On Sunday, June 24, Tick Wise Education will host its first Art Hike for Tick Bite Awareness, sponsored by East End Tick & Mosquito Control.
April Nill-Boitano, the president of Tick Wise Education, is passionate about increasing children’s awareness of ticks. She travels across the East End to schools to teach kids about how to spot ticks and how to be safe.
She created Tick Wise Education after Brian Kelly, the president of East End Tick & Mosquito Control, advertised for a substitute teacher to write curriculum to educate children. “Since children are the ones who are more likely to be playing in the grass, he thought it would be a good idea to start a program for them,” Ms. Nill-Boitano said.
Ms. Nill-Boitano wrote the entire curriculum herself. The first program she did was an educational puppet show in 2015 at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton. She uses a mixture of PowerPoint presentations, hands-on activities, and games to educate and engage the kids. One particularly interesting activity she does with kids is putting small pieces of gummy bear in a piece of carpet and having kids feel for the bumps, simulating searching a pet for ticks.
Ms. Nill-Boitano started a poster contest three years ago to even further engage kids and encourage creativity. The children create educational posters about how to prevent tick bites. The winners in the past have had their posters hung in Suffolk County legislative offices, with support from Legislator Bridget Fleming.
For this year’s contest, Ms. Nill-Boitano wanted more visibility for not only the winning posters, but the runners-up as well, and thus she created the Art Hike. The hike will include posters that won honorable mentions along the trail and will showcase the winning posters at the end.
She doesn’t stop there; Ms. Nill-Boitano has also secured spots in kiosks at Suffolk County parks to hang the winning posters for the summer season, increasing their visibility and potential to inform park-goers.
The poster contest winners will also receive some exciting prizes, including a grand prize of six tickets to Splish Splash water park in Riverhead, though Ms. Nill-Boitano is more concerned with education.
“By getting these kids young, it’s like teaching them a foreign language,” Ms. Nill-Boitano laughed. “They know more than their parents!”
The Art Hike for Tick Bite Awareness will be held at Indian Island Park on Route 105 in Riverhead on Sunday, June 24, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visittickwise.org or call 631-258-8235.
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