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Families Doing Time kids head to Dan Nichols Park for gems, animals and fun

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Mining for gems, riding the carousel, hanging out with donkeys and filling their bellies with pizza – it was an action-packed day at Dan Nichols Park on Nov. 2 for about 20 Families Doing Time children. The outing was part FDT’s Enrichment Institute, which offers cultural enrichment field trips for families of incarcerated individuals.

“When we first arrived, the children were initially hesitant because of the cold weather and the fact they had to walk for a bit. But about 10 minutes into the activities their little faces lit up with wonder and excitement,” said Ilona Alvarez, FDT program assistant.

The kids were exposed to wild and barnyard animals they’ve never seen before, like owls, lynx’s, bears, goats and donkeys. They also took a step back in time and panned for treasures in the gem mine, rode the carousel and mini train and had a chance to see some beautiful fish and reptiles at the park’s aquarium.

Alvarez added, “Everyone had such a great time. They all loved the gem mine the most and went home with a bag full of gems and rocks, new knowledge, some ideas for becoming a park ranger and a belly full of pizza.”

The Junior League of Charlotte sponsored the outing and provided nine volunteers to help ensure all the kids had a fantastic experience. The next FDT Enrichment Institute field trip will be Feb. 1 at ImaginOn, a collaborative effort between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.

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