Saturday, March 16, 2013

Raising Little Heroes: Introduction to Wonderland Park

We had a great, albeit cold, morning at Wonderland Park today.  11 families showed up for our first official RLH gathering at our adopted park where we got an overview of how we can care for it year round from our own Environmental  Projects Overseer and Horticulturalist for the City of Boulder, Dan Yankowiak.  Dan and I hadn't planned on any big work projects today since the weather was likely to be at least pretty cold but we wanted to gather everyone before our big Spring Cleanup day on  April 20th.  We thought it would be fun to get together with those who were feeling excited to get started and to install our "Raising Little Heroes" sign at the entrance to the park.  Even though it was cold, we managed to make a few big piles of fallen branches for the parks department to collect, got the sign installed and got to know each other a little better.  The kids worked really hard and had fun gathering branches and trash and there seemed to be a general sense of excitement for the weather to be nice so we can really roll up our sleeves and care for our park.  If this sounds like fun to you, I strongly encourage you to do a little research in your area (or here in Boulder--plenty of parks to care for, large and small--not to mention "adopt a flower bed" and "adopt a trail") to see if there is an "adopt a park" program that you can participate in.  You can encourage neighbors and friends to join you or you can take it on as your own family project.  It could not have been easier to apply and Dan told us that there has been a rapid decline in the sense of stewardship shown by residents recently, so they are grateful and excited to have us on board.

While we were there today, we gathered donated therapy balls and puzzles for RLH mom, Hayley Kooiman to take along with her on her trip home to South Africa next week.  Hayley told us that a friend of hers works with an organization in South Africa called The Unlimited Child, a non-profit organization which operates from Hillcrest in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Hillcrest is Hayley's hometown and this organization helps a lot of creches (day care centers) in impoverished surrounding areas.

The Unlimited Child promotes Early Child Development (ECD) by providing educational toys and caregiver training to underprivileged day care centers.  They dramatically improve the potential of preschool children by supporting pre-existing day care centers with learning materials, monitoring, support and training.

Hayley asked her friend if there was any way RLH could help support the work that they do, and her friend told her that there are some specific therapy balls that they can't get in South Africa that happen to be really inexpensive and easily found here in the United States.  So, many RLH members and friends from afar (including Germany and the US East Coast) donated balls and had them sent to Hayley to bring along with her on her trip.  More local RLH families donated puzzles (another needed item) to help fill Hayley's suitcase.  We also had some of the kids draw pictures this morning for Hayley to bring along and deliver with our gifts to a creche she hopes to visit with her children while over there.

Thank you to everyone who made this morning a success--we look forward to a great year at the park together.  We also look forward to updates from Hayley while she is away!

These guys were excited to find a nest.  After we let them proudly show it to us, we gently encouraged them to put it back where they found it.

Headed up to install the sign

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