


great photo-ops and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes available for purchase. Benefits Wings programs. $7; family packs (for 4 people), $25; kids (2 & under), free. Friday & Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 1-6pm.

Sept. 25

India Food & Arts Festival at the Central Park Amphitheater (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features food and various vendors from different regions of India, entertainment, workshops including Bollywood style dances, classical temple dances, Folk dance, music and traditional art. Free to attend. 3-9pm. facebook. com/IndiaAssociationOfOklahoma

Sept. 25-Oct. 31

Chester’s Pumpkin Patch at Chester’s Party Barn (5201 Cimarron Rd NW, Piedmont) features unlimited pony rides, a petting zoo, festive games, mystery maze, pumpkins and more. Ages 11-64, $10+tax; ages 2-10, $6+tax. TuesdaySaturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. & Sunday, 1-6 p.m.

Sept. 30-Oct. 10

Tulsa State Fair at Expo Square (4145 E 21st St, Tulsa) features carnival rides, attractions, concerts, creative arts, food, livestock competitions and more. Adults, $12; military & seniors (62+), $8; kids (5-12), $8; kids (under 5), free. 10am-10pm.

Oct. 1-3

Oklahoma Regatta Festival at RIVERSPORT Adventures (725 S Lincoln Blvd) features a three-day

celebration of rowing, kayaking, dragon boating, whitewater rafting and family fun. Free to attend. See website for racing schedule. Rock Island Arts Festival at the Rock Island Depot (100 Chickasha Ave, Chickasha) features fine art displays, crafter booths, live music and entertainment as well as children’s creation station, bounce houses, a giant sand pile and more. Free to attend. Friday, 11am9pm; Saturday, 10am-9pm; Sunday, noon-4pm.

Oct. 2

Oklahoma Czech Festival on Main Street in Yukon and at Yukon Czech Hall (205 N Czech Hall Rd, Yukon) features a parade, food, music, dancing, imported goods and a craft show as well as carnival rides and a petting zoo. The celebration concludes with the Oklahoma Czech Royalty Coronation Ball at Czech Hall. Free to attend; participation prices vary. 8am-5pm; parade, 10am. FREE Plaza District Festival in the Plaza District (1700 block of NW 16th St) features live music, food trucks, visual art exhibitions, children’s activities and more to celebrate the spirit and diversity of the neighborhood. 10am11pm.

Oct. 8-24

Pumpkinville at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a mini village made out of pumpkins, gourds, haystacks, cornstalks and mums with hand-crafted games, activities, entertainment, unlimited

rides on Mo’s Carousel and special treats. $8; members & kids (2 & under), free. 10am-5pm.

Oct. 13-15

FREE Fall Y’all at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features special themed activities such as pumpkin painting, crafts, carnival games and festive movies. Activities vary daily. All ages welcome. Wednesday & Friday, 10am-2pm; Thursday, 10am2pm & 5-7:30pm.

Oct. 16

Folklife Festival at the Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features a culturally rich festival with cultural practitioners, diverse communities and heritage professionals that spark curiosity, catalyze intercultural exchange and create participatory experiences. All ages welcome. Free to attend. 9am-2pm. Chisholm Trail Festival at Mollie Spencer Farm (1001 Garth Brooks Blvd, Yukon) features Old West re-enactors, live entertainment, Civil War demonstrations, gunfights, vendors, pony rides, kids activities and more. 9am-6pm. Free to attend. Fall Festival at Rustic Roots (105340 Greer Rd, Lamont) features live music, food trucks and more, in addition to the pumpkin patch and farm activities. Families can enjoy hayrides, a petting zoo, 10-acre corn maze, barrel train rides and a giant slide fort. All ages welcome. $10. 10am-7pm.

Easing back into school?

It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Take the pressure off as the school year begins. Use these three simple tips to save time and keep your family healthy.

1. Make No Mess No Stress Meals Simple, nutritious AND delicious? These sheet pan recipes are easy to make with zero clean-up. Honey Mustard Chicken With Veggies Bruschetta Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

2. Get Some Move-and-Groove Time Keep your kids moving with fun family activities. A dance party, scavenger hunt, freeze tag, the possibilities are endless.

Oct. 24

FREE Fall Festival at Nichols Hills United Methodist Church (1212 Bedford Dr, Nichols Hills) features a chili cook-off, hayrides, games, s’mores and more. 5-7pm.

3. Stay on Track With Healthy Hacks Double your recipe and freeze one for later. Get short bursts of activity throughout the day. We’ve got all the shortcuts to help you feel your best.

For these recipes, activities, hacks and more, visit


Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 12

FREE Fiestas Patrias OKC at Bicentennial Park (500 Couch Dr) features live music, folkloric dancing, activities for children, an official ceremony with representatives of Mexico, Guatemala and other Central American countries and the crowning of Miss Fiestas Patrias. 1-10:30pm.

Oct. 2

Kids Take Over The Cowboy at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a celebration of Día de los Muertos. Contribute to a communal ofrenda, create a colorful sugar skull mask and enjoy other unique crafts to celebrate this holiday tradition. Best suited for

ages 4-12. Free with admission. 10amnoon. FREE Fiestas de las Americas in the Historic Capitol Hill District (3019 SW 25th St) features a celebration of Oklahoma’s rich multicultural heritage with the Parade of the Americas, family activities and live entertainment. Noon8pm.

Sept. 21

Todos Somos Americanos. We Are All Americans. at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a celebration of the rich and varied cultures of North, South and Central America. Enjoy musical performances and dance from local cultural groups representing countries of origin from all over the Americas. Then, embark on a selfexploration of the museum galleries and discover the vast diversity of the American West. Free with admission. 10:3011:30am.

Lace Up Your Shoes for a Local Family Race Sept. 11 & 12

Redbud Classic at Nichols Hills Plaza (Avondale & Western Ave) features events for the whole family including bike tours, long-distance road cycling, kids fun run, timed runs/walks, a Woof Walk, 5k wheelchair event and 2-mile Baby Stroller Derby. Benefits the Oklahoma City Police Athletic League (OKC PAL). Prices vary. See website for schedule.

Sept. 18

St. Jude Walk/Run Oklahoma City at Bicentennial Park (500 Couch Dr) features a family-friendly walk/ run to raise money for the children of St. Jude during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Preregister. Prices vary, fundraising encouraged. 7-11am.

Sept. 25

Down Syndrome Awareness Walk & 5k at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a 5k, 1-mile fun run and virtual 5k benefiting the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma. 5k & fun run, $40; walk, free to attend. 8am.


Oct. 2 & 3

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (620 N Harvey Ave) features a marathon, half marathon, kids marathon, relay and 5k. The 5k and kids

marathon will be run Saturday. The marathon, half marathon and relay will run Sunday. Prices vary. See website for race times.


11-12 2021











KIDS ! T S FE Thank you to everyone who participated in Kids Fest! Brought to you by Dental Depot, Kids Fest Comes to You was a huge hit! On July 24, families embarked on an adventure tour around the metro. Participants began at one of five locations around OKC where they enjoyed FREE family fun including a petting zoo and balloon animals from Chester’s Party Barn, inflatables from Allison’s Fun and the OKC Energy, face painting by Kaleidoscope Arts and Pilar Designs, character and mascot meet-and-greets from Character Connection, OKC Thunder and OKC Dodgers, Dental Depot miniature train rides, Touch-a-Truck, mini soccer classes provided by Soccer City, live music with Lucas Ross and arts and crafts at Mitch Park and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame! After that, there was even MORE fun to be had as families used their Kids Fest Adventure Maps to take advantage of great admission deals from participating businesses throughout the metro. Lots of families also received great prizes, like a custom OKC puzzle by local artist Joshua Boydston, and won exciting giveaways like vacation packages, Harlem Globetrotters tickets and more for entering our #kidsfest2021 photo contest. Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Dental Depot, Community Sponsors Edmond Parks and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Engagement Sponsors Soccer City and the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program. We can’t wait to see everyone at the next Kids Fest!

G AY L O R D - P I C K E N S



Oklahoma’s Dental Destination!

Family dentistry and orthodontics. Schedule your appointment today! 13 Metro Locations | Open Saturdays | Same Day Emergencies


come party with us! Laser Tag . Bowling . Arcade Full Service Dining & Bar Birthday Party & Event Room

Book Your Birthday Party Online at 6235 SE 15th st midwest city | 405.455.8386 40 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2021

Free family fun is back! October 13-15 Evening activities available on Oct. 14 Recommended for children ages 3 - 8

Blast off on a space themed adventure! NEW Homeschool Day: October 27 Online re-registration is required

Visit for more info.

1400 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City 405.235.4458

Thank you to these Kids Fest vendors: Character Connection Chester’s Party Barn Oklahoma Beef Council Oklahoma A+ Schools Ace Party Supplies Angels Foster Family Network Heritage Lanes

• Youth & adult soccer leagues • Lil’ Kickers • Birthday parties And more!

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

Mention this ad to receive two free Lil’ Kicker classes*! * Available upon registration

42 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2021 4520 Old Farm Road, OKC (west of Meridian, south of 122nd)


We appreciate these vendor businesses & nonprofits for supporting Kids Fest! And thank you, Kids Fest attendees, for helping provide needed school supplies for children in foster care through Citizens Caring for Children. Use the QR code to find out ways you can continue to support CCC and their mission to help foster families.


Get two hours of bowling for up to four guests, plus pizza, drinks, & a $10 game card for only $69.99


Grown-Ups Paint & Sip -

Indoor Playground

Last Sunday of Every

Easel Painting Paint & Take Crafts

Month Birthday Parties Facility Rental for

Tuesday Story & Craft Time

Reunions, Team Building, Clu utings, Field Trips 575 Enterprise Drive, Suite 110, Edmond OK 73013 (405)340-7584

@acepartysupplies because there's always something



Thank you to these Kids Fest vendors: OKC Thunder Pioneer Library System Renewal by Anderson RIVERSPORT Adventure Skate Galaxy OKC Unpluggits Paint & Play

Halloween Costume Contest Ghosts, ghouls, werewolves and vampires alike are invited to enter MetroFamily's Halloween Costume Contest! Parents can submit a photo of their kiddo (or the entire family) dressed in spooky-or-not Halloween costumes for a chance to win. Lots of prizes will be awarded, including the grand prize of a two-night stay during the holidays at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. Enter between Oct. 1-31!




Picture your child on MetroFamily’s cover! MetroFamily is searching for local kids with big smiles and bright personalities to grace our 2022 covers! You and your family are invited to enter the exclusive Cover Kids Search contest for kids ages 2 - 12. It's easy to enter! Deadline is Sept. 30! Register online by submitting your child's photo, answering "about me" questions and including your $10/entry submission fee. Our readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites in each age category. The top five finalists from each category will have a virtual interview with our personality panel to determine the six winners. All entries will receive a virtual swag bag, complete with coupons to local attractions.

For more details and to register, please visit THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS:

Every beefy bite provides Protein




Chester's Pumpkin Patch

Sept. 25th - Oct. 31st, 2021 Tue. - Sat. 9-6 & Sun. 1-6 Buy tickets at the gate or

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend introducing solid foods, like beef, to infants and toddlers in order to ensure a baby receives the best possible nutrition at every stage. The nutrients found in beef support growing bodies and healthy brain development in babies and toddlers. To learn more about feeding beef in the early years, scan the QR code.

ADMISSION INCLUDES: UNLIMITED pony rides, petting zoo, games, hayrides, mystery maze giant slide, one pumpkin, & MORE! Chester's Party arn an arm

5201 Cimarron RD NW Piedmont, OK 73078 405-373-1595

$10 off your first party:MFM10

TWO FREE GUEST PASSES book a birthday party by october 31, 2021 must mention promo when party is booked skate galaxy okc 5800 NW 36th Street, OKC, OK 73122


Get your tickets today!

Join us Saturday, Nov. 6 from 10 am to 3 pm for Geekapalooza, the best STEAM festival of the year! Hands-on projects, expo booths and ongoing workshops hosted by local leaders encourage kids to learn about STEAM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) such as robotics, coding, geoscience, engineering, health sciences, art, music and more. Activities will be geared to children ages 4-14. Hosted by MetroFamily Magazine and Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, this year's event is being held at Camp Trivera, the Girl Scouts' state-of-the-art urban camp located at 2508 NE 50th St. (east of the OKC Zoo). Many activities will be held outdoors and masks will be required. Check web page for more details about Covid-19 safety protocols.

Ticket sales begin Sept. 13. $8 per child, $5 per adult Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible!

Presenting Sponsor

Community Partner Sponsors

Details & tickets at


Autumn Days in Austin, Texas


With fall upon us, there’s no better time to head south for new adventures in the vibrant, thriving capital of Texas. Despite being the fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the United States, Austin maintains a quirky, laid-back atmosphere unlike any other Texas city. In addition to Austin’s buzzing live music festivals, my family always enjoys the ever-evolving food scene and stunning outdoor experiences. This city upholds its mantra to “Keep Austin Weird” in all the right ways, placing value on local businesses and creative spirits, which lend to the diverse food and fun Austin has to offer. Check out this three-day itinerary to kick off your family’s fall season. ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY DEBBIE MURNAN


Let’s Go!

The drive to Austin is about six hours from Oklahoma City down I-35, so Ft. Worth is a convenient midway point to stop for a bite to eat and stretch the legs. Lodging options in Austin are plentiful, including both hotels and VRBO rentals to fit every family’s budget. In September and October, the weather is prime for patio dining, but Austin’s fall temps can still reach into the 80s, so dress accordingly. Also, keep in mind that one of the country’s largest celebrations of music, Austin City Limits, takes place over the first two weekends in October, so crowds and inflated lodging prices can be expected during this event. ACL is an amazing outdoor music festival for all ages, featuring more than 100 musical performances. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with a ticketholding adult, and they can enjoy their own lineup of familyfriendly musicians and fun at “Austin Kiddie Limits.”

SECOND SATURDAY 12-3 p.m. • Art projects • Art demos • Performances • Tasty treats and more!


Day One

Most of today’s activities will be spent outdoors near Lady Bird Lake, just south of downtown Austin, so your family will want to fuel up with a nourishing breakfast at Cenote. This charming coffee shop has a little bit of everything one might crave in the morning, but the migas and breakfast tacos are always solid choices to accompany your iced coffee. Spend the morning cruising the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Trail & Boardwalk by bike. Barton Springs Bike Rental & Tours offers a wide range of bikes to rent, including attachable kids’ seats and trailers, so your family can meander along the river’s edge for premiere views of Austin’s downtown skyline. During your ride, stop for a brisk dip in the Barton Springs Pool, a 3-acre spring-fed pool with an average temperature of 68 degrees year-round. The South Congress district is a perfect place to grab lunch at one of many Austinoriginal eateries, such as Home Slice Pizza, where they are passionate about New York-style pizza and steadfast hospitality. Stroll down the street to explore a variety of unique shops, including Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, a huge costume shop to get

your family Halloween attire, or Monkey See Monkey Do, a haven for vintage toys and eclectic gifts. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Big Top Candy Shop and don’t miss a family photo-op at the famous “I Love You So Much” mural, all within walking distance along South Congress Avenue. Your afternoon would be well spent at Zilker Park, nestled in the heart of downtown Austin, where families can visit the Zilker Botanical Garden, play a round of disc golf or venture onto the water with a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). Rowing Dock or Austin City Kayak Tours are convenient places to rent kayaks or SUPs nearby. A busy day calls for a relaxing dinner at Loro, an Asian smokehouse that has brilliantly fused the techniques of Southeast Asia with the traditional smoky flavors of Texas barbeque. Loro’s award-winning chefs have created a beautiful, laid-back space, including a large outdoor patio, to relax and enjoy a delicious, refined meal. Just before sunset don’t miss Austin’s most popular attraction at Congress Avenue Bridge, where more than one million Mexican freetailed bats, the largest North American bat colony, pour out from under the bridge into the evening sky.


family-friendly art event There’s something new to do every time! Visit for this month’s themes and free tickets!

405.951.0000 | @okcontemporary METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / SEPT-OCT 2021


11 NW 11th St, OKC, OK 73103

Day Two

Kick off your morning on the patio of Cherrywood Coffeehouse, a neighborhood gem with stellar coffee, breakfast sandwiches and tacos served fresh daily. Mueller Lake Park, just five minutes away, is a beautiful area to wander and let the kids climb the park’s welcoming playscape. If you visit on a Sunday, stop by the bustling Texas Farmers’ Market to shop for local food and listen to live music. If Sunday brunch is more your speed, nearby Contigo serves up innovative eats on an expansive, ranch-style patio. Across the street from Mueller Lake Park is one of our boys’ favorite destinations, the Thinkery, an interactive children’s museum featuring STEAM-based fun. Kids can watch wind swirl into a tornado, experiment with water currents or test their coordination in an outdoor play zone. Lunch is served at Paperboy, originally a food truck, but now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Central East Austin. Request a table on their gorgeous rooftop patio, lined with terra cotta breezeblocks, to savor one of their delightfully fresh salads, bowls or sandwiches. Reservations are encouraged or you can order online for pickup to avoid long wait times. Austin is home to the world’s largest bouldering gym at Austin Bouldering Project, where patrons can rock climb indoors without using ropes or harnesses. The boulders rise only 15 feet high, with several “kid-friendly” climbing walls and safety pads throughout the facility. If your family would rather spend the afternoon outdoors, consider a visit to McKinney Falls State Park to hike or bike along the Onion Creek trail while taking in the rugged beauty of the cascading falls. Another full day of play will have everyone eager for dinner in Austin, which is known as a food truck mecca. There are more than 1,000 mobile food vendors to choose from in Austin, but residents rave about the homemade pasta from Patrizi’s, located in the Vortex theater’s courtyard. After experiencing the perfectly plated Carbonara Alexandra or the Great Leopold, you’ll soon see why this authentic Italian cuisine sells out fast.



Day Three

Our family is always happy to reconnect with each other and nature while out on a trail, and Austin’s treasured Barton Creek Greenbelt is a refuge for outdoor enthusiasts, with multiple access points along 12 miles of shaded trails. In the summer, it’s a great place to cool off in the shallow creeks, descending waterfalls and swimming holes, but this urban oasis is equally stunning to explore in the fall. By this point, you’ve probably noticed tacos are basically their own food group in Austin, and Veracruz All Natural will satisfy everyone’s hunger with some extraordinary tacos that may have you pondering a move to Austin! After years of hard work and perseverance, the Vazquez sisters now own and operate six Veracruz locations around Austin, bringing authentic, fresh flavors from Mexico to each of their handcrafted menu items. Downtown Austin is full of photo-worthy stops, including our favorites: the corner of Lamar Boulevard & 5th Street boasts a colorful “atx” public art piece that attracts tourists regularly and the mural of “Jeremiah the Innocent” eagerly welcomes all to come say hello. When you crave a mid-day snack, enjoy the harmony of summer fruits and fall spices in a homemade pie from Tiny Pies. These adorable, individual servings of pie are made fresh daily with a flavor for everyone, including gluten-free and vegan options. Adults and children alike will appreciate an afternoon at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a botanical garden and arboretum brimming with native Texas plants and playful landscapes. Every October, they host “Fortlandia,” a diverse collection of artistically designed forts for families to explore. Book reservations online before you arrive. Your family can’t depart from Austin without experiencing its legendary barbeque, and this city has scores of outstanding restaurants from which to choose. Micklethwait Craft Meats is a consistent crowd pleaser without the lengthy wait times often found at equally lauded barbeque joints. This Central East Austin food truck serves up flavorful family-style meals of carefully smoked meats and standout side items, like jalapeño cheese grits and lemon poppyseed slaw. Your family can even preorder food a couple of days in advance to secure a delicious dinner for the end of your trip. Our crew has been visiting family in Austin for years now. We love that no trip is ever the same, each uniquely wonderful and full of personality in its own way. Between the great outdoors, local music festivals, quirky finds and an endless list of restaurants, Austin has plenty to discover during your fall family getaway.



Celebrating Differences


Lily Hernandez views the fact that she is deaf as special, never something to be ashamed of. And she credits local nonprofit organization Hearts for Hearing for that perspective When Alex Hernandez’s newborn baby failed her hearing screening 15 years ago, he wasn’t overly concerned and neither were doctors. Alex received a pamphlet from Lily’s pediatrician who encouraged the family to visit a specialist. Initially Alex thought it was a situation they could wait out to see how Lily’s hearing developed before considering next steps. Now, he’s incredibly grateful the professionals with Hearts for Hearing, then called Hearing Enrichment Language Program (HELP), encouraged him to seek a solution immediately. “They advised us to get hearing aids so she could get sound right away,” remembers Alex. “There is a short window for kids to make that connection in their brain with language and hearing. She needed to have that stimulation to that part of her brain … without them, we would have lost valuable time.” Morgan Young passed her newborn hearing screening 13 years ago, but her parents realized she was having trouble hearing around age 2 when they called her name and she didn’t respond until they touched her arm, causing her to flinch. Morgan’s mom, Maria, also has hearing loss and immediately scheduled an assessment for her daughter. Within a month, Morgan had hearing aids and was enrolled in Happy Hands Education Center in Tulsa, along with her brother Clay, who had failed his newborn hearing screening, as well as their typically-hearing brother Joseph. At the school for children with hearing loss or communication disorders, the Young kids all learned sign language and received the support they needed to prepare for mainstream school.


“When Happy Hands did the first assessment of [Morgan’s] learning capabilities at 2 years old she was like a 5-month-old because she hadn’t been hearing anything,” said dad Michael Young. “They kept working with her, on sign language and learning to speak, and she made so much progress that by 5 years old she was learning at a 6-year-old level.” CLAY AND MORGAN YOUNG WITH DAD MICHAEL. PHOTO BY FOTO ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY.



Beyond logistics For parents, there’s much more to learning a child has hearing loss than finding the right accommodations for that child. “When parents find out at the newborn hearing screening [that a child has hearing loss], they may go through a range of emotions before they get to the most important question: ‘How am I going to give this child what they need to thrive?’” said Lesa Carter, educational consultant for students with hearing loss for Mustang Public Schools. Whether a child experiences hearing loss from birth or later in life, the communication options available to them and their families are numerous and potentially overwhelming. Carter shared that, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 90 percent of children born deaf are born to hearing parents, who may have little to no experience with the varied options available to their child. Making what feels like a lifetime decision for a child can be daunting. “Some kids flourish with cochlear implants, some with hearing aids, some with American Sign Language or the cultural influence of the Deaf community,” said Carter. The bottom line, says Carter, is children need language in some form as early as possible because it’s the foundation for learning, reading, relationships and so much more. Consulting a child’s pediatrician, local resources like the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, public schools, parent support groups and organizations like Hearts for Hearing can help in gathering information and perspective, as well as preparing a child for school. “Since the newborn screening protocol became law in Oklahoma in 2000, and updated in 2006, children are getting hearing aids at just a few months old, giving them greater access to sound and speech,” said Carter. “Just as important, children with profound hearing loss whose parents sign to them in infancy can make their first sign around 7 months old. All of this leads to a better foundation for learning.”

In Edmond Public Schools, the district’s 90 students who have hearing loss use varied and oftentimes multiple communication tools. The district once offered an immersive deaf education program with one elementary teacher for all students with hearing loss, but Nancy Goosen, newly retired as director of special services for EPS, said when she joined the district 22 years ago, the program led to disparities so she advocated to mainstream students. “I do not want to dismiss the advantages of the full immersion model of a deaf education program like the Oklahoma School for the Deaf where they have a stronger program with teachers at every grade level,” said Goosen. “It just was not working for us. After meeting with the students, I believed they needed the opportunity to achieve deeper levels of learning in a regular education environment with their same grade level peers than placed in one special education classroom with multiple grade levels. Of course, if any student needs additional special education support, the IEP team makes that placement decision on an individual basis.” Now EPS focuses on meeting students’ needs by providing individualized accommodations, like deaf interpreters, sound field systems in all classrooms, personal FM units that connect those systems to students’ receivers in their hearing aids or cochlear implants and deaf education teachers and coordinators to work with students, teachers and parents. As students with hearing loss prepare for life after high school, Lisa Barnum, deaf educator with EPS, helps them learn to advocate for themselves, understand what accommodations are available to them in the workplace, college or career tech programs and how to request those services.

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“Our students should be viewed as a regular education student first,” said Goosen, “and then as an individual with a disability who needs accommodations or other types of special education services based on their unique needs to benefit from instruction and be academically successful.”



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Through the Hearts for Hearing Bridges program, a mixture of children who can hear unaided and those with hearing loss come together to celebrate their differences and see each other thriving in their own unique ways. “It ends this stigma of dividing between aided and unaided, and it’s important to do that,” said Lily. Lily also attended Hearts for Hearing camp each summer with other children who are deaf or have hearing loss. “It’s really cool because we all share the same experiences because we’re all deaf but we can hear and talk to each other,” said Lily. Though Lily laughingly says Hearts for Hearing has “kicked her out” because she no longer needs speech therapy or other services beyond annual mapping, her stepmom Amy, marketing and communication strategist for Hearts for Hearing, says the staff still know Lily well, sharing funny stories or sweet memories about her from her time as a patient and before Amy knew her.


Lily’s story

Now a 15-year-old sophomore at Harding Charter Preparatory High School, Lily loves learning TikTok dances, spending hours at the dinner table laughing and talking with her family and running track and cross country.

“The goal is by the time a kid is school-age that they are good to go, but there’s definitely that atmosphere where you’re always part of the family,” said Amy. As Amy and Alex began dating and then married four years ago, Amy has been especially grateful for the bond she and Lily have developed, from learning TikTok dances together to spending hours talking, and she recognizes that Lily’s cochlear implants have played a huge role in the two bonding so quickly. It’s also been instrumental in Lily creating a special relationship with her 18-month-old sister Hazel. The two love to play music together, along with Lily’s sister Violet, 11, and brother Ethan, 18. “Lily doesn’t consider herself any different from other kids, and that’s really the best way to articulate the difference cochlear implants have made in her life,” said Amy.

Lily received her first pair of hearing aids at age 3 months, though by age 3 she had become profoundly deaf, at which point she received bilateral cochlear implants. “Making the decision to have the surgery was huge,” said Alex. He worried how Lily would be received, or bullied, by her peers because of the implants. Alex also researched what the speech of kids who had cochlear implants sounded like. “I knew she would be able to hear and talk, but I thought she would have a speech impairment,” said Alex. In hindsight, Alex recognizes Lily’s “spicy” moods as a toddler were because she was frustrated. She couldn’t communicate what she wanted. While remembering the rawness of his fear and worry is still painful, now when he looks at his daughter, he, and Lily, can say with assurance the implants were the right choice for their family. “Her speech just picked up and it was incredible the progress she made in a short time, cognitively and with language,” said Alex. “I would have never dreamed Lily would sound like she does … like a typically-hearing child.” When Lily was younger, her cochlear implants were visible and she often received questions or curious glances, especially from other kids. Though the models she has now aren’t visible, at the time, she embraced opportunities to share her experiences with others and explain her cochlear implants. “I love when parents would let their kids come up to Lily and say ‘what is that,’ to not treat the equipment on Lily’s head like something we had to ignore,” said Alex. “Let your kid be curious and ask questions.”




Morgan and Clay’s story Michael and Maria Young were intent upon providing their children a foundation in language and learning from a very young age so they wouldn’t potentially spend their entire academic careers behind, which is why they were fast acting in getting Morgan, Clay and Joseph enrolled at Happy Hands. Michael was amazed at the progress Morgan

made in three short years there before she entered Edmond Public Schools for kindergarten. Now in the eighth grade, Morgan is at the top of her class, plays softball, loves to read and write and aspires to become an actress. She recently gave a speech at a Happy Hands anniversary gala to commemorate the school’s impact on her life. While Morgan didn’t need or receive accommodations until age 2, Clay’s experience was more typical for a child with hearing loss because he received hearing aids at just 4 months old and was immersed in Happy Hands school immediately. Clay, who is in the sixth grade, is an 80s rock music aficionado, loves video games and hopes to play football. Both Morgan and Clay make use of an American Sign Language interpreter in their classes, an accommodation provided by EPS. A single interpreter travels with a student from class to class, often over the course of several school years. All students who have hearing loss or any other disability have an IEP team that includes parents, speech or other therapists, teachers or administrators and their interpreter if they make use of one, all working together throughout the school year to define goals and ensure students received services needed. In the case of children who have hearing loss, EPS will provide and/ or accommodate whatever mode of communication the child prefers. Though his kids have been in Edmond schools for nearly a decade, Michael still finds it hard to put into words how much the support and resources have meant to his family, from interpreters and classroom amplification and sound systems to regular progress updates and yearly meetings to assess new or changing needs.



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“I think of not only my own kids but all the other parents getting this same level of commitment and support in EPS,” said Michael. Because Morgan has spent her entire academic career in EPS, with many of the same students in her classes, most don’t notice her interpreter or other accommodations anymore. In the instances where another student has asked her interpreter a question about her, the interpreter always directs that student to ask Morgan themselves. “Some people at school know why I have an interpreter, other people are curious and ask questions and some people want to know more sign language,” said Morgan. Before the pandemic, one of Morgan’s teachers invited her to start an ASL class for other students. “The most important thing was that Ms. Stevenson asked me to teach the class; it’s neat that they acknowledge me with a disability,” said Morgan. Clay self-admittedly doesn’t rely on his interpreter as much as his sister, both because his hearing loss is not as profound and because he is sometimes self-conscious. Clay went through a period where he was removing his hearing aids once at school and not interacting with his interpreter at all. “People were making fun of me,” said Clay, who worked up the courage after several semesters to stand up to the bullies. “They rethought it and walked away. Over time people started being nicer. But I still lived through that pain of being made fun of.” Rachel Sell, special education teacher consultant with EPS, said kids who have any equipment or qualities that make them visibly different


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from other students often struggle with those differences, and like in Clay’s case, preteen boys especially dislike anything that makes them stand out. As Michael reminds his children that often those who are picking on them are insecure or have their own problems they are trying to mask, he also finds reassurance that the older and more mature they get, they more self-assured they become, able to shrug off what other people think or say. “What I hope parents and other students realize is there is nothing wrong with these kids,” said Michael. “There’s no reason to treat them any differently.”

Living empowered

Sell says the best part of her job is seeing students who have hearing loss succeed and compete at the same level as other kids, oftentimes thanks in part to the accommodations she and the district can provide. Being around typically-developing kids helps them believe in their own abilities to meet academic standards; and typically-developing kids gain empathy and understanding that will benefit them in life. “Mainstreaming any child with any need outside of the norm helps other students realize there are other people in the world,” said Sell. The normalization of ASL in the classroom, interpreters and other accommodations often inspires typically-hearing students to learn ASL, sometimes becoming deaf educators just like in Carter’s case, and teachers to incorporate ASL into everyday lessons. “There is a stigma of being aided, and we need more visibility and people not being ashamed of having hearing aids,” said Alex.

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for Parents from Hard Places BY DR. LISA MAROTTA

Too many Oklahomans experience abuse and neglect as children. Developmental trauma impacts a growing child’s relationship to self and others, and healing is a lifelong process. Survivors of abuse and neglect understandably want to approach parenting differently. If this is your story, take heart. You can be a good parent even if you had a bad childhood.


University of Oklahoma researcher and author Dr. Chan Hellman dedicates his professional life to helping children and adults overcome trauma and adversity. Hellman identifies that the strongest psychological strength for trauma survivors is hope. In his book Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life he defines hope as “the belief that your future can be brighter and better than your past and that you actually have a role to play in making it better.” Every parent can benefit from hope, but this is especially true for those who have experienced childhood trauma. There are three main concepts in defining hope: goals, pathways and agency. Set a goal to become a healthy parent, beginning with your healing. With this goal in mind discover small steps (pathways) that will help you get there.


Pathways are identified actions that bring us closer to a goal. There are multiple pathways to healing from childhood trauma. Journaling may provide a useful outlet for self-expression. Self-help books are available that address shame, healing and creating boundaries. Seek a safe, confidential setting through individual or group therapy or support groups like Al-anon or Recovery International. The Green Shoe Foundation is a mental health nonprofit organization in Edmond that offers an intensive workshop with a mission to “heal the past and restore healthy patterns in your life.” These are all viable pathways to healing. Some residual effects of childhood trauma may flare up in the journey to becoming a healthy parent. The difference between hope and wishful thinking is preparing for obstacles on the path to your goal. Common obstacles for parents from hard places are self-esteem, boundaries and emotional regulation.



Self-esteem is the core belief that every human being is worthy of love. Your value as a person is unconditional; self-esteem should not be tied to performance or productivity. Trauma survivors don’t always believe in their own worth. Negative ideas about worthiness learned in childhood can be internalized in the form of negative self-talk that continues to impact self-esteem into adulthood. Some examples of negative self-talk are “I’m not good enough” or “If I can accomplish this or that, then ________ will love me.” Self-esteem is restored by treating yourself with respect. For example, be a promise keeper about self-care through small, consistent actions. Decide to exercise (or another healthy choice) once a week and follow through on that promise. Notice how it feels to practice self-care. Chosen pathways will help address self-esteem by changing your perspective on your worthiness as a person. Believing in your own worth will support some of the challenging work of holding children accountable when they misbehave and not feeling guilty when a consequence needs to be given. Improving self-esteem will empower decision making with confidence, an important skill in parenting.


Agency is the motivational component of hope. Agency reflects the necessary willpower to dedicate energy and sustained effort to achieve a goal. You are in control of making changes, and change is difficult. A positive community boosts agency along the way. Look for parenting classes in the community to build skills and find encouraging friendships. Surround yourself with trusted, positive allies in parenting. On low energy days, a strong support system will encourage persistence in your parenting goal.

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Relational boundaries refer to the expectations people have of themselves and others. For those who grew up in a family with neglect or distorted expectations, it may be hard to ask for help or feel comfortable practicing self-care. An example of poor boundaries would be having responsibility for other family members, like younger siblings, when it was not age appropriate. Boundary violations of abuse contribute to difficulty with assertiveness and/or the ability to leave relationships that are disrespectful. In boundary work, “no” is a complete sentence. It isn’t necessary to explain why we say no. We all have felt the regret of saying “yes” to a project that takes time and energy away from family or other interests. It is liberating to begin saying “yes” and “no” when that is what you really mean. The process of goal-setting will encourage building healthy boundaries that will inform reasonable expectations of yourself and others. Better boundaries will guide you to create a home where the relationships are safe, developmentally appropriate and encouraging.

Emotional Regulation

All feelings are OK but how we express them matters. We learn to manage our strong emotions in childhood. Chronic stress early in life changes the way a developing child learns to identify, control and release emotions. Emotional reactivity is common among survivors of childhood neglect and abuse. Take a time out when you notice strong emotions. Use solitary time to practice relaxation techniques. In a calm state of mind consider the most effective way to express the strong emotion. Think through the best timing and approach to convey your message. Parenting is stressful. When you build skills to regulate emotions, self-calming is easier even on overwhelming days. Developing effective skills to manage stress and express emotions will also empower you to teach your child to manage their feelings.

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Post-Traumatic Growth Post-traumatic growth research reminds us that healthy parenting can be enhanced from the skills you learned through healing trauma. Parenting is hard and you can do hard things. Providing safety and stability for the family without an early foundation makes the goal crystal clear. Despite the hard work of healing, it is normal to make parenting mistakes. As a healthy parent it is a great gift to have the emotional flexibility to repair the connection afterward. Correction with love and forgiveness builds a culture where parent and child learn to try again. Some of the most effective and compassionate parents I know are survivors of developmental trauma. They inspire hope in me. Dr. Lisa Marotta is a private practice psychologist working with women, children and families in Edmond. She facilitates parenting classes and is the author of the award-winning children’s book Suki and Sam. Stay connected with Dr. Marotta through her blog Psyched About Life: Tools for Everyday Living at Editor’s note: This column is the final in a series on family mental wellness, written by local experts on topics pertinent to parents and children. Columnists include Dr. Marotta, Thai-An Truong, LPC, LADC, in private practice as a postpartum therapist and mom of two; Stacey Johnson, LPC, (@staceyjlife) in private practice at The Purple Couch and mom of eight; Dr. Erica Faulconer, pediatrician at Northwest Pediatrics and mom of three, and Jeanae Neal, registered behavior therapist and mom of one.




Congratulations to our finalists for ages 4-5!

For the first time, YOU our readers and parent community voted on our 2021 Cover Kid finalists. Your chosen finalists were each interviewed by a panel of local leaders. Sadie on this month’s cover was the winner for the 4-5 age group, but we were so impressed with all of our finalists that we wanted to introduce them to you here:

Avery, 5

Kai, 6

Inquisitive and spontaneous, Avery is into superheroes and robots. He loves to build things, play sports, read, draw, practice martial arts and dance. His favorite place to explore in OKC is Scissortail Park. Avery is from Edmond and the son of Tenisha and Joseph.

Kai exudes joy, loves to learn and enjoys playing all sports, especially soccer, basketball and football. He is the son of Marguerite and Daniel, and his family enjoys traveling as well as exploring OKC, especially the OKC Zoo, Science Museum Oklahoma and Chuck E Cheese.

Miles, 6

Jaden, 6

Full of energy, Miles loves to play soccer and anything ninja related. He’s a big fan of Marvel and his favorite character is Black Panther. Miles is the son of Salathia, and his favorite place to visit in OKC is his NeeNee’s house.

Nicknamed Punkin, Jaden loves bowling, basketball, soccer and watching Godzilla movies. Punkin lives in El Reno and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. He is the son of Bridget, and the family’s favorite place to visit in the metro is the OKC Zoo.

Fisher, 6

Fisher is from Jones and he enjoys karate, swimming, building forts, cars, music and Barbies. He is the son of Tabbi and Casey and brother of Asher, and the family’s favorite place to visit in OKC is Science Museum Oklahoma.

Isabella, 6

Isabella is from Edmond and loves to play soccer, dance and play with her dogs. Isabella is the daughter of Keirsten and Andy, and together they enjoy family movies nights and visiting Scissortail Park, Science Museum Oklahoma and the OKC Zoo.

Enter your child in our 2022 Cover Kids Search by Sept. 30 at


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