Storytime at RAK

We’ve started something new during Thursday morning editorial meetings: storytime.

No, I don’t pull out pillows and Dr. Seuess books to read to my staff. (Although, who knows? Maybe we’d all benefit from that.) Instead, I ask them to share their stories with me.

“What did you do this past week?” I ask. As we go around the table, each person weaves wonderful tales of the people they’ve met and the experiences they’ve had. I type like crazy on my laptop, trying to preserve these cherished moments in the history of the Raising Arizona Kids family. Here are two. More to come!

Rocky rocks Vicki’s world

Vicki Louk Balint

Multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint loves horses. So when it came time to schedule interviews about summer camps for the Monday evening “Raising Arizona Kids” segment she co-produces with 12News, she jumped at a chance to visit the Hunkapi horse therapy program in Tempe.

“I love horses so much but I don’t have them in my life,” Vicki said, “When I walk into a barn and breathe in the smell…I wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t spend more time around horses.”

Hunkapi (pronounced hoon-KAH-pee) is a Lakota word that translates to “I am related to everyone.” The program was founded as an ASU research effort in 1996. When compared to other sports, the research showed, horseback riding was the most positive intervention for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism.

Vicki saw it for herself. She told us about Ray, a child with autism, who was grooming a horse named Spirit. “Here is this child who doesn’t relate well to other people [because of his autism]. He’s grooming this horse and you can just see the connection. It would make you cry.”


She also saw Jordan, a 6-year-old with developmental delays. He got up on Rocky, a quarter horse who’s been doing this kind of work for 23 years. “This is an elderly horse!” Vicki said. “He was plodding along, his tongue hanging out. But he has this wisdom” — and a palpable connection with the young child on his back.

The first time Jordan visited Hunkapi, he didn’t stop talking about horses for a week. “I want to see the horse, I want to go to the horse,” he said. His mom says she’d never seen a bigger smile on his face.

Vicki, who volunteers as a reader for the blind at Sun Sounds of Arizona, is pondering the number of hours in her day and wondering if she could find some time to volunteer at Hunkapi.

Maybe it’s time to honor her inner horsewoman.

Mala: the show must go on

Mala Blomquist

Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist is the face of Raising Arizona Kids each Friday on the 12News Arizona Midday show, where she shares her picks for the upcoming weekend’s family events.

But last Thursday, she had a problem. She went to see her dentist, Kathi Mansell, DMD, because she had a tooth that was bothering her.

“You broke it in half,” Kathi told her. “It needs to come out.”

Kathi jumped on the phone to call the oral surgeon’s office. The scheduler wanted to know if Mala could come in the next day at 10:30. Mala was a bit hesitant because she had to appear on Channel 12 at 1. “You’ll be fine by then,” the scheduler assured her.

The tooth came out at 10:30, but Mala was still a bit numb — and changing bloody gauze pads in her mouth — as she drove to the Channel 12 studios to appear on both the “Coffee Talk” segment and her regular weekend update.

Her husband, who watched her appearance, reassured her with the classic-Evan sense of humor those of us who know the Blomquists have always appreciated and enjoyed. “You were fine,” he told his wife. “You just looked like you’d had a mild stroke.” — Karen


One response to “Storytime at RAK

  1. Pingback: Small world stories – hoops, timing and URLs « behind the 'zine

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