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Q. My children have very little access to art, music, and other creative outlets at the school they attend. What’s the best way to compensate for their overall development of creativity?

A. Having access to a fully immersive creative environment is a great way to bridge the gap between the education your child receives at school, and the supplemental learning they need to identify as a creative individual. When children come to SPARK! and explore our 11,000-square-foot learning playground, they’ll be exposed to a variety of mediums that cater to their creativity. We’re pushing boundaries in creative youth development because research shows that kids who believe they are creative have higher self-esteem, better problem-solving skills and are more likely to graduate college. Parental involvement also plays an essential role in building the foundation for a child’s creative development. That’s why SPARK! offers opportunities for families to explore their creativity together and spend quality time in a place that challenges them to take risks and use their imagination.

Beverly Davis, Executive Director of SPARK!

Q. Another new year = another new diet; recently I have heard about genetic testing; what is this and why is it important?

A. You probably know your mom and dad gave you a lot of characteristics, like the color of your eyes, your hair and all the things that make you unique. All those characteristics are based on genes that they passed on to you; your genetic makeup! Based on that, science can find the genes that determine if you have the predisposition to be overweight. With genetic testing, you are able to gain insights into how your body may process sugars, fats, nutrients, and vitamins; as well as screen for muscle potential and how your body responds to exercise. That means you can have a completely personalized, genetically appropriate diet based on your DNA.

Dr. Iohann Gonzalez, AK Chiropractic

Q. I keep seeing so many programming facilities for afterschool learning. Is this an important extra-curricular learning activity for a 5-year-old?  

A. Yes and here are few reasons why. It’s interesting that now when a child says they speak 3 or more languages, they are actually talking about programming languages! Learning how to program is like learning any other language in that it must be practiced and tested out. And just as languages open up the ability to communicate with worlds of people, programming gives children the ability to create technologies that impact those around them. There has been so much research done that shows that computational thinking and logical reasoning (i.e. computer programming) is a very critical skill set for the current and future generations of children - regardless of what career path or their passions lead them towards.

Sandhya Padala, Rex Programming for Kids

Q. Not sure about Omega-3 fats that I keep hearing about. 

A. Well, I’m glad you asked because the term “fat” is usually discussed within a negative context. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that should be “intentionally” included in your diet, essentially, Omega-3s help feed the brain and keep it healthy! Research has demonstrated key support roles in the body for three omega-3-fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). You can get EPA and DHA in salmon, tuna and sardines (marine-based sources). ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in certain plants and plant oil sources, like flaxseeds, walnuts and olive oil. Eating foods rich in EPA, DHA and ALA or taking supplements of fish or flaxseed oil will help fill dietary gaps. Note: Food before supplements is recommended.

Mary Ellen, Your Favorite Dietitian

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