Pouches' Community Corner

Engineering For Kids

“I believe that all children are natural engineers. They are curious, creative and kinetic. Engineering For Kids wants to help nurture and develop those minds, to help children better understand the world they live in, so that they can one day make it better.” – Dori Roberts

In 2009 while teaching engineering courses at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Virginia, Dori Roberts realized a growing need for more S.T.E.M.-focused enrichment for her students. “I knew the world economy would increasingly require the skills and expertise of S.T.E.M. jobs. To help fill this skills gap, I was the advisor for a Technology Student Association chapter at Colonial Forge High School.”

S.T.E.M., an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, allows students access to advanced science and technology with the aim of making them more competitive in those fields the future.

As Roberts’ Technology Student Association grew to 180 students, they saw success in multiple state championships. During a trip to the national TSA conference in Orlando, Florida, Roberts brought her young children, 6 and 8 years old.

“A funny thing happened on the way to Epcot...my children were becoming as interested in what the student engineers were doing as they were The Magic Kingdom. They were drawn more to the roller coasters being made than the ones being ridden. And then the idea came to me: Engineering For Kids.”

Operations for Engineering For Kids began out of a single classroom and has since grown into a successful franchise, reaching over 300,000 students worldwide.

In Fredericksburg, Engineering for Kids provides a suite of programs and events for kids aged 4-14. “Subjects range from Electronic Game Design to Aerospace Engineering, Robotics to earth-friendly Environmental and Marine Engineering. Engineering For Kids is devoted to one sole purpose: to inspire the next generation of engineers.”

If you are interested in getting your kids involved, Engineering For Kids is offering the Fredericksburg area workshops and Spring and Summer Camps.

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Fredericksburg All Ages

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Created in 2006 by young musicians seeking a venue to perform, Fredericksburg All Ages empowers young musicians across the area by providing a platform by which they can listen to and share their art. Adam Bray, founder of FAA recalls its beginning.

“I moved back to Fredericksburg after finishing grad school and started working part time at the local guitar shop, Apple Music, while job hunting in D.C. At Apple Music, I kept running into teenagers who were really into music, taking guitar lessons and starting bands, but who had never played music in front of anyone. And, some of them had never been to a concert before,” he says.

During that time, the only performance venues for live music were from the 21 and over crowd. This got Bray’s wheels turning. He met five area youth and organized a show they put on-stage at "The Loft" (which is now Mian Noodle House) on September 10, 2006. The event was comprised of two high school bands and two bands from the University of Mary Washington.

“It was a Sunday matinee. Turnout exceeded all of our expectations. The show sold out with 130 people showing up - primarily high school and college students, but also parents and other family members coming to support their kids who were performing at the show,” he remembers.

Now 13 years later, FAA has “put on over 300 events with thousands of attendees and dozens of teenagers taking up leadership roles and running the program” and hosts a semi-annual 24-hour filmmaking competition and supports a theater program, Proof of Youth Theatre.

For parents wanting to get their youth involved with FAA, Bray has this to offer.

“Come to a show and talk to us! When you come to an FAA concert, you'll see young people taking money at the door, selling merch, running sound, and coordinating all the logistics. They're the best people to talk to and they're nice!” he says.

Learn more and involved with Fredericksburg All Ages at fredericksburgallages.org.

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Team River Runner

Pouches Learns About the Power of Play


Healing PTSD can be a challenge for veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam. In Fredericksburg, Lance Sharp, Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Team River Runner, has launched a local chapter of Team River Runner to make water sports on Fredericksburg’s beautiful Rappahannock River and nearby lakes available to anyone with a visible or invisible injury.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” says Sharp. “We have 35 vets paddling, kayaking and canoeing, along with 85 volunteers to assist them. We also take any nonmilitary with disabilities in the area.

“We do everything from casual paddling to experienced white water paddling. Many veterans especially enjoy the adrenaline rush from white water kayaking or paddling. We like to keep a 2-to-1 volunteer to participant ratio and we adapt to any physical or mental injury. The team meets once a month for open water exercises and three times a month at the pool at the Ron Rosner YMCA in Spotsylvania from 8:30 to noon.”

All equipment is free, funded by the VA, the national Team River Runner organization and local fundraising.

Team River Runner’s mission is to provide all veterans and their families an opportunity to find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports.

For more information or to donate, contact Lance Sharp at 229-507-8787 or email at Fredericksburg This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please visit: fredericksburgva.wixsite.com/trr-fc and teamriverrunner.org

"TRR has brought so much joy to my stay at Perry Point VA Medical Center! I found my love for Kayaking and being on the open water and having those few hours of serenity and fun to forget about my difficulties and disability!” —Jen McGowan

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Foster Care Adoption Can Make a Lifetime of Difference

What do you remember about your 18th birthday? A sense of freedom? A feeling that big things lay ahead?

What allowed many of us to dream big and pursue goals as young adults was the strong foundation that started with our families.

Simple things like knowing you had a table to sit down to at Thanksgiving, or someone to call in a time of crisis, provided the security to build a productive life.

A loving, permanent relationship with a parent is at the heart of that security, but right now, more than 700 children in Virginia are at risk of leaving childhood without this powerful benefit.

“Every single child deserves a loving, trusting adult in their life,” says Laura Ash-Brackley, chief programs officer for Children’s Home Society of Virginia.


Children’s Home Society works to build strong, permanent relationships for Virginia’s at-risk youth.

A major piece of that work is educating families about the realities of adopting children out of foster care before they age out of the system at 18 and supporting families who choose this path.

In Virginia, approximately 500 children age out of the foster care system each year. They start adult lives without knowing what a trusting, loving relationship with an adult looks like.

These children are at a much higher risk for incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence. Fewer than 1 in 6 of them will graduate from high school.

Finding a permanent family before a child’s 18th birthday can re-write that story.


Ash-Brackley makes clear that adopting pre-teen and teenaged children from foster care is very different from adopting a baby.

CHS’s programs help families honestly explore the process and equip them with skills, realistic expectations and the knowledge that a big part of their job will be adjusting to the unexpected.
The opportunity is tremendous.

“To be able to become that trusting parent of a child who has had all the other adults in their life fail them is an incredible thing,” Ash-Brackley said. “It’s amazing to see how kids change physically when they get into their forever families. They feel stable, they feel secure, they will grow several inches, their whole demeanor will change.”


For some, it can be a mindset shift to consider adopting a pre-teen or teen versus a younger child. Ash-Brackley encourages people to see the bigger picture.

“The time that you raise a child is relatively short,” she notes. “The time that your child is an adult and you’re still parenting is more of a lifetime. Even though you may not have been there for their first steps or their first tooth, you can be the first person to be in the audience for their high school awards ceremony.”

She points out that many people don’t consider adopting children out of foster care because they’ve been misinformed.

They may think it’s expensive, but adoption fees are low, and various funds, subsidies and tax credits can help offset the cost of a child’s care and college tuition.

They may think they need to own a home or be married, neither of which is required.
And while children who have been in foster care have experienced trauma, and do require a different parenting approach, the stereotype that foster kids are out of control is misguided.

CHS“These kids are in foster care through no fault of their own,” Ash-Brackley emphasizes.
CHS has experience helping families work through the challenges that can arise during and after the adoption process.

Ash-Brackley encourages families to learn more if they think adopting from foster care is a role they can play.

To get started call Children’s Home Society of Virginia at 804-353-0191.

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BE KIND at Home and Abroad

At Home: Kindness Day and Kids Fair

Pouches is looking forward to a KIND October. She will be attending the Kindness Day Pancake Breakfast, sponsored by the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, Great Steak Restaurant, Wiggle Worms, Fredericksburg Parent Magazine, and Unforgettable Moments Photography on Saturday, October 13 from 10 am to noon.

Parents can donate blood. For children, three pancakes, bacon and juice will be served for $5 (cash only). Al’s Pal’s, sponsored by Smart Beginnings Rappahannock, will put on a puppet show about kindness. Wiggle Worms will do a kindness reading, Fredericksburg Parent and Memorable Moments will take pictures and provide crafts. Email Fredericksburg Parent at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let Pouches know how you were kind in October and she will share your story with Fredericksburg Parent.

Registration will be at the Customer Service Center at Spotsylvania Towne Centre, September 28-October 11.

Happy and Healthy Kids Fair
Saturday, October 20, 2018, 9:30am to 12:30 pm, the Children’s Museum Fredericksburg and Smart Beginnings will be giving out free t-shirts, door prizes and great resources and activities for parents and young children. Eagle Village Shopping Center, 1275 Jefferson Davis Highway. More information here.

Abroad: Prosthetics In Ecuador

Also in October, Pouches will be preparing to travel to Ibarra, Ecuador with the Rappahannock Rotary Club in November. The Rotary Club has been invited to visit the Ibarra Rotary Club’s Prosthetics for Life Foundation, a shop that focuses on providing prosthetics and orthotics to low-income community citizens. One of Pouches' best friends, Tabitha Van Doren, 21, uses orthotics to manage her neuromuscular disease. Tabitha and Pouches are collecting used orthotics to take to Ecuador to be refurbished for our Ecuadoran friends who need help walking. If you have old foot, leg, or knee braces you can donate, go to www.fredericksburgparent.net for further details on how to donate. The club also supports a program for children with learning disabilities and mental health issues, a retirement center for low income seniors and an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. For further information on the Rappahannock Rotary Club, go to https://rapprotary.org/Stories/support-of-projects-in-ecuador-international-service-committee.


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