Friday, May 22, 2009

Yes to Family Literacy!

LTSC Angelina Preschool Family Literacy Field Trip to lend their voices to the No on Prop 1D cause. The mommies in our program attended a rally downtown this month. Having no return transportation, they marched all the way from the California State Building on Spring and 3rd Street back to Angelina Preschool in Echo Park carrying their signs and urging voters to support First 5LA programs such as the Family Literacy Initiative.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Speaking to the LAUSD Board: No on 1D

I was asked to make comments to the LAUSD School Board to urge the board members to pass a resolution opposing Proposition 1D. It was my first time in the Board room. Going up to the podium was a little bit nerve wracking, but luckily I managed to get through it with 5 seconds to spare on my 3 minute comment:

• Good afternoon. My name is Jennifer Kuida and I am the Director of Childcare at Little Tokyo Service Center. With me is Meliza Roa-Arreola, our Family Literacy Program Manager at Angelina Preschool. Our preschool is located a few blocks from here in Echo Park. Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today.

• Little Tokyo Service Center has been a grantee of First 5 LA’s Family Literacy Initiative for the past 7 years. One of 22 grantees in our program, we have served 90 families with a highly intensive 4 component program, including full-day year-round early childhood education, adult education where we offer daily ESL and computer classes, weekly parenting education, and provide opportunities for parent and child interactive literacy activities, such as our Lending Library, Mommy and Me, Read-A-Thon, and parents reading to their children every night before they go to sleep.

* Proposition 1D would rob our children of the most important early learning opportunities needed for school success. School readiness programs, family literacy skills-building classes, and access to preschool give our children the greatest chance for school success.

* We have these programs in LAUSD because of First 5 LA and Proposition 10 funding. Now, when we need these programs most, state leaders want to cut them to balance their budget … and, I might add, a very small portion of the state budget.

* First 5 LA’s family literacy programs like Little Tokyo Service Center’s Angelina Preschool Family Literacy program are proven successes. Our program works to improve the literacy skills of parents and preschool children, engages parents to
become involved in their child’s school once their children enter the school district, and teaches families the importance of reading as a key to learning and, ultimately, as a key to success in life.

* First 5 LA-funded family literacy programs have improved literacy levels of both parents and children, and have resulted in families bringing many more books into their homes, and a number of positive benefits that are known to boost students’ success rates.

* The education safety net in Los Angeles County is at risk if Proposition 1D passes on May 19th. Proposition 1D is so over reaching that it takes almost 67 percent of First 5 LA’s yearly funding. We don’t think that’s fair.

* The children of Los Angeles County should not have to pay this high a price to balance the state budget. This ballot measure is completely deceptive.

In closing, We’d like to thank you on behalf of children and families in Los Angeles and our Family Literacy Program and urge you to support this resolution opposing Proposition 1D.

(The resolution to Oppose Prop 1D passed at the May 12 LAUSD Board meeting).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sponsor KuidaoOsumi @ the LA Bike Marathon

Dear Friends & Family~

This Memorial Day on May 25th at 5am, I am dusting off my bike after about 15 years, and endeavoring to ride 26 miles with Tony and other Great Leapers in the LA Acura Bike Marathon to raise money for Great Leap, a nonprofit multicultural performing arts organization I've been involved with for the last 12 years. And if we can't find a babysitter, Maiya may well be riding on the back of Tony's bike, too!

It will be my 3rd time to participate in this annual fundraiser for Great Leap, an official charity of the LA Marathon, our only fundraiser event this year. The last two years Maiya did the 5K Run/Walk with me, but this year I'm planning to push it to the next level.

I would be thrilled if you would sponsor me. I don't have to tell you how the arts struggle during tough economic times. Often it is the first thing to be cut. But know that 100% of your contribution will go to supporting Great Leap's programs such as Collaboratory, Leaps of Faith, or Nobuko's new touring work, "What Can a Song Do?"

If you would like to sponsor me or Tony, please reply to this email and let me know how much you'd like to pledge. I'll send you an email and photos confirming our completion of the event. You can send your check (payable to Great Leap) to me (email or FB msg me for the address).

Also, if you 'd like to join us on the walk, run or ride, go to the Great leap Marathon webpage ( to sign up. Thanks for supporting Great Leap on its 31st anniversary~using the arts for social change in our community.

Love and Peace,


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Observations from the carseat

Every day on our way to preschool and work, Maiya and I pass hundreds of homeless people, men, women and children, as we pass the Skid Row area on San Pedro Street. Here's our conversation last month as she looked out the window at all the people sleeping in the street or sitting on the curb:

MG: I don't think that man has a home.
JK: No, he probably doesn't. We're lucky we have a house to live in, aren't we.
MG: Yeah, I don't think its comorable to sleep on the ground.
JK: No, probably not.
MG: And if there's no blanket, then your clothes will get all dirty.
JK: That's why we did the walk last year* to help raise money for people without a house.
MG: I want to raise money. But I might get tired if I walk again.
JK: Yeah, but it's ok if we get tired, because we can help people who don't have a house.
MG: Oh yeah. Let's do it again.
JK: Ok, we can do it again this year.

Maiya says this to anyone who will listen, including strangers: "My mommy is good at finding things and cleaning things and my daddy is good at fixing things and carrying heavy things."

*United Way Homeless 5K Walk blog

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Manzanar 2009 - Part 1

Well, this year we celebrated the 40th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, 210 miles from Los Angeles, the site where 10,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WW2. By my finger count, it is only my 16th pilgrimage, coming almost every year since 1992. It was actually Maiya's 4th time, which is a lot considering that she's 4 years old. It started out pretty cold and windy, but then warmed up a bit in the afternoon. Here's a few of the 100 pictures we took.
Arriving early, we take a family photo.
Excited that Skyler Mariko came up on the bus with her family!
When you're 4, you bring a shovel and pail to collect rocks.
For the pilgrimage, we estimated about 1,500 people this year, and about 14 buses. I acted as stage manager again this year. Things seemed more laid back this year and ran more smoothly than in the past.
When you run the stage, you can get your family to hold the Gila River banner, an honor, in honor of Maiya's grandpa Walt's family. The original signs were contributed by each of the 10 camps back around the year 2000. In 2004, they were placed in the Manzanar Interpretive Center. The flags below are reproductions of the originals, and used for the first time in 5 years.
I'm sorry that Tony and others had to hold the flag in the wind for over an hour at the Interfaith portion of the program. But it was cool because Kaz' parents were part of the Interfaith service for the first time.
It was so fun to visit with Kaz. I think Kaz was there for the first camping trips for Manzanar After Dark (MAD-ness!) back in 1997 and 1998. Baby Gavin slept through most of the odori dancing.
Maiya and Skyler were eating fruits behind the stage and playing in the sand so they missed the dancing. When the dancing was over, the girls were done with the day.
Another pilgrimage program finished! See you in '10!

Still to come, photos of the newly restored Mess Hall, swimming at the Dow Villa pool with Daddy, and the Manzanar at Dusk program.