Things are about to get wild in Cleburne County this summer. Wild Wednesdays, an annual environmental education program, runs June 7-28 for kids age 5-11.
Heflin’s parks department and Cheaha State Park are partnering to enrich the lives of children with displays of reptiles, birds, bears, aquatic life and other natural surprises, according to Heflin Parks and Recreation director Tammy Perry.
The first two Wild Wednesdays will be at the Cuhulga Creek Park in Heflin and the last two will be at Cheaha State Park.
Perry said Wild Wednesdays started with the Friends of the Talladega National Forest at Coleman Lake.
“We decided to move it to Heflin to bring environmental education to more of the children that live here in the city,” Perry said. She said it would be an easier commute for the children and the Cuhulga watershed is a great place to teach environmental education.
Cheaha State Park operations supervisor Renee Raney said she’s concerned about the current generation of kids spending too much time away from nature. She called it “nature deficit disorder.”
She said there’s “a real problem with the current generation — children are playing with technology and spending the majority of their time indoors.”
Raney cited a report that states that most kids watch 44 hours of TV or computer screen time a week.
“That’s more than most people work,” Raney said.
“What we are trying to do is to introduce children to a comfortable fearlessness of being outside and to remind parents and grandparents of how we all played as children,” Raney said.
Raney said that it’s important for kids to be connected to nature, natural resources, watersheds and greenspaces.
“It’s my passion to make sure no child is left inside,” Raney said.
Each program is partially funded by a grant from the Northeast Alabama Community Foundation Stringfellow Health Fund through the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust.
Wild Wednesday programs, which are free, will start at 9 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.
The schedule for the programs:
Culhulga Creek Park (Heflin)
— June 7: Forest & Field: Hiss and Slither (snakes and other reptiles).
— June 14: Forest and field: Unnatural history of bugs, birds and bears.
Cheaha State Park: Bald Rock trail-head
— June 21: Forest and field: Water kids and water critters
— June 28: Forest and field: Windows to nature.
Each program includes storytelling, arts and crafts and creative drama.