Options for Families and Youth
5131 W. 140th St.
Brook Park, OH 44142
About Kids In Nature
The Kids In Nature (KIN) program is a supervised ‘day in the woods’ provided by Options for Families and Youth (OFY) staff. The program is funded through a small grant awarded to OFY by the Haslinger Family Foundation for the 2015 calendar year.
OFY’s goal is to have children/teens in the child welfare system experience what being outdoors has to offer them. We have often seen that the young people in our foster care program, coming to us from and living in the city, have never been to a wooded or forested area before. We bring an outdoor experience to them under good supervision and attention. OFY only brings out three children/teens at a time to be supervised by two adults.
The program takes place at ‘Starre’s Acres’, property owned by Barbara Starre. Starre’s Acres is a 33-acre wooded plot of land that is designated as a conservancy; land set aside that is unable to be developed or subdivided for commercial use. Barb Starre is the sister of Michael Rush, LISW-S, Executive Director of Options for Families and Youth. Her wish has always been to have her property experienced by children. She has had a variety of Girl Scout Troops and student classrooms out to her land.
Starre’s Acres has defined walking trails, a small shallow creek, a shallow pond, a small area with rock ledges, plenty of wooded/forested areas with tall trees (offering lots of shade and coverage from rain) and some open areas. The centerpiece of the experience is a straw-bale cottage, a 25-foot square building with an enclosed porch that is only 2-years old. It has electricity and fresh drinking water. The young people are fed lunch and are also invited to pick strawberries from Ms. Starre’s large garden near her home also on the property.
OFY employs Carolyn Rames, a Montessori teacher, with years of experience working with a variety of children as the Program Manager. She will often tailor her activities throughout the day dependent upon the weather but some of her general activities include: a walkthrough and explanation of the property allowing the young people to explore and ask questions that they answer; taking a look at various things they find under the microscope; making s’mores; ledge-climbing; ‘frog hunting’; building a fort with materials they find on the property, singing songs by a campfire, etc…