Barber and Oberwortmann Horticultural Center 227 N. Gougar Rd., Joliet (815) 741-7278 www.jolietpark.org Adjacent to the Bird Haven Greenhouse in Pilcher Park, the horticultural center features a multipurpose room, resource center, kitchen, gift shop and a covered deck.
C.W. Avery Family YMCA 15120 Wallin Dr., Plainfield (815) 267-8600 www.jolietymca.org Galowich Family YMCA 749 Houbolt Rd., Joliet (815) 744-3939 Smith Family YMCA 1350 S. Briggs St., Joliet (815) 726-3939 All three YMCAs feature an indoor pool, a gymnasium, fitness equipment, special classes and swimming instruction for families year-round. Purchase a membership or pay a daily fee. Each Y hosts a montly family night. Call for hours and admission prices.
Homewood Public Library 17917 Dixie Hwy., Homewood (708) 798-0121 www.homewoodlibrary.org
Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights (708) 361-1873 www.palosheights.org/lake This nature preserve has 3.5 miles of trails. The Frank Passarelli Nature Center is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. The preserve is open daily dawn to dusk.
Lions Community Center 1 W. Manor Dr., New Lenox (815) 485-3584 www.newlenoxparks.org Events: Bring a Barbie doll and a few special outfits for the Barbie Ice Cream Social featuring a Barbie fashion show, crafts and ice cream sundaes, noon-1:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Lions Community Center. $12 girls 4-6. Registration deadline Aug. 2. Dads can dance with their daughters at the Princess Ball, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at Lions Community Center. $11, $14 ages 3 and up. Registration deadline Aug. 2. Enjoy carnival games and food at Kidzapalooza, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 21. $10 ages 3-12, includes 20 tickets for games and food. Held in Greenbriar Park, adjacent to the community center. Registration deadline Aug. 11. Additional tickets available for purchase at the event. Friday Night Extreme Sports features paintball, 4:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 18. $52 grades 5-12, includes transportation to Challenge Park in Joliet, equipment, 500 paintballs, pizza slice and drink. Call for meeting place location.
Main Park 200 S. Locust St., Frankfort (815) 469-9400 www.frankfortparks.org Memorial Park 102nd Street and Major Avenue, Oak Lawn (708) 857-2200 www.olparks.com Event: Camp out or come for the evening to the Back to School Movie and Sleepover featuring "Finding Nemo," dusk Aug 18. $20. Registration required for a campsite by Aug. 11. There must be an adult present at each campsite. For more information contact the Oakview Center, (708) 857-2200.
McCarthy Park 8125 W. 171st St., Tinley Park (708) 342-4200 www.tinleyparkdistrict.org Events: See imported and classic cars at the Annual Car Show, noon Aug. 6. Award presentation at 3 p.m. Free. Listen to Special Consensus, 7 p.m. Aug. 10. Free. Groove to the Tinley Park Jazz Band and Community Chorale, 6 p.m. Aug. 20. Free. Chairs, blankets and picnic baskets are welcome for both performances. No pets. Movie in the Park: "Homeward Bound," plays at dusk Aug. 23. Chairs, blankets and picnic baskets welcome, concessions available.
Multi-Purpose Center 3000 W. Jefferson St., Joliet (815) 741-7275 www.jolietpark.org Events: Experience a different type of children's carnival at Kidz Fest, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 5. The festival's seven different zones are located on and around Chicago Street in downtown Joliet. Different hands-on activities include mock fire drills, giant inflatables and fishing pole casting. Free, extra costs for food. Art in the Park and Family Picnic, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 26 at Inwood Park, 3200 W. Jefferson St. Kids can try spin art and have their faces painted. Free, extra costs for food and art. Call Joliet Park District for more information on these and other programs.
Oak Lawn Park District 4625 W. 110th St., Oak Lawn (708) 857-2200 www.olparks.com Also see Memorial Park.
Perry Farm Park 459 N. Kennedy Dr., Bourbonnais (815) 933-9905 www.btpd.org Events: Indian Cave Tours at Exploration Station, 10 a.m.-noon Aug. 12. $4 ages 2 and up, $10 for a family of four. Registration required by Aug. 10. Learn about owls at Owl Puke, 10-11 a.m. Aug. 12 at the Willowhaven Interpretive Center, 1451 N. 4000E Rd. in Kankakee. $4 ages 8-12. Registration required by Aug. 10. Celebrate your inner pirate at the buccaneer-themed Saturday Night Party at Exploration Station, 6-10 p.m. Aug. 12. $12, $8 residents ages 3-12. Registration required by Aug. 10. Support Exploration Station at Family Fun Night, 5-8 p.m. Aug. 19. Features face painting, a bounce house, food and more. Call for details.
Silver Cross Field 1 Mayor Art Schultz Dr., Joliet (815) 726-BALL (2255) www.jackhammerbaseball.com Home to Minor League Baseball team the Joliet Jackhammers, Silver Cross Field has a tented picnic area and playground. The Jackhammers' season runs through Sept. 3, with games daily Aug. 3-5, 7-10, 14-20 and 29-31. Tuesday nights are family nights, and kids can run the bases after the game. Fireworks will immediately follow Friday and Saturday games. On Sundays, kids and their parents can get autographs from players on the field. Check the Web site for promotions and game times. Admission: $5-$10.
Tinley Park Public Library 7851 Timber Dr., Tinley Park (708) 532-0160 www.tplibrary.org Event: Watch short scenes written and performed by middle- and high-schoolers at Fumes, 7 p.m. Aug. 10-11 and 2 p.m. Aug. 12. Admission: $3 grades 6 and up (recommended).
Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center 8125 W. 171st St., Tinley Park (708) 342-4200 www.tinleyparkdistrict.org
South suburban agencies offer a myriad of support
Chicago Area Families for Adoption 1212 S. Naper Blvd., Ste. 119, Naperville (630) 585-4680 www.caffa.org CAFFA provides information, support, networking opportunities and activities for adoptive parents and parents interested in adopting. Informational meetings are held monthly. For more information e-mail email@example.com. Annual membership is $40 and includes a monthly newsletter, e-mail updates and discounted events.
Good Shepherd Center for Exceptional Children 17314 Kedzie Ave., Hazel Crest (708) 335-0020, (708) 351-TOYS (8697) Parents can arrange for trained Lekotek staff to visit their home with a therapeutic toy library adapted specifically to meet their child's needs. A $5 donation is requested and scholarships are available. Call Mary Ellen McLoughlin at (708) 351-TOYS (8697) to schedule a session. Good Shepherd's Respite Service provides professional caretakers trained to handle disabled children. Call Dawn Dixon at (708) 335-0020, ext. 22. Other services include an integrated preschool for ages 3 and under and an autism lending library.
Governors State Smart Start Program 1 University Pkwy., University Park (708) 235-7330 www.govst.edu/sas/t_hb.asp?id=2978 The Smart Start program is dedicated to keeping families connected and giving children a strong foundation through fun, educational events. Parent-child play groups, family activities and early childhood classes are just some of the programs Smart Start offers. There are openings in both the half-day and full-day pre-kindergarten programs for the fall. Call for more information.
Mothers and More Crest Hill Library 1298 Theodore St., Crest Hill (630) 941-3553 (national) (815) 828-0618 (Joliet chapter) www.mothersandmore.org www.jolietmothersandmore.com This nonprofit group provides a nationwide network of local chapters working to improve the lives of mothers by offering support, education and advocacy. South suburban moms can meet with the Joliet chapter in the Crest Hill Library Community Room, 6:45-8:45 p.m. the first Monday and third Wednesday of each month. No children, please. The chapter also offers Moms' Nights Out, a book club, a cooking club and children's activities. Annual membership is $45.
Parent and Child Education and Support Organization P.O. Box 13, Lombard (630) 835-4111 www.pacesmoms.com PACES offers support for parents of children from birth to age 5 through play groups, parenting seminars, workshops, babysitting co-ops and social outings. Annual membership is $32. The south suburban branch meets at the Life Church, 6600 W. 127th St., in Palos Heights. Childcare is provided. Call for meeting times.
Parents Anonymous of Chicago and Uhlich Children's Advantage Network 3737 N. Mozart St., Chicago (773) 588-0180 www.parentsanonymous.org www.ucanchicago.org Parents Anonymous is the nation's oldest child abuse prevention organization dedicated to the tradition of compassion, renewal and innovation. Free parent support groups meet weekly to discuss a variety of parenting issues. Calumet City offers chapters for teen parents and Spanish speakers. Free childcare is provided. For more information or to find a meeting in your area, call Tonya Gaddis at (773) 429-9326 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Suburban Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Riverdale Community Resource Center 13725 S. Wabash Ave., Riverdale (708) 841-7054 Every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon, grandparents raising grandchildren from birth to age 18 are encouraged to share their experiences, concerns, joys and frustrations at this regular support group meeting. Refreshments are served and free childcare is provided. Specialized parenting skills training is also available for grandparents and second-time parents. Call Myrna Watkins-Thompson at (708) 308-3849 for more information.
University of Illinois Extension 4801 Southwick Dr., Ste. 100, Matteson (708) 720-7520, (708) 481-0111 web.extension.uiuc.edu/cooksouth/kids.html Family Life Extension Educators teach no-cost or low-cost noncredit courses on family issues throughout the year. Past classes have addressed couples relationships, family communication and parenting themes. Call Giesela Grumbach or Betty Barsley-Marra for details on specific events.