Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, Aug. 25, 2014

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Thumbs up to a new Janesville fitness trail/prayer walk. The Salvation Army built the path using an anonymous $12,000 grant from a local family foundation. It equipped the route with 10 fitness stations, as well as benches and verses for meditation. Making good use of what God gave, the faith-based charity recycled much material in the project. The Salvation Army will dedicate the trail after its 10:15 a.m. service Sunday, Sept. 7. Like a city park, the one-acre area will be open to the public. It was designed to enhance the organization's programs and outdoor education. It should be a nice addition in this “City of Parks.”

Thumbs up  to baseball as a gentlemen's game. Remember when players were good sports, shaking their opponents' hands and applauding good plays rather than strutting and showboating? If not, or if you'd like to relive those days, check out the vintage game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, between the Eagle Diamonds and Chicago Salmon at Old World Wisconsin. The living history museum near Eagle is itself worth a visit. It showcases how Wisconsinites lived, worked and played in a bygone era. As Anna Marie Lux chronicled and Dan Lassiter illustrated in last Monday's Gazette, baseball in the mid-1800s, was a much different sport. It was a game of two words, base ball. The ball was called an apple, the bat an ash, the batter a striker. Rules were quite different, as well. Among them: Players didn't wear gloves, and catching a fly ball after the first bounce was an out. Attend this game, and you'll see vintage uniforms, camaraderie, community and players who compete for the love of the game and who address the umpire as “sir.” How refreshingly retro.

Thumbs down to defacing Paul Ryan's book. There are reasoned, thoughtful ways to make a political point, and then there are tactics such as The Agenda Project's. The organization is urging supporters to print out and wrap an alternative book jacket over the Janesville congressman's new book, “A Way Forward,” in stores. The alternative shows Ryan pushing an elderly woman, with a terrified look, in a wheelchair. Likewise, in 2012 the organization produced a commercial that depicted Ryan, then Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, pushing an elderly woman off a cliff. It's OK to criticize Ryan for proposals you believe will harm Social Security and Medicaid. It's OK to create an alternative book jacket to bring media focus to your objections. But to urge supporters to actually cover books in shops with this alternative jacket, essentially defacing—if only temporarily—a store's and publisher's product is petty and juvenile.

Thumbs up Link Crew at Elkhorn Area High School. Janesville's and Milton's are among area high schools that have used this national program for years. Elkhorn is enacting it this fall. Through Link Crew, upperclassmen serve as mentors for incoming freshmen. All involved students can benefit. By serving as role models, encouraging freshmen and showing them how to navigate school, the older students develop leadership skills and learn the value of volunteerism. Freshmen enjoy a smoother transition to high school. Through monthly meetings, the leaders teach the newcomers how to handle peer pressure, manage time wisely and better prepare for exams. Schools that enact Link Crew often find fewer discipline problems and higher levels of freshmen participation in class and extracurricular activities. Any area high school not using Link Crew should consider starting the program.

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