Your little ones honor Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with cards, thank you’s and hugs. Now turn the tables with a Children’s Day celebration, Mexican style.
On April 17, the National Museum of Mexican Art brings the Día del Niño celebration across the border to Chicago. The 14th annual festival focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle by children. The Mexican tradition of celebrating the child, typically observed on April 30, treats kids to games and parties.
IF YOU GO
- Health Walk: 10-11 a.m. from the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., to the UIC Pavilion.5100 Museum Drive
- Festival:11 a.m.-4 p.m., UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, Chicago. Free
“We wanted to continue that tradition here,” says Nancy Villafranca, the museum’s director of education.
Kid-centered activities include clowns, balloons, face painting, inflatables and baseball and soccer clinics. Intergenerational activities and performances take place throughout the day.
Local museums and organizations host their own stations. Adler Planetarium is bringing a smaller version of its “starwatch” dome and showing astrology films, while the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has instruments for kids to play.
The festival is held at the UIC Pavilion to accommodate the estimated 12,000 attendees, says Villafranca. A Día del Niño Health Walk kicks off the day.
“Originally (it) was focused on the arts, but in 2004 we wanted to bring a health focus to the festival,” says Villafranca. “We saw a perfect fit in using an event that was already successful.”
Now the Día del Niño festival has nutritional activities and games such as obstacle courses, relay races and a make-your-own-snack station. The museum hopes to educate families on making good lifestyle choices early on.
The museum coordinates with the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide free health screenings for diabetes, blood pressure and body mass index for children and adults. Other sponsors collaborate to provide bilingual resources for the Latino community and a good experience for the Chicago-area community.
“We’ve become this hub to connect these resources and make them available,” says Villafranca.