With the return of spring in April comes a plethora of holidays and observances that focus on health awareness, the arts and reading, and community service. Some are month-long observances with regional events throughout the country; others are week-long celebrations centered around a theme. Each one of these observances provides an opportunity for a special family outing.
Autism Awareness Month
Autism, one of the fastest growing developmental difficulties, makes its statement in April. Sponsored by the Autism Society, National Autism Month focuses on autism awareness and inclusion for all. Whether it's a brother, a cousin, or a friend of a friend, you are likely to know someone on the autism spectrum. This national awareness month provides an opportunity to teach kids (and adults) that difficulties don't have to be disabilities. For a special observance, you can celebrate Autism Awareness Day on April 2 by wearing blue (the official color of Autism Awareness) and taking a selfie. Then, share it on social media to express your support for families with autistic members.
National Garden Month
Did you know that cultivating a garden eases stress and actually makes you happier? Plus, growing your own food can instill healthy practices in your family. This year, celebrate National Garden Month by starting and planting your own garden. Let your kids pick out their favorite veggies to grow. Then attend a gardening workshop at your local nursery to learn the tricks of the trade. If you don't have the space for a garden, volunteer in your local school or community garden instead. Another option is to purchase a few pots to grow a beautiful container garden.
National Poetry Month
Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is one of the largest literary celebrations in the world. Schools, libraries, bookstores, and publishers all join in by hosting poetry events, classes, readings, and workshops. Poetry doesn't have to be taught only in school; it can easily be enjoyed at home. This April, have your kids chalk a few poems on the sidewalk, slip a printed poem into each of their lunchboxes, or organize a family outing around a poetry reading at your local library.
National Volunteer Week
Held annually each April, National Volunteer Week celebrates the impact service can have on an individual or a community. The #ivolunteer campaign, hosted by Points of Light, urges people to create a signboard displaying the reasons why they volunteer and then share it on social media. Volunteering for a highway or town cleanup, delivering food to those in need, walking a dog for your local pound, and visiting a nursing home are all ways you can provide service as a family.
April Fool's Day
Around the turn of the 16th century, the French moved New Year's Day from April 1st to January 1st. Some say the origins of this light-hearted holiday, April Fool's Day (or All Fool's Day), centered on those who refused to accept the new date. They were called "April fools." Today, April Fool's Day is a good time to play pranks or tricks on your loved ones. Play a few tricks on your kids, like turning their cereal milk blue with food coloring.
If you live in New England, you may spend Patriot's Day attending, or even participating in, the Boston Marathon. This historical holiday celebrated on the third Monday of April commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which started the Revolutionary War in 1775 and marked the first step toward American independence. Traditionally, sporting events are hosted on this day, especially in New England, where most schools give kids the day off. Why not run a marathon together or participate in a family Tough Mudder? Whatever you do, it's a great day to get outside and exercise.
What started as an earth-conscious gesture has now become a national holiday and a full-blown environmental movement. Held each year on April 22, this is a good day to plant trees in a community park, clean up plastic on the beach, bicycle to school, attend a local Earth Day event, or hold a yard sale where proceeds go to a school or local nonprofit. Artsy types can even teach an earth-centric craft project in the classroom.
The last Friday in April is a great day to plant a tree and the Arbor Day Foundation agrees. This day celebrates trees and how they filter our clean air, slow climate change, provide habitat to birds and animals, and supply oxygen through their photosynthesis process. Check your community calendar on Arbor Day and attend a tree-planting event with your family. The children will learn something new and you will help beautify your town in the process.