• Today is: Thursday, April 2, 2020

6 cool things to do (at home) with kids in Pittsburgh this week

Sally Quinn
March31/ 2020

Looking for some fun and challenging activities? How about a dinosaur dinner party, a barnyard ballet and a leopard cub cuteness cure? They’re all part of things to do with kids in Pittsburgh this week.

1. Supervise Zoo veterinary care

Getting behind-the-scenes at places like the Pittsburgh Zoo is very cool. Kids can watch the clouded leopard cubs receive their 16-week checkup at the zoo clinic. The brothers, Lynn and Gale, receive regular checkups just like human kids and are on a regular vaccination schedule. Other creatures in the vet series include Danny the Rabbit receiving dental care and a pair of Australian Black Swans undergoing a foot exam.

2. Dance the Story: “Barnyard Dance”

The interactive Dance the Story series from Pittsburgh Ballet has been offered at its studio classes and area libraries. Now, Dance the Story is presented in your home! This class focuses on the children’s book, “Barnyard Dance.” Kids learn basic ballet movement concepts and terms, like first position and plie. Related printables include a “Barnyard Dance” coloring page and Farm Animal Stick Puppets. New Dance the Story classes hit Facebook Live every Tuesday and Thursday, but the recorded classes are available anytime.

3. Make your own watercolor paint

Ugh! We hate when we forget to put caps on markers and they dry out. Don’t throw them away! Upcycle those babies to make watercolor paint. MuseumLab has a handy video to show you how.

4. Invite Dippy to dinner

Get to know our favorite dinosaur at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History a little better by inviting Dippy as a Dinner Guest. Kids will be prompted to consider what that invitation might entail. What would Dippy like to eat? (Definitely not chicken nuggets or mac ‘n cheese!) How much food should you plan to have on the table? A graph will help determine just how tall your dining room ceiling should be. And a printable placemat worksheet will test kids’ dino knowledge.

5. Design a troll with a ‘Hidden Life’

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden launched a contest for kids that’s tied into the Summer Flower Show: The Hidden Life of Trolls. Kids 12 and younger are invited to create a troll that might take its place among the massive mythological creatures that will be part of the show. The immersive, interactive exhibit is said to be unlike anything Phipps has presented before. Follow these rules to make your troll, give it a name and describe its magical powers. Troll designs that make the cut will be displayed throughout the exhibition.

6. Get the ‘Scoop on Poop’

Plan to catch this science lesson from Fern Hollow Nature Center on Facebook Live at 4 p.m. Friday, April 3.  Kids will learn about the world of waste and how we deal with it. The family-friendly session includes a discussion of the Species of Feces and a view of the Ground Water Simulator. There are likely to be a few giggles along the way (just say “Scoop on Poop” and see how your kids react), but the science is legit.

Kidsburgh launches new series with its Mental Health Survey report

Sally Quinn
March31/ 2020

Mental health is a topic that crosses all societal and economic boundaries, touching the lives of children throughout Pittsburgh. It’s why Kidsburgh has set a goal this year of publishing a series of stories on the subject.

To help Kidsburgh families in a most meaningful way, we wanted to find out more about mental health issues affecting you. In a recent Kidsburgh Mental Health Survey, we asked about your concerns, as parents. And we directed another part of the survey to educators and school administrators to see what insight they could offer.

We received 730 responses from parents and 260 from educators, including many honest and heartfelt comments, from both surveys. It was readily apparent that there is a need to focus on our children’s mental health alongside their physical well-being.

In short, it’s a big deal for everyone.

We’re excited to announce that a grant from Staunton Farm Foundation will fund a series of Kidsburgh stories that will help answer the concerns you voiced in our survey.

Here are highlights from the survey and what we learned:

From the list below, which topics do you see impacting your child’s mental health?

Parents’ definitions of mental health

The majority of parents described mental health in a positive light: Good mental health was viewed as the emotional, mental and stable enjoyment of life in the home, at school and personally. How well kids cope and adjust to the stressors in their lives was named as another indication of mental health. Resilience in the face of vulnerability, self-esteem and a positive attitude were also cited.

Some parents defined mental health as a problem or concern, diagnosis or disorder. Their characterization included social and behavioral issues, suffering from trauma, anxiety or depression, plus emotional difficulties.

Comments from the survey:

  • “To me, mental health speaks to their disposition for the majority of their waking hours. Are they happy, and resilient, or are they sad, lonely or depressed?”
  • “Caring for my children’s mental health is one of my top priorities. I do not believe you can lead a full, happy life until you are comfortable with yourself and strong enough to make positive choices.”
  • “My goal for my children is to have good social-emotional coping skills to navigate the best they can, but also to be in tune with their feelings enough to notice if they need additional help.”

From the list below, which stressors have you observed to be on the rise for youth in the past five years? 

Educators’ definitions of mental health

Educators mirrored the majority of parents in referring to mental health as the well-being of a child, including social-emotional, academic and career components. Mental health, they say, encompasses a student’s ability to cope with setbacks, handle anxiety-provoking situations, have a realistic and positive self-concept and the ability to work through perceptions vs. reality and problem-solving skills.

Comments from the survey:

  • “Mental health focuses on the whole child, not just how the child performs in school.”
  • “How the students are feeling on a given day can impact their learning or willingness to learn. My job is to help find out what might be bothering them.”
  • “Mental health is making sure my students feel happy and safe and that they know when to ask for help – academically, socially or cognitively.”

What parents want to learn about mental health

Many parents want to understand early signs to watch for that might signal developing problems. They want to know where to turn for help and how to take action. Some are looking for specific guidance about bullying, academic stress and anxiety about divorce. Other topics include dealing with social media, videogames and appropriate discipline.

Comments from the survey:

  • “I would like better resources from our school. Grades and tests are a huge stressor for my child.”
  • “I would like to see more curriculum about mental health for students. I would like to learn more about strategies parents can implement.”
  • “I am curious about how social media is impacting mental health and how to change that while also allowing kids to be like their peers.”

What educators wish parents knew about mental health

In the survey, most educators want to stress the importance and seriousness of a child’s mental health, but emphasize that these issues are treatable. It takes time, healing and intentional focus. Getting help does not suggest failure and shouldn’t be hidden or shamed. Mental health problems are common and just as important as a child’s physical health.

Comments from the survey:

  • “Don’t be ashamed to seek help for your child. It’s not an indication that you’re a ‘bad’ parent. It’s not always something your child ‘will grow out of.’ “
  • “Mental health problems are more pervasive than parents think. Students are getting information at lightning speed and have no time to process what they are taking in. I wish parents wouldn’t blow it off or minimize it.”
  • “It is OK for your child to see a counselor or therapist. So many parents are hesitant to have their child talk to someone, but it is so important for the kids to have a trusted adult who is trained to help them navigate the world while struggling with mental health.”

In months ahead

These survey highlights are just the beginning of the depth of information we’ve uncovered. We’re looking forward to bringing insightful stories to Kidsburgh and help to change the narrative. Information is power. And we plan to arm parents with the power they need to best support their kids.

The Stanton Farm Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of people who live with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. The Foundation’s vision is to invest in a future where behavioral health is understood, supported, and accepted

6 Pittsburgh bakeries offer curbside pickup for DIY cookie kits

Rachel Brown
March31/ 2020

Photo: The Pop Cakery

Support local businesses while keeping kids busy. These bakeries found creative ways to keep their shops open with a fun add-on option to your curbside bread pickup. These DIY kits for kids provide entertaining activities, plus yummy treats at the end of each project. Quarantine never tasted so good!

1. The Pop Cakery

The Pop Cakery in Squirrel Hill is offering two types of DIY cookie kits. The cookie decorating kit includes 12 cookies, colorful icing and a variety of fancy sprinkles for $30. The paint-your-own kit includes six large cookies to watercolor paint with icing for $8. Choose from Jewish-themed scenes or go with designs like an ice cream sundae or a rocket ship. Place your order via Facebook messenger, send an email to thepopcakerypgh@yahoo.com or call 904-703-8620. Pickup time will be determined upon order. The Pop Cakery provides free porch dropoff for locals, as well as shipping for those out of the neighborhood.

2. Le Cupcake Shoppe

Alexandra Coccaro, the principal baker at Le Cupcake Shoppe, was inspired to offer Mini Cupcake Decorating Kits to uplift kids’ spirits at this confusing time. The $15 kits include a dozen cupcake minis, half chocolate and half vanilla, along with three packs of decorations and a piping bag of the shop’s famous buttercream icing. Gluten-free options are available; all foods are nut-free. Place your order in advance via Facebook messenger, email info@lecupcakeshoppepgh.com or call 412-254-4295. Curbside pickup runs from noon-3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays.

 3. Sugar & Spice

Family-owned Sugar & Spice in Baldwin ups the ante with a bake-your-own Sugar Cookie Kit that includes a 2-pound cookie mix (just add water to make 3-4 dozen cookies), a tub of icing, four containers of sprinkles, and two cookie cutters. There’s a DIY Chocolate Kit, too. Savor the treats made from microwaveable milk chocolate, a chocolate mold and sticks for chocolate pops. Mold themes include flowers, sports and emojis. Try decorative touches like edible googly eyes, baseballs and flowers. Cookie Kits are $20 and Chocolate Kits are $15. Call 412-882-7326 to order and allow at least 30 minutes before pick up.

 4. Peace, Love, and Little Donuts

Peace, Love, and Little Donuts in Baldwin offers a donuts-decorating kit for kids. You’ll find a dozen donuts, cups of chocolate and vanilla icing, plus four packs of scrumptious bits like rainbow sprinkles, Oreo crumbles, M&Ms and Fruity Pebbles. Order the $20 kits for pickup or delivery at 412-595-7430 or online here and allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for pickup. Need milk? Add a bottle of chocolate or white to your order. Sweet!

5. Short & Sweet Cookie Company

Thing spring! Short & Sweet Cookie Company in Oakmont is baking Spring- and Easter-themed cookie kits. Two options are available. Choose a half-dozen cookies and four icing colors for $20, or a full dozen cookies with six icing colors for $30. Cookies are baked in small batches and require advance orders. Pickup times will be determined upon order. Order via Facebook messenger or email shortandsweetcookiecompany@gmail.com.

 6. Angelina’s Bakery & Pastry Shop

The newest finger-licking treat at Angelina Bakery & Pastry Shop is a Paint-Palette Cookie Kit. Each kit comes with a palette cookie that holds watercolor icing, a drawing cookie, paintbrush and stencil. Order the $4.50 kit a day or two in advance for curbside pickup at 724-514-7562 or email angelina.pastries@gmail.com.

Here’s where your family can find help in Pittsburgh during the coronavirus pandemic

Kidsburgh Staff
March30/ 2020

By Pittsburgh news partners

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the novel coronavirus on American life. Lots of people are hurting. Lots of people need help. But it’s often hard to know just where to find that help — or even what’s available.

So, after listing ways you can help others during the pandemic, we decided to compile this Pittsburgh guide to finding help for yourself. 

This article will be updated. 

Food assistance

Apply to The Emergency Food Assistance Program if you’re out of work or have lost hours or income due to the pandemic. 

Pick up free prepared meals every day from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Fishes and Loaves Cooperative Ministries (131 E. Elizabeth Street).

Get grab-and-go meals for school kids at multiple city recreation centers and Salvation Army sites around Pittsburgh. 

The Warren Bar and Burrow and Penn Cove Eatery Downtown are offering meals to service industry workers who’ve lost work due to coronavirus. 

Need formula and food for your family? The Urban League of Pittsburgh can help. Call 886-395-3663. 

Pregnant women, dependent children and caregivers can get help through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. 

Seniors registered with the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging program can get free take-out meals at one of six City Healthy Active Living (Senior) Centers between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

A map of free food distribution sites across Allegheny County is now available. Many of the sites have eligibility requirements, so call ahead to confirm you’re eligible. 

Call the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania at 2-1-1 for help finding food, housing or financial assistance. 

Housing help 

Students who need to move due to outbreak precautions can get 30 days of free storage from U-Haul. 

The Urban Redevelopment Authority Housing Opportunity Fund is offering help to those struggling with rent payments due to COVID-19-related losses in work and wages.

Know your rights. Eviction proceedings have been temporarily halted. Also, shutoffs of utilities like gas, water and electricity have been halted until further notice.

Allegheny County Housing Authority says it’s working with residents who may have their working hours reduced due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Financial assistance for workers and creatives

If you lose your job because of coronavirus, you may be eligible for unemployment. 

Apply for interest-free Coronavirus Financial Bridge Loans of up to $5,000. Loans must be cosigned.

A $2 trillion federal stimulus package includes checks of $1,200 for many single Americans, $2,400 for many married couples, and an additional $500 to parents for each child under the age of 17. Check amounts depend on your income and likely won’t arrive before May.

The Emergency Fund for Artists provides up to $500 in assistance to western Pennsylvania artists experiencing a loss of income due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pittsburgh’s Financial Empowerment Center is offering free financial counseling remotely. Call 1-800-298-0237 to schedule a session. 

Financial assistance for small business owners

Low-interest loans are available to small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills.

Relief loans of up to $50,000 are available through local crowdfunding investor platform Honeycomb Credit. 

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh is halting all loan payments for URA small business borrowers for the month of April. The URA is also offering Emergency Extended Credit to existing borrowers. 

Attention everyone else: The URA is also streamlining its Micro-Enterprise Loan Program to offer 0% loans for up to 30 small businesses that are not currently URA borrowers.

Financing is available to small Pennsylvania businesses that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak via the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. 


Here’s guidance on when and how to get tested for COVID-19.

Here’s a list of testing sites in the Pittsburgh area. 

Visit UPMC, AHN and Central Outreach Wellness Center for more information on their testing sites and policies. 

For people in recovery: Alcoholics Anonymous is offering virtual meetings online. Narcotics Anonymous is doing the same. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a hotline — 1-800-662-HELP (4357) — for anyone who needs it. Pennsylvania has a number of hotline options as well.

Pittsburgh’s Steel Smiling organization has launched a free virtual mental health program for those in need.

Frontline workers can find mental health support for COVID-19 with this listing of local therapists offering free appointments. Providers can email to have their name added to list.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, there are resources to help, such as resolve Crisis Services and the Peer Support & Advocacy Network.


Hello Bully, a nonprofit Pit Bull rescue, has a month’s supply of food (enough for 20 dogs and 20 cats) and is offering no-contact delivery to pet owners in need of help. 

Stay connected

Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country are available for free to all users. 

If you have coronavirus questions, the county has a hotline. 

Allegheny County is urging residents to join its electronic notification system for updates. 

Need help understanding all the medical terms you’re hearing and seeing? Let this handy glossary help. 

Find coronavirus information in different languages, via Casa San Jose and Jewish Community Center.

Something not covered here? Check out this list of COVID-19 resources for Pittsburghers or this Pittsburgh Mutual Aid Resources Library. Email cdeppen@theincline.com with suggested additions to this list.

The Incline, NEXTpittsburgh, Pittsburgh City Paper, Kidsburgh and PublicSource collaborated to build this resource.

Michael Keaton to the rescue with bus-stop meals for Pittsburgh kids

Kristy Locklin
March29/ 2020

During these uncertain times, Pittsburgh needs a hero. Today, Batman and a team of do-gooders heeded the call.

Actor Michael Keaton, a native of Robinson Township who played the caped crusader on the big screen in 1989, provided financial support for a bus stop meal distribution. The project is a collaboration between local nonprofits 412 Food Rescue, A+ Schools and the Latino Community Center.

Volunteers distributed 500 free meals at six different school bus stops in South Side and Hilltop neighborhoods for children who don’t have easy access to food provided by their school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the complete story from NEXTpittsburgh here.