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More Than 10,000 Children Enjoy Philly EarthFest

Of the dozens of games available to the children from the SafeLawns Lawn Games for Life demonstration, the old-fashioned sack races proved most popular.

Of the dozens of games available to the children from the SafeLawns Lawn Games for Life demonstration, the old-fashioned sack races proved most popular.

Organizers estimated more than 10,000 children, many from the inner city of Philadelphia, were able to enjoy lawn games and myriad other environmental educational opportunities at last Friday’s 10th annual EarthFest held at Temple University’s Ambler campus.

SafeLawns was on-hand for the event to set up two dozen game stations that included the activities in our new book, Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games — everything from old-fashioned wheelbarrow races, tug of war contests and sack relays, to new discoveries such as Molkky, Ladder Golf and human ring toss, which is played with an oversized sponge-filled Frisbee.

“I’m having a blast!” said 9-year-old Jessica Williams.

“What are you playing? Can I play too?” asked 12-year-old Shania Edwards, when she happened upon a kickball game, apparently for the first time in her life.

Although adults made sure the children were safe, the kids kept track of the outs and the score in a robustly revolving kickball game that lasted for several hours on Friday.

Although adults made sure the children were safe, the kids kept track of the outs and the score in a robustly revolving kickball game that lasted for several hours on Friday.

“We can’t thank you enough for bringing ‘lawn games’ to our event on Friday,” said Flossie Narducci, education activities manager for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “Despite the gale force winds, thousands of exuberant kids thoroughly enjoyed frolicking on the field and playing classic outdoor games. In many cases they were introduced to these games for the very first time. Keep up your message and many, many thanks!”

Friday’s event, coordinated in part by the PHS, which presented its annual Junior Flower Show as a part of the day’s activities, was also produced by the Center for Sustainable Communities.

“This is a tremendous achievement, said coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks. “EarthFest has become an essential part of sharing what Temple University Ambler does best — promoting environmental stewardship in our communities.”

In addition to the college and PHS the event was attended by more than 90 other exhibitors eager to educate students — from elementary school age through high school — about their role in environmental preservation. The Academy of Natural Sciences, the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Montgomery County Beekeepers Association, among many others, lined the walkways and (natural) grassy areas of the campus.

Of the many badges, blue ribbons and other honors, the highest award of the day — the “Commitment to Sustainability” — went to the Wordsworth Interact Club of Wordsworth Fort Washington for their project titled “Plastic Planet Savers.” Throughout the day the 20 members of the Wordsworth Interact Club invited other students to plant and take home seedlings in potting containers made from recycled plastic bottles.

“it’s about getting out there and doing something for others,” said Steve Bass, the Wordsworth Training Specialist. “It’s about learning how you can get involved through your career and your community and really pitch in.”

Hundreds of students await notification of awards during the EarthFest mainstage presentation.

Hundreds of students await notification of awards during the EarthFest mainstage presentation.

SafeLawns capped its own mainstage message with its presentation titled “Did You Know You Can Eat Your Lawn (if your parents don’t kill it first)!” When I held a fist full of dandelions, chickweed, plantain, clover and sorrel aloft, I asked the children, “What do you see here?”

“Weeds!” they all said.

“Lunch!” I replied.

At first my reluctant volunteer nervously held a piece of chickweed to her mouth. As the chants from the audience grew — “Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it!” — she began chewing on the tender leaves. Moments later she gave the experience a thumbs up.

Just like the day as a whole.

Children loved chasing the oversize sponge-coated Frisbee on the chemical free sports fields at Temple University.

Children loved chasing the oversize sponge-coated Frisbee on the chemical free sports fields at Temple University.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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