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Food drive and aikido

Michael Baron, owner and chief instructor at Woburn Aikikai, practices iaido, the art of Japanese swordsmanship. Michael Baron, owner and chief instructor at Woburn Aikikai, practices iaido, the art of Japanese swordsmanship.

Michael Baron of Arlington was a longtime martial arts practitioner when he saw a friend practicing aikido, a noncompetitive Japanese martial art that teaches people to neutralize and redirect an attack through their natural body motion and strength. Now owner and chief instructor at Woburn Aikikai, Baron is sponsoring a daylong seminar and food drive Saturday to raise awareness of aikido and of hunger in the community.

Baron, who founded Woburn Aikikai nearly a year ago, is also an adjunct English professor at Bay State College in Boston and a sword maker who learned the art from his former aikido teacher, who died three years ago.

"He was a craftsman, while the word amateur really fits in my case," said Baron, who has made one full-length sword, five smaller swords, and several hand guards. "It's a fun hobby that I wish I had more time for."

While Baron's swords won't be on display, the public is invited to participate in the $25 aikido seminar between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. or to just drop off nonperishable items to be donated to the Council of Social Concern food pantry in Woburn. Food donations will be accepted through Sunday at Woburn Aikikai, 6 Cedar St. For more information, visit

FOR SENIORS ONLY: As assistant director of the Reading Public Library, Elizabeth Dickinson of Arlington said she and her staff have made it a priority to increase participation of residents 55 and older in a library program called "LiveWires: for Boomers and Beyond."

She said her recent involvement in the Lifelong Access Libraries Institute has inspired her to enhance and expand those opportunities. Dickinson and adult services librarian Nancy Aberman, a resident of Georgetown, were two of 20 librarians selected from a nationwide pool to attend the weeklong program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sponsored by the Americans for Libraries Council, the Lifelong Access Libraries Institute assists librarians in learning about successful initiatives adopted by their colleagues across the country.

According to Dickinson, sessions included reports of research on older adults; theories of positive aging, lifelong learning, and civic engagement; volunteering; life planning; community collaboration; new technologies; and incorporating change within a library.

The Reading Public Library has hosted book and movie discussions, humor programs, and lectures about legal, medical, and other issues, including caring for aging parents. Dickinson said she hopes to explore volunteer self-employment opportunities, as well as part-time work after retirement.

"We came home overloaded with ideas and information, but also excited about the wealth of possibilities for older adults" she reported about the conference.

COLLEGE FOR KIDS: Like most 12-year-olds, Chelsea Marrero of Lawrence isn't certain about what she wants to be when she grows up. But her participation in the recent two-week College for Kids program on the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College has given her some ideas.

Chelsea is one of nine Lawrence middle school students who attended College for Kids through a $4,500 grant from the Essex County Community Foundation's Greater Lawrence Summer Fund. The other students are Jadira Alvarez, Kasandra Ayala, Nashaley Cruz, Andrew DeJesus, Jose Molina, Jazmin Molina, Winnifer Montero, and Jose Tapia.

With a regular cost of $325 for each one-week session, College for Kids is open to campers 10 to 13 years old. Children ages 6 to 9 may attend an Arts Alive camp, which offers rotating classes in theater, art, music, science, hands-on mathematics, poetry, dance, storytelling, and creative writing.

Chelsea, who is going into eighth grade at the Robert Frost School in Lawrence, chose acting, movie making, and digital photography. While she learned to edit digital photos and was surprised to discover how much she loved acting, her filmmaking class allowed her to indulge herself in a previous interest.

"When we were little, my cousin and I used to make horror movies with our parents' camcorders," said Chelsea, relating how her mother would tell her she looked like a hot dog when she squirted ketchup on her arm to mimic blood. At College for Kids, Chelsea and her fellow campers made a "funny horror movie" with the requisite ketchup, as well as a fog machine and ghosts.

"I felt very grown up, because I was in class at a college, but at the same time I had fun like any kid would," she said. "I can't wait to go again next year."

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