Akron Children’s Museum, Summit Metroparks and the Friends of Metroparks are helping little learners ages 3 to 6 keep their brains stimulated and bodies active with Adventure Backpacks. An 85,000 grant from Summit County funded the creation and distribution of 2,500 backpacks.
The animal-themed backpacks include a children’s book written by ACM’s executive director Traci Buckner and illustrated by local artist Julienne Hogarth: We All Make Tracks. The book includes watercolor images of animals native to Ohio and their tracks. Twenty-one STEM-based learning activities and a variety of healthy child-friendly recipes are also included in the backpacks. Each child also receives a brightly colored cape, eye mask, and fun-print face covering to wear on each outdoor adventure.
A fun family bonus included in the Adventure Backpacks is the “Feel In The Blanks” card game created by local educator Vanessa Abraham. The card game uses questions, a list of emotions, and dice to facilitate social and emotional learning in children. Inside families will also find an animal track zentangle design created by local award-winning artist, April Couch.
Buckner and her team of community volunteers are committed to keeping children engaged and active during the pandemic.
“While the museum remains temporarily closed, our focus has been on keeping children and families connected to the museum and engaged in fun learning activities at home” Buckner says.
Preschoolers and kindergartners in Akron Public Schools as well as students at Emmanuel Christian Academy have all received backpacks and over 700 additional families have pre-registered for contactless curbside pick-up, which took place last Saturday. PNC Bank sponsored an additional 201 backpacks for children who reside in AMHA housing in the Summit Lake area.
Summit County Ohio Executive, Ilene Shapiro says “Activities and services like those provided by the Akron Children’s Museum are critical to keeping kids and their families engaged. Supporting non-profits and the missions they serve help all of our residents feel connected, and I am delighted to see these ACM initiatives advanced through support from Summit County.”
PNC regional president for Akron, Joe Luckring, strongly supports the adventure backpacks effort. “When children receive a high-quality pre-K education, they are better prepared for school and life,” he says. “As educational opportunities have been limited this year due to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to give children new ways to learn, explore and grow in a safe and healthy environment.”
“We are thrilled to play a part in encouraging children and families to get up, get out and get moving in their own living spaces or one of Akron’s beautiful metroparks,” says Demetrius Falconer, Summit Metroparks chief of community engagement. “One of the activities – Move Like A Little Monster, Act Like An Animal – was filmed in a cave inside the Gorge Metropark and features music educator Mr. Jeff as he leads children in the Freeze Dance.”
Adventure Backpacks are available for sale to the general public at akronkids.org All ages are encouraged to spread the joy of exploring by posting pictures or videos of themselves or their children on social media using Hashtag #backpackadventures and tag @akronmuseum on Twitter, @akron_childrens_museum on Instagram, and @akronchildrensmuseum on Facebook.