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Children Have Own Ideas of 'Famous People' : Education: Visit to UCI Development Center by governor's wife and Sen. Bergeson shows celebrity is in the eye of the beholders.

August 11, 1993|WILLSON CUMMER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Gayle Wilson, wife of Gov. Pete Wilson, and state Sen. Marian Bergeson on Tuesday visited the UCI Child Development Center as part of "famous people week." But while the children were enthusiastic hosts, the women's fame was lost on some.

"Do you have a husband named Mr. Wilson?" asked one 8-year-old named Matt. "Because Mr. Wilson is in 'Dennis The Menace.' "

Wilson visited the center, which includes a clinic and school, while the governor spent the day in Orange County meeting with local business and Republican leaders and discussing his controversial new plan for immigration reform.

Mrs. Wilson and Bergeson took part in teacher Rose Zoccoli's social skills class, which is designed to reinforce behavior that is expected in school: sitting quietly, paying attention and participating in class activities.

After the children cited situations in which it is important to ask for things politely and properly, Wilson and Bergeson contributed their own examples.

"When I ask the governor to sign one of my bills," Bergeson said.

"When I want to have the governor help clear the table after dinner," Wilson said.

The UCI program works to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is characterized by impulsive behavior, short attention spans and chronic discipline problems.

"These kids are lost in the system," said Bergeson, herself a former teacher. "Most teachers in large classes don't have the time or energy to pay attention to them."

The center's goal is to teach the children how to cope with the disorder and return to regular classes within a year. Youngsters attend academic classes and clinical sessions at the center.

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