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updated: 4/25/2016 10:29 AM

Riverside Center brings adventure to home schooling boys

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  • The film program at Riverside Center for Education helps boys develop their storytelling skills as well as their production skills.

    The film program at Riverside Center for Education helps boys develop their storytelling skills as well as their production skills.
    Courtesy of Riverside Center for Education

  • The Riverside Center for Education offers "maker" programs teaching boys craftsmanship and artistry while encouraging them explore new interests.

    The Riverside Center for Education offers "maker" programs teaching boys craftsmanship and artistry while encouraging them explore new interests.
    Courtesy of Riverside Center for Education.

  • Outdoor exploration and adventure are the cornerstones of Riverside Center's vision for educating boys.

    Outdoor exploration and adventure are the cornerstones of Riverside Center's vision for educating boys.
    Courtesy of the Riverside Center for Education

 
Clare McCormack
Villa Park

When I was given the opportunity to participate in the DuPage Human Race (my first) and to coordinate fundraising for Riverside Center for Education, I jumped at the chance to give back to an organization that has been a tremendous support to our family. Best of all, this family-friendly race is a chance for all ages to work together.

I didn't have to look far to find inspiration. Last year my husband ran the Chicago half-marathon for his brother, who died of cancer one month later. While my husband trained, our daughter overcame a hip injury and ran varsity cross-country for her school; her team won regionals and went on to state. Their dedication and determination inspired me not only to race, but also to overcome a new hurdle of my own: home schooling for the first time -- our seventh grader.

My biggest fear of home schooling was that our son, Brendan, would lack the motivation to apply himself to his studies. When we signed up for Riverside programs -- two-day tutorial, folk sessions, ranger events (father-son camping, fishing, skeet shooting), theater and woodworking -- I figured they would be educational extracurricular activities for him. They were so much more. After Brendan's first Riverside event, a film shoot, he and his cousins spent the rest of a summer afternoon building slingshots and adjusting the angles to observe the result of each launch. With Riverside's support, Brendan is able to focus and tackle his work; learning to him means creativity, adventure and imagination.

Riverside programs provide hands-on experiences that allow boys to "go out into the world" while remaining grounded in their roots, faith and family. In addition to fostering respect for nature and a connection to the outdoors, Riverside tutorial teaches the skill of communicating effectively. The curriculum is rooted in classic literature, poems and speeches. The boys produce radio shows, newspapers, dramatic re-enactments, films, short stories and blogs. Our 8-year-old daughter was so interested in the boys' work, she took up fiddle and ukulele and joined Riverside folk sessions, a coed program.

We had no idea Riverside would be a catalyst for learning that would benefit our entire family. My husband and I have lived in Villa Park for 15 years and we have six children. We are all racing for Riverside. Riverside provides a lively venue for families to gather for concerts, festivals, prayer, variety shows, bonfires and cultural events. The friendships and support we have enjoyed at Riverside go well beyond the scope of its individual programs.

DuPage Human Race provides an invaluable fundraising tool for not-for-profits in the community like Riverside. It has been rewarding to work with kids and adults training, finding creative ways to ask for support and watching healthy competition among families who share a firm conviction in our cause. If you are on the fence about joining the Human Race, go for it. What an incredible experience! To pledge support for the McCormack Family and donate to Riverside, go to rside.org/race.

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