Books Through Bars, Inc. provides free reading materials for prisoners across the country. Every month, it receives more than 120 letters from prisoners requesting books. The organization responds by sending donated volumes from individuals, libraries, and community organizations, making selections based on the stated preferences of the inmate. Reading the books provides a productive activity for the inmates and can help them develop politically, spiritually, and academically during their time in prison.
Jump Trax's menagerie of inflatables plays host to kids of all ages for parties and open-play sessions. Sock-footed youngsters can explore two climate-controlled arenas filled with bounceable attractions, such as Spongebob’s pineapple house and a prehistoric obstacle course overseen by a tyrannosaurus rex. Other activities abound, such as tyke-sized push cars, a slide shaped like the Batmobile, or an inflatable Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. To prevent the inflatables from becoming vitamin D deficient, Jump Trax's location is used for block parties, barbecues, and birthday parties. Their menu consists of pizza and sodas, as well as goodie bags. Check out their FAQ for more info.
At Little Folks School, learning happens all the time, falling into one of two categories: structured or organic. Preschoolers (between ages 3 and 4) and pre-kindergarteners (between ages 4 and 5) spend their mornings immersed in storytelling, playtime, and learning basic reading and writing, which naturally fosters social learning. They'll form new friendships and work to solve conflicts with peers in a way that will augment their new academic skills once they start kindergarten.
•For $40, you get eight weeks of creative dance (ages 4–5) or introduction to ballet (ages 6–7) instruction with one class per week (an $84 value). •For $80, you get eight weeks of ballet 1, 2, or 3 instruction (ages 8–11) or adult ballet with two classes per week (a $180 value). •For $120, you get eight weeks of intermediate or advanced ballet instruction (ages 12+) with three classes per week (a $580 value). Previous training is required for intermediate and advanced ballet levels.
The instructors at EMS Schools traverse rocky, paved, and watery terrain from New England down to Virginia, imparting people with their love of the outdoors along the way. Dating back more than 40 years, the EMS Climbing School teaches pupils of all ages the tenets of climbing through introductory classes and more advanced maneuvering in self-rescue, alpine climbing, and glacier-skills classes. The watery wing of EMS's operation includes kayaking and standup-paddleboard lessons, which can help students earn certification in these water-bound endeavors, and group tours. EMS-led bike tours trace a path through the rolling hills of the Berkshires, the mansions of Newport, as well as the powdered-sugar-topped White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Now in their 10th year of dueling instruction, U.S. Fencing Association–certified coaches Michael and Anne Olson invite local squires to apprentice under the blade at their 3,500-square-foot sword school. At Blackstone Valley Fencing Academy, students ranked amateur through Arthurian clash in a safe and controlled environment over the course of six weekly classes. Beginning swordspersons are required to take the intro to fencing class, while experienced participants can wield their choice of foil, épée, or slashing saber as they parry and riposte across the academy’s four regulation-length electric-fencing strips. Sessions are divided by age for jousters as young as 7, and you can check the class schedule here. Participants should wear an embroidered gambeson and burnished chain mail, or at least court shoes and comfortable long pants.
Though recently featured in a USA Today Travel article that praised its “astonishing” chow mein sandwich, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining is known by locals for more than just its kitchen’s specialties. The restaurant also won a prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive award in 2011, and its world-famous jazz and blues performances have helped cement its self-proclaimed reputation as New England’s "home of eggroll, jazz, and blues."
Long before the sounds of horns and saxophones filled its halls, the New Shanghai Restaurant opened its doors in 1905. It was not until the mid-1960s, however, that the Chan family refurbished the Woonsocket landmark and began serving an innovative combination of Cantonese, Szechwan, Hunan, and Mandarin cuisines. Around this time, the Chans also brought in the live jazz and blues music that continues to fill the main dining area—known as the Horseshoe Bar Lounge—and the famous Four Seasons Jazz and Blues Club.
With its red paper lanterns, traditional Chinese artwork, and colorful paintings of musicians, the Four Seasons has played host to such legendary blues, jazz, and folk artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Rebecca Parris. A buffet spread accompanies musical performances, during which enthralled audiences watch as musicians pound eggrolls against snare drums or slide their hands along guitars strung up with slippery chow mein noodles.