Because they believe books should be available to everyone, Ready, Set, Read! hosts parent education programs and classroom lending libraries to get children reading at home. During bilingual workshops, parents can learn techniques such as the dialogic method, which uses open-ended questions and discussions to engage children in content, making reading aloud fun for young children at home. The program focuses on demonstrating how influential the parents’ role is in developing literacy skills and self-confidence. Since 2000, volunteers and educators with Ready, Set, Read! have built more than 160 classroom lending libraries, taught more than 27,000 local parents to read with their children on a regular basis, and distributed as many books to those families.
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In 1976, Joan Barnes—a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play & Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children’s’ cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
At Fortanasce & Associates Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center, an experienced team of doctors of physical therapy, exercise scientists, and massage therapists help clients get into the best shape of their lives. The 11,000 square-foot facility works with the young, old, injured, or healthy through services such as physical and occupational therapy, personal training and Pilates, and industrial rehabilitation. An onsite, in-ground pool lets clients to exercise without stressing their joints, catering to the elderly as well as pregnant women who want to alleviate back pain and teach their babies to speak to fish. A troupe of massage therapists administer deep-tissue, sports, and shiatsu treatments, while hand therapists cater specifically to problems in the wrist, fingers, elbows, and shoulders.
Since wrapping up the contents of their first grande burrito in 1974, The Original Peppers’ crew of chefs have continued to sate customers’ cravings for spicy, south-of-the-border fare thanks to their vast menu of Mexican food. Within the bustling kitchen, chefs can be found wrangling ingredients into traditional Mexican dishes ranging from burritos and enchiladas to fajitas and tostadas, crafting homemade tortillas on Wednesday and Thursday. While many dishes feature meats such as certified Angus beef and deep-fried pork, the culinary team also architects a host of seafood specialties starring jumbo scallops, seasoned halibut, and crab to appeal to the seafaring palates of humans and bears dressed like humans.
Cafe 322's welcoming atmosphere and rich menu of comforting Italian eats make diners feel at home while the live jazz adds a cosmopolitan flair. Try a different lasagna each day with the lasagna de la casa ($10.95) or opt for the sophisticated mélange of flavors in the fettuccine di spinaci e salsiccia with fresh spinach, italian sausage, and garlic sautéed in olive oil ($11.95). Cafe 322 also serves up tasty meatier dishes, such as lamb shanks slow-braised so they fall off the bone and directly into that special place in your heart reserved for Mom, America, and lamb shanks ($14.95). Stars of the gourmet pizza menu include the quattro formaggio, layered with fontina, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and parmesan cheeses ($11.95), and the flavorful grilled chicken pesto ($13.95).
The exercise enthusiasts at Women’s World Fitness Center chase guests toward fitness goals with a posse of group workouts designed especially for women. With the help of an attentive teacher, Group Power students add muscle tone, subtract calories, and find the square root of pi through a series of squats and presses. Zumba and Cardio Salsa pair easy-to-follow moves with Latin rhythms to dance away stress. Up to 15 pedalers bolster their cardio health in music-fueled spinning sessions, and exercisers of all levels learn jabs, hooks, and empowering self-defense maneuvers in kickboxing classes. The gym also promotes sound minds to fill healthy bodies by offering Pilates, two types of yoga, and an atmosphere that fosters collaboration and encouragement rather than full-contact jumping-jack duels. Consult the schedule for class dates and times.