“Leave No Child Inside” heats up as warmer temps hit Chicago

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 everyone.

LNCI is the brainchild of Chicago Wilderness, an alliance of more than 200 organizations that connect people and nature.

“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 preserves.”

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 says.

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 come.”

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 activities.

He also suggests visiting LNCI’s website to get activity ideas and suggestions to try out at home-away from your tech treasures.

“The weather is nice, children are out of school, parents are looking for something to do,” Geczi says. “They’re excited to be outside.”

Elizabeth Diffin

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