Research collected by Chicago Wilderness indicates that establishing a relationship with the outdoors at a young age impacts people's behavior toward the environment and their physical health throughout their lives. Kindergartners who play in a forested area every day build motor skills faster than children on traditional playgrounds, wilderness-therapy programs help to improve teenagers' school behavior, and 90 percent of adults who describe themselves as active began outdoor activities before the age of 18. But these activities are not open to all youth, due to the sometimes-questionable safety of public spaces and economic instability at home and in schools.
If this Grassroots campaign raises $150, then Friends of the Parks can promote environmental appreciation through a Nature along the Lake field trip for 30 students, thanks to matching funds from ComEd. The funds will go toward bus rental, supplies such as binoculars, fishing rods, and plant and crafts materials, and the educators salary. On the trip, students will hike, fish, watch birds, and learn about dune formation in natures classroom. The lessons exemplify and solidify science taught in the Board of Education curriculum and take advantage of lush green spaces along Lake Michigan. Each additional $10 donation (matched to $20) will sponsor two more students on a field trip, with the first $1,000 in total donations matched.
ComEd will match all donations up to $1,000. To celebrate the launch of Groupon Grassroots, Groupon will provide a $1,000 kickoff grant to this campaign.
Friends of the Parks was born of a specific need more than 35 years ago. At the time, Chicago's city parks and recreational areas existed in shambles. Partnering with volunteers, Park Advisory Councils, policy experts, governmental officials, and schools, Friends of the Parks sought to establish the parks and forest preserves as public spaces where neighbors could explore and admire the outdoors. They surveyed park conditions and gradually improved the green spaces.
Currently, Friends of the Parks preserves, protects, and promotes the use of public spaces through programs that range from cleanup events for Earth Day to educational field trips for public-school children. The organization actively works to restore the forest preserves and Lake Michigan shoreline and provide public tours and summer internships in natural areas.
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