Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 2/29/2012
USF Children's Festival March 3rd

“Learning is WonderBull!” is the theme of the University of South Florida College of Education’s annual Children’s Festival, taking place Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Children of all ages can interact with small, tame animals at the “Busch Gardens Live” booth and enjoy a variety of other fun-filled learning activities. The Children’s Festival is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the unreserved spaces surrounding the College of Education (Lot 1).

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology’s (FCIT’s) iTeach Lounge will also be open. The Lounge features several stations with activities designed for children, including “Photo Booth” software with funhouse mirror-type filters that can be used to create unusual images. Participants will be able to e-mail the pictures to themselves and others. Children will also get the chance to try several learning games, including those related to geography, typing and music. One such program, “Garage Band,” allows users to sing and play different instruments with keyboard accompaniment.

The XRKade Research Lab in the Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science will also be available for use. The laboratory is a teaching and research facility established to investigate and promote the use of interactive gaming technologies. This movement is known as Interactive Fitness or Exergaming – technology-driven screen-based games that require the participant to use his/her body to play that game. Exergaming is increasingly being used in school systems, YMCA’s, recreational centers, and private fitness clubs to help children of all ages increase levels of daily physical activity.

Also in attendance will be VSA (formerly Very Special Arts) of Florida leading participants in chair painting and other activities.

The Children’s Festival at the USF College of Education was launched 33 years ago, in 1979, held annually through 1996 and attended by thousands of Tampa Bay area children and their families, who participated in approximately 100 learning activities sponsored by classes, clubs and organizations. The festival was revived in 2006.

Source: USF News

Posted: 2/20/2012
Getting the message of early literacy...A message from The Children's Movement

I promise you that one of the great joys of being a grandfather is watching children learn to read. Upon just that -- helping every child become a real reader -- rests the very future of community and country.

In advance of a major Movement early literacy initiative to be announced in the months to come, Carol Jenkins Barnett, the vice chair of The Movement; Mo Abety-Gutierrez from The Children's Trust, and I and many others traveled to Bonita Springs to participate in the 12th annual Celebration of Reading. That's the gathering hosted by former Governor Jeb Bush; he and his sister Dorothy Bush Koch now lead the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. The day included an insightful policy discussion on family literacy featuring Sharon Darling from the National Center for Family Literacy; Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, and Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson. I especially remember Gov. Bush saying, "A high-quality pre-K program really matters." Amen.

Everywhere I turn these days, people are getting the message of early learning and growing readers. It is encouraging.

Dave Lawrence


The Children's Movement of Florida

Posted: 2/14/2012
GET YOUR FREE CHILD’S TICKET TO MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry)

Please complete three short True/False questions to receive your free child ticket to MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) with purchase of an adult ticket! After you answer these brief questions, your printable coupon will appear.

Click here to receive your free ticket

Posted: 1/26/2012
Update from The Children's Movement of Florida - 'It's sinful'

"It's sinful."

Those words, via The Orlando Sentinel, come from Dawn Steward, head of the Florida KidCare Coalition for Orange and Seminole counties and a member of The Movement. She was responding to our state's failure to receive millions in federal funds distributed to 23 other states to expand access for health insurance for children. Sadly, Florida met just two of the eight requirements necessary to be eligible. Read that article by clicking here.

How can we possibly accept that more than a half-million children in our state have no health insurance? How is this possible in a country as great as ours? This is why The Children's Movement is teaming up with partners from across the state to begin to expand on outreach and enrollment initiatives for Florida KidCare -- the state's subsidized health insurance program for children.

We hope that hundreds of Movement followers will become volunteers in our KidCare outreach initiative to be launched these next few weeks. A little of your time could make a big difference in the lives of many, many children. You can click here to learn more and get involved.

The children need us.

Dave Lawrence


The Children's Movement of Florida

Posted: 1/11/2012
Channel District Gets New Park in Tampa

A new park is now open in Tampa's downtown Channel District.

Officially opened in December 2011 with a dedication by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the $815,000 Washington Street Park at 118 N. 12th St. is the result of a public participation process and was designed by Lea Del Tosto of WilsonMiller/Stantec.

Including oversized sea grass sculptures, lawn area, large canvas shade structure and non-traditional play area, the half-acre nautical-themed park was designed to allow for flexible use of its plaza and lawn areas, which can accommodate gatherings of various sizes.

“The park's design came about after a series of meetings with the neighborhood,” says Bob McDonaugh, manager of the Channel District and Downtown Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA). “It's a green oasis in what is becoming a densely developed and populated neighborhood.”

Enhanced at night, the park is equipped with special lighting features, including spotlights and LED fiber optic lights imbedded into the main entry columns. The park also includes a fenced dog area complete with artificial turf designed specifically for pet areas, pet water fixtures and seating for dog owners.

“There is even a shaded seating area located under a canopy designed to look like a series of sails,” says McDonaugh.

Funds for the park came from CRA tax increment financing.

Click here to read the story from 83 degrees

Posted: 1/10/2012
Green Up the Gasparilla Day Parade!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteer to help collect litter and recycling before the parade. Pre-registration is required for groups or individuals as specific areas will be assigned.

For more details, contact or call (813) 221-8733.

Benefits are:

Reduce the environmental impact of the 3rd largest parade in the U.S.

Receive volunteer service hours.

Enjoy the Gasparilla Day Parade!

This effort is supported by:

City of Tampa Solid Waste

Pepin Distributing


Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla

Post-Gasparilla Litter Pick-up

Sunday, January 29th

11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

• Register for one of the three meeting locations on Bayshore Blvd.

 Bayshore & Bay To Bay

 Bayshore & Rome

 Bayshore & Platt

• 100 volunteers are needed to remove litter along the shoreline generated by the Gasparilla festivities.

• Please wear closed toe shoes that you are willing to get wet.

• Kayaks are encouraged.

To sign up, contact

In partnership with the Florida Aquarium.

Posted: 1/10/2012
Fishing to Open at Edward Medard Reservoir on Dec. 31

PLANT CITY - Closed for the past two years, Edward Medard Reservoir will open again to boaters and fishermen at the end of the year. The only catch: the fish have to stay.

The reservoir will open Dec. 31 for catch-and-release fishing only, biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FFWCC, announced Tuesday night at a community meeting.

The decision was made based on the size of the fish currently in the water, said Bill Pouder, a biologist with the FFWCC Fisheries Division. Most of them were added to the reservoir last fall and spring and need time to mature, he said.

"Our recommendation initially was to wait two years to open up fishing," Pouder said. "But there was a large outcry."

The popular fishing spot was closed two years ago by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud, which owns the property, to make repairs on the reclaimed phosphate mine.

Swiftmud also built a new dock and observation tower.Click here to read the full story in the Tampa Bay Times.

Posted: 1/5/2012
Replace Hillsborough Kids Inc. with Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Panel Urges

TAMPA — Hillsborough Kids Inc. has lost its leader and, as of Tuesday, is closer to losing its $65.5 million-a-year state contract.

An advisory panel voted to put competing Eckerd Youth Alternatives in charge of protecting Hillsborough County's most vulnerable children. Eckerd already plays a parallel role in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

HKI's current contract expires at the end of June. The decision, expected by Jan. 13, will rest with David Wilkins, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Mike Carroll, chief of DCF's 11-county Suncoast region, said the unanimous vote of the advisory committee, made up of DCF officials and local children's activists, "will carry great weight" in Wilkins' decision.

HKI has been under scrutiny because of its safety record. In two years, eight children died under its watch. Seven were victims of previous abuse, neglect or abandonment.

DCF said no other agency in Florida had as many deaths.Click here to read the entire story on Tampa Bay Times.

Posted: 12/14/2011
HART Gets Grant For New Green Fueling Station

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that HART will receive a multimillion dollar grant to fund a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station.

The first step for HART towards transitioning vans and buses to CNG from diesel, the $2.3 million grant will cover costs for the construction of the fueling station itself, as well as any associated modifications necessary to the existing HART maintenance facility at 4305 E. 21st Ave. in Tampa.

“This is an important long-range, cost-saving measure for HART and a very important green step for this community,” says HART Public Information Officer Marcia Mejia.

Natural gas is a clear, odorless and non-corrosive gaseous mixture of hydro-carbons, showing an average reduction in the exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide by 70 percent, non-methane organic gas by 87 percent, nitrogen oxides by 87 percent and carbon dioxide by almost 20 percent below gas-powered vehicles.

“As HART plans how it is going to purchase and use fuel in the future, we must address multiple concerns such as compliance with clean-air mandates, controlling fuel costs and reducing the dependence on imported oil,” says Mejia. “At this time, natural gas costs about 25 percent less than diesel and is available domestically.”

Currently, the HART maintenance facility is undergoing a $4.6 million renovation project apart from the station. The preliminary project timeline for the $2.3 million CNG fueling station includes design and construction through 2012 with an operational fueling station by 2013.

HART is one of 46 innovative clean-fuel transit projects nationwide sharing $112 million in funding from the Clean Fuels and the Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction grant programs. Click here to read the story on 83 degrees.

Posted: 12/14/2011
New Master Plan Starts For Downtown Tampa

A new blueprint for downtown Tampa development for the next 20 years is in the works.

The City of Tampa will soon begin contract negotiations on a $1.43 million master plan and primary transit corridor plan targeting present and future development for Tampa's urban core. One of the plan's focuses will be guiding future growth.

“There has never been a comprehensive study of the downtown area that's looked at connectivity between major projects, design guidelines, amenities, funding strategies, zoning and land use and growth strategies,” says Bob McDonaugh, the city's economic and urban development director, who will be spearheading the project. “The plan will take a holistic approach to all of the various disciplines and future requirements, tying them together into one study.”

The study area for the Downtown Area Conceptual Master Plan is generally within two miles of the center of downtown Tampa. The study for the transit corridor master plan is generally an area along Nebraska Avenue from downtown Tampa to Hillsborough Avenue; then east along Hillsborough to 22nd Street, extending about one-third of a mile from each side. As the project gets underway, study boundaries will be more specifically defined.

“There has never been as much interest in living and working in Tampa as there is right now,” says McDonaugh. “It is important that we have a sustainable plan to guide us through this growth period and into our future.”

According to McDonaugh, it's the expectation of those involved that the Hillsborough River will become the center of the urban core -- instead of the western city boundary -- as the city continues to grow.

AECOM, a professional technical and management support services firm specializing in providing transportation, planning, environmental, energy, water and government services, was chosen by a panel to design both plans for the city. AECOM was one of 10 firms that responded to the city's request for qualifications.

"The panel was impressed by the breadth of experience that they demonstrated and the in-house expertise that they have in a variety of disciplines," says McDonaugh.

Funding for the $1.43 million project will come from a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and $125,000 from the City of Tampa; an additional $125,000 will come as in-kind support.

City staff plans to bring a contract to the Tampa City Council for approval in January 2012. Slated to formally begin in February 2012, the project will be designed to provide opportunities for residents to get involved in the development process during the 18 to 24 months it will take to complete.

“Public outreach will be an important part of the process as the citizens of Tampa will be engaged throughout, their vision for our city becoming an ingredient of this plan. Public meetings will be a cornerstone of the process,” says McDonaugh. “This is a very exciting time in Tampa. I was a student at the University of Tampa in the early 1970s and have witnessed the growth and change in our downtown during the last 30 to 40 years. The changes in the last five have been the most dramatic that I've seen and I can't wait to see the next five.”

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