I met Tammy and ATX Kids Club in 2015. I connected with her mission right away, because just as many kids in Austin, I had lived in this city for many years but was barely aware of all that I was missing.
At our first meeting she told me, “Every kid should be able to know and enjoy their city.” That first summer that I worked as a camp counselor (aka Field Trip Leader) made it clear that she was right. Kids became more aware, they were able to identify places and bus routes. Many of our campers had experienced field trips through school, but the fact that we had to walk to bus stops and create our own routes to get to places made them more interested in the destinations. Trekking through the city in the middle of Texan summer is no easy task, but as I saw my stamina increase, so did the kids. Each day, we became stronger. I was particularly amazed by a then 4 year old, Lily, who struggled through her first day, convinced that she couldn’t walk anymore, and within days became one of our most fearless explorers, encouraging others along the way. She is still joining our adventures today (3 years later) and loves it.
Our schedule of adventures has been evolving each year with great input from our campers & families. Our summer theme weeks help kids associate different places and how they connect together. They also help them focus on a specific topic they find interesting. I personally love diversity week, which focus on minorities. We visit the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Mexican American Cultural Center, African American Heritage Center, Community First! Village (for the homeless), and many others. Kids immediately start looking at their city with other people’s needs in mind.
As someone that has lived in North Austin, I felt detached from the rest of the city. When I first moved here almost 5 years ago, it took me 2 buses and an hour and 40 minutes to get downtown. I missed many events and places my first two years. Through ATX Kids Club, I was able to learn how to use the bus system and through its improvements I have become more acquainted with the city. Taking bus 803 has now allowed me to cut my commute time by 1 hour! ATX Kids Club couldn’t do what they do without CapMetro and their continued improvements each year.
Now that I live even further away from the city, I wish ATX Kids Club could expand to every single park in Austin. Buses definitely connect us with the city, but it is programs like this that encourage people to get outside and take advantage of what is so wonderful about Austin: its people and its culture.
We are one month away for our Annual Adventure cruise fundraiser! Once again Capital Cruises will take us on an amazing trip around Lady Bird Lake. We will enjoy the view of our amazing city while we support what we love most, the ATX Kids Club mission. Tickets are on sale now! Don’t miss the opportunity to help us reach more children. Everyone should be able to enjoy their city! This is why I invite you to join us on this year’s Annual Adventure Cruise Fundraiser. Hear more about this amazing program and help us grow it!
This summer we found an amazing activity for our children. Kids love to climb. They always try to find good trees to do so. Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that requires of smaller rock formations, either natural or artificial. The Austin Bouldering Project has such artificial formations. Since the formations are not very tall you don’t really require ropes or harnesses, and they are surrounded by soft floor that will break the fall, just in case.
Bouldering challenges our kids in many ways! Some of them started forgetting their fear of heights so they could have a little bit more fun. They took gradual steps sideways and up. Others found out just how strong they really were and how hard work brings results! We loved looking up and watching them try to figure out what their next step was going to be.
We usually began in the children area, but they soon required more challenging grounds. Even our camp counselors had a blast and lead the fearless exploration with their example!
During the summer we learned the importance of no-kill shelters in Austin. We visited Austin Pets Alive! And the Austin Animal Center. Both of them have the goal to find a forever home to any pet regardless of age, health, species or breed.
The Austin Animal Center is run by the government but it works with programs and partnerships that help it achieve its goal faster. It even works together with Austin Pets Alive! And Austin Humane Society. Not all dogs and cats are found in the shelters, but most of them are in the foster program. Foster animals are the ones that have temporary homes with amazing people that are willing to keep them safe and healthy until they find their home. This is one of the best ways to help shelters, especially during march through june when they overflow with puppies and kittens.
Everytime we visit, we want to take all of the animals with us!
Mexicans celebrate their country’s independence from Spain on September 15th. The MACC keeps that tradition alive with their “Viva Mexico” celebration next Saturday. Attendants will have a taste of food and folklore that surrounds mexican culture. The center is open year round and is dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation and promotion of the cultural arts of Mexican Americans and Latino cultures.
We have been there many times and absolutely love it! We usually take a sort hike from or to the center which is conveniently located on the path of the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike trail right next to Rainey Street. When we arrive through the trail the first thing we see is the Tejano Music Legends sculpture. It depicts the Perez brothers playing the saxophone and the Ramos brothers engaged in song.
We also love the Caminos Legacy Murals. It was commissioned as a community arts mentorship project lead by J. Muzacs. Many teenage students in the Caminos program painted the mural. It depicts the vibrant community they live in as well as their perspective on the future of their own culture.
The center is open from Monday to Friday from 10am-5:30pm and Saturdays from 10am-4pm unless there is an event. Other amazing activities to look forward to is their open invitation to create Dia de los Muertos altars. Check out their web page for more information.
Some kids love taking hikes, others not so much! There are reasons why we encourage our kids to walk but the main one is to keep them healthy. This is why we are proud that during the summer our kids walked on average 3.5 miles a day. Most of the days we walked that much to get to and from our bus stops, and while exploring during our adventures. If the weather was nice, we did a long nature walk on Fridays.
When you walk more oxygen flows to your brain. Promoting oxygen flow allows your brain to learn faster and to adapt to anything you set your mind to!
When you walk you reach places that you wouldn’t be able to go to by car or other means.
When you walk your legs and feet may hurt, but it is usually because your muscles are getting stronger! Other reasons include: wearing your shoes backwards. Dragging your feet.
When you walk you help the environment by skipping the pollution your car may generate.
So now you know why it is important, take a hike and you’ll find out why it is also so much fun!
The way our program is built allows children to be able to associate what we see everyday. Whenever we visit the Texas State Capitol or the Texas State Cemetery we always stress those magnificent statues carved in memory of important Texas figures. They can easily remember Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston at the entrance of the Capitol. The sculpture of the man that is laying down at the cemetery is Albert Sidney Johnston, but that one is harder to remember. Those are just a few of the many commissions Elizabet Ney had after she arrived to Austin.
Her work began in Germany, where she was born. She sculpted for names such as Arthur Schopenhauer, a philosopher, Otto Von Bismark, a very prominent politician, and even one of the Grimm Brothers. Once in the United States, the commissions, which are orders for specific sculptures, kept coming. Most of them can be found in the Elizabet Ney Museum, located in Central Austin. Others can be found at the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
She kept fighting for the arts until her death. Her studio was bequeathed to UT (now belonging to the City of Austin) and her friends established the Texas Finer Arts Association (now Contemporary Austin) in her honor. Her legacy remains in the many sculptures.
We are glad that they get exposed to all forms of art in our city! Kids enjoy looking at the statues and busts in the gallery. 3D Art, such as sculpting, brings to their minds all the work it must have taken her to depict such replicas of the human face and body. Sculpting is not something that kids regularly think of as being handmade, which is why it’s even more impressive to them.
Summer vacations may be over, but the weather is still great to be outside. Zilker Botanical Gardens has many exhibits to learn and interact with nature. Our first stop is the Japanese Garden. Kids love walking on the trails and exploring the ones that get them near the ponds. Make sure to stop at the little bamboo construction for a great photo opportunity.
During the last weeks of summer we got to experience KUT and KUTX the way we had never experienced before! We went behind the scenes and met the people that make this amazing radio station possible. We learned how programs are made and how many people you need to create thousands of hours of programming.
KUT is the news side of the radio station. They hire journalists that do what any other journalist would: research the most updated and true information. Then they sit down in meetings to decide what the most relevant information is for Austin and most of Texas. Finally they write down their pitches and record them after careful editing. They have TVs on all day so they don't miss a thing!
This is one of our absolute favorite van day adventures! It is the legacy of Lady Bird, LBJ's wife. It wasn't always where it is now. It used to be located on East Austin until it moved south in 1995. It is the best place to learn about plant conservation and sustainability in our city. Kids learn about flowers, plants and their importance while enjoying a hike and lots of interactive places to play around! The center is open year round and the bright colors will definitely change depending on what is in season.
Hidden in the middle of the Clarksville neighborhood you can find several houses with historical markers on them. One of them, located behind a big house at the corner of 9th and Oakland is the Museum of Collectibles and Curiosities. Even though it is small, it is packed with tiny little treasures that kids love to investigate. The whole collection belonged to Patricia Duncan Brown, an avid collector of curiosities. Some of the collections' categories are Christmas ornaments, cats, circus, Mexican and Indian.
The volunteers that work there are very knowledgeable of the items and offered us a fun activity for the kids. They gave us a quick tour to look around the categories. Then the kids were given pieces of paper to draw their favorite pieces.
Their policy is that we can't post photos of the pieces, but they have some on their web page. Our kids kept the memories of their awesome drawings! Here is a gallery of what you can find inside.