Thursday, March 4, 2010

Athlete on a Mission

Just before the New York Mets took the field on August 1, they led the crowd in saluting Mitch Arnold, the first winner of the Gold M Award. Given by the M Foundation, the award honors young athletes who are role models in their communities. New York Mets All-Star David Wright presented Mitch with the award, along with a check for $20,000. M Foundation founder, Josh Shaw, and CEO of Modell's Sporting Goods, Mitchell Modell, were also on hand to congratulate the young athlete.
Mitch Arnold (center) is the first-ever recipient of the Gold M Award for young athletes who make a difference in their communities.
COURTESY JAKUBEK FAMILY
Mitch Arnold (center) is the first-ever recipient of the Gold M Award for young athletes who make a difference in their communities.
"The true meaning of an athlete is not only to perform on the field, but to leverage those abilities in the community as well," said Wright. "Mitch embodies everything an athlete should aspire to be."
Big Goals
Mitch grew up playing soccer in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. In 2006, when he was 13 years old, he was inspired by the words of a visiting Haitian principal, who talked about the poor children of Haiti. Mitch wanted to help, so he created a foundation called "Peace is the Goal." The foundation's aim is to spread goodwill around the world through soccer. So far, Mitch has shipped soccer equipment to children in 53 countries.
In the fall, Mitch will attend the University of Minnesota. But he will continue to give back. His message to other kids is, "Be thankful for what you have, and don't be afraid to share your gifts with others."
Pass It On
Josh Shaw launched the M Foundation in September 2010. Its goal is to inspire young athletes to lead healthy lifestyles and to be role models in their community. The foundation has so far recognized 40 high school athletes throughout the country with Silver and Bronze M Awards. Mitch is the first to receive the Gold M Award.
"Mitch is a leader, a role model, and a shining example of what it means to be an athlete on a mission," said Cathy Cercena, executive director of the M Foundation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A National Park for Delaware?

Delaware is called the First State because it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Its award-winning beaches attract many visitors each year. But the First State is missing one thing that every other state in America has: a national park.

The photo shows a street in historic New Castle, Delaware.
COURTESY DEBORAH STEINBERGER
The photo shows a street in historic New Castle, Delaware.
"There is a lot to be showcased, a lot to be proud of in our history," Delaware Senator Tom Carper told TFK.
Carper is leading the push for Delaware's first national park. He introduced the First State National Historical Park Act of 2011 to a Senate committee earlier this year. Committee members will discuss and then vote on the bill. If they approve it, the bill will then be sent to both houses of Congress. If Congress approves the bill, the President can either sign the bill into law or veto the bill.
Filmmaker Ken Burns, a Delaware native, joined Carper at a recent press conference to promote the park proposal. The conference was held in the Old New Castle Courthouse, in New Castle, Delaware. The courthouse, which sits at the center of this quaint colonial city, may serve as park headquarters. "The National Parks bind us together as a nation," says Burns, creator of such celebrated documentaries as The Civil War and The National Parks: America's Best Idea.
Kid Reporter
Honoring Delaware's History
TFK Kid Reporter Gabe Roy met with Senator Tom Carper of Delaware to talk about the plan for the state's first national park.
COURTESY DEBORAH STEINBERGER
TFK Kid Reporter Gabe Roy met with Senator Tom Carper of Delaware to talk about the plan for the state's first national park.
These sites will be, says Burns, like "jewels strung along a necklace, that will permit us to revisit in time and in space our complicated history."
In tough economic times, people may ask why the government should spend any money at all on a national park. Carper argues that the park would bring in millions of dollars in tourism. He also promises to find ways to offset the cost of setting up the park.
As tourists from around the country visit Delaware's first national park, they will discover the First State's rich historical and cultural heritage, and never again ask, "Dela-where?"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poetry, Laughs, World Domination

COURTESY ABBI FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi interviews author Kenn Nesbitt in New York City.

Kenn Nesbitt is known for his absurdly hilarious poems. Among these are titles that most kids will recognize such as When the Teacher Isn't Looking and My Hippo Has the Hiccups. For now, Nesbitt has taken a pause from poetry, and is venturing into the realm of chapter books. But Nesbitt isn't willing to give up his humorous touch. His newest book dives headfirst into the topic of world domination. Called The Ultimate, Top-Secret Guide to Taking Over the World, it gives laugh-out-loud instructions like "how to vaporize friends and enslave people." The entire book is a one-sided conversation between the reader and a man that Nesbitt describes as a "crackpot." TFK Kid Reporter, Sahil Abbi, sat down with Nesbitt outside the New York Public Library to talk about his new, diabolical creation.

TFK:

What inspired you to write The Ultimate, Top-Secret Guide to Taking Over the World?

NESBITT:

I was talking to a boy at an elementary school about writing a cookbook. He said, 'It should be recipes for disaster.' I thought to myself, 'That sounds like a book.' It could give instructions to a kid on how to take over the world. Then I came up with a list of topics, like how to equip your underground lair, build doomsday devices, clone mutant monsters, defeat secret agents, and things like that. So, originally, this book was going to be called Recipes for Disaster: How to Take Over the World in Ten Easy Steps. That was too long so I called it The Ultimate, Top-Secret Guide to Taking Over the World.

TFK:

Was this a fun book to write?

NESBITT:

This was a really fun book to write. I spent an entire summer writing it. Every day I would get up, go to my computer and start making lists of goofy, crazy, dumb, mad-scientist stuff. Then I'd write half a chapter and move on. I hope this book does really well so that I can write a sequel. I want to do The Ultimate, Top-Secret Guide to Taking Over the Universe. This book is sort of mad-scientist and secret agent themed. The sequel will include aliens and rockets and time travel and science fictiony things like that.

TFK:

Your voice comes through so clearly in everything that you write, especially in this book. How do you manage that?

NESBITT:

I guess in every poem and in every book I write, I think a lot about two things. I think about who the audience is and I think about who the person is that is talking to that audience. So, you can see in this book that the person who's doing the talking is kind of a nut. He's kind of a crackpot. He's a not especially bright, kind of lazy, but also diabolical person who thinks he knows how to rule the planet. I just kept that person in mind and I became that person as I wrote.

TFK:

As adults, how do you and your illustrators, Ethan Long in this case, create books that are so distinctly childish?

NESBITT:

I think, mentally at least, we are still 12 years old. I don't know how old Ethan is. I think he's in his 30's. I'm 49 years old. But I never really grew up all that much. I've always been kind of silly and goofy. I've always had that 12-year-old mentality.

TFK:

You've practically created your own genre. How does that affect your writing style?

NESBITT:

In one way, it's a bit limiting because I have created an expectation among my readers that I will write funny, and that I will write poetry. So, I can't really write a serious poem because then my readers wouldn't be as happy. But I don't mind because I'm writing exactly what I want to write. I don't have a lot of interest in writing serious things. I think that there's enough serious writing and sad stuff in the world. I just want to make sure that there is more fun stuff. More people need to laugh and lighten up a little bit.

TFK:

What do you enjoy writing more, poems or books?

NESBITT: class there. That will teach you everything you need to know about how to write funny poems really easily.Kid Reporter

I like it all. I like writing stuff that's funny. I will tell you, I found writing a chapter book a little easier than writing poetry. That was surprising to me because I've been writing poetry for 15 years, so I got used to the amount of work it is to write a poem. But when I started writing the chapter book, I learned that it's not as much work. I like them both. I am going to keep writing books of poetry, but I'm also going to keep on writing chapter books.

TFK:

Which poets inspired you when you were a kid?

KENN NESBITT:

When I was a kid, I loved reading poetry. But that was so long ago that Shel Silverstein hadn't written any books of poetry. Jack Prelutsky hadn't written any books of poetry either. So I was reading poetry by Louis Carroll who wrote Alice in Wonderland, and poets from 19th century England.

TFK:

Why do you write funny poetry for children?

NESBITT:

I've always loved children's poetry. When I discovered that I could write it as well as read it, I just wanted to do it. I always thought that writing a novel or even a chapter book would be too much work. Now I know that's not the case. Maybe I'll write a novel next.

TFK:

Which of your characters can you relate to the most?

NESBITT:

The one that I can relate to the most isn't really a character. It's a poem called "I Often Contradict Myself." In that poem I argue with myself,

'Oh, no I don't' 'Yes, I do' 'No, I don't.'

I can relate to that because I am often of two minds. I want to do this, but I don't want to. I want to go out, but I want to stay home. Know what I mean?

TFK:

You've already written so much. What's next?

NESBITT:

The Ultimate, Top-Secret Guide to Taking Over the World is what's next. The book is coming out in July. I think it's time for another poetry book.

TFK:

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to write a really funny poem?

NESBITT:

Well, a good way to start is to go online to my website, Poetry4Kids.com, and read the how-to section. There are poetry lessons there. Another good site is gigglepoetry.com. There is a whole section called poetry