Convention for kids

August 12, 1994

Americans have developed a love affair with conventions, those large meetings of people with some common interest and a travel budget. Everyone knows that these gatherings serve more than one purpose. Some concentrate on providing information and a chance to grow professionally. Others

concentrate on mixing and mingling, meeting new friends and greeting old ones. Whatever the pretext for conventions, adults seem to love them. Why should kids be any different?

This weekend, the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families and the State Department of Education are co-sponsoring the state's fourth annual Kids Convention at the Towson Center on the campus of Towson State University. For families in the Baltimore region, there's not even much of a travel budget required.

Admission is $2.50, or $7 for families. Advance publicity suggests that both kids and parents will get their money's worth. On Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the center will be packed with activities for children between the ages of 2 and 12, along with workshops and exhibits for families on subjects ranging from finding good child care to party planning to medical services.

Like most conventions, this one has a worthy theme -- showing children that learning can be fun. It also aims to show parents that there are plenty of public and private resources in Maryland to help them with the most important challenge they face, rearing healthy, well-adjusted kids who love to learn, both in and out of the classroom.

Lest children think anything sponsored by an education department is bound to be hum-drum, parents might want to dangle before them the prospect of top-notch entertainment ranging from puppet shows to martial arts exhibitions. A children's dance troupe will perform tap, jazz, ballet and modern lyrical dances, and the members will talk to other kids about why they like to dance. Singers and storytellers will entertain children of all ages.

Pre-schoolers will have a chance to make their own puppets, while older children can make a chalk rubbing or create a piece of plastic jewelry. The Maryland Science Center will inflate its portable planetarium on a racquetball court, inviting young people to enter through a child-size door and view Maryland's slice of the night sky. The Department of Natural Resources will bring its popular Scales and Tails display, which introduces children to the state's animal life and natural resources.

On and on it goes. Learning can be fun -- and should be. By enlivening an otherwise lazy August weekend, Kids Convention '94 will help prove it.

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