Benicia Black Lives Matter – Reading to a child

Windows to a New World

Reading to a child. What could be a more magical way of learning for the child and a more gratifying experience to the reader? And what can be a more important way to introduce and connect children to things beyond their immediate world?

Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM) has been doing just that with pre-school level children in Benicia and Vallejo since January 2021 in our Preschool Reading Program. Using carefully screened and age appropriate literature, BBLM volunteers have been opening the minds and hearts of our preschoolers.

Once a month, volunteers go into different preschools to share a book and related activities carefully selected by the team to bring awareness of Black history, science, art, music, customs, culture, and daily lives, with the intent to plant seeds of humanity towards Black people as early as possible. And several of the preschools in this community embrace the opportunity to work with BBLM to bring the children a broader perspective and cultural understanding.

The books used are reviewed and offered by Roselind Johnson, the owner of Ethnic Notions, a gift and bookstore and art gallery located in Vallejo. Ms. Johnson is an expert in Black literature and the arts. At Ethnic Notions, she stocks a wealth of material on Black culture for people of all ages, including for a very young audience.

The books for the preschools are selected upon the seasonal influences within that month, much like the other books traditionally read to young children throughout the year, except that these books are chosen specifically to uplift and amplify historical and contemporary Black life. This helps young children of all races understand and accept that we are all different in some ways and the same in others. And a copy of the monthly book is donated to each participating school.

Some of the books that have been introduced include:

      • Rosa Parks
      • Nana Akua
      • If You Give Me Some Apples
      • MLK
      • Trombone Shorty
      • My First Kwanza
      • Catch a Kiss
      • Brown
      • Baby Botanist
        …and more.

All of the books are connected in some way to the Black community while demonstrating that we are all related. For example, Brown features the reality and acceptance of people of varying skin color, while Baby Botanist is the story of a young Black farmer. The ensuing and related activities and discussion focus on equity, and awareness. After reading Brown, the children decorated a globe with cut out human figures of a variety of shades. After reading Baby Botanist, the children planted green onions and talked about farming. Hand-outs included information on Black-owned farms in the Bay area.

Parisa Kelly, owner of Starlight Montessori, was one of the first to be on board with the Preschool Reading Program. Before the program started, Ms. Kelly had been trying to extend her library of books to include more diversity. When approached by BBLM, Ms. Kelly was happy to participate. “The reader is wonderful. She really reaches the children at their level. Some people find it difficult to speak about complex issues with 3-5 year olds without talking above their level or down to them. The messages are positive, and the activities are meaningful. They put a lot of thought into the preschool reading program, and I am grateful. Plus, BBLM has donated the books they have read to us and helped me to expand my library.”

Ms. Kelly has many anecdotal stories about the children’s responses to the stories. For example, after reading Brown, the children had a lively discussion about comparing the colors of flowers in a garden to the diversity of human skin color. Then they all put their hands together and compared the varying colors. “It was so joyful!”

Stories are mirrors. And the stories read by the BBLM volunteers help our young children better see themselves in relation to the world. The books are a window into a history and culture that may be different from their own. Using this simple way of teaching and connecting, we are helping our children to better navigate the world we live in, honor other cultures, make good social choices, and to become true global citizens.

The BBLM Reading Program is entering its third year and second summer and is going strong. We are reaching a broader community that includes both Benicia and Vallejo. We are not reading to only preschoolers, but older children as well. Literacy in Solano County is of utmost importance to BBLM, and our children’s reading program is just one of many ways BBLM serves our community. If you would like to learn more about BBLM, please visit our website at beniciablacklivesmatter.weebly.com.

Kari Birdseye to announce 2022 run for Benicia City Council – Rally this Sunday!

Kari Birdseye Campaign Kickoff Rally
This Sunday May 22, 2 pm, Benicia City Park

Festive Gathering at the Gazebo to Announce Run for Benicia City Council

Benicia Planning Commission chairperson Kari Birdseye will run for City Council in November’s election, and strong support for our friend is already building.

Benicia enthusiasts have organized a Kickoff Rally around the Gazebo in City Park for this Sunday, May 22 starting at 2pm.  The Rally will feature music, banners, a short but impressive lineup of speakers and opportunities to volunteer and donate.  It will be a great time to mingle with like-minded friends.

More information and volunteer possibilities can be found at karibirdseyeforbenicia.com.

Many BenIndy readers will be turning out for Kari and offering to help organize a strong campaign.  You are invited to join in this Sunday, 2-4pm at the Gazebo.  See you there!

Kari Birdseye For Benicia City Council 2022
https://karibirdseyeforbenicia.com

COVID case numbers on the rise in Solano and Benicia

By Roger Straw, Monday, May 16, 2022

Solano County reports 675 new COVID infections, nearly 1,200 in 7 days.  Benicia and Solano continue in VERY HIGH transmission rate.

Solano Public Health COVID dashboard, Monday, May 16, 2022:

DEATHS:  Solano reported no new COVID-related deaths in today’s report.  Solano has reported 5 deaths so far in May.  COMPARE: COVID deaths reported in Solano County this year: 30 in January, 15 in February, 17 in March, 7 in April.  A total of 425 Solano residents have now died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

TRANSMISSION RATE: With today’s report, Solano continues to  experience an extremely HIGH rate of transmission, with 1,177 new cases in the last 7 days, up from 971 at last report and 2.6 times the CDC formula for HIGH transmissionCDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 or more cases in 7 days places Solano in the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate.  Below 225 cases in 7 days shows MODERATE community transmission.  Numbers between 225 and 450 are considered SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano reported 1,229 ACTIVE cases today, up from 1,164 at last report and over 5 times the 244 active cases reported about a month ago (April 11).

CASES BY CITY – Monday, May 16, 2022:

  • BENICIA added 39 (!) new cases today, a total of 3,363 cases since the outbreak began.  TRANSMISSION RATE: Benicia has reported 53 new cases in the last 7 days, (see below)For a city with Benicia’s population, anything over 27 cases in 7 days is considered HIGH TRANSMISSION.  14 to 27 cases is considered SUBSTANTIAL.  Below 14 is rated MODERATE.

  • Dixon added 37 new cases today, total of 4,477 cases.
  • Fairfield added 169 new cases today, total of 23,539 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 4 new cases today, total of 1,223 cases.
  • Suisun City added 48 new cases today, total of 6,188 cases.
  • Vacaville added 154 new cases today, a total of 22,456 cases.
  • Vallejo added 224 new cases today, a total of 26,605 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 0 new cases today, a total of 202 cases.

TEST RATE:  Solano Public Health no longer reports numbers of residents tested and the County’s 7-day positive test rate.  >>With so many home-tests, I agree that these numbers are no longer reliable, BUT they do give the public helpful information when compared to similar numbers for the state and nation.  NO WAY TO COMPARE: The CALIFORNIA 7-day % positive rate was 3.9% today.  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]. The U.S. 7-day % positive rate was 11.5%. today. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT: Solano reported the number of those currently hospitalized with COVID was 24 persons, double the 12 who were hospitalized at last report.   Current hospitalizations don’t tell the whole story, though.  Only from the increase in total hospitalizations by age and race (below) can we know how many new admissions have come into our hospitals as of this date.

TOTAL hospitalizations: Solano County did not update it’s hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity today.  TREND: Solano reported 284 hospitalizations in January, 184 in February, 644 in March, and 53 in April, and 44 so far in May(NOTE: The County occasionally updates age/race hospitalization data long after the fact, which probably accounts for the huge increase reported in March.)

ICU Bed Availability Solano County reported that the number of available hospital beds rose today, from 40% at last report to 43% today, within the County’s GREEN safe zone.

Ventilator Availability in Solano County remained rose today from 77% to 80% available, in the County’s GREEN safe zone. 


HOW DOES TODAY’S REPORT COMPARE?  See recent reports and others going back to April 20, 2020 in my ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).

Click green text above or on the image.

>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and (as of 3/14/2022) is updated Monday and Thursday between 4 and 6pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for “Summary, Demographics” and “Vaccines.”  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.

See also my BENINDY ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).  I have also archived the hundreds of full CORONAVIRUS REPORTS posted here almost daily on the Benicia Independent since April 2020.

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