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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: High-tech kids can get smart

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

June 23. 2013 7:17PM

I know I'm not the only parent who uses the television or tablet as a babysitter when I'm trying to do something important, like cook dinner, pay bills, or paint my nails (don't judge). Fortunately my children are still at an age where I am in the same room or near enough where I can monitor what they are watching or playing.

I am concerned for the days in the not-too-distant future when they are old enough to be home alone watching television or using the computer by themselves. More likely, they will be watching a video on their personal phone or tablet. And I'm pretty sure it's not going to be Curious George.

Violent video games, reality shows that glorify teen pregnancy and unkind behavior, the ability to instantly take and share an unflattering photo or video of yourself and friends. These are all things my children will have access to, and there's very little I can do about it. Hey, I wasn't supposed to watch MTV when I was a kid, but I still managed to. If my children are anywhere near as disobedient and devious as I was, then I am in big trouble.

Instead of restricting what kind of media they can consume, I need to teach them why some is healthy and some is unhealthy and how to choose appropriately. That's where Rona Zlokower comes in.

Zlokower understands the influence that media have on children and young adults. She is executive director of the Manchester-based Media Power Youth, a non-profit that teaches students, parents and educators about the effect all this media has on our children and how we can choose to consume and produce it in smarter and healthier ways.

This summer Media Power Youth is holding a theater and media day camp called Lights, Camera, Action: Sparking Positive Change with Theatre and Media. The week-long camp for kids ages 11 to 14 will be held July 8th through 12th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Manchester Boys & Girls Club. Campers will engage in improv, theater games, and movie production while learning how to consume and create media responsibly.

Zlokower said Media Power Youth chose to target the middle school age group with Lights, Camera, Action, "because they are too young to work, too old for many day care programs and are most likely to engage in at-risk behaviors during non-supervised times like summer."

To provide an opportunity for students who cannot afford a summer camp, this one is free to students on the free or reduced lunch program. The cost is regularly $125 and includes free lunch, optional free dinner after camp and a free annual membership to the Boys & Girls Club.

The influence media have on our children should be a real concern to all parents out there. The access our children have to media continues to grow, and we need to teach them to understand the influence, and to just turn it off sometimes and go play. To learn about the camp and the Media Power Youth's other educational opportunities for both children and parents, you can visit or call 603-222-1200.

My free Fun Pass

Most of you who tried to get the free Fun Pass from Breathe NH I gave away to the first person who emailed me last week didn't stand a chance. The winner, Christine L. from Manchester, read the newspaper during her overnight shift at 7-Eleven and emailed me at 3:46 a.m. Congratulations to Christine, who asked me not to use her full name, probably because she was reading the newspaper while she was supposed to be working.

Lovely Livingston

I was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to Livingston Park last week when I noticed a beautiful, new fountain in the middle of Dorr's Pond. It has a refreshing sound and seems to keep the water from stagnating.

Livingston is a such a great destination in the summer, for just a visit to the large playground or a hike around the well-maintained pond trail. And this Thursday, the city's Summer Fun Runs return to the park's Gatsas Athletic Complex. This mini track meet is free for Manchester youth and includes races of all distances, hurdles, long jump, triple jump, high jump, shot put and relays. Children as young as 2 years old can participate in the 50-meter sprint.

The fun starts at 5:15 p.m. each Thursday through July (excluding Independence Day). Questions can be directed to Brenda Dwyer at 624-6444, Ext. 5349 or

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

There is so much summer fun on I wish I could dedicate my entire column to the events I find there. But, I'll let you check it out yourself. Here's a sample of things you will find this week.

Studio 550 has all kinds of summer arts classes, including Date Night in the Clay Studio. Remember that scene from the "Ghost'' movie? For $40, you and your date get all the materials, tools, and instruction you need to create something out of clay. There are several date nights scheduled this summer, with the first one this Friday at 5:30 p.m. Participants are welcome to bring food and beverages to make their night even more special. Check out for more information.

Brookside Congregational Church will hold a weekly Summer Storytelling Hour beginning this Wednesday at 10 a.m. Guests are invited to bring a blanket and enjoy a story outdoors on the church's beautiful 2013 Elm St. lawn. The story hours will be held through July 17, and will be indoors if it rains.

Finally, you can't be shy to participate in the Free Yoga in Victory Park program that will be held Thursdays this summer. The classes will be from 3 to 3:45 p.m. right next to the Downtown Farmer's Market. Classes are taught by instructors from Jeca Yoga and White Swan Yoga studios. No previous experience is required, just a mat and a smile.

For more information, visit

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