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As a parent, I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I hate the sight of blood. I’m thankful that I’m not as nervous about the other bodily fluids—of which there are many—that accompany this job. I didn’t think it was possible, but it appears that I’ve passed on my genetic weakness to at least two of my three children.

Recently, while on vacation and at a local park, my daughter skinned her knee. The injury left my daughter’s skin scraped off, her knee dirty and bleeding and me doing my level best to keep her calm while her younger sister was clearly squeamish in reaction to it all.  

Thankfully, my husband and I usually carry a basic first aid kit. Because we were on vacation, he had his larger kit on hand, which was readily available. While I had already sat my daughter on a park bench with her leg elevated, he opened the bag and enlisted the help of her six-year-old younger sister who has often told us boldly: “don’t talk about blood or I will die.”Photo: www.lek.si

While a skinned knee clearly isn’t a life threatening injury, I recognized that my girls were still pretty freaked out. What if they were ever to sustain a more serious injury? Would they be able to handle it? I know that ambulance personnel often carry stuffed animals to help keep children calm in the wake of an accident. But what could I do for my children to help make them a little braver in such situations?

Amazingly enough, after I had cleaned my daughter’s knee, my husband was able to walk our younger daughter through applying gentle pressure and wrapping her sister’s wound.

Will this experience miraculously remove any fear should something similar happen to either of them in the future? Likely not, but it’s a good place to start according to Michelle Kreger, a Chester County resident and EMT.

“By teaching children what to do in an emergency when they are young, they are less likely to panic or be afraid if something happens to them because they are aware of what rescuers are doing,” she says.

Kreger, whose husband is Medic 93-Brandywine Hospital professional Scott Kreger, says children should be taught some basics first, specifically to call 911 for help, when necessary, and know their address and be able to describe their surroundings.

We sometimes see news stories with children who’ve saved others by administering life-saving techniques, and this is when it becomes apparent that children can be valuable first responders. Kreger says that children can start to learn some simple steps as soon as they’re old enough to understand that someone needs help.

“Even if they just know where the first aid kit is kept or how to access it is a good start,” she says.

Some other first-aid measures, such as the Heimlich Maneuver, which is used to help choking victims and CPR, can also be taught to young children. However, says Kreger, those younger than 12 may not be strong enough to do the CPR chest compressions effectively.

As parents, it’s our job to first teach children to:

1.) Keep calm in any situation.

2.) Know when to dial “911” and know information such as home address and phone number.

3.) Administer basic first aid, such as applying pressure to a wound, securing a bandage, elevating a sprain or making a simple sling.

4.) Not turn their back on helping others

These skills will undoubtedly help children gain compassion for others while also empowering them with a crucial life skill.

I also am an ASHI certified instructor for First Aid and CPR.


Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: www.lek.si

Don’t get me wrong, I will (and so will many Philadelphia 76ers fans) miss Thaddeus Young. Young is one of six players in franchise history to have recorded at least 7,000 points, 2,800 rebounds, 700 assists and 700 steals with the Sixers. But Hinkie and the Sixers have propelled the chess pieces forward once more. As a 76er, Young was a true gamer. He played larger than 6’6” and had power and finesse in his game. Young also excelled in transition, ran with a commitment to score, sacrificed his body, defended, and read the defense well at the “point of confrontation” on NBA screen and roll options.Sixers photo: http://www.gcobb.com

So why let him go? 

Simply put, by the time the 76ers are viable, he will be a veteran and no longer a core member of the team. I am hopeful that he will star for the Wolves at the young age of 26 and hopefully well beyond.   

Building Chemistry

Hinkie has done it again and this may be yet another win/win situation. Consider Hinkie’s vision and perception: Mbah a Moute, a heady defensive juggernaut, was brought in to create comfort in the locker room for incoming Joel Embiid, as both are from Cameroon.

Most proponents of the Young deal look at it quite logically. While it pains a basketball junkie to see Young go (talent & “character” are always missed), the truth is, by the time the 76ers have the pieces in order, Young would be 30 or 31 years old. Now is the time to make such deals, and Hinkie’s bold implementation is to be admired. Hinkie represents the person in leadership who moves forward philosophically without compromising his mission. He is trying to surgically repair the franchise one thread at a time.

Another feather in Hinkie’s cap is that the Young deal shows his ability to make sensible additions by subtractions. No one can accuse you of tanking when you acquire two more players with intangibles, plus a first-round pick from one of the great franchises in sports.

As for the detractors, they will claim that Young was the heart and soul of the team. Which is of course, true, but this does little in helping sustain the big picture. It actually would be cruel to have Young show up in Philly every day for four years while they rebuild, knowing you could have dealt him away while giving everyone a better opportunity.

Scouting the Newest 76ers

Alexey Shved: Devastating shooter, especially off the catch, but he can shoot off the dribble as well. He has the ability to find the open man and he can get to the rim. Defensively, he is still developing as his foot speed is not the best. In light of this, he is very efficient and has an excellent economy of motion. He ran a lot of the standard “Horns” formation and the “Jungle Series” at Minnesota, (i.e. the old “Corner Offense” of Rick Adelman) which entails many same side cuts, ball-screens on the wing, and high post feeds. Shved can shoot off flare screens very well and is effective in broken plays in the half court. 76ers Assistant Coach Vance Walberg, a master clinician and drill coach, will delight in Shved’s abilities from all five perimeter spots.

Luc Mbah a Moute: A very tough and physical player that likes contact and has the ability to turn a 45% field goal jump shooter into a 39% shooter. This is crucial at any level. Also, he is known as a good help-side defender that jams cuts and he takes jump shooters out of rhythm by “crowding” or what George Karl would call, “body bumping.” He attacks the glass strong as a weak side rebounder. He also plays post defense well and forces players out of mid-range and onto the perimeter. How good of a defender is he? He has often been called on to cover the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant – so, you do the math.

Dan Falcone is a teacher and basketball coach with more than ten years of experience. He has a Masters in Modern American History from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and currently teaches in secondary education near Washington, D.C.  Dan is also a writer for the Sixer Sense.



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Photo: gcobb.com


Book Review: A Snowball’s Chance: Philly Fires Back against the National Media

By Dan Falcone


The writers of Philly2Philly.com have developed an extremely interesting piece of local sport’s history in, A Snowball’s Chance: Philly Fires Back against the National Media. ASC, (I will call it) was written by Joe Vallee, Dennis Bakay, Matthew J. Goldberg, Ryan Downs, and Billy Vargus. In ASC, the authors set out to counter the litany (or the constant and tedious recital and repetitive series) of misconceptions about the Philadelphia fan base. The title essentially boils down to a triple entendre.


First, the amount of success the teams have experienced is disproportionate to the market size and overall enthusiasm. Second, the national media’s actual knowledge of the Philadelphia sports culture is significantly disproportionate to the lore that encompasses it. Third is the reality that the shorthand “booing” does not help to explain the longhand or the reasoning behind the “boos.” When you add together all three, being a Philadelphia fan (4/4) becomes esoteric indeed. Like a snowball’s chance in hell, there is little or no likelihood of occurrence for success, or for the snowball to be understood.

The book opens with a pivotal moment for Vallee. He recalls the infamous Philly internet headline: “Philadelphia Flyers Fans Boo during Anti-Cancer PSA;” which is a “true” and “correct” headline. What the headline fails to mention is that it was merely the booing of Sidney Crosby making an announcement. The Philadelphia fans have a difficult time getting ahead of the propaganda, for that is what propaganda is designed to do. Mark Twain once remarked that, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

The book’s first chapter opens with the explanation of the most famous Philly fan incident of all-time. To be clear, Philadelphia fans did in fact boo Santa Claus, but with further context, the story gets more complicated and interesting while failing to warrant the litany. Of December 15, 1968’s booing and snowball pelting of Father Christmas, Vallee writes, “And in the beginning . . . . Philly fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus.”  


This is obviously a very clever literary reference to Genesis in the Bible. In other words, the setting and origins for Philadelphia fan’s and their original sin was set and frozen in time at this moment. All future superstitions, tropes, truths, half-truths, myths and actions by a vast minority of fans brings us back to a Genesis like fable and the “forbidden fruit.” Vallee researches how Frank Olivo was a fill-in for the real Santa that day and how he was a participant in the all-encompassing fanfare of the game. Vallee explains the Olivo perspective of how the real protest was in disgust to the extraordinarily poor performance of the team, and the unprecedented contract extension for Coach Joe Kuharich.


Since the Olivo history is of course too long for a headline, a simple and unexplained headline is what entered the memory and discourse. Luckily, the writing of Vallee is insightful and tells us the history of the day as opposed to its surviving memory. In Mystics Chords of Memory, Cornell Historian Michael Kammen says “what people believe about their past is greater than determining their behavior in response to the truth.”   I am reminded of the Iraq War in 2003 when the Saddam Hussein statue was toppled in Firdos Square. The American media had the site surrounded by various Western media. The American military utilized close-ups to film the celebrations around the statue of what appeared to be jubilant Iraqis. The truth of the matter was that if you panned the cameras away, you could immediately notice that this was a very small event, a staged event, and with very few people involved. This is what the national media does to the Philadelphia sports fan. It zooms in to a select few and tries to create a narrative without zooming out and gaining a picture of the whole. The author wants you to know this.


The second chapter of ASC is by Billy Vargus, as he completely dismantles the national media’s notion that Andy Reid’s job as Eagles head coach should have been secured, and that the fan base was irrational to think otherwise. In one of the more rational pieces ever written about the Eagles, Vargus is honest and pragmatic. He fully admits that Andy Reid was a good coach and did a good job for the team while simply adding, when it’s time, it’s time. Vargas used empirical data and the slapdash remarks by the national media to show that the fans were correct to be skeptical of Reid’s ultimate prospects for success as head coach. It is Vargus’s contention that Reid lost the team in theory and practice and he shows that the team philosophy was no longer the appropriate brand and fit for the personnel or the city.


ASC has a section called, “The 1st Intermission: The J.D. Drew Incident by legendary public address announcer Dan Baker. Baker tries to recall the battery throwing (two) incident and explains how the incident, and his handling of it required genuine empathy. Baker was able to read the social psychology of the fans and actually diffused the situation while preventing it from escalating. Furthermore, Baker, who has a signature way of announcing players, indicates that the national media misinterpreted how he introduced Drew. Baker was accused of inciting a riot through his typical (and not atypical in the case of Drew) measured diction. In any event, the situation created yet another example of how the national media tied past perceptions to elevate the magnitude of what seemed to be an extremely isolated, senseless act.


ASC continues on its creative trajectory when Joe Vallee breaks down the nuances of the “boo.” In breaking down: the sarcastic boo, the despised player boo, the less than regarded local player boo, poor performance booing, booing a bad call, booing a team that defeats yours - in high stakes, booing failure at crucial moments, and a wonderful, textured, variety of additional descriptions of the ancient Greek inspired tradition. (Where “common jeering” was in order to “show displeasure”) Ryan Downs provides a logical and coherent response to the “pro-cancer” Flyer fans – a truly intellectually lazy and dishonest enterprise in relation to the Crosby announcement.


The book even attempts to provide a balanced analysis and contains a section delineating how, at times, Philadelphia fans crossed the line in “incidents that even we can’t defend.” I personally think that in some small part, each incident from J.D. Drew to Michael Irvin and others also belong in this section in spirit – with the necessary qualifications of course. But the Philly fan, it seems is damned if he boo, damned if she don’t. Most of this self-actualized part involves insinuations to destruction, drunkenness, violence, or outright examples of crime. (Judge Seamus McCaffery’s Veterans Stadium Courtroom) Also, there is a section where the national media agrees with the perceived groupthink. Even here, where the story starts to get subjective and even jingoistic perhaps, the authors try to credit the national media for acknowledging Philly’s grit and nostalgia and appreciate it. The authors suggest, for it is possible, that even a disillusioned national media can, at times, simply see the fan as endearing in light of the subtle condescension.


ASC continues with a portion dedicated to the perceived “class” of the fan base in Philadelphia. Matt Goldberg and Vallee make interesting arguments and observations on the customs and regional approaches to fandom in Philadelphia. They give a cultural topography of the fans in relation to other media markets and franchise locations as well. It is an interesting section of the book and placed intelligently and strategically. Understanding a Philadelphia sports fan is not just a psychological exercise, and being one is an intellectual exercise. How is it that being a true sports fan gives you the ability to demean and elevate something or someone at the same time? (Interesting concept)


In a lengthy interview section, ASC covers a multitude of athletes and how fond they were to play in/for the city. I especially enjoyed reading interviews seldom seen such as the legendary World B. Free and the four - echelon Philly hoopster, Sixer Aaron McKie; perhaps the only such figure in Philadelphia sports history to play high school, college, pro, and then coach pro in same city. (Aaron McKie of Simon Gratz, Temple, 76ers player, 76ers coach). ASC winds down with another lengthy interview section calling on sportscasters to weigh in. This section is highly informative and one has to imagine how many games combined and hours spent of sports coverage these individuals have put into their careers. The wisdom found in Hall of Famer Ray Didinger and the worldliness of Mike Missanelli, are just two highlights of this section. Howard Eskin’s realist and honest perspectives were also quite compelling. He should still be considered relevant in the local sports discourse. (After all, he saved the Eagles from moving, it could be argued.) Matt Cord, Tom McGinnis, and Marc Zumoff are also personal favorites of mine, since I am a biased basketball fan. The book, as I said, is very clever, useful, interesting and insightful. It even “closes” with a conclusion by Brad Lidge. The timing and structure of Lidge in the book is just as pronounced and noteworthy as in 2008.


The book sets out to do what it was supposed to do; and consistently aims in addressing its thesis: addressing the national media stereotypes and comparing them with the realistic portrayals on the ground. Michael Wilbon, etc. may have an okay time seeing Philadelphia from 30,000 feet while Mike Missanelli has a skilled perspective. This is worth understanding and contextualizing.


ASC is not without limitations. What book isn’t? At times, it seems to undercut the offensive nature of Philadelphia sports fans, even in light of the critical section. It is possible for the national media to be correct but for the wrong reasons. Furthermore, we should not underestimate the fanaticism aspect of being a fan. We can’t expect fans to be technical experts in the sports they love but we should not conflate individual knowledge with respective passion for entertainment either.


Lastly, as it relates to sports and fandom, the issues and opposing viewpoints concerning the sociological topics and impacts of: ramped alcohol use, the madness of crowds, social class divisions, racialized antagonism, homophobia, and, gender coding are further possibilities in fan analysis for any northeastern large city. These areas undoubtedly influence fan behavior and thinking in every American city and have throughout the ages. At times they are the potential sources of the undercurrents and controversies coinciding with the contents ASC so magnificently discusses.    


Vallee, Bakay, Goldberg, Downs and Vargus did an outstanding job. It is not easy to produce something. A lot of work goes into something like this, a highly entertaining and well-researched docu-fan-tasy on paper.


I proudly own A Snowball’s Chance, (a gift from my sister), and so should all Philly fans.


Dan Falcone is a teacher and basketball coach with more than ten years of experience. He has a Masters in Modern American History from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and currently teaches in secondary education near Washington, D.C.  Dan is also a writer for the Sixer Sense.




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Putting together a food storage system takes a good deal of thought and some equipment. Having emergency food in your home can get you through any crisis created by unforeseen events that restrict your access to food and water.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that you have at least three days worth of food, along with three gallons of drinking water for each person. However, other groups maintain that you need a more extensive supply to wait out an emergency. As long as you practice food safety and rotate your supply, investing in food storage isn't wasted money because you can eat it before its "use by" date has passed.


These steps will help you start putting your food supplies together:


    Decide how much food you want to store.


    Query your family members about the kinds of food they'd like to keep on hand, remembering that eating healthy during stressful periods will help everyone cope better.


    Find a space in your pantry or cabinets to store the food. You may want to separate it into categories based on type. If you plan to store food supplies for more than the three day minimum, you may want to use storage shelves and containers to keep it. Those with open shelves make it easier to find and rotate your food supply.


The food to consider is canned, dried, freeze-dried and shelf-stable at room temperatures. Nearly all food is available in these forms. Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables are easy to reconstitute, as are dried eggs, cheese and milk products. Shelf-stable dinner entrees are available in single-serving portions and don’t require refrigeration. Canned foods of all kinds will last slightly longer than its recommended use by date.Photo: modernsurvivalonline.com


Food Safety


Some kinds of food are vulnerable to insect infestations, especially those made from grains. It’s a good idea to continuously rotate your grain products to avoid wasting it because of bugs or worms that hatch inside the package. If you’re buying pancake or biscuit products, pay close attention to the expiration dates, since some of these products develop toxic compounds once they pass a certain date.


Other types of food, particularly those high in fats like nuts will become rancid and inedible. Exposure to light, air and warm temperatures hastens this process. Although many people prefer frozen to canned food, in an emergency it won’t last long enough for you to count on its safety once it thaws, particularly meat and low-acid fruit and vegetables.


Home canning is enjoying a resurgence, but before you eat any low-acid home canned food, listen carefully to the sound as you open the lid. It should make a hiss or a pop. If it doesn’t, it may not be safe to eat. Low-acid food and canned meat should always be boiled for 10 minutes before eating it. Any jar that has an off color, smell or has mold growing inside the jar needs to be discarded.




Regardless of whether you use an electric or gas stove, it’s a good idea to have a backpacking stove, charcoal or a gas grill, or even a solar cooker. Solar ovens and cookers will cook your food nearly as quickly as those that use fuel, but they can’t be used at night or on cloudy days. These types of cookers use no fuel other than sunshine. Having a grill and a solar cooker is the ideal way to make sure you can cook regardless of the weather or time of day.




Water is crucial to surviving a crisis. Have enough on hand, and watch the expiration dates carefully so that you use your supply before the date lapses. If you use tap water to refill the bottles, clean the bottles first with hot, soapy water, rinsing well.


Saving Money 

Save money with by taking advantage of grocery sales and specials, as well as coupon offers. Since there’s little urgency associated with stored food for emergencies, you don’t need to pay top dollar for it.

Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.



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Photo: modernsurvivalonline.com


Most area children have been out of school for just about a month now. It’s mid-July, right in the heart of summer with families, like ours, enjoying backyard barbeques, trips to local community pools and many other outside activities.


Not to put a damper on the season, but this is a plea to parents to pay attention and not lose sight of the dangers that summertime brings. This time of year emergency rooms see those who’ve been victims of many preventable summertime accidents.


The youngest among us are especially vulnerable to summertime risks, with virtually a myriad of ways children can get hurt or even suffer a fatality.Photo: www.chroniclejournal.com


I know it’s difficult to read the headlines about toddlers being left in hot cars, but these incidents continue to happen each year. Most are tragic accidents, with some involving children who’ve decided to sneak into a car for play time, such as Logan Cox, a three-year-old from South Carolina, who died last week from severe heat stroke after climbing into a car with his pet dog and becoming trapped.


Each year, we’re also reminded of the hazards involving water, for both non-swimmers and older children who decide to swim in the ocean or in creeks without lifeguards present. The Philadelphia region has been shaken by the drowning of 14-year-old Corinthian “Cory” Hammond off the surf in Ocean City, N.J., June 29. He and his friends were in the water after lifeguard hours.


Accidents clearly happen any time of the year, but certain warmer weather activities can be more dangerous, especially if caution is thrown to the wind. Some of these are simple, everyday events enjoyed casually in public places and private backyards.


Sticking close to home, pediatricians urge parents to make sure children wear helmets when riding bikes, skateboards and scooters because head injuries can be catastrophic. Cars and driveways also present another opportunity for risk. Despite the increased availability of backup cameras in cars, SUVS and minivans, playing children can easily be overlooked and possibly killed in back-over incidents in driveways. Finally, other simple summertime traditions, including barbecues and firework displays, also present opportunities for children to be burned or injured if parents and trained professionals aren’t keeping a watchful eye.


Summer is my family’s favorite time of year. The seemingly short season is a time for bonding, adventures and making memories, but it’s important to remain focused as parents. All-ages parties can be distracting for adults, who obviously like to socialize, too. So while you’re enjoying a conversation make sure that your child is being watched, especially if near water or other potential hazards.


“We can all take steps to attempt to avoid injuries,” says Mitchell Drake, MD, an emergency medicine doctor at Paoli Hospital. Drake says he encourages preventative measures whenever possible to ensure a healthy community.


“Wear bike helmets. Ensure children are supervised around water, and prepare for hot days by bringing plenty of cool water for kids to drink,” he says. “Be proactive, and be prepared.”


Drake, who along with his colleagues in the emergency room, says he sees a lot of sport-related injuries, heat-related illnesses and orthopedic trauma in the summer months. In addition to drownings or near drownings, he says that children sustaining diving injuries can experience severe hand and neck trauma.


“I recommend parents learn basic CPR. For sporting events, know if and where an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is located,” says Drake.


Although not always top of mind, stings from bees and wasps can be dangerous for those who are highly allergic, adds Drake. These individuals should “have EpiPens readily available in case they need it, not left at home.”


PBS has made available some summertime safety tips on its web site at http://www.pbs.org/parents/summer/summer-safety-tips-for-kids



Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: www.chroniclejournal.com

Parents of children who learn differently may wonder what options exist for their children to participate in team sports or other athletic activities. Children on the autism spectrum, especially, may not thrive in the typical team sports setting because of obstacles they face communicating with others, namely their peers. Yet, Robert Fox has been able to see many such children experience success through his Tae Kwon Do classes at Lupo Tae Kwon Do at United Sports Training Center (USTC) in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Fox, who didn’t begin practicing Tae Kwon Do himself until he was in his thirties, says that his school teaches five tenets, with self-control being one of the most important.  Photo: www.unitedsportstkd.net

“So much of what we do is designed to improve that for kids who struggle there,” says Fox.  “In the end, our goal is to help parents to help their kids to become a better version of themselves.”

Fox goes on to add that the benefits of Tae Kwon Do, or really any martial arts program, are far reaching. Fox’s program at USTC provides conditioning for students, giving them many opportunities to further their goals by advancing onto new belts. Fox also adds that this process  is a means for any child, not just those with learning differences, to build confidence, form friendships and increase self-control.

As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, Fox says he understands wholeheartedly the pain that such children and their parents face upon realizing they have trouble with team sports. A large number of Fox’s students have individualized education programs (IEPs) for issues ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and auditory processing disorders to vestibular and balance issues.

“It can be heartbreaking, but in martial arts, a child is able to build his or her confidence no matter where they begin. It is a journey of personal growth,” he says.

Fox shares the story of one such student’s improvement, who started classes at Lupo TKD when he was just four-years-old. The child initially needed private lessons because of his inability to handle the extra sensory stimulation a group setting provides.

“For the past year, he has been taking group classes…he has become a role model for the other kids.”

Lupo TKD at United Sports opened in February of 2011. Fox says that black belts from the school are recognized in more than 200 countries worldwide, an important point because many martial arts schools offer certificates that are only recognized by their local schools or smaller networks.  

The program has more than 100 students, with about 10 percent being on the autism spectrum. Fox also runs a second location at Montgomery County Sports Performance Center in Harleysville. The Little Tigers class is for children ages 4 through 6, and another program is designed for children ages 7 through 11.

Lupo TKD also hosts a “family class,” what Fox considers the school’s best feature.

“This is where parents and kids of all ages can enjoy class together for a shared family experience,” he adds.  

USTC, located at 1426 Marshallton-Thorndale Road in Downingtown, holds an outdoor movie night the last Friday of every month in the summer.  Lupo TKD will be there from 6:30 to 8 p.m., doing demonstrations and handing out coupons for free classes.  For more information, contact Robert Fox at robert.fox@lupotkd.com or via the Web at Unitedsportstkd.netd.net.

According to Autism Speaks—an autism advocacy organization in the United States which sponsors autism research—autism affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. The organization also states that autism prevalence figures are growing, and there is no medical detection or cure for autism.


Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: www.unitedsportstkd.net

It was that time of year again this past weekend at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The heroes, the costumes, the comic books, and a neverending blend of nostalgia and pop culture that permeated the surroundings of the 14th annual Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con.


Once again, visitors were able to meet their favorite television and movie stars while exploring a bevy of t-shirt options featuring their favorite superheroes or sci-fi characters, as well as sit in as well as take pictures of  iconic cars from the small screen as well as silver screen. In addition to the Back to the Future DeLorean, TV’s classic Batmobile from the 1960’s Batman television series, K.I.T.T., the classic car driven by David Hasselhoff from the 1980’s Knight Rider, also made an appearance at Wizard World. Joe Fiduccia from Northeast Pennsylvania personally customized the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to look like an exact replica (and yes, he talks too!). Joe’s vehicle is also available for booking, and you can check out his Notchback KITT Facebook page here!


Fans are also given the opportunity for photo booth pictures with their favorite stars as well as panel discussions, which are always a highlight of the experience. Some of this year’s notable guests included Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno, Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd, Karate Kid’s Ralph Macchio, Norman Reedus and Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead, favorite son David Boreanaz from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Dr. Who,  WWE SuperStar John Cena, Academy Award Winner Whoopi Goldberg, Firefly alum and Castle actor Nathan Fillion, and actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 

Philly2Philly’s Diane Cooney will have a writeup of several panel discussions that took place as well as a photo gallery. In the meantime, however, check out some of our photos from the fun and exciting weekend. You can check out the rest on our Facebook page. Wizard World will return to Philadelphia next year on May 7-10, 2015!

Wizard World 2014: Philadelphia

Wizard World 2014: Philadelphia

Wizard World 2014: Philadelphia

Wizard World 2014: Philadelphia

Wizard World 2014: Philadelphia

Check out the rest of our Wizard World photos on our Facebook page!


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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A few weeks ago I had one of those first-time conversations with my eight-year-old daughter, who’s looking forward to her upcoming birthday in July.

She asked: “Mommy, can I get a cell phone when I turn nine?”

“No,” I responded.

“How about when I’m 10?”

“No,” I said again.www.kidsperks.com

I was surprised we were having this conversation, as I was driving with her buckled in the seat behind me. It seemed like only yesterday that she was fastened in a car seat with a five-point harness. In fact, I had only recently let her venture out on her first sleepover. Should I have anticipated that she’d be asking for a cell phone next?

“Well, how old were you when you got your first cell phone?” she inquired.

As I was laughing, I quickly realized this conversation was likely happening in many families. With little or no precedent to follow, how do parents decide the right time to let their child have a cell phone? Many of today’s parents didn’t have their first cell phone until they were in their 20s, the age I was when I first carried around a mobile device.

Without a doubt, there are many advantages for young people to be connected. Cell phones allow children to text or e-mail their families and friends regularly. Many parents agree that giving their child a mobile phone is a step toward ensuring their safety when either parent or child is not at home. We know parents whose children send them a text message when arriving at a friend’s house after school, providing some peace of mind when they and their children need to be apart.

But what about the implications of having a cell phone? Obviously, there’s a very real financial component. Cell phones aren’t cheap, and many smart phones cost more than $100, a price tag not including the monthly bill and associated data charges.

Secondly, with more well-deserved attention being focused on bullying through social media, parents may be naturally hesitant to have their children accessible to their peers during the hours away from school. Cell phones can also be a big distraction, especially for young drivers behind the wheel. What’s a parent to do?

For me, the decision is easy to make today. My eight-year-old will not receive a cell phone this year or next. For some reason, 12 seems like a more reasonable age, when she has the maturity to be responsible for such a gadget. For the most part, her time away from us amounts to sports practices, birthday parties and Girl Scout meetings. None of these activities—in her father’s and my estimation—requires her to carry a cell phone.

When it comes down to it, this is certainly a decision each family needs to make on its own. Every child and teen is different, and some exhibit more capabilities for responsible behavior than others. This is why parenting expert Deborah Gilboa, MD (Dr. G), says there really is no right age for a child to get a cell phone. She does, however, make the distinction between whether the phone is something the child wants or if it’s the parent who prefers to be more connected to a child.

“If the phone is for them, use it to teach some responsibility. Your child should earn part of the money to pay for the phone and sign a contract with you for how it may and may not be used,” she says.

Dr. G believes that the first cell phone a child receives shouldn’t be a so-called “smart phone,” with apps to social media sites. Yet if parents choose to let their children online through other methods, she feels following social media sites’ age guidelines an important first step.

“Allowing kids to dip their toes in social media can be a great learning experience. Just don’t lie to get them online,” says Dr. G. Most sites like Facebook and Instagram require users to be 13.

When children do have the freedom and reach the age to be fully connected, it’s always wise for parents to keep apprised of this activity for all of the reasons mentioned above. Technology has many benefits for these young members of society, but parents should always pay attention to their children’s mobile device and other online activities.

To help with this task, programs and apps are available for parents trying to keep their children safe while using technology. Some apps have GPS trackers and can even help prevent cyber bullying. You can use your favorite Internet search engine to research “apps to keep kids safe online,” to access some of these resources.


Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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I came to the conclusion recently that my children simply have too much. A Saturday afternoon where I helped them clean their rooms and clear some clutter gave me a lot of perspective. In the process, I recognized something becoming increasingly apparent. The more stuff my children have, the less they seem to respect those material possessions.

My three children may be able to identify a tiny piece of plastic (which could be separate from the original set of toys to which it belongs) with the same precision a paleontologist uses when examining a rare bone. They can even tell me exactly when and where they received these flimsy pieces, evoking memories for all of us. I’m thrilled they recall the happy, little details that make up their young lives. I also realize the blessings our family has, as many don’t have the ability to give their children essential needs, let alone the extras.Photo: www.npnparents.org

The problem is, my children don’t actively care for these items or seem to respect their value.

Shame on them or shame on me?

Similar to other parents, I love my children very much. Yet over the years, my husband and I have taken that love and joy we get from seeing their happy faces light up with a new toy or gift to a sort of routine, perhaps extreme.  Love, although we both know this, should never be equated with material things. Like a few other well-meaning parents we know, we have given our children mounds of craft items, Legos, and other small toys they often stash under their beds. I try to ignore the basement, as it too is a haven for all things that seem to constitute kid clutter.

So if I had to do it all over again, here’s what I would recommend to my younger mom self about to embark on the parental journey for the first time:

-Set rules from the beginning with regard to toys and other children’s belongings. Decide where they will be played with and stored, and do your best to stick to the plan.

-Talk to your spouse or parenting partner about which occasions children will receive gifts and toys. Are they just for birthdays and yearly religious holidays, or are they going to be given freely throughout the year for any occasion? Will you bring presents to them after vacations or business trips?


-If your child breaks a precious toy, don’t rush to replace it. Let her experience that loss. With time, she will learn that these items require care and attention.

-As children get older, teach them to give back. Have them help you donate their used toys to younger children, preschools, churches or to other charitable organizations. They may even learn something about business from selling them at a yard sale. Give them the money received for these items, and maybe even open them a bank account.


-If your child continually asks or something, have her explain why it’s so important to have that item, and make her wait a reasonable time for it (future birthday, holiday or school accomplishment). Delayed gratification has numerous benefits, while teaching children who are developmentally ready (usually around six or seven) to value and appreciate a good thing after waiting.


In parents’ busy lives, it’s often easier to acquiesce and make our children happy immediately. Yet studies have continually shown the benefits of delaying gratification. In a culture that almost demands immediacy, this may remain a challenge. So many of us want what we want now, and I’m finding my family isn’t much different. I can’t change the past mistakes we’ve made with respect to over indulging our children. All the while, I can model behavior and communicate clearly with my children the importance of saving, sharing and donating. They’re starting to get the hang of it so much so that when I ask them to go through their old toys and make a sell or donate pile, they’re excited to help. The answer to whether they’ll become philanthropists or entrepreneurs may be another exercise in waiting—this time for their parents!

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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I remember a time when people put an effort into their marriage and commitments to one another. Divorce was unheard of many years ago. People weren’t quick to marry and just as quickly to divorce the minute a struggle presented itself to a married couple. Even more so, today many couples, married or not, have a child.

I am the last person to suggest that couples should stay together and be miserable simply for the fact that there are children involved, but I was recently having a discussion with a woman I had met at an event. While we chatted over wine, I had mentioned I had done some work helping fathers seek equal rights when it came to parenting. She seemed shocked and a little appalled. She actually asked if this was true. Were more fathers actually fighting for equal rights?  For the first time in a long time, I was speechless. It made me think, since when did it become ok to treat fathers like sperm donors and paychecks, and not ok to help them fight for equal rights? Since when was it ok to have a mother dictate the amount of time a father gets with their child?  When did it become difficult for a father to fight for fathers' rights?  Then the ultimate question came to my head; since when did a father have to fight for those rights in the first place?  Why isn’t he given those same rights from the birth of the child just like a mother is given?Photo: ancpr.com

I have been on both sides of children involved in the court system. I have seen the ugly and the good. My husband, for example, is a dedicated father to two children who loves and supports the both of them. He had to jump through rings of fire and back in order to get joint custody and a fair child support arrangement. His story is similar to many fathers out there: fighting for a right to be in the children’s lives and not getting the equal chance.  

I too am a mother, and I understand the bond that mothers share by carrying that child for nine months and the pain and agony of delivering that same child. I have heard many mothers speak about the bond they share with the child by being able to be pregnant and how fathers don’t go through what they go through in order to bring a child into this world. Here is a reality check ladies: it’s not their choice that they do not get to carry and deliver. It was life’s decision for females to have the strength and design for child creating and birthing. Why make such statements as if the man chooses for us to have the children? Did we forget it is physically impossible for them to do so?  Why hold it against them? Seems kind of silly to me and a poor argument. Let’s also not forget the fact that without fathers, there would be no children.  Remember that saying it takes two to tango? A father has just an equal right to a child as the mother.  

I’m sure many woman are gritting their teeth in anger or disbelief with the last sentence. If you are, ask yourself this question. Are you holding resentment towards your child’s father?  Maybe he was the one who ended the relationship? Maybe he was not a good husband or life partner? Did you ever think that he may not have been the best in the relationship department, but maybe he is an A-plus of a father?  Stop using your resentment to punish him. How does that affect the child? By using resentment and by keeping a good father away from their child, you are not protecting that child, you are hurting them.    

Our society needs to realize that fathers are not just every other weekend babysitters and paychecks. They are influential and essential to the upbringing of children. Yes, unfortunately you have those fathers who do not express an interest in sharing the responsibilities of raising a child, but must all fathers be punished for so few? If that’s the case then all single mothers must be deemed as drama-filled, money hungry individuals.

That moment that you decided to give life to a human being, you made a pact with life to put your needs aside and do what was in the best interest of this life. You agreed to mold and grow this new life with every best interest in mind. This did not mean to exclude the other half that contributed to the coming of this life. Fathers are fifty percent contributors making them equal to women in the making of this life. So we as women need to get off our high horse and come back down to reality. Give the fathers the rights they deserve and stop holding up the court system with the constant need to take a father for every penny he has.  

To those fathers who are fighting the battle every day to have a relationship they deserved from the very beginning, I stand before you, as a mother and wife and a woman and I applaud you for your dedication and commitment in being a father. There was a time where women did not have equal rights and it was through our own perseverance and dedication that we finally received the rights we tirelessly fought for. You too will get the rights you unfortunately have to fight for.  A right that, by Mother Nature, you shouldn’t have to fight for. That little being you fight for will one day realize and appreciate the fight.  

Ladies, how about we put down the shields and swords and sign the peace treaty for every father. It’s bound to happen and you can either be a positive contributing factor to this movement or a negative factor fueling the fire. It is your choice. Many questions are asked in this article, and I hope those who are truly sitting and asking themselves the questions find the right answers.

Karen Stebbins is a mom of four and wife of a loving husband who shares her love of sports (or else she wouldnt have said yes). Karen is an experienced paralegal and freelance writer on a variety of topics. Sports is her passion and her love of the game is undeniable.



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