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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Restoring Childhood for 21st Century Sustainability : The Cultural Wellness & Family Enrichment Center offers classes and educational programs that espouse the connection between childhood and nature.

Jun 29, 2016 04:05PM ● By By Martin Miron

The nonprofit Cultural Wellness & Family Enrichment Center (CWFEC), a holistic community center and living model of cultural wellness, is the brainchild of Vanessa Chamberlain, who founded the organization in 2004 and is its director. It’s a place where individuals and families will, in the future, come to experience and enjoy connectedness, health, wellness and harmony in community. Today, CWFEC offers classes and educational programs that espouse the restoration of childhood, community and nature connections.

She says, “We are living in a time during which there is little delineation between childhood and adulthood. Parents and educators report feeling overwhelmed when attempting to instill familial values and educational norms in a culture that doesn’t appear to support what is healthy for children. Thirty years ago, childhood was protected by the community at large, and children were free to be children. Children often engaged in three or more hours of unstructured outdoor play on average. Today’s youth instead now spends a stunning amount of time multitasking on various media devices. Arizona is facing a Youth Disconnection Crisis, yet many are unaware that the roots of it are tied to our 21st-century lifestyle."

In response, CWFEC is launching a major public awareness campaign, called Let’s Get WILD Arizona! Beginning this August, parents, educators, community leaders and advocates can attend an adult workshops series and public events to learn more about restoring childhood.  A free introduction to the Campaign will take place from 6 to 8 p.m., July 28, at North Mountain Visitor Center.

On WILD Wednesdays, local restaurants will be donating proceeds to support Wild World Education’s A River Runs Through Arizona Spring Break Adventure, a flagship project for 15-to-17-year-olds, designed by CWFEC’s Tamara Hendrix & Chamberlain, and sponsored project of Ironwood Tree Experience. Taking place March 3-10, 2017, this nature-based educational experience promises to promote the physical, social/emotional, intellectual and spiritual health of our youth; expand youth engagement and connection; and increase  intra/interpersonal and regional relationships.

The spring break adventure offers a fun, hands-on educational experience that helps teens form connections between the river and all inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert. Wild World educators guide youth as they explore meaningful areas of the Salt River and Superstition Mountains. The journey provides “living” opportunities for youth to relax, play and enjoy outdoor experiences that naturally promote engaged learning.

Campaign sponsors include: Ironwood Tree Experience, North Mountain Visitor Center, Save Our Mountains Foundation, Whole Foods Market, Pomegranate Café and Indigo Cultural Center.

Free Let’s Get WILD intro location: 12950 N. 7th St., Phoenix. For more information, call 602-432-3707 or visit