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Greenwich Challenges Kids To Play Outside

The Greenwich Great Outdoor Challenge challenges the town's kids to go outside and play — and learn. With a bounty of Greenwich parks to visit and fun events planned, the challenge is designed to get kids out of the house and in touch with nature.

“We looked at several different programs statewide and nationwide and thought, ‘How can we get people out to Greenwich parks?’” said Denise Savageau, director of the town’s Conservation Commission, which designed the new program in conjunction with the Go Greener Greenwich committee.

Savageau said the inspiration came from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s “No Child Left Inside” initiative and is a combination of the state Great Park Pursuit and the National Park Service's passport program. The program has been her longtime dream. With a push from volunteers Gayle Hagegard and Nancy Chapin, the idea became a reality.

The Greenwich Great Outdoor Challenge 2011 began April 9 and will run until September. It features 18 different locations and events. Families can participate by visiting Mianus River Park, taking a ride on the Island Beach Ferry or stopping by Bruce Park Playground, participating in the town cleanup day on April 30, in addition to many more parks and happenings.

“People are very excited about this, and reception has been tremendous. But it is our pilot program so we’re looking to expand next year,” said Savageau. “I’ve always wanted to get this done. We’re just thrilled.”

Interested participants can take the challenge by picking up a passport at Town Hall or downloading it online at the town’s website and visiting at least 10 of the 18 suggested locations or events. Once the passport is stamped, it can be redeemed at the Audubon Greenwich’s Annual HawkWatch scheduled for Oct. 1 and 2.

The statewide “No Child Left Inside” initiative is based on research documenting the importance of children experiencing the outdoors for health of minds and bodies. “My son told me that parents who want their kids to do well in school should just let them read for fun and send them outdoors,” Nancy Chapin, member of the Conservation Commission, said in a statement. “Parents need to understand that the outdoors is a wonderful place for kids to learn about themselves and the world around them.”

Have you taken the Greenwich Great Outdoor Challenge? What do you think of this new program? Comment below or send your responses to ahelhoski@mainstreetconnect.us .

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