A Publication of WTVP

Backyard Campout: Big-Time Benefits, Big-Time Fun!
Set up the tent and get out the marshmallows! June 22nd marks the date of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout, a nationwide event that aims to connect families with nature. On the fourth Saturday of this month, thousands will gather in their community campgrounds, parks, neighborhoods, and even on their own lawns to take part in an electronics-free night of fun in the great outdoors.

The annual event is part of a bigger movement led by the NWF that encourages children and families to “Be Out There” ( As more and more kids have traded their treehouses and swing sets for smartphones and tablets, the nature of childhood has changed dramatically—in fact, “nature” has practically been taken out of it. Today, children spend half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago, a trend that is taking both a physical and mental toll on our nation’s youth, from increasing obesity rates to declining social skills. Research shows children who play outside regularly are more physically active, more creative, less aggressive, and demonstrate better concentration. And the Great American Backyard Campout is the perfect opportunity to get the kids off the computer or couch and outside in the fresh air!

Families can sign up for the free event online at, where they’ll find a variety of camping tips, plus a collection of campfire songs, stories, recipes, games and more. Once registered, participants can encourage friends and loved ones to join the cause and make a donation on their behalf, 80 percent of which will go to support programs that address the problems and health risks associated with “indoor childhoods.”

Even if you can’t camp out on the 22nd, choose a different night to sleep under the stars or find another activity that gets your family outdoors and having a great time. Just “be out there,” and reconnect with nature!

Big Hearts Outdoors
“Drake loved anything to do with the outdoors,” says Beverly Taylor of her son. “Fishing, camping, hunting, horseback riding… You name it, he did it!”

But Drake Taylor of Dunlap wasn’t just your everyday outdoorsman; he was a champion who overcame the challenges of MOPD type II dwarfism and persevered to live life to the fullest while inspiring countless others along the way. Though he lost his battle with Moyamoya disease—a rare blood vessel disorder often associated with his type of dwarfism—last November at the age of 18, Drake made the most of his years doing what he loved: spending time in the great outdoors and helping other young people with special needs.

To honor Drake’s legacy, his family and friends came together last December to organize Big Hearts Outdoors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing access to outdoor family experiences for special-needs children and young adults. “We are humbled by the generous spirit of the hunting and outdoor industry and found it brought out the best in all of us,” Beverly explains. “We want to share the many blessings and contacts that Drake brought into our lives in his short time with us. We have found if you give people an opportunity to help and connect with others in need, beautiful things happen!”

On Saturday, June 29th, members of the local community have the chance to make even more “beautiful things” happen by coming out to support Big Hearts Outdoors at its Summer Festival fundraiser in Chillicothe’s Three Sisters Park. The family-friendly event begins at 3pm and features a BBQ dinner, games, live music, raffles, silent and live auctions, and much more. It’s the perfect opportunity to get outside and fulfill the Taylor family’s motto: “Do your best, have fun, and hang around good people.” For more information, visit

Peoria Bike Summer
Pedal away! Throughout the month of June, a new organization of cycling enthusiasts known as Bike Peoria is hosting a series of events to promote bicycle advocacy, awareness and safety, together known as “Peoria Bike Summer.”

The month-long campaign gets off to a spinning start son June 1st with “Get Out and Ride Peoria,” a city-wide event encouraging all Peorians to break out their bikes, organize group rides and community service projects, and inspire others to join in on the fun by posting the details on the group’s Facebook page (

Following the kickoff, bike buffs can partake in several more group rides, including the Women’s, Dad Day, Couples and City Council rides. Bike Peoria also calls on participants to start their own trends and pedal to church, the coffeehouse, the library, a Chiefs game and public landmarks on certain days throughout June. Additionally, the schedule features many local arts encounters, offering the chance to take in some authentic Peoria culture on the First Friday and Sculpture tours, and invites riders to explore Peoria’s prairie spaces and the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard.

Other special events include free bicycle maintenance and safety classes at the Peoria Farmers Market and a special bicycle rack-mapping initiative in an effort to make Peoria a more bicycle-friendly city. Finally, Peoria Bike Summer will wrap up with its neighboring community’s downtown race, the Morton Classic, on June 29th and The Last Hoorah!, a ride along Peoria’s Main Street, on June 30th.

A new adventure awaits every day this June, so grab your helmet—a mandatory accessory—and get out and ride! A complete schedule of events is available at

Goodbye Gray!
European researchers claim to have found a cure to the root cause of gray hair. Published in FASEB Journal, the study observed more than 2,400 subjects with vitiligo, a condition that causes pigment loss of the skin and hair, and found the resulting DNA mutations from a process called oxidative stress were to blame for the discoloration. Armed with this knowledge, the researchers developed a topical treatment—currently known as PC-KUS—and were able to successfully treat participants’ affected skin and eyelashes. While it could be several years before it hits the shelves, the discovery offers new hope for a solution to those glaring grays.

Bugging Out
Ever wish you could be “a fly on the wall?” A team of Harvard engineers have gotten one step closer to this possibility, creating the world’s smallest flying robot, according to Science magazine. No larger than a penny, the insect-like device features wings that beat 120 times per second, allowing it to hover like a housefly while a network of sensors and software prevent it from crashing into nearby objects. Though still in early development, robo-bugs hold the potential to someday serve as surrogate pollinators, chemical-sniffing sleuths or stealthy spyware.

Early Success
How much of a math wiz you were as a child may determine your future success, according to a study out of the University of Edinburgh. Researchers kept tabs on more than 17,000 British residents over a period of more than 50 years, from birth to the present, and found that participants’ math ability at age seven was predictive of their socioeconomic status at age 42. Their findings also revealed an early reading ability in girls to be associated with a higher midlife income, with each jump in reading level equating to a salary increase of about $7,750. iBi