Free chess tournament at Blackwell library Saturday

Posted on 10 March 2011

Attention young chess players. The Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library is hosting a chess tournament on Saturday to help bolster interest in chess among West Philly youths.

The three-round unrated tournament is open to anyone, youths and adults alike (although they will compete in separate tournaments). The event will also include an introduction to tournament play, refreshments and prizes. Organizers hope that they will garner enough interest to start a chess club at the library.

Here is the tournament schedule:

Registration: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Introduction to tournament play: 1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Competition: 2:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Players from the chess club at the Walnut Street West Library will likely be on hand for the tournament, according to their coach Joe Clarke. Speaking of the Walnut Street West club, several of its members competed last month in the Fourth Annual Checkmate Violence 24-Hour Chess Marathon at Temple University. The tournament took place Feb. 5-6. Club members George Cao, Saleh Ibrahim and Carter Davis, all 9, 10-year-old Sherwin Hosseinpour and 7-year-old Risa Azim all took home medals (see photo below).

About 200 players take part in the event, which includes a series of tournaments and activities, and about 100 play all 24 hours.

Members of the Walnut Street West Library Chess Club. Front row (from left): George Cao, Sherwin Hosseinpour, Carter Davis and Saleh Ibrahim. Back row (from left): coaches Fred Austion and Joe Clarke. Risa Azim, who also took home a medal from the competition, is not in the photograph. (Photo provided by Joe Clarke)

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Free kids ukulele lessons

Posted on 07 March 2011

ukuleleWest Philly resident John Salmon is putting together a series of free weekly, weekend ukulele workshops at his home (46th and Hazel) for kids 8-14. The first meeting will be this Sunday.

John writes:

“It’s a very fun and relatively easy instrument, and a great way to expose children to the joy of making music.”

Each child will need a ukulele. John said he will have some for sale ($25-$45), but also asks parents to consult with him before buying one as “the difference between a usable instrument and a piece of junk is not always obvious.”

John has committed to eight classes and then says he will assess how it’s going before proceeding with more classes.

For more information see John’s blog post here. E-mail him at — at —

To provide a little inspiration, here’s Jason Castro from American Idol a couple of years ago singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and playing ukulele, a performance inspired by  Israel “IZ” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole’s version:


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All Around This World registration underway

Posted on 01 March 2011

kidsRegistration is underway for the spring session of the West Philly-based interactive music workshops for kids “All Around This World,” named last year’s “Best Date With Your Kid” by Philadelphia Magazine. The session starts March 7 and will focus on music and dancing from East and Southeast Asia.

Participants 0-8 and their families can choose from Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday classes. The spring classes will run for 11 weeks. Click here for more information.

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Youth sports registration underway

Posted on 15 February 2011

This week’s weather will try to convince us that spring is right around the corner. OK, we’ll take the bait, and remind folks that registration for youth sports leagues is upon us. Here’s a quick rundown of a few popular ones:

soccerClark Park Youth Soccer

The registration deadline is March 1. The season runs March 19 through May 21. The cost of registration is $42 for one child, which includes membership in the Friends of Clark Park. Additional kiddos in the same family are cheaper. All the forms you need to make it happen are here.

Each 90-minute Saturday session includes instruction and a game. The league is open to kids 5-11.

• Fairmount Sports Association baseball and softball

Many kids from neighborhood play softball and baseball across the river in the Fairmount Sports Association youth leagues off Ben Franklin Parkway. T-Ball typically involves age groups (boys and girls) starting at 4-6 years old. Girls softball begins at the rookie level with league play for ages 6-10 years of age. There is also a junior–senior level league for ages 11-16 years of age.

Boy’s baseball begins at the Rookie level (7-9), Junior or Pony League (10-12) and Senior league (13-16). Travel teams will be made up upon coaches and players availability.

You’ve already missed the early bird registration for this one, so it will cost you an extra $10 to register now. Online registration is available here. Walk-in registration is also available at the FSA building near the fields every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and Tuesday/Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

• Taney Youth baseball and softball

This league headquartered in South Philadelphia is also a popular one for neighborhood kids. The league plays its games on a number of fields in Center City. Opening day is April 9. Early bird registration is closed for this one too. But be quick because there is a cap on the number of players that will be allowed to register. The league is trying to get everyone to register online here. The registration fee is $90 for the first child and $80 for each additional child. The league is open to kids ages 3-15.

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All Around This World gearing up for winter

Posted on 07 December 2010

The next All Around This World session, Jay Sand’s songs, rhythms and movement extravaganza for kids, starts tomorrow. This time Jay and the little ones will be having a look and listen to Eastern Europe and the Baltics. The 45-minute classes are aimed at kids 0-8 and are divided into age categories.

The full schedule is here. The winter session runs through March 5 and includes a holiday break from December 20 – January 2. All of the classes take place in Jay and family’s West Philly living room.

Jay and friends will also also be holding events at two local shops over the next few weeks. The first, with Cat’s Pajamas’ Emily Bate, will be at Milk and Honey on Saturday, December 11 at 2 p.m. This is a free workshop, but space is very limited. RSVP here. Another, a workshop with the Eastern European women’s vocal ensemble Svitanya,  is Sunday, December 12 at 4 p.m. at the Green Line Cafe at 45th and Locust. This workshop costs $10 for one child, $5 for first sibling and $3 for second sibling. More to come on the others.

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Wilson playground construction underway

Posted on 15 November 2010

Construction of the new playground at Alexander Wilson Elementary School (1300 South 46th), a project that has been years in the making, began today.
A member of the construction crew that was beginning to assemble the playground equipment said that phase would be done by Friday, “if all goes well.” Another crew will then lay down a rubber ground surface.
The playground has been near the top of the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) wish list for many years and became a reality after a $50,000 grant from the Hamels Foundation, the charitable organization run by Phillies Pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife Heidi. The grant was the Foundation’s largest made to a Philadelphia public school this year. Mary Goldman of the SHCA’s Youth and Education Committee was instrumental in arranging the funding for the playground. Community members from the school and a variety of organizations have been raising funds for the playground for about 20 years.
The 183-square-foot facility will provide 21 activities and will be able to accommodate about 70 children at a time.

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