Sunday, August 24, 2014

Windham student travels abroad with People to People program - By Elizabeth Richards

After two years of fundraising, Isabella Rosborough’s dream became reality this summer as she spent an exciting three weeks traveling in Europe as part of the People to People Ambassador Program.
While Rosborough’s group from the Southern Maine area had only 11 students, they travelled with a group of six students from Bangor, and in New York, they met up with another four from Staten Island. When they arrived in Rome, they were joined by a large group of students from New Jersey, as well as one German student, to form the group of 39 students and five adult leaders.

The group began their explorations in Rome, where they visited the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and took a tour of the city. 

After Rome, their travels took them to the small mountain town of Assisi. “Assisi was probably one of the most beautiful places out of everywhere we went,” said Rosborough. “It was just a quaint little town.” Here, they saw how olives were grown, and also visited a monastery and had the opportunity to speak with a Friar. 

Every People to People trip includes a “full-on” experience. For Rosborough’s group, this meant rappelling down a 100-foot castle wall, along with other group games. From the wall they could see for miles, including views of other castles in the area. Rosborough said that although some participants were fearful, she was not. “I enjoyed it a lot. I’m a thrill seeker for things like that,” she said.

After their full-on, the group met the families they would be staying with. Students were either by themselves in a home stay family, or with one other student, for three nights and two days. Rosborough stayed in a family of four with two daughters. The parents spoke broken English, she said, but the older daughter Agatha spoke English clearly, and served as their translator for the stay. In addition to her home stay family, there were two neighbor kids that spent the whole time with her as well.

While with the family, Rosborough went to a lake, explored the town she was staying in including shops selling artwork, pottery and jewelry. The family also took her to Perugia, which is “the Italian chocolate capital” she said. And much like teenagers do in America, she and the teens she was visiting ordered takeout pizza one evening, watched a movie, and played WII.     

Rosborough said that one of the biggest things she learned was that no matter where you go, things are still the same. While she realized there may be bigger differences in other countries, in Europe there were many similarities to home. The family dynamics were very similar to those in America, and there were lots of tourists everywhere they went. 

She did notice a lot of small differences throughout her travels however. Some of the more notable differences, she said, were that kids go to school one year longer before going to university, and also they cannot drive until they are 18 years old. The universities are also much more specialized, focusing only on one trade, she said. 

Other cities visited included Venice, Florence, Pisa, Paris and London. One of her favorites, said Rosborough, was Florence. In Florence, there weren’t many cars, but lots of moped and tourist buses. The streets were lined with artists, each with a different type of art, but all really detailed and amazing, according to Rosborough. She purchased two pieces of art in Florence, including a painting of Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence not bombed during WWII. While there, the group had the opportunity to visit the bridge.

Other highlights of the trip included a glass blowing demonstration in Venice, walking around the Vatican city, visiting the Sistene Chapel, the Statue of David, the Louvre, the Effiel Tower and Normandy. The trip to Normandy was very sad, Rosborough said, and there was a special ceremony there, where people thanked the students and their ancestors for helping them during the war.

In London, the group of students met with a former member of British Parliament, went up the London Eye, saw Big Ben and the changing of the guard, and went to see the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. London was full of statues, said Rosborough. In one square, there were four huge lion statues guarding the square, and a different statue in each corner. Because they couldn’t decide what to put in one corner permanently, the statue there changes every 18 months, and a vote will occur to choose the permanent statue. When Rosborough’s group visited, she said, the statue there was a giant blue rooster.

Rosborough said her favorite parts of the trip were rappelling and the home stay. While she doesn’t have plans to formally share her experiences, she talks about it a lot wherever she goes, she said. “It’s definitely worth the money,” she added. She funded her trip by selling peppermint bark, using money she had saved, holding a clock raffle, and she also had some family members who contributed to the trip. 

Alison Rosborough, Isabella’s mother, said “It was amazing – and a lot of work. She worked really hard to get there,” she added. While on the trip, “She did things that you wouldn’t be exposed to if you were doing it as a family,” said Alison. The trip moved beyond sightseeing and allowed them to meet people and become a part of the culture. The only drawback, Alison said, is that Isabella can’t wait to go on the next one. “It took us two years to raise the money – so I’m thinking it will be another two years before she goes again,” she said. 

Isabella agreed – she is eager to go on more trips like the one she took this summer. “I want to do more European countries, and I really want to do Japan. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan,” she said.

Photos are Isabella with Emma, her homestay sister, and the other one is with the all the kids - the girls she stayed with and the two neighbors - from left to right Emma, Linda, Nicola, Agatha and Isabella.

O'Shea Builders teams up with HGTV for remodel - By Michelle Libby

Warren O’Shea is passionate about building and quality of work. His honest demeanor and attitude shines through and when HGTV found out about his work on the website, a photo-based sharing website to find contractors, they asked him to bid on a project for its new show “Vacation House for Free.” 

O’Shea, no stranger to television, agreed to meet with the producers and because of his knowledge of TV production, he got the job. He has been on two episodes of On Your Side and as a professional contractor, both for Channel 13 and he worked on the Restaurant Impossible for the Food Network renovating Uncle Andy’s in South Portland.  

“I’m a big advocate for consumer rights. You don’t need a license to be a contractor, but you need one to sell bait. That’s wrong,” O’Shea said. 

“I’ve been in construction for eight years,” the Cape Cod native said. He’s done a variety of jobs like commercial fishing and restaurant manager before settling on construction. Now he mostly does renovations of existing homes. 

The “Vacation House for Free” is a show where the premise is if you fix up your home, you can rent it for 16 weeks and then pay for the construction and some of the mortgage, allowing you to live there for free. The theme of the episode is maximizing space.

The home O’Shea Builders is working on is on the water in Oakland. He had three interviews before knowing that he had the job. He said he spent at least two weeks designing the layout of the bathroom to make sure there were two doors to meet code. “Creative design solved many problems,” he said. “I have a bit of a track record for media, but it’s not like I expected (to get the job).” 

The renovations were designed with the client and although O’Shea did not go to design school, his hands on experience has helped him learn how to create plans that work for both the client and the state codes. He calls it “design on the fly” and he does this by getting to know the clients and how they like their homes. 

“My show is the most involved, most logistically complicated because it’s so difficult to get to for the trucks,” he said. The whole rebuild will take six weeks wrapping up around September 16. The host of the show is Matt Blashaw, who also hosts “Yard Crashers.” 

Working with HGTV can be challenging because everything has to be approved in New York and he’s working with designers who have inspirational photos, but aren’t as concerned with which materials make a certain look. 

O’Shea said there is a film man on site every day and they do a lot of time lapse photography.
“I live in a construction site. Everywhere I look I say, ‘I have to do this or order that’,” O’Shea said. He is spending the week in Oakland and returns home on the weekends. “I’m working a 12 hour day plus, easily,” he said. 

The Windham resident doesn’t usually travel to Oakland to work, liking to stay in the Windham, Portland, Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough areas. 

O’Shea builders is not handyman work. He does high-end work with tile, paint, electrical and roof work. If he can’t do it, he has electricians and plumbers who will handle the job. He employs four year round and occasionally subs out work. 

O’Shea’s specialty is kitchens and bathrooms, he said. He likes to do custom tile and showers. The company’s motto is “We’ve got this.” No matter the project, big or small…“We’ve got this.”
“It’s all about attitude. O’Shea Builders does free estimates.

The show aired its first episode last Sunday night. New episodes will air every Sunday night at 10 p.m. on HGTV. There are 12 episodes scheduled. O’Shea anticipates his show will air in December.
For more information about the show, visit

Fit 4 Duty 5K honors Windham firefighter/EMT - By Michelle Libby

The second annual Fit 4 Duty 5K to honor Windham firefighter/EMT Rick Duncanson will take place this Sunday at Windham High School. The 5K was started by Denise Allen who worked with Rick and wanted to do something special to remember him. The proceeds from the run go to the Rick Duncanson Memorial Scholarship Fund, which was started by his wife, Lisa and one of his two daughters. 

“He was always there for everyone else and this is our way of being there for him,” said his wife Lisa.
Rick passed away unexpectedly almost two years ago in December, he was 47. Rick and Lisa had been married just shy of 25 years, she said. The Windham High School graduates had been together for 30 years, which wasn’t enough time, Lisa stated. Rick joined the Windham Fire Department and Rescue in 1986 as a volunteer and his service grew from there. 

No one in the family had been to a 5K, Lisa said, but last year she finished her first and is ready to complete her second this year. Finishers will run under a 42-foot flag hanging from two ladder trucks. Last year there were 100 people enrolled and Lisa is concerned with the addition of another big race that same weekend attendance could be down. She doesn’t want that to happen. 

“Rick would have thought it was kind of fun because he was not an athlete. He’d have been humbled by it,” Lisa said. 

Denise Allen’s other motivation for the 5K was to get more fitness into the fire department and police departments, Lisa said. “Rick wasn’t the fittest, but he tried to stay healthy.”  

There is still time to register on race day between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The cost is $40 and finishers get a tech shirt and a BPA free water bottle. All the proceeds go to the scholarship. For more information on the race visit

Another fundraiser that is done in memory of Rick is Rick’s Ride in September. “The motorcycle ride, he would have said, ‘This is cool,’” Lisa added. 

All of the fundraising goes to scholarships for students who have a fire, EMS or law enforcement connection or are going into these fields. The first year, in Windham, the fund gave away three scholarships worth $1,500, and in 2014 it gave two $1,000 scholarships, one to Devon Jones and one to Savannah Johnston. 

“There were lots of donations in the beginning in lieu of flowers,” Lisa said. In 2015 they hope to include more schools like Gorham and Portland and eventually have the funds to give scholarships all over the State of Maine. “Rick put two kids through college so he knew how much it costs. He had a lot of good friends who are participating and do all they can,” Lisa said. Rick’s best friends help to judge the entries for the scholarships around the dining room table at Lisa’s house. 

“We miss him. It’s hard,” she said.

Back to school means back to good nutrition basics - By Merilee Kern

As parents prepare for yet another “back to school” season, they will scurry to malls in search of new clothes for their ever-growing child along with a litany of school supplies too numerous to name. But, let’s not forget healthy school lunches and after school snacks as we plan ahead for the upcoming school year.

Here are a few great ideas to assure a happy school day is also a healthy school day:

  • Lean meat, such as shaved ham or turkey, on whole grain bread or in a wheat wrap with some lettuce, low-fat/fat-free cheese, and a touch of low-fat/fat-free mayonnaise or mustard is sure to please…and nourish.
  • Even the quintessential children’s sandwich, PB&J, can be made in a healthy way these days. Many peanut butter brands now offer low-fat and low-sodium versions. That, coupled with an all-fruit, sugar-free jelly on whole grain bread makes this school cafeteria staple a guiltless pleasure.
  • Tuna fish is jam packed with oh-so-beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. When mixed with low-fat mayonnaise, diced apple, and, if your child likes, a bit of onion and served in a wheat pita it’s nothing short of delish and a healthy home run!
  • BLTs can also be healthy! Simply swap regular bacon for the turkey bacon variety (in moderation due to high-sodium levels) and layer with lettuce, tomato and fat-free mayonnaise. Sandwich in whole grain bread or roll into a pita wrap - your child will nary know the difference between this healthy version versus its fat-packed counterpart.
  • What to serve on the side of the main school lunch item? Options abound! Low-salt pretzels; fat- and sugar-free yogurt or cottage cheese; celery sticks filed with low-fat/low-sodium peanut butter; any kind of pre-washed fresh fruit (nature's gift to humanity); dried or dehydrated fruit, such as raisins; apricots, pears, apples, roasted or raw almonds, walnuts or peanuts (not oiled or candied); low-fat string cheese or chunked low-fat cheese; and even baked chips or healthy pita chips in moderation are all great choices.
  • Skip the sugary juice box and send along a bottle of water instead to get your child in the habit of working toward his/her optimal fluid intake (experts recommend one consume about .5 ounces of water per pound of body weight).

It’s common knowledge that after school is prime time for snacking, and it is also a time when many kids make, shall we say, less than nutritious food and beverage choices. Here are a few health and fitness-friendly after school snack alternatives your kids are sure to love:

  • Potato Chips/Fries - Cut the potato in the desired shape (round, rectangular, oblong, etc.). Fully coat with egg whites. Season with a touch of salt or other herbs as desired. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Serve with sugar-free catsup.
  • Popcorn: Air pop popcorn and on it drizzle a moderate amount of powdered butter substitute, light parmesan cheese, or even honey for a tasty twist.
  • Pizza: On a fat-free/low-calorie/low-carb whole grain tortilla (or whole grain bagel), smear tomato paste or sauce and top with fat-free cheese, whatever veggies the child likes, and even lean meats like ham or turkey dices. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted with a few brown spots on top.
  • Tortilla Chips: Cut Chinese wonton squares (usually found in the produce aisle) in half diagonally so they become triangles. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle on a dash of salt. Bake at 350 degrees until crunchy. Eat alone or serve with fat-free salsa or the below-described Mexican bean dip.
  • Mexican Bean Dip: Drain and food process two 14-ounce cans of black beans. Add 3/4 cup of fat-free salsa and 1/2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and blend until completely smooth. Top with a dab of fat-free sour cream, fat-free cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped green onions, etc. as desired.
  • Fruit Smoothies: These are a warm weather staple that can, and should, be enjoyed year-round. While fruit smoothie recipes abound, it need not be a complex process. Simply blend, in amounts to your personal liking, either plain or flavored fat-free/sugar-free yogurt with skim milk, ice cubes, and either fresh or frozen fruit chunks. For added sweetness, you can add a touch of honey or an artificial sweetener, such as stevia. Blend and enjoy!
  • Healthy Ice Cream Sandwiches: These are a snap - and always a crowd pleaser! Purchase any type of round fat-free/sugar-free cookie on the market (preferably the new whole grain varieties) or bake any low-fat/low-calorie cookie recipe from scratch. Sandwich waistline-friendly sherbet, sorbet, or gelato between two cookies and press to make a sandwich. For added excitement, flavor, and visual interest, you can also roll the outside edge of the "sandwich" in chopped unsalted nuts, shredded coconut, raisins or finely diced fresh or dried fruit.
  • Parfait: While the word "parfait" may not be in your child's vocabulary, (s)he will love making - and eating - this snack layered with goodness. In a cup or bowl, simply create thin, alternating layers of non-fat yogurt, low-fat granola (or other heart-healthy cereal product), and fruit slices or whole berries. Make as many layers of each as you like and then dig in!
  • Jell-O®: Let's not forget how much colorful, jiggly Jell-O® can delight, especially when it is jam-packed with diced fruit.

Children’s health advocate, health industry veteran and two-time fitness champion, Merilee Kern, is the creator of the ground-breaking “Kids Making Healthy Choices” APP for children, parents/caregivers and educators (available on iTunes), which is based on her award-winning, illustrated fictional children’s book, “Making Healthy Choices – A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids.” She may be reached online at: