by Linda Kostin
Having kids enriches your life in lots of ways. Learning to function on four hours of sleep was just the beginning. In Greater Rochester, there are plenty of opportunities for you to return the favor by enriching your kids' lives --- and your own --- through the arts, family entertainment, and sports and recreation.
Why let your kid watch cartoons on TV when she can take a Manga class? The MemorialArtGallery's Creative Workshop offers kids from preschool through high school the chance to nurture their love of art and develop technical skills in a welcoming environment. Working artists, professional art educators, and art historians teach classes including drawing, painting, pottery, bead design, and jewelry. Fees vary based on the number of sessions, with many seven-week classes priced at $100 for members, $115 for non-members. Summer programs also available. The workshop is located behind the MAG, 500 University Avenue. Call 473-7720, ext. 3056, or visit mag.rochester.edu/creativeworkshop.
Bush Mango Drum and Dance offers a multi-racial, multi-generational experience spanning all social and economic classes. Named Cultural Organization of the Year 2006-2007 by the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Bush Mango's performing ensemble has appeared extensively throughout New YorkState at concerts, corporate and community events. The Youth Project offers Saturday classes at the BushMangoCommunity Center, located at 34 Elton Street. Theater class for ages 4-6 is a child-centered, playful introduction to theater and creative movement. Two levels of dance instruction are offered: beginning dance for ages 5-9, and dance for ages 9 and up in which adult members of Bush Mango's dance company participate. All all-ages drum class is also available. Bush Mango offers extensive scholarship opportunities. Call 235-3960, or visit www.bushmango.com.
It used to be a bad thing when a kid went through stages. Not anymore. At Magical Journey Thru Stages' productions, your family can enjoy quality theater while supporting not-for-profit corporations. MJTS produces and performs shows as fundraisers. "Usually, you work three or four months on a show, then perform for a couple weeks. We wanted to find a way to perform more shows and give back to the community," explains MJTS board member Chris Henning. Sponsoring organizations set ticket prices, generally in the $20 range. Info, including summer drama camps, at www.mjtstages.com or call 935-7173.
Once upon a time, the only entertainment you'd find in a library was watching the librarian hiss at a pack of rowdy kids. Nowadays, libraries offer fun family programs, ranging from traditional story hours for young kids to family movies, crafts, clubs for teens, and summer reading programs. Visit your local library or check out www2.libraryweb.org to see what's offered in your neighborhood.
For older kids, the Parma Public Library (7 West Avenue, Hilton) offers extensive programming for teens that's open to non-residents, too. The library has something for teens every Tuesday at 4 p.m., including popular video games Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero on PlayStation, teen anime and manga clubs, and a teen book discussion group. Go to parmateens.wordpress.com or call 392-8350.
It's never too early to ingrain a love of independent cinema in your kids. They may be too young to see the first-run movies, but they can still soak up the indy ambience at the Little Theatre's Preferred Care Little Buddies Series at 10 a.m. on the last Saturday of the month. Family-friendly movies will be shown, preceded by an activity or speaker related to the movie's subject matter. Tickets are $5. The Little is located at 240 East Avenue; info at www.thelittle.org or call 258-0400.
With a wide range of athletic options, everybody can be a good sport these days. The City of Rochester and its surrounding suburbs offer sports leagues year-round. Some programs are run by the municipalities' recreation departments, others are run by independent organizations such as Little League baseball and Pop Warner football. A quick call to your local recreation department is all it takes to assess your options.
With 24 recreation centers, the City of Rochesteroffers both house (instructional) and travel (competitive) leagues for kids ages 6-18 in the following sports: softball, basketball, flag football, floor hockey and soccer. House sports include volleyball and ice hockey. Boxing, swimming, and martial arts are also offered. There are no fees, and you don't need to be a city resident to play, but registration at the recreation center sponsoring the team is required. Visit cityofrochester.gov/prhs/recreation, call 428-6755, or visit your local rec center for details.
If an individual sport suits your needs, consider fencing. The Rochester Fencing Club (777 Culver Road, 654-6047, www.rochesterfencing.com) offers two introductory programs, one for kids 6-12 and another for teens and adults. Meeting once a week for six weeks, participants will learn basic footwork and bladework, and fence other participants. All equipment is included in the $80 fee.
For nature lovers, the Genesee Valley Chapter Adirondack Mountain Club offers some family-friendly hiking and paddling trips appropriate for families with kids ages 10 and up. The group meets on the second Wednesday of the month from September through June at the RochesterMuseum and ScienceCenter's Eisenhart Auditorium, 657 East Avenue. There's an educational workshop at 6:30 p.m., followed by a program at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public. Go to www.gvc-adk.org or call 987-1717 for info.
For more ideas for what to do with your kids, check out the Family Valued section every week in City Newspaper, or visit www.rochestercitynewspaper.com and find the Family section.