It takes a village to raise a child
I meet people all the time who move back to Gainesville to raise a family. Clearly these people are in on the secret: If it takes a village to raise a child, this is the village. I was lucky. My wife grew up in Gainesville and when our first baby was on the way, there was nothing that was going to stop her from moving back. | read more . . .
We have three kids now and we’ve experienced it all: elementary, middle and high school—even the first of the college years. We live near downtown which means our kids can walk to the library, see a movie at the Hippodrome, get a snack at Starbucks or Maudes or a piece of pizza from Big Lou’s. They walk a bit farther for Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art classes they take on University Avenue, and get a Cuban snack at Flacos.
My son rides his bike to school on NE 16th Avenue, while my daughter gets to use the bike trail all the way from our house to P.K. Yonge, the developmental research K-12 school that is part of the University of Florida (UF). If you keep riding, the trail crosses the really cool spiral DNA bridge over 13th Street and takes you to the VA and UF Health on Archer Road and the main UF campus.
What I haven’t said in all of this is that wherever my kids go, a lot of people are looking out for them. They know the folks at the downtown businesses and at the Wednesday farmer’s market. They’re easily recognized by scores of neighbors as they ride by or shoot hoops on the street. I get constant reports about their whereabouts and it makes me feel secure that people are looking out for them.
When they were toddlers, my kids took swim classes, tumbling for tots, and mommy-baby yoga. When they got older, they were involved in engineering activities for kids at UF and summer theater programs. My kids have sold things at the farmer’s market and had their own booths at the Santa Fe College Spring Arts Festival, where there is an entire section dedicated to youth artists. They’ve played every sport you can imagine on leagues set up by the city and other organizations. Music is big in Gainesville. My daughter plays tabla, which are drums from India. My son plays violin and jams with far more experienced musicians during downtown ArtWalk. We know young folks who play in bands at late night venues, design wind turbines, create original fashions, get involved in 24-hour comic book creations or one-day filmmaking extravaganzas. There is spoken word, dance, science lab for kids and caboodles of opportunities to learn or volunteer.
Finally, it is always fun for the family to head out on a bike trail, hike across the prairie or get nice and wet in a freshwater spring on a hot day.
Article contributed by Stewart J. Thomas
Top-notch health care for kids
Gainesville is home to one of the top-ranked hospitals in pediatric specialties. UF Health offers top-notch general and specialty care for kids, whether they’re struggling with the flu or a chronic health problem. | read more . . .
Two pediatric primary care locations provide general services, including well child visits, sick visits, immunizations, adolescent preventative care, physicals, screenings and more. For more complex health problems, UF Health Pediatric Specialties — Medical Plaza offers a wide array of specialized services in a convenient, state-of-the-art outpatient center, and UF Health’s Children’s Surgical Center provides outpatient surgical and procedural care in a facility devoted to children and adolescents.
When emergencies or urgent concerns pop up, UF Health’s Pediatric Emergency Room and Pediatrics After Hours services are the perfect places to go. They’re inviting for children of all ages, with a colorful, nautical-themed design that includes fish tanks, porthole windows and walls painted to simulate waves. Recently relocated and redesigned, the expanded space can accommodate up to 24,000 pediatric emergency patients each year.
UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital is ranked among the nation’s best in 2012 in seven pediatric specialties and treats patients from throughout Florida and the world. The hospital’s Child Life Program helps make the hospital environment more positive and friendly for kids who have to stay overnight. The program prepares kids for and supports them through medical tests, and allows patients to express themselves through age-appropriate activities and therapeutic play.
Our goal is the same as yours: Together let’s get them back to their normal, playful selves!