Take a Child Outside Week to be observed in Sarasota County Sept. 24-30, with numerous events planned

Goal is to encourage families to spend more time outdoors

Photo courtesy UF/IFAS Extension

In celebration of the Sept. 24-30 Take a Child Outside Week, Sarasota County staff “is offering an array of free events to help children and families explore and connect with nature,” county staff has announced.

From a three-hour kick-off event “featuring family-friendly activities, educational games and live reptiles to hiking and biking through the wonders of natural Sarasota,” a news release notes, 10 events during the week will focus on “getting children and their families more outdoor time together and creating deeper, lasting connections to our natural world.”

“Research indicates time in nature builds confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, teaches responsibility, improves focus and academic success, gets kids moving, improves immune function, and reduces stress and fatigue,” said Katherine Clements, ecology and natural resources educator with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension program in Sarasota County, in the release.

Research undertaken by academic leaders, health care professionals and others underpins the aim of Take a Child Outside Week, which was initiated by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and based upon author Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods book, the release explains.

“Louv, a child advocacy expert, lamented in his book what he termed a ‘nature-deficit disorder’ in many children today, as they turn increasingly to online and indoor activities at the expense of time spent outside exploring and playing in nature,” the release points out.

“One recent study showed that children are spending only half as much time in nature as children did two decades ago,” the release notes.

To support local families in addressing that gap, Sarasota County Extension partnered with the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department on the lineup of the 10 free, local events for Take a Child Outside Week, the release says. Those events are as follows:

  • Nature Explorations at Extension (1 to 4 p.m., Sept 24) — Family drop-in event with nature-based games and activities, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County offices, Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota.
  • Sunset Family Bike Ride (6 to 7 p.m., Sept. 25), The Legacy Trail, Osprey Junction Trailhead, 939 E. Bay St., Osprey.
  • Explore the world of Incredible Insects (9 to 10:30 a.m., Sept. 26), Sleeping Turtles Preserve North, 3462 Border Road, Venice.
  • Saltwater Fishing (6 to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 27), Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach in Sarasota.
  • Nature at Night (7 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 28), UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County offices, Twin Lakes Park.
  • Sunset Moonrise Adventure Walk (7 to 8:15 p.m., Sept. 28), Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility, 6893 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota.
  • Mangrove EcoWalk (8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Sept. 29), Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center, 570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood.
  • Bats and Birds (6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 29), Venice Area Audubon Rookery, 4006 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice.
  • Invasive Plant Removal Project (8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Sept 30), Ted Sperling Nature Park, South Lido Key, Sarasota.
  • Treasure Quest Family Event (10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Sept. 30), Urfer Family Park, 4012 Honore Ave., Sarasota.

Registration is required to attend an event: www.eventbrite.com/cc/1964829.

In the meantime, to “learn more about why and where to connect with nature locally”: blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/sarasotaco/2019/09/24/the-necessity-of-nature. To find more Extension events, visit ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com; find a Sarasota County Park at www.scgov.net/parks, the release says.

Anyone with questions may call 311 (941-861-5000 from outside Sarasota County) or email sarasota@ifas.ufl.edu.