Take a Child Outside Week, an international initiative started right here by the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, runs form Sept. 24 to Sept. 30 each year.
The week's goal is to raise awareness about the importance of kids spending plenty of time outside - and to make sure they get out there. It was inspired by Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," which sparked a national debate about kids and nature.
Take a Child Outside Week's organizers say getting kids outside more often connects them to the natural world, helps kids focus in school and reduces chances of obesity.
The Triangle has all kinds of parks, nature centers and gardens that are fun for kids to explore. I'll feature Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and its adjoining Stevens Nature Center next Friday. Other favorites of mine that I've featured here on the site: White Deer Park in Garner, Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve in Raleigh, Blue Jay Point County Park in Wake County, Duke Gardens in Durham, JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, the N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, Historic Oak View County Park in Raleigh and Eno River State Park in Durham. Check Go Ask Mom's parks database for more information about each of these spots.
Several parks are planning special events to mark Take a Child Outside Week. Here's where you will find them:
The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences' own Prairie Ridge Ecostation in west Raleigh will offer a special event from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sept. 28. The free, drop-in event lets families explore the ecostation and learn about everything from bug sounds, aquatic creatures and more.
JC Raulston Arboretum, part of N.C. State in Raleigh, will have an entire week of special activities. Most activities will be staffed from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will begin at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor's Center. Here's the schedule at the arboretum. Click here for details and for information about signing up for the storytime.
- Sept. 24: Make a leaf collage. Free.
- Sept. 25: Play creature bingo. Pick up your bingo card at the visitor center. No prizes awarded, but it's free.
- Sept. 26: Follow the map to find a treasure chest of surprises. Cost is $1 per family for map or free if you show your Arboretum membership card.
- Sept. 27: Play nature bingo. No prizes awarded, but it's free.
- Sept. 28: Garden Storytime at 10:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required. Cost is $5 per child.
- Sept. 29: Shop the Pi Alpha Xi Fall Plant Sale and plant new favorites in your own garden.
- Sept. 30: Take a Sunday stroll through the arboretum. Come anytime during open hours on Sunday. Let your children be your tour guide or grab a bingo card from Tuesday and Thursday if you missed it. This event is on your own.
Raleigh's new active adult centers will hold special storytimes for grandparents and their grandchildren as part of Take a Child Outside Week.
- This storytime focuses on reptiles and is followed by a visit from a few live snakes and lizards to see and touch. Program held at Five Points Center for Active Adults, 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Sept. 25, and at Millbrook Center for Active Adults, 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Sept. 27. Cost is $2 per person. Pre-registration is required four days in advance online at RecLink or any at community center. For more information, contact Nature programs at 919-831-6856.
Nearly all of Wake County's parks will offer special Take a Child Outside Week activities. Pre-registration is required or encouraged for almost all of them. Click here to see a full list with links and more information about each of the programs.