Category: Word

Read Across America coming to Lincoln Square Mall on March 3rd

The 18th annual Read Across America Community Celebration is happening next weekend! It’ll be taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at Lincoln Square Mall. The event invites Champaign County children to interact with “30 hands-on literacy activities sponsored by local organizations, agencies and schools.” All over the mall, there will be volunteers from local Rotary clubs to read to the children, as well as professional storytellers, musicians, performers, and community organizations. As apart of their Read Across the World theme, there will also be a World Languages Reading Space, where kids can listen to stories Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, French, and more. The event is free, and the first 1,000 children will receive a free book bag and book!

Here’s the official press release about it:

Children in Champaign County are invited to the 18th Annual Read Across America Community Celebration!  The theme this year is Read Across the World!

The event is from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, March 3th at Lincoln Square Mall.  There will be more than 30 hands-on literacy related activities sponsored by local organizations, agencies and schools.  Volunteers from local Rotary clubs will read stories to children throughout the mall.  The Rotaries and Altrusa International of Champaign Urbana are also sponsoring professional storytellers and entertainment that will appear on the main stage throughout the event.  The World Languages Reading Space will offer children the opportunity to hear stories read in many different languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, French and more. The first 1,000 children will receive a free book bag and a new book to take home, paid for by participating sponsors.


And the poster for it: 

Here's the Facebook event

Photos from Facebook.


2018 Innovation Celebration Award finalists announced

From the press release:

2018 Innovation Celebration Finalists Announced

CHAMPAIGN, IL, February 23, 2018 – The Champaign County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to announce finalists for the 13th Annual Innovation Celebration in recognition of those individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions, taken risks, and provided leadership to ensure the continuing economic success of Champaign County, the ongoing success of the University's economic development mission, and the growth of entrepreneurial talent and energy in our community.

Innovation Celebration is not merely an award for accomplishment, but a benchmark of success for those outstanding individuals, organizations and corporations who are nominated and selected to receive this prestigious award. Additionally, Innovation Celebration serves as a tangible collaboration between the Champaign County EDC, University of Illinois, Parkland College, and the community.

The winner of each award category will be announced at Innovation Celebration 2018, held at Parkland College on Thursday, March 29, 2018 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. To RSVP and learn more about the event, visit

Award Finalists

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Social Venture Award

Serve as change agents by creating and implementing sustainable solutions to reshape society, benefit humanity, and address social concerns.

  • Randolph Street Community Garden
  • Salt & Light

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Student Startup Award

Formed by students in the last three years and demonstrates a commitment to continuing success through entrepreneurial talent, creativity and energy.

  • Mesh++
  • PhantomCor
  • Lumos

Entrepreneurial Excellence: New Venture Award

Formed in the last three years, and demonstrates a commitment to continuing success through entrepreneurial talent, creativity and energy.

  • LifeFoundry, Inc.
  • InnSight Technology

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Advocacy Award

Actively engage, encourage, coach and mentor entrepreneurs in the community, and provide extensive support to help them achieve success.

  • Ken Taylor
  • Stephanie Larson
  • Kathie Cravens

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Management Award

Demonstrates expertise in assembling resources, creating an organization, and working to build and implement effective action plans.

  • Cindy Somers – Spherion Staffing
  • Ron van Os – Inprentus
  • Holly Glenn – Wolfram Research

Innovation: Economic Development Impact Award

Has made a significant economic development impact in the community and continues to demonstrate their commitment to Champaign County.

  • Clarkson Soy Products, LLC
  • Busey
  • Triptych Brewing Company

2018 Innovation Transfer Award—University of Illinois

Recognizes an individual or group from the University of Illinois whose research has resulted in either a discovery or a work with the potential for significant societal impact.

  • Dr. Donna Cox – Advanced Visualization Team at National Center for Supercomputing Applications

2018 Alexis Wernsing Innovation Award—University of Illinois

Recognizes an individual or team from the University of Illinois that has channeled their experience living with a disability into positive change through the creation of new products, environments, or protocols that enhance quality of life.

  • Mark McCarthy – Access Illinois

2018 Innovation in Engagement Award—Parkland College

Recognizes an individual or group at Parkland College who has shown support of the college’s community engagement mission.

  • Adam Porter – Perimeter Road Sound Recordings


The EDC is pleased to work with the following sponsors of our 13th annual Innovation Celebration: the University of Illinois’ Technology Entrepreneur Center, Research Park, Office of Corporate Relations, and Office of Technology Management, along with Parkland College, Lodgic, Carle, Serra Ventures, Surface 51, Singleton Law Firm, City of Champaign, Ramshaw Real Estate, Litania Sports Group, Pixo, Hatch Ag Group, IllinoisVENTURES, Huawei R&D USA, Aqueous Solutions LLC, Personify, AARP, Hanson Financial, Community Solutions Incubator at the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, II-VI EpiWorks, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC, and Busey.


Tell Them We Are Rising film and post show discussion coming to the Art Theater next week

Tell Them We are Rising, a documentary about the history of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), will be shown next Wednesday, February 28th at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Theater. Following the film will be a post show discussion with Isis Rose, alum of Spelman College and PhD student in Anthropology at UIUC. A great learning opportunity as Black History Month comes to a close next week. Tickets are available here. Here's a description of the film:

The rich history of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years — yet remains largely unknown. With Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, the latest documentary from Stanley Nelson (Black Panthers, Freedom Riders) and Marco Williams, the powerful story of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs comes to life.

A haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries — and a path of promise toward the American dream — HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field while remaining unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. These institutions have nurtured some of the most influential Americans of our time, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common. A key driver of Black social, political and economic progress, HBCUs were also a place of unprecedented freedom for African American students and a refuge from the rampant racism that raged outside the campus walls. Tell Them We Are Rising captures this important history to tell the dynamic story of Americans who refused to be denied a higher education and — in their resistance — created a set of institutions that would influence and shape the landscape of the country for centuries to come.


Sustainability Shorts Film Festival happening this Saturday, February 24th

The 4th Annual Sustainability Shorts Film Festival is taking place Saturday, February 24th. This yearly festival brings education and enlightenment about environmental sustainability to the community through film. 18 short films, from 14 different countries, will be featured; all representing a different view on sustainability in our changing world. 

The festival is taking place at the Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls, located at 1005 S Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, from 7-9:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public. Reservations can be made for parties of 10+ people by emailing

For more information on the fest, check out the webpage here


Triptych teams up with Harvest Market for Flatbreads and Flights this Saturday

This Saturday from 5-7 p.m., swing by the mezzanine at Harvest Market and you can enjoy a flight of Triptych beers and four slices of gourmet flatbreads for just $10. Check out these marvelous pairings (I tried the Because, Stout #2 just yesterday...delicious):

* Blackberry, honey goat cheese flatbread with almonds and balsamic glaze paired with Because, Stout #02 (our blackberry/raspberry/cocoa nib stout)

* Manchego, dates, balsamic onions with crispy prosciutto paired with Here Be Dragons (our American barleywine or some might say Imperial IPA)

* House made beer chorizo (beef) with a garlic Boursin spread paired with Fleeting: Enigma (our single hop, hazy IPA using Enigma hops from Australia)

* Red pepper hummus spread with grilled winter vegetables paired with L33t (our orange laden American wheat)

Triptych will be there to talk pairings and fill you in on the status of their new brewery. Head to the Facebook event page to RSVP and get more details.

Photo from Facebook.


C-U Folk and Roots Winter Weekend happening on February 23rd and 24th

The C-U Folk and Roots Festival Winter Weekend will be this Friday and Saturday evening, the 23rd and 24th. According to their website, it’s a “mini-fest” with six different acts happening at the Iron Post. Tickets are $5 or $10 depending on whether you’re seeing the Happy Hour show or the Main Event. You can also buy a $20 pass to all of the shows all weekend!

Here’s who is playing:

Friday, February 23rd:
Happy Hour
5pm – Backyard BBQ Band. 
Main Event
8pm – Sharp Dirt. The debut performance from a locally grown Urbana group. Skiffle, Bluesey.
9:30 – Joe Filisko and Eric Noden. Acoustic Blues duo from Chicago.

Saturday, February 24th
Happy Hour
6pm – Community Center for the Arts band and ensemble performances from members of Olde Music Baroque & Renaissance Ensemble, and the Bow-Dacious String Band
Main Event
9pm – Hobnob String Band Bluegrass, newgrass, groovegrass…
10:30 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band Chicago Blues from Urbana!

For more information, click here.

Photo from Facebook


The Champaign Park District is offering a Sensory Egg Hunt

Easter will be upon us rather quickly, and that means there will be egg hunts all over the C-U area. Champaign Park District is offering multiple egg hunting options, the first of which is a Sensory Egg Hunt on March 17th from 1-2:30 p.m. at Prairie Farm. What is that? It's a specialized egg-hunting experience for kids with special needs and their families. Your typical egg hunt where you turn kids loose on a field full of brightly colored eggs may not be an ideal situation for a child who is visually impaired, or uses a wheelchair, or who may be on the autism spectrum and dealing with the somewhat controlled chaos of a typical hunt would not make for a fun experience. So it's pretty great that the CPD and their C-U Special Recreation program recognizes that. 

The event is free, but registration is required here. More details from their Facebook event below:

Sensory Egg Hunt
March 17 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
FREE - Registration Required

Ages: 2-10, for those with special needs and their siblings. All participants must be pre-registered.

The hunt is on! Celebrate spring and enjoy some family fun at Prairie Farm. Hunters should bring a basket and be prepared to search high and low for colorful eggs. Be prepared to explore your senses while searching for special eggs with lights, sounds, and textures. After the hunt, treats and social time will be enjoyed by all.

This is a Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation Program. A current Annual Information Form is required to be on file before you can enroll in programs online.

GOALS: Enhance socialization with peers and increase independence and decision-making skills.


KOOP Adventure Play is hosting a Prioritizing Play Conference

KOOP Adventure Play is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a culture of adventurous play for kids the C-U area, which is a pretty cool concept given the fact that kids seem to be getting less and less opportunity for that kind of thing. The organization is bringing the Prioritizing Play Conference to the Illini Union the first weekend of May, the focus being best practices in creating play environments. Here's the press release with details on the event:

Prioritizing Play Conference gathers international experts in child-directed play and welcomes local settings to learn essentials of play and Playwork practice

Urbana-Champaign, IL - Local non- profit KOOP Adventure Play has been delivering public events and summer camp programs since 2015, and are launching a new Conference with the theme of ‘Prioritizing Play’.  The three- day event will focus on translating best practices in creating and staffing play environments for professionals across education, librarianship and public service.  This comes less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines for recess provision in schools, and amidst rising concerns about Illinois children’s rates of obesity and poor mental health which are both significantly higher than the national average. 

“We believe play is a priority for children's well-being so we are adamant about creating a reality where children get to truly indulge and experience their childhood, allowing them to play freely, discover and explore,” says Naomi Sukenik, co-founder of KOOP.  Studies conducted from within education, public health and psychology have repeatedly demonstrated that opportunities to play help students pay attention in class, reduce bullying and improve social and emotional well-being.  This Conference is the first of its kind to be held in Illinois, where recess is not yet mandated at the elementary school level.

“The time children today have dedicated to self- directed play is far less than any previous generation due to increased academic pressure at early ages, cutting recess times, more screen time and more extra- curricular activities. Play must be prioritized right now for this generation suffering from a play deficit.” says Kelsey Langley, co- founder & executive director of KOOP.   A Keynote address will be given by Dr. Peter Gray, best-selling author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.  His work focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so.  A second Keynote is provided by Morgan Leichter-Saxby, author of The New Adventure Playground Movement: How Communities across the USA are Returning Risk and Freedom to Childhood.  She is also co-founder of Pop-Up Adventure Play, a not-for-profit which provides training and support to play advocates around the world.

“We’re so happy to be a part of this event,” Morgan Leichter-Saxby said.  “The workshops are all about helping participants rethink assumptions about children’s abilities and improve provision.”  Topics covered during the conference include: Loose parts and play environments, risk-benefit assessments, rough and tumble play, building strong relationships with parents, and advocacy work.  Conference organizers are also promising a ‘hands-on’ approach.  “Everyone needs more chances to play,” said Morgan.  “That includes parents, professionals, and conference delegates!  It’s a great way to help us reconnect with those childhood instincts, and improve the environments and opportunities we offer children today.”

The Prioritizing Play Conference will be held in the Illini Union on 3rd-5th May.  Participants are particularly welcomed from early years and elementary education, as well as after-school care, parks and recreation, museums and early intervention programs.  Financial aid is available.


Register by following this link:

Or by emailing  Early bird rate is $350 until 2/28/18 at which point full registration costs $450 for this 3 day conference featuring world- class speakers and professionals.  More information on the website link.

Public Screening of ‘The Land’

Join us Friday, May 4 at 7pm as we screen ‘The Land’.This evening event is open to the public, and included in ticket price of the conference.  After the short documentary, named after an adventure playground in Wales, there will be a panel discussion including conference speakers.  Childcare provided for parents interested in viewing and discussing this impressive short film. Location to be announced via KOOP Adventure Play on Facebook + website.

About KOOP Adventure Play

Founded in 2015, KOOP Adventure Play is dedicated providing adventurous play to children while also creating a regional hub for play and playwork in Central Illinois.  KOOP strives to cultivate a culture that values and expands on play opportunities for children and youth.  Based in Urbana- Champaign, KOOP has delivered after school programs, winter, spring and summer camps as well as many free pop up adventure play events all around the cities.  By partnering with schools, early childhood centers, park districts, festivals and city governments, KOOP aims to prioritize child-led play in their community and beyond. KOOP engages with children based on the playwork philosophy used in adventure playgrounds in the UK.  KOOP is one of under 10 playwork- based adventure playground organizations in the United States.


Insect Petting Zoo happening at Champaign Public Library on March 3rd

Champaign Public Library is hosting a pretty cool opportunity for local kids and their families. On March 3rd, the library will be hosting an insect petting zoo, brought over from the UIUC Entomology Graduate Student Association

The event will take place from 3:00-3:45 that day. Insects that will be there include: Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Chilean rose hair tarantulas, blue death feigning beetles, eastern lubber grasshoppers, Arizona hairy scorpions, and more.

For more info, check out the Facebook event and the Library Event Page