Babies in the Boardroom

Photo: Ian Couch

When Annie Yu leaves for work in the morning, she takes her briefcase, her keys … and her baby.

Yu is an attorney in the state Attorney General’s Office, where the Infant at Work Program was introduced this year. Approved employees are allowed to bring in babies, from 6 weeks to 6 months, for the full workday.

While Yu works, her 5-month-old baby, Hadley, plays on the floor, snuggles in a front carrier, or naps in a Rock ’n Play. Two co-workers are officially designated to trade off watching the baby when Yu attends a meeting, but many others are eager to volunteer.

“It was a really cool experience to be sitting at a professional table that I belonged at, doing important work, but to also know that my baby was only 100 yards away,” says Yu.

More than 2,100 babies in over 200 organizations have been successfully brought to work nationwide through the program, according to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.

“I think it’s made me more productive because it’s really boosted my overall job satisfaction,” says attorney Natalie King, another parent who is utilizing the program.

Research shows that well-structured babies-at-work programs result in numerous organizational benefits, including higher morale, increased teamwork and lower employee turnover.

READ THE FULL STORY ON SEATTLE’S CHILD

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Seattle’s Child Magazine: November Issue

Excited to share a few gems from my first issue as Editor of Seattle’s Child magazine! Proud to feature artist and activist Aleksa Manila on the cover talking about her Drag Queen Story Hour! We also have an infants at work program feature, a Seattle reggae artist profile and tips on how to avoid food waste! Pick up a copy at your local Seattle library or email Issy at ibelzil@seattleschild.com to subscribe.

Design by Art Director Boo Davis. Photos by Joshua Huston. Find all the stories online by clicking here.

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Romesh Ranganathan Arrives in the States

 

romesh-ranganathan-479172672.w710.h473Best known for his standup in the United Kingdom, Romesh Ranganathan was working as a high school math teacher before deciding to pursue his lifelong passion for comedy. Over the course of five years, Romesh went from performing pub gigs to becoming one of the UK’s most popular performers. After selling out theaters all over England and touring Australia, he decided to move his wife, mother, and three kids to Los Angeles and try to make it big in America. He recently made his late night standup debut in the US on The Late Late Show with James Cordenand he set the bar high for himself straight out the gate by buying the 5,900-seat Greek Theatre in Los Angeles to put up a show he’s calling Romesh in Americawhich takes place tomorrow night. He hasn’t sold too many tickets yet, but he hopes if he builds it, they will come. I talked to Romesh about his Sri Lankan heritage, making the jump from teacher to comic, and how US audiences compare to the UK.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON VULTURE

Valuing Difference

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“By the time Jackie Moffitt was 16, he had transferred schools four times and was longing for a community where he could be accepted as his authentic self — an autistic person. “Autistic people are very dehumanized in our society,” says Moffitt. “They are perceived as being incapable of emotions. People are surprised that people with autism can understand humor or love. They assume that having autism means a lack of desire to connect with other human beings.”

Seeking this connection, Moffitt discovered Theater of Possibility (TOP), a theater arts program based in Seattle and Bellevue serving kids who are “quirky, spirited, or shy or who may have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other learning or ability differences,” as the demographic is described on the TOP website.

Through theater games, improvisation, and role-playing led by TOP Director Lauren Goldman Marshall, Moffitt learned to embrace many of his personal attributes like extreme extroversion and abstract thinking that he’d previously felt pressure to repress.

“A lot of times for kids with disabilities their whole life is about people telling them what they’re deficient in,” says Marshall, who co-founded TOP in the years after her own daughter was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. “With TOP, they are here first and foremost to have fun and create theater together. I’m definitely highlighting relationship skills, but it’s brought in more through the back door. It’s about making kids feel successful.”

Now 21, Moffitt works as a teacher’s assistant at TOP, supporting the next generation of autistic children as they learn and grow while they also reach a level of self-acceptance.

“It’s not just about autistic people needing to learn neurotypical social skills so they can pass in a world that is majority non-autistic people,” says Moffitt. “I think that neurotypical people should also learn how to empathize with autistic people’s perspective and communicate with them on their own terms.”

READ THE FULL STORY IN SEATTLE’S CHILD MAGAZINE

Baron Vaughn on ‘Fatherless,’ ‘MST3K,’ and the Ocean of Joy

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“On top of being a standup comedian and a classically trained actor, Baron Vaughn will soon make his debut as robot Tom Servo in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot premiering April 14th on Netflix. He is well known for his role on the hit show Grace and Frankie alongside comedy legends Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. If that all weren’t impressive enough, Vaughn is also the subject of Fatherless, an hour-long documentary about finding his birth father premiering on April 2nd on Fusion. Vaughn took some quality time to discuss audience discomfort, being Tom Servo, and oceans of joy.”

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON SPLITSIDER 

Daniel Pak’s Mission to Share Music

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“Growing up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Daniel Pak knew that music was in his blood. His father was a jazz pianist and taught him to play scales around age 6. In a few years, he had advanced to performing pieces by Mozart and Beethoven. But it wasn’t until he taught himself acoustic guitar at 13 that his passion was truly ignited. “That’s when I really found that music was more than just lessons. Music was something that would be with me every day,” says Pak.

Pak has fond memories of kanikapila, impromptu music jam sessions with friends. “We’d all go to the beach. Someone would bring ukuleles and guitars, someone would bring bongos. We’d play music and listen to the waves coming in and the palm trees rustling,” says Pak.  Today — minus the beach, palm trees and crashing waves — Pak tries to “perpetuate that tradition here in Seattle.” 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN SEATTLE’S CHILD

Christmas Otter delivers mischievous cheer

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“While Rudolph guides the sleigh and Santa slides down the chimney in other households, an unusual visitor makes mischief at the Finks’ house. 

But that wasn’t always so. 

In the past, Marian and her wife, Shane, along with their daughter, Asa, traveled to the East Coast to celebrate Christmas with extended family. Because of work obligations, they were flying into New Jersey on Christmas Eve just in time for a seven-course dinner. 

“It’s a massive feast that goes on till midnight,” says Marian. “The menu changes, but there’s always lobster, clams, shrimp and lasagna.”

Two years ago, the couple had a second daughter, Maeve. Shortly after, they decided to opt out of the hectic holiday travel that year and celebrate at home in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Without all the magic and hullabaloo of the caravan back East, the Finks wanted to create a special tradition just for their family of four to share at home. 

Shane had an idea. Growing up, she’d always had a special relationship with stuffed animals and — for better or worse — continued to amass a substantial collection of them into adulthood.”

READ THE FULL STORY IN SEATTLE’S CHILD