Get your kids outside this spring

“Getting children outside is an all-year thing, but spring is a time of renewal for everyone,” said Linda Ramey, associate professor of environmental science education at Wright State University. “It’s the time when plants begin to turn green and the sun starts shining again.”

Ramey is co-founder of the Miami Valley No Child Left Inside initiative. Part of a national effort, this group promotes the importance of getting children out in nature.

“Parents need to unplug the children from computers, television, electronic devices and get them outside,” Ramey insists. She says movement and activity are important for both physical and mental health — not just for kids but for parents and grandparents as well.

Erik Dahlstrom, outdoor recreation coordinator for Five Rivers MetroParks, is working to create an active outdoor culture in the Miami Valley.

“The possibilities are almost endless,” he said. “You can do everything from fishing and hiking to bird-watching and backpacking. And almost everything is free.”

Dahlstrom said those special kinds of shared experiences create bonds that you can’t really get elsewhere. Examples? “Getting caught out in a rainstorm or seeing your first eagle.”

Exploration is the goal at the Children’s Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton. Kids can water the plants, frolic under a waterfall, walk through a musical maze, crawl through a limestone grotto cave. Ask for an activity pack filled with family activity suggestions. Skeeter’s Garden Club gives youngsters the chance to grow veggies, play games and create art.

The rebirth of earth is also taking place at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm, 1000 Aullwood Road, Butler Twp.

“The daily changes are amazing,” executive director Charity Krueger said. “The skunk cabbage is blooming in the wetlands, bald eagles are incubating eggs, sap is flowing in sugar maples trees, buckeye leaf buds are ready to pop while the snows disappear.”

The center offers guided walks for families including farm, full moon and equinox walks. With the proper weather conditions, Aullwood’s prairie burn is held under the watchful eye of the Butler Twp. Fire Department. And there’s nothing cuter than the farm babies.

At the Dayton Art Institute’s Art Camps for both spring break and summer, it’s not unusual to see kids sitting out in the sculpture garden to view the city or work in the Italian Cloister as they create art. The DAI is located at 456 Belmonte Park N.

At Sunwatch Indian Village/Archeological Park, 2301 W. River Road, Dayton, you’ll have a chance to spend time outdoors as you make your way through the partially reconstructed village.

Beverly Horwitz, early childhood educator for the Dayton Public Schools, says young children will love exploring the Miami Valley with their parents.

“A family outing provides hands-on experiences for your children and may spark interest in learning more about the world around them,” said Horwitz, who suggests activities ranging from a bike ride or family skate to a trip to the zoo or a family picnic at a local park.

“Families also need to take time to laugh with their children, to clown and be silly with them,” Horwitz said. “Family time provides an opportunity to spend quality time with the family and opportunities to develop language skills while building family memories.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2440 or mmoss@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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