CORALVILLE — Take a Kid Outdoors, an organization that provides a meal and nature activities free to the community, may not have the funding to put on all its planned 2019 events.
Judith Joyce, executive director of the organization, said the organization tries to put on one event per month and they each cost about $1,000. She said only about two-thirds of this year’s events are funded to date.
“If we want TAKO to continue, we need to have more volunteers. We need to have a sustainable funding source,” Joyce said, adding that TAKO also needs food storage space and a trailer to haul equipment as well. “It’s growing pains, which is great. We’ve been very successful but it also means we need more help.”
TAKO was first created Fayette County in 2005 before expanding to Johnson County in 2011. The group is hoping to take its efforts statewide by hiring an initiative coordinator so other communities can start a TAKO chapter as well.
TAKO was first formed because founding members “basically wanted to have free events for kids of all ages to basically have free time. Go fishing, climb a tree, look for bugs, look for birds, look at the start. Anything that just got kids ... to just unplug from their phones and just interact with nature,” Joyce said.
In Johnson County, Joyce said the group averages between 180 to 200 people at each event. It provides events with themes such as fishing, star gazing or butterfly education in the hopes of getting kids and families off their phones and engaging with nature with unstructured play.
“What we try to do is provide an event that encourages unstructured play,” Joyce said. “This is really come relax, enjoy the day ... But if you come to our events and instead of fishing you want to play with frogs, perfectly fine.”
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TAKO is planning its first-ever dinner fundraiser in February called “Show Some Love” on Valentine’s Day. Tickets range from $50 to $100 and can be purchased through Jan. 24 at takeakidoutdoors.org.
“We’re hoping to raise money not only to support local events but also to support the statewide initiative,” Joyce said, adding that a local playwright Megan Gogerty will perform a TAKO-themed show for the attendees.
For those who would rather donate, they can do so on the organization’s Facebook page or website or by sending a check to TAKO at 310 Second St., Coralville, IA 52241.
The organization’s next Johnson County event is ice fishing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 19 at Iowa River Landing Wetland Park. Attendees are asked to check back before the event, however, to make sure warmer temperatures haven’t caused a cancellation.
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