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Kids Helping Kids Survive the Effects of Katrina


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HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We hear music made by a Moog Synthesizer …

Answer a question from a listener about Americans who are too fat …

And report about children around the country helping other children who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina.

Aid to Hurricane Victims

The American Red Cross says Hurricane Katrina has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Many other Americans, especially children, want to help these people. Barbara Klein tells us about some of their efforts.

BARBARA KLEIN: Children in many parts of the United States have organized projects to help children who lost their homes in the hurricane. In Glen Rock, New Jersey, children organized a three-day bake sale. They sold cakes, cookies and lemon drinks. They earned more than three thousand dollars. One local businessman gave the same amount of money as the children earned. So they have more than six thousand dollars to send to the hurricane victims.

Children sold baked goods and lemonade in other areas of the country, too. Students in the state of Indiana also washed people’s cars to earn money for hurricane victims. Older children in the area are organizing dance competitions. The dancers ask their families and friends to promise money. The money will go to hurricane victims.

Students in Palm Bay, Florida are sewing cloth bear toys for children affected by the storm. The children say they hope the teddy bears will make the hurricane victims feel better. Teachers say the children who are making the bears feel good because they know the stuffed animals will be held in the hands of other children.

Another group of children is filling special cloth bags for hurricane victims. Three sisters in Bethesda, Maryland got the idea for Project Backpack. They are asking other children to fill backpacks with things hurricane victims might like. These include books, crayons, games, toys, stuffed animals, dolls, balls and school supplies. They are asking for things that will help the children have some fun. The girls say on their Web site that they hope to get one thousand backpacks to send to the hurricane victims in the South.

Other efforts are more individual. One boy in New Jersey celebrated his tenth birthday with a party. He asked his guests to bring money for the hurricane victims instead of birthday presents for him.

Obesity in the United States

HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Ankara, Turkey. Doctor Ahmet Korkmaz asks about the weight situation among Americans.

The short answer to that question is that a majority of Americans are too fat. Some Americans are overweight and others are severely overweight, or obese.

Last month, an organization called Trust for America’s Health released the results of a study about obesity in the United States. The report is called “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, Two Thousand Five.”

The report said more than sixty-four percent of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. That is about one hundred twenty million people. More than twenty-four percent of American adults are obese. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of reducing the number of obese adults to fifteen percent or less by two thousand ten.

The report said the number of obese people continued to increase in every American state except Oregon. It said more than twenty-five percent of adults in ten states are obese. Seven of these states are in the Southeast. Mississippi had the highest percentage of obese people, followed by Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee.

The group Trust for America’s Health said the government should help solve the problem. It said obesity leads to heart disease, diabetes and many other health problems. And the cost of health care to treat such problems is huge.

Critics say it is extremely difficult to get people to change what they eat or how they prepare their food. And they say it is not clear that the government knows how to influence people to make healthier decisions for themselves and their families.

Still, the report suggests some actions that federal, state and local policy makers could take. One is to design communities to increase people’s physical activity. Another is to make schools serve healthier foods and require more physical education classes. Still another is to include exercise programs as part of government medical insurance. And a fourth is to provide the public with more information about the importance of healthy foods.

Moog Music

American inventor Robert Moog (rhymes with vogue) died last month. He was seventy-one years old. Mister Moog invented a device that changed the music industry. Faith Lapidus explains.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Robert Moog was born in New York City in nineteen thirty-four. He studied science at school and earned advanced degrees in engineering and physics. He combined his two main interests: science and music.

Robert Moog built his first electronic instrument when he was fourteen years old. Later, he began designing and producing devices that play sounds without the use of musical instruments. In the nineteen sixties, he developed what has always been known as the Moog Synthesizer. It was the first successful electronic music synthesizer.

Musician Walter Carlos used the synthesizer to record the album “Switched-On Bach” in nineteen sixty-eight. It became a huge hit. Here is one of the songs on that classical electronic album, “Sinfonia To Cantata Number Twenty-Nine.”

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The success of “Switched-On Bach” led popular recording artists to use the Moog Synthesizer. Critics say you can hear its value at the end of the song “Lucky Man” recorded by the group Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Let’s listen:

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Robert Moog received honors for his inventions, including a Grammy Award for technical achievement. Last year, a documentary film was made about his life. We leave you now with another example of the Moog Synthesizer. It is the title music from the nineteen seventy-one movie “A Clockwork Orange.”

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HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

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