‘Unplug’ events designed to get youth outside
Date posted: May 17, 2013
SHERIDAN — It’s time to get outside.
With springtime in full swing, the Sheridan Community Land Trust and The Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation are sponsoring “Unplug,” a series of events designed to get young people and families away from electronic devices and enjoy the great outdoors.
“We live in an amazing part of the country,” said Colin Betzler, executive director of the Sheridan Community Land Trust.
“Unplug” events are planned beginning Monday with a “Hands-On-History” event at the Sheridan County Museum. Events will be held through Saturday and include art projects, a scavenger hunt, a bike ride and learning about stream ecology.
The Land Trust’s motto is “Working to preserve and conserve the best of Sheridan County for the benefit of current and future generations” and Betzler said the event fits in perfectly with the organization’s goals.
“I think our mission is to take kids away from the screen and take in the world we live in,” he said.
Several community organizations have joined in the effort to get local kids outside including the museum, the Sagebrush Community Art Center, the Wellness Council of Sheridan County, Science Kids and the Bomber Mountain Cycling Club.
“We wanted to highlight a variety of organizations that are already engaging kids and families and we want them to highlight what they do for the community,” Betzler said.
This is the second year of the event in Sheridan and it was the brainchild of Land Trust board member Margie Taylor, who saw a similar gathering in Bozeman. “Unplug” was also inspired by the national campaign “A Screen Free Week” which aims to get young people to give up electronic devices for seven days. The group behind the week, “The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood” cites several startling statistics regarding kids and their reliance on electronic devices including 64 percent of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV for just over 2 hours a day. The group also cites a study by Nielsen that preschoolers average 32 hours a week watching television.
Betzler said the response was enthusiastic last year and drew on average 20-30 participants per day. He said the most popular events last year were the “S’mores and Bluegrass Jam,” which drew about 100 people last year and will be held again May 25 at the Kendrick Park Bandshell. The “Pedal and Picnic” event also was well attended last year. About 65 attendees went for a bike ride followed by a picnic lunch from Jimmy John’s. That will take place May 23 starting at Washington Park.
All events are free and for more information go to www.facebook.com/unplugthecord or www.sheridanclt.org.