"Bug Man Dan" offers kids a hands-on etymology exhibit at World of Enrichment in Homewood. | Supplied photo
Updated: June 5, 2014 6:30AM
Homewood kids are being encouraged to “unplug” this week and turn off screen media and turn on to real life.
As part of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a nonprofit program, the Homewood PTA is sponsoring Screen Free Week from Monday to May 11, with the support of the village of Homewood, the Homewood Public Library and a number of local businesses, Homewood PTA president Ashanti Bethea said.
Homewood School District 153 is offering participation incentives to students in Willow, Churchill and Millennium schools. Bethea said students will document their screen-free time on participation cards. A daily prize will be given to students in one classroom at each grade level with the highest number of participation points, and a larger prize will be given at the end of the week to the class with the most weekly points, she said.
Students also are encouraged to participate in community activities to keep them occupied with entertainment that isn’t electronic media-based.
“We always work with the Homewood Public Library,” Bethea said. “It provides free activities every day after school.”
The library offers free family fun all week, including a Lego night, board games, crafts with Culver’s mascot Scoopie and making a rainbow rubber-band bracelet to take home. All programs begin after 4:30 p.m.
“It gives the kids another option after school,” Bethea said.
Homewood public relations and special events manager Rachael Jones said the village is getting involved with the program this year because it would like to be “a model in the area” by encouraging people to discover what is really important — friends and family.
“It certainly is something that resonates with the constant message that we’re putting out there in terms of quality of life, engaging with other people and social living,” Jones said. “We wanted to champion it with them.”
Jones said many Homewood businesses are staying open later to offer families some shopping and entertainment alternatives to life in front of a screen.
World of Enrichment, 18035 Dixie Highway, is one of the businesses embracing the event with family activities, director Kristine Hussain said.
“We’re really highlighting a Family Friday Night Out,” Hussain said.
From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, World of Enrichment will offer activities at several stations where families can create, discover and explore together. Station activities include recycling everyday items into artwork and jewelry, a beverage-making demonstration of popular drinks from other countries, and hands-on participation with “Bug Man Dan” and his etymology exhibit of some “really cool insects,” Hussain said.
“World of Enrichment is all about family participation,” Hussain said. “Obviously it’s a no-brainer that we would do something to get families together.”
Hussain said a highlight will be Homewood’s indie band, Sweet Nobody, playing original “new pieces specifically for children.”
Bethea said her role in Screen-Free Week goes beyond being PTA president. She and her husband Charles and their sons Chase, 10, and Cyrus, 6, have participated for five years.
“It’s a family affair,” Bethea said. “Even when my youngest was not in school, we would all participate.”
Bethea said activities offered on an ongoing basis in Homewood can keep kids busy and “unplugged.”
“Find out what they’re interested in and what their strengths are — whether it’s sports, whether it’s arts and crafts — something outside of the home,” Bethea said. “Encourage that more so they’re not even really thinking about the TV.”
For more information, visit worldofenrichment.com, Homewoodlibrary.org or village.homewood.il.us.