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Cheryl Charles, president and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Newton County Library about her organization's goals as well as the Richard Louv book "Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," which spawned Charles' network and a nationwide movement.

Charles said 37 municipalities, regions or states have adopted Louv's cause, which advocates the idea of children who play outside being "healthier, happier and smarter" as well as more cooperative and self-disciplined, have better self-esteem and earn higher grades.

She also promotes the idea that any project bringing children together to play outside will also strengthen community bonds between environmentalists, educators, service guilds and others.

The Friends of the Library and Friends of Newton Parks invited Charles to help raise awareness about the future construction of the park between the library and the Newton County Mental and Physical Health Building. The park will be built with features specifically designed for special needs children and their families.

The idea of the new park was born out of a dream of Mike and Kelli Hopkins of Covington and their three daughters, two of whom use wheelchairs.

Because no outdoor recreational sites in the county allowed all the Hopkins children to play together, their parents organized volunteers to generate an interest in and funds for the new park.

The park will not only provide a place for special needs children to play outdoors, but also preserve green space and create an opportunity to build walking trails and a setting for nature education.

Members of Friends of Newton Parks are currently establishing the organization as a non-profit dedicated to building and maintaining the park through private fundraising and grants.

A question and answer session will follow Charles' lecture. The event is free and open to the public.