The focus on the conservation of our Mother Earthship (aka Earth Day) takes place in Asheville on Saturday, April 16, at Pack Square Park from 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. There will be lots of kid friendly activities, particularly between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., sponsored by the YMCA, to promote child and family healthy living and connectedness with the Earth.
All the kid and family stuff is free, and includes music, games (from soccer to break dancing), storytelling, health screenings and more. There will be a parade, starting in the kid area around 1:30 p.m. and ending at the main stage for kid-hop Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s show.
Healthy Kids Day is a national YMCA initiative, according to Virginia Maziarka, healthy living director for the Western North Carolina Y’s. She says the goal of the day is to help improve the health and well being of families across the nation. YMCAs are holding events to encourage parents to make daily play dates with their kids as a way to become more active and connected.
While I applaud this idea, a daily play date seems like a lot, unless you’re a stay-at-home parent with small children. Can I just commit to weekend play dates? Because with school-age kids who have after-school activities and homework, a daily play date with mom or dad can be tough to schedule. Plus my kids would rather play alone or with friends than with me (most of the time).
Anyway, in addition to 23 Skidoo, there will be family-awesome performances by African Dance and Drum Collective Belle Afrique and the Asheville Middle School of Rock at the Earth Day event.
And just because, here’s some Earth Day history you can impart to your kids to help them get pumped about it. First off, it’s always good if you’re as old as I am and you can say, “I remember when there was no Earth Day. Kind of.” It’s almost as impressive as remembering when no one had laptops or cell phones and all research was done in the library stacks or via microfiche (I explained microfiche to the kids in my carpool the other day, and they were highly amused).
So, basically, way back in the 1960s, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin started to worry about our planet after seeing the damage done by massive oil spills off the coast of California (he’d probably also read Rachel Carson’s best-selling book, Silent Spring, which was published in 1962, and which, among other things, discussed the dangers of pesticides).
Sen. Nelson wanted to come up with a way to communicate his concerns about the Earth to the general public. So he talked to a bunch of folks, including lawmakers from both political parties. The result was that, on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was held in the U.S.
Since then, of course, conservation efforts have become more politicized, which kind of astounds me. I don’t understand why saving the Earth isn’t something everyone would support, regardless of political beliefs. But the good news is that the celebration has spread, despite partisan bickering. Earth Day went global in 1990, and that effort gave a boost to worldwide recycling efforts, according to the Earth Day Network. Last year’s celebration, the 40th anniversary of the event, saw more than 1 million trees planted in 61 countries.
Thus, Earth Day has become an annual reminder of how we must strive for a cleaner, healthier environment in the face of climate change deniers, corporate negligence (oil spills), natural disasters leading to contamination (Katrina, Japan) and an exploding human population. Maybe you shouldn’t read that last sentence to your kids if you want to prevent nightmares.
Even so, in the face of all the challenges, we can hang out in downtown Asheville on April 16 and have an Earth- and community-health-awareness play date with our kids. Even if that’s the only play date we schedule that week.