Enjoy summer with homemade sorbet

— Dessert and summer are a match made in heaven. Sweltering summer afternoons might not be comfortable, but any discomfort can be quickly washed away with a refreshing dessert, such as the following recipe for “Kiwi Fruit Sorbet” from Lou Seibert Pappas’ “Ice Creams & Sorbets” (Chronicle Books).

Kiwi Fruit Sorbet

Makes about 1 quart

2 teaspoons grated lime or lemon zest

3/4 cup sugar, divided

3/4 cup water

2 pounds kiwi fruit (about 8 kiwi fruit), peeled and quartered

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

2 limes, quartered

In a small bowl, mash the zest with 1 teaspoon of the sugar to release the oils. Combine the remaining sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the syrup is clear. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. In a food processor or blender, purée the kiwi fruit with the juice, syrup and sugared zest. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or, to freeze without an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a 9-inch nonreactive square pan. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze just until solid, 2 to 3 hours. Scrape out into an electric mixer or food processor and process briefly until light and fluffy. Serve at once or transfer to a container, cover, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. At serving time, garnish with a lime wedge to squeeze over each serving.

‘Scandal’ Season 5 bloopers are everything

— It’s Kerry Washington like you’ve never seen her before.

The outtakes from Season 5 of the hit ABC drama “Scandal” are downright hilarious. In a blooper reel obtained by TVLine, Tony Goldwyn swears on set, Guillermo Diaz’s cellphone goes off in a scene and Scott Foley really doesn’t want to practice kissing.

The “Scandal” storyline will reportedly pick up on election night when it returns for Season 6.

“We’re not going to spend our time playing an election,” executive producer Shonda Rhimes recently told EW.

Gladiators will have to wait until “Scandal” is back on ABC in January for more.

Add fresh flavor to grilled chicken

— Backyard barbecues provide the perfect opportunity for grillmasters to experiment with their favorite foods. Those who want to give grilled chicken a tasty twist can whip up this recipe for “Citrus Recado Chicken Breasts” from Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath’s “Grilling” (DK Publishing).

Citrus Recado Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup orange juice

4 boneless chicken breast halves, slashed (see below)


1 recipe Avocado Mango Salsa (optional)

Combine garlic, chili powder, oregano, thyme, cumin, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, oil, lime juice, and orange juice. Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once. Grill according to instructions below. Sprinkle with salt. Serve hot with avocado mango salsa if you prefer.

Outdoor grill: Grill skin-side down over medium-hot coals until skin is crisp, 7 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until chicken is opaque with no trace of pink, another 5 minutes.

Indoor grill: Preheat broiler. Broil skin-side up until skin is crisp, 7 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until chicken is opaque with no trace of pink, another 5 minutes.

To slash the chicken breasts: With a sharp knife, cut 3 parallel slashes through the skin, about 1/4-inch deep.

Marinate chicken up to 2 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate, turning several times in marinade.

Avocado Mango Salsa

Makes 12/3 cups

1 mango, finely diced

1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, and finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves



Combine mango, avocado, onion, chile, lime juice, vinegar, oil, and mint. Add salt and Tabasco® to taste. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

McDonald’s removes fitness tracker from Happy Meals

McDonald’s is removing Step-It activity trackers from Happy Meals due to concerns over skin irritations, according to a statement sent to CNN on Wednesday.

“We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band,” company spokeswoman Terri Hickey said in the statement. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue.”

The exact number of reports was not specified.

Casey Collyar of Arkansas, wrote on Facebook last week that her child was burned by the Happy Meal toy after playing with it for eight minutes. Her post was shared more than 100,000 times.

The fitness trackers, which come in six bright colors, were already being distributed and were set to be available for four weeks in the United States and Canada. The plastic wrist-worn pedometer measures steps and blinks quickly or slowly depending on the pace of the person wearing it.

In a promotional video for the gadget, two girls are trying out several different physical activities to increase the number of their step counts.

Hickey has not replied to requests for additional information, including the manufacturer of the activity trackers.

Healthy lifestyle promotion or crafty marketing?

The fast food giant’s plan to include the device sparked discussions on whether it would actually help promote healthier lifestyles among children or if it was just another crafty marketing strategy.

Dr. Lisa Thebner, a pediatrician in New York City, said that packaging Happy Meals with fitness trackers sends a message that physical activity is good for one’s health.

When getting Happy Meals, “it’s nice to be able to have something that encourages kids to be more active, instead of handing out a big ice cream cone along with it,” said Thebner.

Having observed her own children engaging in more physical activities because of trackers, Thebner said that “kids can be very competitive… There is certainly joy in getting those numbers up.”

Michelle Garrison, an associate professor of adolescent and child psychiatry at Seattle Children’s Hospital said there can be a benefit when families get into it together to achieve a combined goal, for example 10,000 steps. But otherwise, she notes the benefits from these devices are more often short lived. “Giving children fitness trackers may increase physical activity for a few weeks, but longer term change takes more than that,” she said.

Some research has pointed out the effectiveness of fitness trackers in getting young people moving. A 2009 study suggested that pedometers are useful for promoting physical activities among children and adolescents.

Jennifer A. Emond, assistant professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, is skeptical of McDonald’s new toys, saying that it’s “not a credible way to promote healthy lifestyles to children.”

“It’s a common tactic used by food manufacturers. They promote their products alongside with healthy lifestyles,” said Emond. The danger of such a marketing strategy is that it diverts parents’ attention away from poor nutrition, making parents “feel better” by focusing more on the “energy out” side of the weight gain equation than considering energy intake.

She suggested that instead of feeding their children Happy Meals, parents might consider other affordable fitness tracker options, or “go for a walk, go to the park, play games with your family that promote fitness rather than going into a restaurant.”

McDonald’s has long faced criticism regarding low nutritional values in its food. In recent years, the company has been increasingly committed to improving its food quality, including introducing the low-fat Go-Gurt yogurt in 2014 and removing artificial preservatives from its chicken nuggets in August.

According to McDonald’s nutrition calculator, a Happy Meal with a kids’ fries, a cheeseburger, apple slices and a milk jug contains 530 calories and 20 grams of fat. It would take an average adult man who weighs 195 pounds about 90 minutes to walk off those calories, according to a calculator by the Calorie Control Council.

Garrison said there could be a mixed message, of sorts. “It does come across as an attempt at branding McDonalds and Happy Meals as ‘healthy’ — and while they’ve made some improvements in that regard over recent years, there is still a long way to go.”

Trump’s speech in Wisconsin addresses poverty, crime in the black community

— During a campaign speech in Wisconsin, Trump appealed to African American voters offering an alternative to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton has had her chance. She failed,” said Trump. “Now it’s time for new leadership.”

After the speech, Trump conducted another internal shakeup that installed Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as a frontline advisor to his campaign.

The speech in West Bend, Wis., where the Black population is less than 7 percent statewide, comes only three weeks after Trump declined to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention in Cincinnati, the National Urban League’s annual convention in Baltimore, and most recently, the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Washington, D.C.

Still, Trump maintained that it is the Democratic Party that “has taken the votes of African-Americans for granted.”

Trump said that Democrats just assumed that Blacks would support the party and haven’t done anything to earn Black votes.

“It’s time to give the Democrats some competition for these votes, and it’s time to rebuild the inner cities of America – and to reject the failed leadership of a rigged political system,” said Trump. “The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police.”

Trump’s speech suggests that, as a president, the New York businessman may push even more punitive justice reform policies in the U.S., a country that leads the world in incarceration with over 2.2 million people behind bars.

Trump also said that Clinton was directly responsible for the recent unrest in Milwaukee and “and many other places within our country” and claimed that Clinton was “against the police.”

Protesters marched in Milwaukee last weekend following the shooting death of Sylville Smith as he fled from police. Smith was armed with a handgun and failed to comply with commands to drop his weapon, according to Milwaukee police. CNN reported that, “at least six businesses were torched, cars were burned and four officers injured,” in violent clashes with police. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett set a 10 p.m. curfew for residents younger than 18 years-old.

Trump said that the violence and destruction that occurred in Milwaukee following the recent police shooting was an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and peace.

“I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different future,” said Trump in his Wisconsin speech. “It is time for our society to address some honest and very difficult truths.”

Trump continued: “The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community. Democratic crime policies, education policies, and economic policies have produced only more crime, more broken homes, and more poverty.

Law and order must be restored. It must be restored for the sake of all, but most especially the sake of those living in the affected communities,” Trump said in West Bend.

Trump’s speech was reminiscent of the “law and order” rhetoric used by Richard Nixon and George Wallace in late 1960s and early 1970s and later by Ronald Reagan, coded language used to talk about the suppression of Black protests and unrest spurred by the fight for civil rights.

The Republican nominee’s speech arrives less than a week after the Department of Justice released a detailed and shocking report on the behavior of members of the Baltimore Police Department. Trump made no reference to the report, during his speech.

Trump also alleged that bad international trade deals that Hillary Clinton supported led to the decline in manufacturing jobs and an increase in Black unemployment.

The poverty rate for Wisconsin’s Black residents was 39 percent and poverty rate for Whites living in the state was 11 percent, according to researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Nationally, the poverty rate for Blacks was 27.4 percent, compared to a 9.9 percent poverty rate for Whites.

Trump called for school choice, merit pay for teachers and a massive tax cut for workers and small businesses. He also said that he would renegotiate NAFTA and “stand up to China.”

The reality show star turned Republican presidential nominee promised, “to support more police in our communities, appoint the best prosecutors and judges in the country” and to “pursue strong enforcement of federal laws.”

Trump added: “To every lawbreaker hurting innocent people in this country, I say: your free reign will soon come crashing to an end.”

Lauren Victoria Burke is a political analyst who speaks on politics and African American leadership. She can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke.

Baltimore youth launches film career in Charm City

— Emerging film director/actor, Michael Anthony Hobbs is on the rise in Baltimore. The 12-year-old debuted his second short feature film, “Naga Pixie,” to rave reviews this past week at the Arbutus Community Center in Baltimore County.

Hobbs, a student at Our Lady of Victory in Baltimore, originally created the drama as a classroom assignment but quickly decided to transform the project into a film.

“It started out as a project for school but after reviewing it, I thought it would make a good movie,” the young director Hobbs said during an exclusive interview with the Baltimore Times Newspaper.

“Naga Pixie” is the story of a fairy (Trinity Breane Perio) that persistently reminds Jason (Hobbs) and his friends to respect nature, animals and the environment. The film, which is set in Baltimore, reminds audiences that there is beauty in every natural environment, even in the heart of the city’s urban core.

The 13-minute film took Hobbs and his assistant producer Zachary Hammonds, age 11, one week to produce and edit. Hobbs will submit the film to several national film competitions and hopes to experience success similar to the acclaim garnered by his first release, “One Nation,” completed in 2014.

“One Nation” told the story of a group of multi-racial youth who organized a special recognition for veterans from the war in Iraq, as they returned to their neighborhood after the war.

The film was screened at 10 national film festivals and won four national awards, including the Montclair Film Festival’s Grand Prize for Kids Short Film; and the Gary, Indiana International Black Film Festival’s Best Youth Short.

During the Naga Pixie screening event, guests had the opportunity to appear in an initial shoot of a scene that will appear in Hobbs’ third release.

“There is a lot he wants to do,” said

Eunice Moseley, his PR director and grandmother. “He has been reading scripts since he was five years old, he has his own agency and he’s starting on his third film.”

I guess that means it’s time for Baltimore’s acclaimed director and screenwriter of the film “Hairspray” to move over— there is a new talent in town!

Boys & Girls Club keeps students learning over summer

Students will soon be returning to school, but My.Future kept members of the Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore’s Brooklyn O’Malley Club learning during the summer break. My.Future enabled them to select from more than 40 activities to help them understand how to safely and productively engage online, and identify and develop digital interests.

Members of Baltimore’s Brooklyn O’Malley Club along with Club leaders in front of the center

Members of Baltimore’s Brooklyn O’Malley Club along with Club leaders in front of the center

“I have been coming to this center since I was in the kindergarten,” said 12-year-old Antonio, who will be entering sixth-grade in the fall. “The My.Future technology program is great. I have learned so much about computers and technology. I have also learned how to stay safe, respect the rules, not to fight, and to mind my manners. This camp has definitely kept me out of trouble.”

The program aimed to combat learning loss for members through the “Hour of Code Program”, summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activities and their summer “100 Book Challenge” program. More than 45 members ages six to 12 and 14 to 17 participated in My.Future activities five times per week to cultivate their thinking and prepare them for careers in the technology field. The six-week program began June 27, 2016, and concluded August 5, 2016.

The Brooklyn O’Malley Club is also one of 16 community centers across Baltimore City that is part of Comcast’s Internet Essentials Learning Zone, a network of community partners working together to create a continuum of connectivity that begins online in classrooms, then extends to community centers, computer labs, and after-school programs and finally ends at home. The club is located at 3560 3rd Street in Brooklyn.

“Our main goal is to provide safe places in environments that need it most,” said Matthew P. Death, vice president of Corporate and Business Partnerships for the Boy & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore. “We find that you can’t ignore the summer months when it comes to developing and learning.”

He added, “We also try to provide support and allow the kids to thrive in places where they don’t have a lot of resources. The kids are very receptive, which is fuel for us.”

According to STEMconnector®, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs in the U.S. are expected to grow nearly twice as fast as other fields by 2018. There will be more than 8 million STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2018, but three million of them may go unfilled because of a lack of people with required skills.

“We try to make sure our teens are being developed in an employment capacity,” said Death. “We are living in a world where technology is a necessity when it comes to employment. We want to do what we can to make sure they don’t fall behind.”

My.Future also provided an opportunity for participants to develop digital interests, earn certifications, and to develop skills they will need to pursue promising careers in high demand fields.

“Today’s youth are digital natives, but there is a skills divide between young people who simply consume data as entertainment and kids who can apply data analytically and creatively,” said Brad Palazzo, director of External Affairs for Comcast’s Beltway Region. “Through My.Future, Baltimore kids and teens will have the chance to interact with technology in meaningful ways and prepare for great futures.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore seeks to inspire and enable all young people, particularly underserved, at-risk youth in severely distressed communities in Baltimore City, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. Boys & Girls Clubs provide a safe haven for close to 5,000 of Baltimore’s children and are making a difference by providing them with life-skills training, meals, academic enhancement programs, and many more services.

Dignity and respect during an election year

During election years, pent-up frustrations, simmering animosities and the toxic legacy of countless hours of hate talk radio erupt from the seething volcano of the American public. Injustice left festering explodes into anger and hatred. Defensive arrogance and condescension drips down the pyramid of privilege.

What should— and perhaps someday could— be a time of remarkable civic discourse, truth-telling, education and public dialogue devolves into political shouting matches that leave millions of American citizens feeling bruised and abused, belligerent waiting for the next go-round of the elections to take vengeance on each other.

I am a member of the last generation of American children who received civics education in our public schools. Budget constraints and curriculum cuts have stripped our youth of access to knowledge not just about the three branches of government, the constitution, the electoral process, but also about the broader context of democracy, historically and worldwide. In the void of education, we learn from observing the current political climate— a circus of extreme wealth, party politics, manipulations, fraud, deceit, personality candidates, disempowerment of citizens, corporate sponsorship, name-calling, shaming, personal attacks, and the endless stream of broken campaign promises.

While this is, unfortunately, an accurate representation of how our dysfunctional political system currently operates, it also fails to articulate or embody the values of true democracy or of a democratic society.

As a child in a rural Maine public school, I learned about the nuanced discussions of democracy from the ancient Greeks through the founding fathers. I learned the shortcomings, foibles and follies of both the individual characters and the governing systems they produced. My memory of my civics courses evoke images of the white-clad suffragettes with sewn banners and African-Americans organizing nonviolent action that led toward civil rights and the Voting Rights Act. And, oddly, I have a persistent memory of a French woman in a cafe holding a lively discussion about politics and elections.

Where did this come from? One afternoon, a civics teacher invoked this semi-mythic figure to stimulate the half-glazed expressions in the classrooms. Politics should not be vitriolic or boring, our teacher told us, we should enjoy political discussions and consider them an essential part of the culture of a democratic society. By lunch, most of my classmates went back to talking about soccer or pop songs, but the lesson stuck with me.

This election cycle, as my fellow Americans froth at the mouth, I find this memory returning as I interact online and in person. Why is it so hard for us to have a passionate – not scornful or vituperative – conversation about politics? Has respectful discourse, like civics, fallen by the wayside of American education? Are we trained only in argument, attack, humiliation, screeching, vilifying, fear mongering, and other forms of verbal abuse?

This is unfortunate and dangerous. Discourse is the foundation of democracy. Even within the context of a representative republic, the ability to have a respectful, engaged, and informed conversation about politics – in the post office, our homes, on the media, with friends, family, or with total strangers – is essential for a society that prizes the ideals of liberty and freedom.

If we are not free to converse without being verbally assaulted, insulted, and screamed at, what does that say about the content of our characters? Why should any of us believe that shaming another citizen for their political choices is an effective approach to building the kind of political engagements and civic interest that greases the wheel of functional political process? Is it really so hard to engage in the practices of being curious about our differences, asking questions, listening, and responding in a sane and civil manner?

We can do better than the obnoxious and insulting manners we are currently displaying during this election cycle. These behaviors are beneath the dignity of a nation that claims to be a democracy and professes to have operated as one for 240 years.

If there is one political action every American should take between now and November, it is to lift our heads with greater dignity and treat our fellow Americans with respect. Regardless of others, our own self-respect should demand such action. We can engage in functional civic dialogue. There is no need to wait for the “leadership” of politicians, parties, pundits or press. In our own lives and interactions, we can discuss politics in a way that uplifts the dignity of all.

Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and the Programs Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence.

Enhancing black owned print and digital press in the age of social media

— The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) salutes the career development success of the Discover the Unexpected (DTU) NNPA Journalism Fellowship program that has just completed its first term of providing undergraduate students at the Howard University School of Communication the unique apprentice opportunity to work at NNPA member newspapers in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Detroit.

Black owned newspapers are not opposed to the digitalization of our content or to the digital distribution of the “trusted,” vibrant, prophetic voice of the Black Press of America. In fact as black owned businesses, it makes good business sense for Black owned newspapers to embrace digital and social media platforms to enhance and increase the value and profitability of our publications.

One mutual benefit that emerged during the labor and service rendered by the DTU NNPA fellows was their daily increase in utilizing social media as an integral component of their career journey while working for black owned newspapers. Both the fellows and our newspapers benefited from having these gifted and talented millennials in our workplaces during the past six weeks. It was a summer of news reporting. It was a journalistic “Freedom Summer.” It was a print, digital and social media summer.

Brandi Montgomery and Brelaun Douglas were at The Atlanta Voice; Briahnna Brown and Mckenzie Marshall at the Chicago Defender; Victoria Jones and Rushawn Walters at The Washington Informer; and Tatyana Hopkins and Sidnee King were at the Michigan Chronicle. In addition to writing front-page news stories pertinent to improving the quality of life of black America, all of the NNPA fellows were actively engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Youtube.

Most of the 209 black owned newspapers that are affiliated with the NNPA now have active websites with various degrees of interactivity and digital capabilities. But the challenge of linking social media with the world of the black print press, while formidable, will be a growing opportunity to enhance the future economic sustainability of Black owned newspapers.

One goal, which the NNPA is now actively planning and researching, is how to effectively and efficiently establish the NNPA Digital Network (DigitalNetwork@nnpa.org). The truth is that by having the DTU fellows working at some of our member’s newspapers has helped to crystallize the need and the opportunity for the timely development of the NNPA Digital Network. Again the digital network is not to replace or to supplant the print work of NNPA’s 209 black owned newspapers. The digital network will help to increase the market value of the trusted content of NNPA member newspapers.

We are living at a time when candidates to be President of the United States routinely communicate to their constituents and supporters via Twitter, Facebook, Google and Instagram. The national and global news cycles are now ten seconds in length. Yet, there is still market demand from millions of people across the United States and throughout the world for more in-depth and detailed news accounts of what is happening in a rapidly changing and challenging world.

Black owned newspapers in print and their online editions provide in-depth news coverage and uplifts the cultural genius of black America as part of the long unique and respected tradition of the Black Press of America. From our perspective, we are encouraged by the emergence of committed student journalists like our DTU fellows. The future maybe challenging but the opportunities to soar with success and progress are much greater.

Social media has increased the instantaneous awareness and involvement of millions of people. It is driven by content. Black owned newspapers are content rich. As various social media platforms become additional distribution vehicles for black owned newspapers, the overall value of black owned print and digital media will increase correspondingly.

Learn more about the Discover the Unexpected (DTU) program at http://www.nnpa.org/dtu/ and use the hashtag #DiscoverTheUnexpected on Twitter. Follow us on Twitter @BlackPressUSA, @NNPA_BlackPress and @NNPADTU, like our Facebook pages at NNPA Black Press and Black Press Matters.

The importance of early childhood education

— Late in 2015, the Baltimore Community Foundation announced a $6 million contribution towards the expansion of Judy Centers to help provide early childhood education and support services to 5,000 Baltimore City children and their families. At the time, a goal was set to have 90 percent of preschool-aged children ready for school in Baltimore by 2017.

The percentage of Baltimore children measured as school-ready grew from 28 percent in 2002 to 76 percent in 2013. According to the 2013 Maryland Measurement of School Readiness, between 85 and 93 percent of children with a Judy Center or early childhood education experience in Baltimore City, were ready for kindergarten at age five, compared with 76 percent of children citywide.

“We strongly believe that the only way our society is going to succeed over the long term is to ensure that every child, regardless of economic standing, has the same opportunity for an excellent education,” said George Sherman, a local philanthropist who, with his wife Betsy, also provided significant funds for Judy Centers in Baltimore.

The importance of early childhood education can easily be seen in numbers— Ready at Five, a statewide organization dedicated to elevating school readiness for all Maryland children in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education/MSDE, has found that just 45 percent of students demonstrate the skills and behaviors needed to fully participate and succeed in kindergarten and that the skills and knowledge children have upon entering school are strongly predictive of future academic success and children, who enter kindergarten behind their peers, are unlikely to catch up.

Further, they found that children that enter school at higher levels of readiness, are healthier and are less likely to become involved with the criminal justice system and drop out of school.

These children experience higher levels of education and typically have higher earnings throughout their lives. Finally, Ready at Five found that children that attend Pre-K programs are better prepared for school than those in home or informal care the year prior to starting kindergarten.

The importance of an early childhood education was further underscored when, on August 13, 2016, Celebree Learning Centers, a dedicated leader in early childhood education and development, hosted its annual open house at all 22 its locations in Maryland.

“A lot of research of the brain and neurology show that the first five years are formidable,” said Lisa Henkel, CEO of Celebree Learning Centers, whose locations include Annapolis and Baltimore.

“The biggest challenge we face is public perception. People tend to believe it’s about babysitting and play time, but early childhood education and what we do at Celebree is about building an education foundation and maintaining educational milestones,” she said.

The center’s preschool curriculum, which is aligned with the Maryland State Department of Education’s focus on early childhood education, is designed to cover each kindergarten readiness milestone, according to Henkel.

Celebree’s mission is to provide a stable and secure learning environment that helps foster a solid foundation for lifelong success and center officials have a vision to be the recognized leader in providing the best care for infants, preschool and school-age children.

Teachers at the center are dedicated instructors who make a habit of going above and beyond the call of duty for the children they teach, officials said.

They also realize some of the challenges that may hold some back from an early education.

“We know quality care isn’t cheap and when parents are looking at expenses, your child care expense is only second to your mortgage and that could be a challenge to find the funds to participate,” Henkel said. “It’s a national challenge that’s not unique to just Baltimore and Annapolis.”

Henkel says it’s important that parents realize the importance of the centers.

“We want them to know it’s important. At Celebree, play is important too and parents should know that what we provide is purposeful play,” she said.

“The exposure children are having from their earliest moment are important and formative,” Henkel said. “We are now at a point in studies that are 25 and 30 years long which show that when children are exposed to an early childhood education program they do better. They don’t have the lags and gaps of development and they have less involvement with the criminal justice system.”