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Summer Guide 2015: Kids 

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Get Moving

Don't let the kids languish indoors. Get them out and get them moving with two events made to do just that.

Spokane Summer Parkways, an event for the young and young at heart, was inspired by an event in Bogota, Colombia called Ciclovia — "bike path" in Spanish — and similar events in other parts of the world.

About four miles of road in the Manito and Comstock neighborhoods will be shut down to vehicle traffic and opened up to bikes, walkers, runners, skaters and all other modes of human-powered transportation.

Participants of all ages and abilities can enter and exit the course at any point and enjoy an eclectic mix of free activities like yoga, Zumba, Hula-Hoops, gymnastics, tai chi, fencing, dancing, Pilates, Bollywood dancing, slacklining, self-defense, jump rope, Hacky Sack and martial arts along the way. There'll even be a human-powered smoothie bike that blends as you pedal.

"It is about getting people moving and active and having a good time," says spokeswoman Katherine Widing.

Attendees also are encouraged to show off their own hobbies: music, chalk art, hopscotch, bubbles, juggling, jump rope or whatever else tickles you. Kids are encouraged to trick out their bicycles ahead of time for a bike-decorating contest.

The event takes place June 18 from 6 to 9 pm.

Another event centered on human-powered transportation is Kidical Mass, a bike ride for kids and their families that highlights safe riding and learning to ride and signal on the road. The first ride took place in 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has spread to communities throughout North America and beyond.

"It was to encourage kids to feel comfortable on the road and to understand safety and to have fun at the same time," Widing said.

All types of bikes, trailers, tandems, trikes and whatever else rolls are welcome.

The Aug. 8 event starts at 1 pm at Two Wheel Transit in the Perry District and ends at the Liberty Park pool. The ride is about 3 miles.

Visit summerparkways.com for more info on both events.

Hit the Trails

The Inland Northwest has no shortage of gorgeous hikes, so lace up those hiking shoes and hit the trails with one of two area branches of Hike It Baby.

It's a group geared toward getting families outdoors with their newborns, toddlers and children, offering a variety of hikes for all abilities.

"You end up meeting a lot of like-minded parents who just want to be outside with their families, too, and you can end up making some great friends that way," says Hike It Baby Coeur d'Alene branch leader Brooke Swanson.

There are trail hikes, urban strolls, toddler-led walks, nature hunts, coffee walks and more, so there's a little something for everyone. Some are stroller-friendly, some are carrier-only.

The first branch started in Portland in 2008, but has since spread to more than 100 cities across the country, with branches in Spokane and, more recently, Coeur d'Alene.

The ranks of the Spokane branch quickly grew after starting last November. Swanson started hiking with the Spokane branch when her son, Gunnar, was just 6 weeks old, but she lives in Idaho and wanted some hikes closer to home — thus, Hike It Baby Coeur d'Alene was born.

She says she loves seeing Gunnar, now 8 months old, enjoying the outdoors.

"When he is old enough, and can walk around and play with the kids, and play in the dirt and touch trees and really just experience it all, that's huge for me," she says.

Some advice for parents hesitant to hike with children: "Just go," Swanson says. "Get out the door and go."

The group operates under the philosophy of no mama or papa left behind. That means if you need to stop to deal with a tantrum, feed a hungry baby, change a messy blowout or simply rest, everyone waits with you because everyone has been there.

Hike It Baby is free to join, but some areas require a pass or parking fees. Find the groups on Facebook or visit hikeitbaby.com to find hikes in our area.

Give Back

Take some time on summer break to teach kids about volunteering. Help them identify a cause they care about, and find organizations where they can pitch in. If they're too young to volunteer, find another way to help, like taking a stroll and picking up trash along the way. Children love to serve, says Donna Orme, director of spokanecares.org. It makes them feel good, and people who serve as children are more likely to as adults. For teens, community service can be a helpful addition to a college or job application.

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Let There Be Legos

Kids love Legos. They're a childhood staple offering endless fun, so check out the Summer Lego Club at the Spokane Valley Library, held Mondays, June 22 to Aug. 24, from 6 to 8 pm. All ages are welcome, but children 6 and younger should be accompanied by an adult. The North Spokane Library has its own club each Tuesday at the same time, and the Fairfield Library has one Thursdays from 1 to 3 pm. The events are free.

Splish and Splash

Pack a picnic, head to a park and listen to your kids squeal with delight as they run through fountains of water at one of Spokane's many splash pads. They're a great way for children to burn off some energy and stay safe while enjoying the water. Spokane has 17 splash pads providing summer fun for kids throughout the community, and they're open through Sept. 13. The best part? They're free. Visit my.spokanecity.org to find a full listing of splash pad locations.

Go to Camp

Hello, muddah, hello, faddah. It's not too late to send the kids to summer camp, and with more than 500 activities ranging from ballet to working with raptors to video game programming, you're sure to find something that suits their interests. Visit Inlander.com/summercamps to check out the complete 2015 summer camp guide.

Come Together

Bring a blanket, relax on the lawn and be entertained after wandering from booth to booth at Unity in the Community, an all-ages multicultural celebration that seeks to promote unity through showcasing Spokane's diversity. Now in its 21st year, it's the biggest multicultural event in the Inland Northwest, featuring more than 150 vendors and entertainers. It will include a youth fair, career and education fair, health fair and an early learning fair. The celebration takes place from 10 am to 4 pm at Riverfront Park on Aug. 15. Visit nwunity.org.

Rendezvous in the Park

Visit Moscow's East City Park for Rendezvous for Kids, a two-day arts festival for children taking place in July. Established in 1992, Rendezvous for Kids is held annually in conjunction with Rendezvous in the Park's three-day concert series, and offers children an opportunity to explore a variety of artistic disciplines, including drama, dance, painting, sculpture and more. The cost is $10 to $35, and some partial scholarships are available. To register, visit rendezvousinthepark.com. ♦

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