Category Archives: RAK Podcasts

Everybody dance now!

Kendall Glover teaches dance lessons at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

It was staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint’s idea, not mine. But I promised to be a good sport.

We were at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler to interview Kendall Glover, the 11-year-old hometown dance sensation who placed second in the finals of a national competition for the CBS program “Live to Dance.”

My 11-year-old niece, Mandy, was there to help me with the interview. She attends the same school as Kendall, is in the same grade and almost shares the same birthday. (Kendall’s is Aug. 2; Mandy’s is Aug. 3.)

We talked to Kendall about all sorts of things, including the role she will play July 30 in the FOX 10 Dance Day benefit to raise money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Participants will dance most of the day away at Jobing.com Arena, earning the money that was pledged on their behalf as they enjoy entertainment (hometown celebrity and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will be performing) and the chance to hang out real dancers like Kendall Glover.

Kendall said the great thing about the event is that you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy it. I am definitely not a dancer and neither is Mandy, though she’s a heck of a good soccer player. But with some urging from Vicki, who was there with her video camera, Mandy and I agreed to give it a shot.

Kendall patiently taught us some moves. We did okay, but not as well as the kids from The Salvation Army Camp. You’ll see them dancing with Kendall after our (blessedly short) appearance.

If we could do it, so can you. Register here to create a team for Dance Day.

Sparks will be flying at dance fundraiser

Jordin Sparks

Phoenix Children’s Hospital broke the news last week that hometown celebrity and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will be the featured performer at the FOX 10 Dance Day fundraiser on Saturday, July 30.

When I heard the news, I decided it was time to unleash some sparks of my own. I’ve spent some time with another hometown sensation who will be at the event. Kendall Glover is 11 years old (for a few more weeks anyway), she has been performing since she was 4, she came in second in a nationally televised dance contest (“Live to Dance”) and I had the privilege of interviewing her last month — along with my 11-year-old niece Mandy — after she finished teaching a dance class for her volunteer job at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler.

We had RAK staff photographer Daniel Friedman with us (all photos from here forward are his) and multimedia journalist Vicki Balint, who handled the audio and video.

Kendall gives dance instructions (Mandy and I are watching in the top right corner).

Kendall was fulfilling a volunteer commitment required of her participation in the National Charity League. But it looked like more fun than work as she taught the kids — eight girls, two boys and two additional volunteers — a dance sequence similar to one she performed on Just Dance Kids for Nintendo Wii.

Mandy and I are preparing a story about our interview with Kendall for the magazine’s September performing arts issue. But because we knew the Dance Day event was on the horizon, we also asked Kendall to talk about that.

Listen to our mini-podcast.

Recording our interview with Kendall, and with help from Vicki Balint.

Dance Day takes place from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, July 30 at Jobing.com Arena. It’s a brand new event designed to be fun for families and friends to do together. You can create your own team and dance all day (get all the sign-up details here). Need an extra incentive to get involved? Jordin Sparks will hold a “meet and greet” with the event’s top fundraiser.

Kendall Glover.

Don’t want to dance? You can also have fun watching. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and younger. Click here for more information. Proceeds benefit patients at Phoenix Children’s.

Kendall promised us that you don’t have to be a dancer to have a great time at the event. “It doesn’t matter how you dance or how you look, it’s just about what you love to do,” she says.

Tomorrow: Kendall teaches Mandy and me a few moves.

Two non-dancers learn from the pro.

Toe-tapping fun with “Live to Dance” finalist Kendall Glover

When I saw the press release, I immediately forwarded it to my 11-year-old niece, Mandy Davis.

TV Dance Sensation Kendall Glover to Appear
at FOX 10 Dance Day Benefiting Phoenix Children’s
New Family-Friendly Fundraising Event Boasts
Great Entertainment and Fun for Everyone

Mandy attends the same school as Kendall, who propelled herself into the national arena with spectacular solo performances and a second-place finish in the CBS dance competition program “Live to Dance.” Like many of her classmates, Mandy has followed Kendall’s career closely. She even got a hug from “Live to Dance” judge Paula Abdul, who came to Phoenix to make the big announcement during a school assembly that Kendall had made it to the finals.

Mandy and I were texting each other excitedly the the night Kendall performed in the finals.

When I learned about the PCH event, which is happening from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, July 30, at Jobing.com Arena, I asked Mandy if she’d like to help me interview Kendall. “That would be awesome!” she replied.

Teri Lane, director of the Children’s Miracle Network and corporate development officer at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, put me in touch with Kendall’s mom, Ann Glover. I wrote her an email, and very quickly received her gracious response: “Kendall is so excited to work with you on the Raising Arizona Kids/Phoenix Children’s Hospital  article. She is a busy girl, but is really a homebody at heart and loves doing things for her community, too.”

I snapped this photo as Kendall took a break during the class she taught at The Salvation Army. More photos to come from RAK staff photographer Daniel Friedman!

Kendall was going to be teaching dance classes at a Salvation Army day camp for kids the next week, so we met her there, observed as she taught the class and then, with the help of staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint, recorded an interview from a list of questions Mandy and I prepared by sending our suggestions back and forth to each other by email.

Yesterday, Vicki invited us to her home office, where she does the magical work of mixing audio for RAK Podcasts and editing stories for RAK Video. A natural teacher, she talked to Mandy about how she crafts stories in digital media. She explained what the squiggly lines meant on the screen. (“See that, where it’s flat? That’s where there’s a lull because Karen paused after she said ‘um.’”) She let Mandy select the audio and video clips that would work best for each story. And then — the really cool part — she let Mandy pick the music soundtracks that would introduce and exit the podcast.

Mandy and I will be sharing our podcast and video in the weeks leading up to the PCH event. We’re also putting together a print story for the magazine’s September performing arts issue and an extended podcast to accompany that. So I don’t want to give away too much about the fun time we had with Kendall. But consider yourself warned: You will laugh, you will be inspired and you’ll definitely be tapping your toes.

Mandy learns about podcasting from multimedia journalist Vicki Balint.

A celebration at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Randy Christensen, M.D., autographs a book.

As we approached the table where pediatrician and newly minted author Randy Christensen, M.D. was autographing copies of his book, we joked about being his “groupies.”

The book-signing event in the airy, natural light-filled lobby at the new patient tower at Phoenix Children’s Hospital was the second event in the past three weeks that multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint and I have attended in support of Christensen, his new book (Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them) and his work with the Crews’n Healthmobile, a collaborative effort between Phoenix Children’s Hospital and UMOM New Day Centers.

Vicki and Randy at a March luncheon where he was the featured speaker.

Groupies? Well, certainly admirers. Vicki, who interviewed Christensen for a story we published in January 2008, has followed his journey with great interest. She even read an advance copy of his book, which is a memoir about his work spearheading medical outreach to homeless teens, and wrote a review that will appear in our upcoming May magazine.

I am looking forward to reading my own copy, which I purchased at the PCH gift shop and which is inscribed, “Thanks so much for your support!” by “Dr. Randy.”

The event, which carried on throughout the day and early evening, was a true celebration. Many of Christensen’s coworkers and medical colleagues from around the community were there. Everyone was beaming. Some were wearing handmade bracelets mimicking the one adorning the book jacket. Teresa Boeger, a child life specialist and director at PCH (with responsibilities encompassing The Emily Center and the gift shop, too),  found a couple of extra bracelets, which she promptly gave to Vicki and me. With the “Ask Me Why I Hurt” message so relevant for the hospital’s young patients, I would expect to see a lot more of these around the hospital in the days and weeks to come. Vicki urged her to market them at the gift shop, with proceeds benefiting the Crews’n Healthmobile.

Michelle Ray, who sought medical help from the Crews'n Healthmobile while living at a UMOM New Day Center, came to offer her support. Michelle, now the mother of a 4-year-old, is studying to be a nurse. Christensen is her child's pediatrician.

Before we left, we took a quick tour of the new Crews’n Healthmobile, a big upgrade over the original vehicle (which Vicki wrote about visiting in her Health Matters blog).

When Vicki first interviewed Randy, he wasn’t necessarily thinking about writing a book. And yet he first talked to Vicki he told her about the young woman who wore a bracelet saying “Ask Me Why I Hurt.” As I listened to the interview again recently, I got chills. The larger purpose behind this man’s life, work — and now, his writing — is plainly clear.

Listen to Vicki’s 2008 podcast.

Randy and Amy Christensen. Amy is also a pediatrician.

The Crews'n Healthmobile and staff. Photo by Vicki Louk Balint.

With Randy at the PCH gift shop. Photo by Vicki Louk Balint.

A movie about Mama Rose

It’s a safe bet that a few of the people in the audience at this weekend’s Community Cinema event will be from the staff of Raising Arizona Kids.

The free movie screening — presented by Civic Space Park Collaboration, New Global Citizens & KAET — features the film “Pushing the Elephant,” by Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel.

The film tells the story of a woman who emerged from the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a committed advocate for the rights of women and for forgiveness and reconciliation. It is the story of Rose Mapendo. It is a story we know very well.

Our staff multimedia journalist, Vicki Louk Balint, interviewed “Mama Rose” for our July 2007 magazine and a podcast of their conversation is available on our website.

Mapendo will be attending the screening, which will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12 at Civic Space Park, 424 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.

Rose Mapendo and Vicki Balint on the day of the interview.

I heard about the event from our Art Director, Michelle-Renee Adams. She says seating is first come, first served. She plans to arrive early because she doesn’t want to miss it.

Learn more about the film.

View the trailer for the film.

Feeling fat

When she baked pies, my mother always saved a small piece of pie crust dough just for me. She’d put it into a small aluminum foil pan (the size of a single pot pie). She’d brush it with melted butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. She’d bake it with the regular pies, pulling it out a bit early so it didn’t burn.

Crisco and white flour. Butter, sugar and cinnamon. I can’t imagine eating something like that now; I’m much more health-conscious in middle age than I was as a child. But I thought about those warm slivers of buttery, cinnamon-y goodness this morning, as I toasted a two-day old bran muffin for breakfast. On a whim, I slathered some (zero grams trans fat) canola oil margarine on the warm pieces, then sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top.

And I wondered when — and why — the joy of eating my childhood treat was ruined for me.

I wondered again this afternoon, when I listened to multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint’s podcast interview with Dena Cabrera, Psy.D., a psychologist at Remuda Ranch, which specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.

At some point in the lives of many girls and young women, food stops being a source of pleasure, comfort and joy. It becomes the enemy. It becomes the reason nothing else goes right in life. It contributes to self-loathing, insatiable perfectionism, anxiety and fear. And for some women, it stays that way, to one degree or another, for years. Even decades.

I was one of those young women. From the moment an elementary school classmate remarked that “you have big legs” I became self-conscious about my weight. Food became a source of shame and guilt. Enjoying it was something that I (as a person with “big legs”) was not entitled to experience.

When I got to high school, I refused to eat in public. I never ate lunch at school. I didn’t touch the food at parties. At home, I nibbled at meals. But when I was alone, I slammed down the food. It got worse when I went to college. One of my roommate would go for days without eating and then, when it became too much, she’d drag me out with her for fast-food binges. At one point in my young adult life I weighed 40 pounds more than I do now. (A self-fulfilled prophecy: my legs really were big.)

As the other stresses of adolescence waned and I found fulfillment in work and lasting relationships, my life — and my weight — stabilized. I was lucky to avoid the devastating effects of an eating disorder. But for more than 10 years, I definitely had disordered eating. So I recognized myself in many of the comments Cabrera made during her interview with Vicki.

I didn’t have a daughter, so I can only imagine how tricky it is to navigate food issues as the parent of a young girl. I’m just glad there is help, and hope, for those who find themselves in the throes of destructive eating habits.

Listen to Vicki’s interview. Hear Cabrera describe the “hostile environment” that awaits young women attempting to recover from eating disorders. Think about the message you are sending every time you say, “I feel fat.” And every once in awhile, eat something just for the sheer joy of it.