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What is the Initiative to get Georgia’s Children Outdoors?

With recent concerns about youth detachment from outdoor activities, lack of physical exercise and increased health risks, the Georgia Recreation and Park Association adopted the Georgia Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. It is a fundamental list of experiences that every child in Georgia would benefit from experiencing, before entering high school.  Help Georgia’s Youth by contributing to this initiative.

The “Off the Beaten Path” program will take place at Clayton County International Park over the course of two days. Each day will serve approximately 120 kids, for a total of 240 students.

All of the third grade classes in the thirty Clayton County elementary schools have the opportunity to submit a three to five minute video as to why their school should be chosen.  The video must be inclusive of all the classes and teachers and should explain why they will exhibit the best teamwork and camaraderie. The Lake Spivey Community Board members will judge the videos and award a day at the park for two schools.

This event will highlight areas of the Clayton County Board of Education curriculum for 3rd graders: Science: They will look at the physical attributes of rocks and soil, identify features of plants and animals within the geographical region, and make observations of the local environment to understand how water and/or wind have made changes to soil and/or rocks over time. Students will explore plants, animals and habitats found within our region. Social Studies: They will interact with a Native American, who will talk about how they obtained food, clothing and shelter.  They will learn about Colonial life, artisans, farmers and the importance of hunting and gathering. They will talk with a military man who will explain their role in the culture. Students will experience the way of life for women and children during this time period.

The students will arrive at Clayton County International Park at 9:30 AM where they will be greeted and oriented to the park and the various locations of their events for the day.  Each group will have a “transporter” to direct them to the locations as well as keep them on schedule.

The day will include four stations for learning, exploration, games and hands-on activities.  Each location will also have a person dressed in character to share Georgia history, local culture and heritage.

Station one will be truly off the beaten path as they explore and join a staff naturalist, Stephanie Berens, at the head of a trail on which they will be taken on a guided hike. During the hike, native flora and fauna of Georgia’s Piedmont region will be discussed. The group will end the hike in an open area where a Native American will educate participants about the Creeks’ (a tribe native to this area) traditions, values, beliefs and way of life. This will include an example of a wattle daub to illustrate life within the home, including sleeping quarters.

Station two will be about playing on a team and will include three activities. Under the direction of Koboi Simpson, first up is Moon Ball, a teambuilding game where the kids attempt to keep an oversized beach ball in the air without letting it fall to the ground.  The objective is to see how many “touches” the kids can get without the ball dropping.  A goal is set, and the kids have to try to reach it without individuals making consecutive contact with the ball.  The kids will eventually learn to strategize their movements and plan their approach.  When they reach their goals, there is usually considerable satisfaction.

Next is Capture the Flag, a game where the kids are divided into two teams and given a “territory” to defend.  A flag will be place in each territory.  The objective is for one team to capture the other team’s flag and return it their territory without being tagged.  This gets the kids moving, and they must develop team tactics in order to be successful.

Finally, they play Tug of War, a game of collective “feat of strength” where two teams of kids pull on opposite ends of a rope in order to drag their opponents past a designated point. A military character will be a part of this station to share with children the importance of working together as a team and the significance of relying on your teammate.

CCPR Staff and Samantha Kearns will lead station three with fishing in one of the lakes at the International Park. Children will experience a fun, friendly, safe environment and learn how to bait a hook, cast a fishing rod and reel in a fish.  This will be done from the bank of the pond. Dedicated members of our team will be assisting and teaching the children.  Children will have the opportunity to identify different types of fish, as well as feeling the outer surface of a fish. Additionally, the Fishing Station will include a boat on land that the children can sit in and learn about boat safety. An early settler character will participate in the event to educate children about how hunting and gathering played a part in the lives of people in this area.

Staff from Arts Clayton will provide station four.  Each child will make a dragonfly from sticks and leaves they gather on the hike.  A Native American will share a Zuni Tale about the origin of the dragonfly. All of the characters are members of Historical Jonesboro and will participate each day.  They have the authentic costumes.  The Native Americans participating are of Native American heritage and have genuine attire.

Each class will wear a different color tee shirt in order to keep everyone with the correct group.  Sack lunches will be provided, and a water station will be available all day.

The day will end with a pep rally, and the children will be loaded on busses and headed back to school by 1:30 PM.