|Sent on:||Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:06 AM|
CHECK OUT THIS STORY FROM THE WESTSIDE NEWS!
by Terra Osterling
The last week of June includes both the first days of summer vacation and the prelude to the nation’s birthday – Independence Day. This year, children ages five through 12 can participate in Churchville’s first Patriot Days at the Riga Town Park. The weeklong program begins June 24 and introduces children to the founding of the United States of America.
Teresa Wood, also known as the “History Houses” Doll House Lady, is the local Patriot Days organizer. Last Independence Day, Wood and her family decided to read the Declaration of Independence as part of their celebration. “We thought about what it really meant, and what it felt like at the time of our country’s founding,” says Wood about their first time reading the historic document beginning to end. She pondered how to teach to children the story of the nation’s founding in a way that is both fun and educational, as she does with History Houses.
“America was, and is, the greatest idea of all time: Can mankind rule ourselves? Yes, we can,” Wood says about the country’s founding era and what is commonly called the American Experiment.
Wood met Yvonne Donnelly, Executive Director of the Constitutional Champions Foundation – the Pittsford-based not-for-profit that developed the program – and purchased the Patriot Days curriculum. The Foundation’s mission is to promote patriotism through American history education.
Patriot Days focuses on key scenes from the Revolutionary era: Boston, Valley Forge, Lexington, Yorktown and Philadelphia. Participants, grouped by age, visit six 20 minute stations, learning, making crafts, enjoying snacks, and playing games such as the Minute Man Relay.
Participants will also re-enact the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River (a kiddie pool filled with ice and water).
While making root beer, wearing white powdered wigs, and eating popcorn with milk and sugar (colonial breakfast cereal), Patriot Days participants will also learn basic concepts such as separation of powers and taxation without representation. Crafts include a three corner hat, a Poor Richard’s Almanac, and a feather pen.
Each day begins with a supervised sign-in. Activities will be held both indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. Opening ceremonies each day involve flag etiquette, the singing of the National Anthem, and a prayer led by local pastors.
“I want them to know what our founders sacrificed,” says Wood of one program goal, “ – their lives, their liberty, and their fortunes.”
A family picnic is scheduled for the final day, featuring a visit from the country’s Founders, both men and women.
To keep registration costs low, Patriot Days will be volunteer-run by more than 30 adults and teens from all over the area. Many of Wood’s dedicated volunteer organizers are retired teachers.
The community has been very supportive, says Wood. The American Legion Harvey C. Noone Post 954 in Churchville, and Chili Post 1830 are sponsors. Roberts Wesleyan College Community Theatre is loaning prop muskets, two prop cannons, and “King George’s” throne. One hundred pocket Constitutions have been donated, and ANG Market, Pontillo’s and Slice Pizza Co. are supporting the family picnic. Donation and sponsorship opportunities are still available.
Patriot Days will be held 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 24 through 28, at the Riga Town Park, 6475 Buffalo Road. Registration forms are available at the Churchville and Bergen Public Libraries, and through the Town of Riga Recreation Department. For fees and other information, contact Teresa Wood at[masked] or [address removed].