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Fun on the farm (and in the park)

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By Randy Patrick

For children of the inner city, getting outdoors often means playing on a little patch of grass with a few trees or shrubs, surrounded by asphalt or concrete. So when a busload of kids from Louisville came down Saturday to Sharon and Moody Cecil’s farm, it was a treat to be surrounded by verdant woods and meadows as far as their eyes could see.

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Saturday, June 11, was National Get Outdoors Day, an annual day for families to enjoy healthful outdoors activities. Sharon Cecil thought it would be a great opportunity for the kids to have some summertime fun on the farm.

For several hours, the children played outside, waded in a creek and hiked the trails with a state forest ranger, who taught them about nurturing nature.

Later in the day, they visited the city’s Bloomfield Memorial Park, where some little boys created excitement by chasing and catching a toad. The activities ended with the ceremonial planting of a tulip poplar tree near the entrance to the park.

“We’re honoring pharmacists today and dedicating the tree for hope,” Sharon said when she arrived at the park.

Her husband, Moody, 84, was a pharmacist, and in 1994 became a “farm-assist” when he decided they would turn their Bloomfield farm into Haven of Hope, a resort for those with health issues. They also established a nonprofit, We Survive, a community education project committed to health and wellness.

Moody has dementia, but it was important for Sharon and her family to include him in the day’s activities and let him watch the kids planting the tree to honor him and other pharmacists.

National Get Outdoors Day, she said, provided the kids “a perfect opportunity to express the passion for nature that my husband has now passed on to me.”

Most of the children visiting them that day had never been on a farm or in a forest, she said.

Cecil didn’t want the children to be interviewed or named because they’re from a mission in Louisville, but their activities coordinator, Maureen Boyd, said the grown-ups enjoyed relaxing outdoors while “the children had a wonderful time.”

The event was called ScenicFest and was coordinated by Haven of Hope and the city of Bloomfield.

The kids also were supposed to have taken a walking tour of downtown, but, Sharon said, “we had them so busy out at the farm” that they just ran out of time.

Mayor Rhonda Hagan and Councilwoman Tammy Wimpsett, however, were out at the city park to help celebrate the tree dedication.

The bigger kids wielded shovels and trowels while the toddlers threw clumps of dirt into the hole dug for the tree. For a while, the adults stood back and watched.

Hagan said it was a pleasure for the city to be involved.

“It was a great opportunity for the kids to experience the great outdoors,” she said, and the tulip poplar will be there for “years to come” as a reminder of the event.

One of We Survive’s 60 or so volunteers who also took part in the celebration was Viktoriya Shekhovtsova, a pharmacist at a Louisville hospital.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing” the Cecils do for others, she said.

She has enjoyed volunteering for the program.

“Two years ago, I took some little boys to the creek, and we were hiking and one of them said, ‘I’ve never been hiking.’ And then when we were down there, he said, ‘I never knew hiking was so much fun!’ ”