Sponsored by Forsyth Creek Week
It’s jokingly referred to as “Nature Deficit Disorder” — the propensity for kids to spend all their time indoors, often with their eyeballs glued to a screen. But it’s no joking matter: A host of studies over the past 20 years have shown that children who spend time outdoors are happier, healthier, more attentive and less anxious than those who do not.
These studies are just confirming what might be considered common sense. Being outdoors provides a stimulating environment that engages all our kids’s senses. They’re exposed to more sights, sounds, smells and textures in the outdoors than inside. This, in turn, makes them think. Why is that tree trunk twisted? Where’s that funny smell coming from? And being outdoors gets kids moving. Whether strolling through the woods or playing capture the flag, kids rarely choose to just sit still outdoors.
Research has revealed other, less apparent benefits to being outdoors. A study by Nancy Wells of Cornell University showed that being outdoors can reduce ADHD symptoms. And the Optometry and Vision Science reported that kids who spent more time outdoors during the day tended to have better distance vision than those who spend their days indoors.
Fortunately for Triad parents, Forsyth Creek Week is just around the corner, with ample opportunities to get the kids outside.
From March 25 to April 2, Forsyth Creek Week will offer nine days of fun, recreational, and hands-on activities, including many suitable for children. The line-up includes several new events that are especially good for kids of various ages, starting with a “StoryWalk” along Salem Creek Greenway in Winston-Salem. Furry forest creatures will escort the kids to stations with storytellers and singers who share watery tales of mystery and myth, fact and fiction,. At the end, each kid can make their own “blobster” using materials they gathered along the way. The StoryWalk will be Sunday, April 2, and is a collaboration of between UNC School of the Arts student performers, the Gateway Nature Preserve and the N.C. Storytellers Guild, among others. It’s suitable for kids age 3 through middle school.
On Tuesday, March 28, the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville will host two interactive, after-school programs suitable for all ages: A walk around the wetland created at the park to manage runoff; and a stream simulator that will allow kids to get their hands wet while they learn about erosion in streams.
And on Wednesday at 1 p.m. there will be a tree identification walk along the creek that cuts through Miller Park in Winston-Salem — a great field trip for home-schoolers in middle and high-school. (A complete list of events suitable for home-schoolers is posted on ForsythCreekWeek.org.)
Perhaps the best outdoor activity of all will be the “creek crawl” along Bethania’s Black Walnut Bottom Trail. Expert naturalists will lead a guided tour that includes getting in the water to show what makes a healthy creek. Truly, it will engage all the senses!
There are also outdoor activities that are sheer fun, including organized creek-side bike rides and the Family Fishing Fun program, both on Saturday, March 25; and bird-watching greenway walks led by birding experts with Forsyth Audubon.
And finally, there’s a wonderful opportunity to get the kids outside AND let them experience the importance of environmental stewardship when Winston-Salem, Lewisville and Clemmons hold community clean-ups on Saturday, April 1, while Kernersville holds a “planting party” at Fourth of July Park.
In all, Forsyth Creek Week is offering 34 events, some more than once, all designed to help us appreciate our local waterways. There will be half-price stand-up paddleboarding at Salem Lake and motorized ultra-light rides over the Yadkin River, trips along Salem Creek Greenway on Segway personal transporters, water-themed trivia at Foothills Brewing and River Ridge Tap House, a fascinating a tour of historic Old Salem sites along Salem Creek, professional development workshops for teacher and engineers, and more!
Forsyth Creek week is an annual event organized by 23 government and non-profit agencies in Forsyth County with presenting sponsor North State Environmental. See the full calendar of events at ForsythCreekWeek.org.