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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

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February 18, 2014 | 02:45 PM
FONTANA — There is no professional Lego user certificate or degree, yet Karl Paulsen is as close to an expert as possible.

“I got my first set when I was 3, I think,” he said. “If I remember correctly, it was a police helicopter. Now I have hundreds of sets, probably half a million pieces.”

On Feb. 15, The Abbey Resort in Fontana hosted the second annual All-Star Lego weekend, and Paulsen taught kids all he knows about building with Legos.

“They invited me to do these workshops, and I couldn’t turn it down,” he said. “I used to run a Lego and math program in the inner city (of Chicago), and I know how to handle kids and make that experience more fun.”

Paulsen said he taught basic math skills to Chicago youth using Legos.

“I have no formal math education or training with kids,” he said. “But if I can’t teach third-grade math without training, then maybe I need to go back to school.”

Paulsen said the program was aimed at kids in poverty, but often they couldn’t attend his Lego math workshops.

“We decided to stop doing the program. We found it wasn’t honest,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for donations to help kids in poverty, if we weren’t helping kids in poverty.”

Paulsen said he wants to go back to helping kids, someday. For now, he’s excited to be working with kids and Legos at weekend workshops.

“It’s a fun event,” he said. “It’s not to hard to come up here and hang out with kids and talk about Legos. The Abbey here is nice. We went over to Walworth, ate at (Sammy’s) on the square. That was great.”

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Brian Williams, organizer of the event, said Paulsen was ideal for the kids’ workshops.

“He’s suited to run those workshops,” Williams said. “He can really relate well to the kids, and they listen to him.”

Lego Users Groups

Williams said Lego Users Groups are growing rapidly.

“It’s becoming trendy now. We do a lot of shows like this,” Williams said.

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Williams, a member of the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club, said his group has grown to 20 members.

Members usually liked Legos when they were children, he said, then they go through a “dark age” where they put aside Legos for girls or cars.

“Other interests make us push aside Legos for a while,” he said. “Then when we start having kids, we play with Legos with our kids. We realize how much fun it is.”

Along with the Northern Illinois group, the Kenosha Lego Users Group brought several of its members to the All-Star weekend.

“We like to pull together a lot of variety of people for these shows,” Williams said. “We want to have a lot of Lego built up for people to see. Every time it’s an experiment to see how things work together.”

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Lego buildings and landscapes covered several tables in one of the Abbey’s meeting rooms, and kids, along with their parents, complimented the builders.

“There are a lot of details that many people wouldn’t notice that we try to make sure are right,” Williams said.

“For example, this train from Minnesota, it has the correct number of stars on the U.S. flag for when the train was built. People won’t notice that type of thing, but most of our details are accurate.”

For Williams, it’s not just about playing, it’s about remembering the history.

“I have a theme of Area 51,” Williams said. “It’s all about outer space, fantasy and sci-fi stuff. The other members here have Harry Potter themes, castles, urban developments. With Legos, you really can build anything you want.”

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