Turn off your TVs and hit the streets: Spring is here and there’s plenty to do around town, say the sponsors of TV Tuneout Week. The Forest Park Public Library is partnering with the Oak Park and River Forest public libraries, and local organizations and businesses to promote its own version of Screen-Free Week – a national campaign aimed at curbing the amount of time Americans spend using electronic media.
The Forest Park library and its partners are sponsoring TV Tuneout Week, April 3-17. For two weeks, the entities involved will promote activities at the libraries and around the three towns; the campaign is targeting both young and old.
You might have noticed the paper cutouts in the shape of books in some shop windows on Madison Street – they’re part of the “Look, Look, There’s a Book” contest the libraries are promoting. In a modified treasure-hunt, kids will be given sheets to mark where they find the cutouts. If they locate a certain number, they will be eligible for a prize. Other activities include storytelling at Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor and guided tours of the Forest Park Fire Department and Police Department.
Adults are encouraged to turn off the tube or power down their computers and check out live music at Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, or House Red’s wine tastings. Jeff Dinkel, a River Forest resident and a financial advisor with Edward Jones LLC, is hosting a seminar at the library; there is also an adult nonfiction book club meeting.
Visit the collaborative’s blog at tvtuneoutweek.wordpress.com to check out the full schedule of events in Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest.
Nicole Burchfield, youth services outreach director for the Forest Park Public Library, said TV Tuneout Week is a way to “tune into your community.”
“The TV part is secondary,” she said. “The important part is to get people out in the community to see what is out there … to see what they can do outside of their home.”
This is the second year that the library has participated in the event. The River Forest Public Library was the first of the three libraries to launch its own version of the national campaign in 2002, according to Ellen Cutter, children’s outreach coordinator. The Forest Park and Oak Park libraries were asked to join the campaign last year.
Cutter said it encourages “people to make thoughtful decisions [about] their screen time. For some, the TV goes on when they wake up and doesn’t go off until they go to bed.”
The libraries also partnered with the Collaboration for Early Childhood Care and Education, an Oak Park-based nonprofit comprising various agencies that aim to foster health and education opportunities for children.
Cutter said lower student-achievement rates were a driving factor in River Forest’s launching its own campaign. Furthermore, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) lists childhood obesity, attention problems and the harmful effects of commercial marketing on children as catalyzing forces behind the national campaign. CCFC is the national organization promoting “Screen-Free Week,” April 18-24.
“One must consider screen time as a culprit in just how far children in the United States have fallen behind their international counterparts; our world rankings have dropped to never-before-seen levels,” Jeffrey S. Morosoff, vice president of communications for the Early Years Institute, told CCFC. “America’s 15-year-olds are 17th in the world in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment.”
“[Tuneout week is] a way to get them to turn off the TV without telling them to turn off the TV … kind of like learning without knowing you’re learning,” Burchfield said.