Kids’ stuff


Cheyenne Hutchinson jumped up and down after she heard the blare of a saxophone come from her lips.

The 9-year-old Columbus resident tried again, blowing into the gold, shiny instrument as Matt Benson from Paige’s Music of Indianapolis held it still for her. Her smile grew bigger across her face.

Hutchinson then skipped over to a table full of other musical instruments, including flutes, clarinets and trombones, picking up a trumpet and using her fingers to create more music. Next, she grabbed two drumsticks and tapped on a practice pad of a snare drum.

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“She won’t want to leave this,” her grandmother, Rhonda Snow, said, following behind her.

Snow said her granddaughter has played an array of instruments (she’s currently learning how to play piano), but it was her first time trying out the three she picked out Saturday morning.

“Any time you can plant seeds this age, it’s really beneficial and keeps the music programs strong here,” Benson said.

The musical experience was made possible through a booth set up at Kids Fest on Saturday morning at Seymour High School.

Kids Fest, in its 18th year, is sponsored by Child Care Network and the Seymour Noon Lions Club. The event followed the March for Babies walk, conducted outside of the high school.

“The goal is first of all to draw a crowd and ideally to provide information to parents of what services, programs and activities of what’s in Jackson County for young children,” said Janice Read, executive director of Child Care Network.

This year, 47 booths were set up that offered free activities, entertainment and education for children.

The chilly and wet weather only affected a few plans, including the cancellation of a car seat fitting station. However, the outdoor petting zoo and the bike safety course continued on. The petting zoo used a tent, and the bike course was moved indoors.

Read said each of the stations, which were spread out across the Seymour gym and hallways, were all focused on kids.

“All of these activities develop and help youngsters grow, learn and become confident and productive citizens,” she said.

Dentist George Mansfield of Seymour Family Dentistry said his office has set up a booth at Kids Fest for many years.

On Saturday, they had games for kids to play, including an inflatable mouth where kids could pull out a tooth, the Crocodile Dentist game and a chance to play corn hole to win a prize.

The office also offered information on how to protect one’s teeth from cavities, specifically geared toward kids.

“I think if we make it an enjoyable experience, and then they like coming to the dentist, then they will have a healthy smile the rest of their life,” Mansfield said.

Another booth was run by Ivy Tech Community College’s early childhood education students.

Kids could take a tricycle for a spin around a taped-off track and learn how to wear a helmet while properly following safety lights and signs.

Chelsi Field, a board member with Southern Indiana Hispanic Services, oversaw the organization’s booth, which offered candy, coloring sheets and a piñata raffle.

SIHS, which sees about 50 people a month, offers interpretation, translation and service referrals, and Field said Kids Fest is a way to get their information out there to the public, particularly advertising their upcoming events.

“A lot of the kids, I feel, are a little bit more adapted than parents as far as being able to speak a little bit more English and Spanish,” she said. “So they can work with their parents if they have questions and also through us.”

Some kids and parents wanted to check out the event just to see what it was about and possibly walk away with a new tidbit of information or something new.

Macey Stuckwisch, a student at Brownstown Central Middle School, was one of them.

“I found information about Girl Scouts,” the sixth-grader said.

This was the first time March for Babies was conducted the same day as Kids Fest, and organizers of both events said it was a great plan.

“We were like, ‘Let’s give it a try this year,’’’ said Tracey Drzich, executive director of March of Dimes for central Indiana. “It’s kind of a family day out here.”

March of Dimes’ mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality and to support prenatal wellness programs, Neonatal Intensive Care in Family Support and research grants.

Drzich said the rain started to come down just as participants — some walking with teams to remember loved ones — had just started either the three-mile or one-mile walk. However, the damp weather didn’t keep some from finishing.

“They are doing the route for families who have been impacted — they are the families who have been impacted — by our mission, and some chose to do the three-mile regardless of the weather,” she said. “We couldn’t be happier.”

In total, there were about 185 people registered, which is up from last year, Drzich said. The event also raised $25,000 of the yearly $30,000 goal.

Money raised comes from teams who conduct fundraisers, including silent auctions and bake sales, and also through local corporation donations.

“It comes in various, different ways,” Drzich said.

Huddled together outside of the rain, one of the teams at the event was Nola’s Knights. Wearing purple T-shirts, around 20 friends and family members were gathered together in memory of Nola Jayne, who passed away not long after she was born in May of last year.

“She was early, and her lungs weren’t developed,” said Nola’s mother, Heather Lewis, who also came with her husband, Tyler.

Heather Lewis, who is a teacher at the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center, said it was her first year participating in Jackson County’s March for Babies walk.

“Doing this event locally means a lot to me,” she said. “March of Dimes has been over the year a family to me.”

She said she wishes more people knew about March of Dimes because she admits she didn’t know much about the organization until she lost Nola.

“Hopefully, we can continue to get the word out more,” she said.

So far, Lewis said, she has done a pretty good job of it through her students at school. Today, students and staff will conduct a kiss-a-pig contest where a teacher will have to kiss a pig. That’s all because the students raised about $600 to go toward March of Dimes.

Heather Lewis said she is proud of her students, and she recalled how many of them comforted her last year during her hardest moments.

“My sixth-graders, who are now seventh-graders, were amazing,” she said, tearing up. “They were always there for me giving me hugs, and my teachers, they were very helpful.”

She hopes that Saturday’s walk, along with fundraisers like kiss-a-pig, will create awareness of the March of Dimes and all it does for families.

“I can just hope that as a community, we can embrace this and donate more and more money so we can keep doing the event here,” she said.

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