Playground

The news and views from kids and parents this month

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Holiday with a conscience

Dubai family teaches swimming in Vietnam
Kudos to the Dubai-based Griffin family who, instead of lazing about this summer, are off to Vietnam to teach local kids how to swim. Drowning is the biggest killer of children under 15 in Vietnam and, given Dubai kids spend more time than most splashing around, it seemed logical to Vanda Griffin and her kids, 12-year-old Molly and Sam, eight, that they head off to Hoi An to help.

‘Swimming is a fundamental part of our lives and we believe that enjoying and being safe in the water is an important life skill,’ says Vanda, who will do the teaching bit while Molly and Sam demonstrate. ‘I hope they will inspire the local children to emulate their style and confidence in the water. This will make my job of getting children safe and able to swim basic freestyle and carry out lifesaving techniques much easier,’ says Vanda.

During their eight-week stay, they’ll also instruct local teachers so that the programme can continue once they’re back in Dubai. The kids have been collecting old and new swimming goggles and have so far gathered more than 200 pairs with help from pupils at Repton, Kings, DESS, Uptown Primary and Jebel Ali Primary schools. Other organisations including AGSA, Desert Sports Services and Hamilton Aquatics have also made donations to buy equipment. When the Griffin family return, they plan to show a video of the trip to interested schools and continue raising funds. ‘One day, what we have done may save a life,’ says Vanda.
For more details check out www.vietnamtriathlon.com/home-learntoswimprogram.php or contact Vanda on vandagriffin@mac.com.

Capital fun

Dhabi delights
After its huge success last year, Summer in Abu Dhabi is back with five islands of fun, covering science and technology, adventure, culture and heritage, art and sports and entertainment. Each island has a host of family activities including archery, bowling, go-karts and wave and ski simulators. Summer in Abu Dhabi runs from July 1 to August 15 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), 4pm-midnight (weekdays), noon-midnight (weekends).
See www.summerinabudhabi.com for details.

Food deaths

Local tragedy highlights the need for food safety
Our hearts go out to the family of Nathan and Chelsea D’Souza, the two Dubai children who died of suspected food poisoning after eating a takeaway Chinese meal. At time of going to press, lab tests at the Lotus Garden Restaurant in Al Qusais were still under way, and questions were being asked about why the New Medical Centre speciality hospital discharged the children, who began vomiting several hours after eating. This shocking case, which strikes terror in parents everywhere, has highlighted the importance of stringent food hygiene, always an issue during the hot and humid summer months. Nutritionist Stephanie Karl says to avoid food that is laid out or kept warm in a bain marie as bacteria thrives on warmth, moisture and nutrients. She advises eating out at eateries where there is a high turnover and where the food is freshly prepared in front of you.

Aim hayya

Soccerkids’ important goal
Head along to the Hayya! Club in the Meadows every Saturday between noon and 1pm and show your support for the Soccerkids charity coaching programme. In conjunction with the All 4 Downs Syndrome group, kids aged from four to 19 years are taking part in a coaching session, helping to keep them fit, have fun and stretch their coordination skills. The sessions involve a range of activities, including a penalty shoot-out contest that puts Soccerkids coaches’ goalkeeping skills to the test. Want to help out or just show your support? The group is welcoming volunteers for this weekly event.
For more information visit www.soccerkidsdubai.com, email ben@soccerkidsdubai.com or call 050 356 0960. See www.downsyndromedubai.com for details of the All 4 Downs Syndrome voluntary support group.


Weird world

Boy wonder
All kids are smartie pants, but one wee lad is a bonafide clever clogs, graduating with honours from Los Angeles College at just 11 years old. Moshe Kai Cavalin, however, insists he’s no genius: ‘I consider myself a regular kid who works hard and does his best,’ he says. Moshe started his studies aged eight, but soon ended up tutoring some of his 19- and 20-year-old classmates in maths and science. Like a twist in a Hollywood action flick, Moshe combines his exceptional brain with fearsome martial arts capabilities. Next up for the boy wonder? He plans to devote himself to martial arts, write a book for kids on how to succeed in school, and take up scuba diving – but no video games. ‘I feel it’s a waste of time playing video games because it’s not helping humanity in any way,’ says Moshe, who wants to use his knowledge to change the world.

Thank your lucky stars

A German schoolboy is counting himself lucky after surviving being hit by a meteorite. Gerrit Blank, 14, was rushing to school when he saw a massive fireball heading straight towards him from the sky. ‘At first I just saw a large ball of light, and then I suddenly felt a pain in my hand,’ he said. ‘Then a split second after that there was an enormous bang like a crash of thunder.’ The white-hot meteorite hit the ground so hard it left a foot-wide crater in the tarmac and a three-inch-long scar on Gerrit’s hand where it bounced off him. ‘When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road,’ he said. ‘My ears were ringing for hours afterwards.’ Chemical tests have proved it came from outer space. The chances of being struck by a meteorite are just one in 100 million. Most don’t make it to the ground because they evaporate in the atmosphere.

Top breeder
A 29-year-old man from Tennessee, USA, has fathered 21 children with 11 different women, a fact that was revealed when authorities took Desmond Hatchett to court for non-payment of child support. He has apparently set a national record but says ‘it just happened’. Mr Hatchett, who earns a minimal wage, says he knows the names and ages of all his offspring, who range from newborn to 11 years old. Residents of his home town of Knoxville are angry, with some even calling for him to be castrated. But Mr Hatchett says he won’t have any more children. ‘I’m done,’ he says.

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