Newton Library to host speaker

COVINGTON - More than 21 local and state organizations want parents and children to know the importance of being outside.

In order to raise awareness in Covington, the Newton County Library will have Dr. Cheryl Charles, president of the Children & Nature Network, speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the library's meeting room.

"She will be speaking about the nationwide movement spawned by the Richard Louv book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,' about the importance of reconnecting children to outdoor play and nature," said Barbara Morgan, vice chair of the Friends of Newton Parks.

Morgan's organization, along with Friends of the Library, heard about the movement after Newton Parks member LaTrelle Oliver heard Louv speak in the summer of 2006 in St. Louis at the American Horticulture Society's annual Children and Youth Garden Symposium.

"He's a journalist and a father, and out of interest, he published this as an editorial," Oliver said. "He began hearing from people, and it became clear that it needed an organization."

He and Charles co-founded the network and both make speaking engagements regarding the book and issues surrounding it.

More than 20 organizations have signed on to sponsor Charles' appearance, including Main Street Covington, the Georgia Wildlife Federation and other educators, environmentalists and local organizations.

Morgan said the lecture and discussion regarding the book will tie in to the park that will eventually be built beside the library.

"It's to raise public awareness about the book and the park we want to build," she said about the event.

Morgan said the park is still in its planning stages and will be built whenever the funds are available, but they want to raise awareness now in Covington.

"Children do better emotionally and academically and socially if they stay connected to the outdoors," Oliver said, adding that her grandson enjoys being outside and sleeps better outside. "I think it's the ambient sound. ... But right now the fear of outdoors is growing so, with bugs and being snatched. This (event) will help with the possibility of connecting this movement to the world here locally."

The event is free and open to the public. Greg Heid, director of the library, and members of the Friends of the Newton County Library have raised most of the money to bring Charles in as a speaker.

Friends of the Library and Friends of Newton Parks are collecting funding for the park, which will be placed on land donated from the county.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: If you go

' What: Children & Nature Network lecture

' When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

' Where: Newton County Library meeting room

' Cost: Free