The arrival of summer means different things to
different people. But the organizers of Leave No Child Inside hope
it means quality time spent in the great outdoors - for
LNCI is the brainchild of Chicago Wilderness, an alliance
of more than 200 organizations that connect people and
"We combat some of the trends where we see children
spending more time in front of the TV and computer," says Emilian
Geczi, LNCI coordinator at Chicago Wilderness. "The goal of the
initiative is to better connect children and families with their
backyards, their local parks, their local forest
Events will demonstrate the simple, fun and free ways
families can spend time outside.
This year's festivities started in May and conclude June
25 at the Indiana Dunes. Park districts, nature centers and
conservation institutions host events that feature hands-on
activities and demonstrations, ranging from dipping nets to catch
aquatic insects to flying kites. Geczi says a perennial family
favorite is digging for worms.
"They're just some very fun and easy things that we hope
any parent will be able to replicate on their own," he
This year, several of the event venues are making an
effort to accommodate children with special needs.
"We're very excited and very honored to try some ways to
enable these important audiences to attend," Geczi says. "Hopefully
we learn lessons we can implement more broadly in years to
Even if families can't make it out to one of the
"official" LNCI events, Geczi encourages parents and caregivers to
call their local park district or forest preserve district and find
out what events they have that promote outdoor play and discovery
He also suggests visiting LNCI's website to get activity
ideas and suggestions to try out at home-away from your tech
"The weather is nice, children are out of school, parents
are looking for something to do," Geczi says. "They're excited to
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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