Digital Eyestrain: Know the Signs & How to Help Your Kids


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With the school year halfway done, your child is probably spending an increasing amount of time using digital technology on a daily basis. While the educational benefits of these devices are numerous, the question arises: Are their young eyes equipped to handle this much digital technology?

If your child is complaining of irritated, sore or blurry eyes, you may have something to worry about. According to the American Optometric Association, nearly 83 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. between the ages of 10 and 17 use digital devices for hours each day, which may put them at risk of a condition called digital eyestrain.

Signs and Symptoms

Dr. Edward G. Buckley, M.D., a neuro-ophthalmologist who is a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, explains that anytime a child stares intently on a digital device, he or she can “experience discomfort because you use the muscles attached to the eye to keep them directed to where you are looking. The smaller and more detailed the image, the greater the effort it requires.”

Like any muscle used in excess, Buckley says the eye muscle will ”fatigue and become uncomfortable,” he says.

The other muscle used for close-up vision is inside the eye and controls the lens. “When you look at objects up close, you need to focus on them to see clearly,” Buckley says. “The closer the object, the more focusing is required. The muscle may become tired and uncomfortable, and blinking decreases. Blinking keeps the eyes moist, so not blinking causes them to dry out and the cornea becomes uncomfortable and can hurt.”

Additional symptoms of digital eyestrain may include sore and/or irritated eyes, blurred and/or double vision, increased sensitivity to light, headaches and/or brow aches.

Digital Devotion

In an American Optometric Association survey report, Dr. Lori Roberts, O.D., chair of the AOA’s New Technology Committee, says many parents drastically underestimate the amount of time their children spend on digital devices.

“When parents think about their kids’ mobile consumption habits, they often don’t think about how much time they spend on devices in the classroom,” Roberts says.

During March 2014, the AOA conducted two surveys: one of children between the ages of 10 and 17 and the other of parents of children under the age of 18. The AOA discovered that only 40 percent of parents believe their children use an electronic device for the amount of time the children reported: three or more hours each day.

Prevention Tips

While digital eyestrain does not cause permanent damage to the eye or its vision, there are numerous measures parents and children can take to help prevent and/or alleviate vision problems associated with digital eyestrain:

1. Ensure proper lighting. Help minimize strain by positioning a desk lamp to shine on your child’s desk. Place the computer screen 20-26 inches away from his or her eyes. Position the screen in a way that helps to reduce glare from nearby windows and/or overhead lighting.

2. Schedule regular eye exams. The AOA recommends that every child have a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. If your child wears prescription glasses, recurring eyestrain may be an indication that his or her prescription needs to be updated.

3. Take frequent breaks. “Children should make sure that they practice the 20-20-20 rule: When using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away,” Roberts says.

4. Keep glasses on. If you child wears glasses, make sure he or she continues to wear them, as glasses will, according to Buckley, “decrease the likelihood that eyestrain will occur. Glasses assist with making the image clear, thus requiring less muscle effort to focus on the device.”

Jennifer Lacey specializes in covering family health and lifestyle issues. She blogs at amodestmommasmusingsforlittlereaders.blogspot.com.

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October 2019

The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough and Ayr Mount Historic Site presents a weekend of activities centered around Scottish heritage, colonial history and the wildly popular...

Cost: See website for ticket fees

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Ayr Mount Historic Site
376 St. Mary’s Rd
Hillsborough, NC
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In honor of Cameron Village’s 70th anniversary,  play tunes and games. Learn how some incredible kid musicians play songs that capture the beat of life in Raleigh in 2019.  Cameron...

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Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
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Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
Contact Name: Amy Davis
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Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Cost: $30-$75. Free for ages 5 and younger.

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The Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Cost: 24.00

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Cost: $31/resident, $40/nonresident

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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Ride a bike on the streets of Carrboro. Enjoy bike decorations, giveaways, healthy snacks and more.

Cost: Free

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Carrboro Elementary School
400 Shelton St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Cost: $10/adult, $5/child. Free for ages 5 and younger

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Commons at North Hills
4321 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue
Commons
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Contact Name: Tara Robbins
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Cost: Free

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Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
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Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
Contact Name: Amy Davis
Website »

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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Ages 11-17 learn how to make desserts perfect for Halloween. Register online. Choose course #127729.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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In honor of Cameron Village’s 70th anniversary,  play tunes and games. Learn how some incredible kid musicians play songs that capture the beat of life in Raleigh in 2019.  Cameron...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
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Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
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Cost: $2

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood

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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Read the story by Laura Numeroff and make brownies. Register online. Choose course #127716.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

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Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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In honor of Cameron Village’s 70th anniversary,  play tunes and games. Learn how some incredible kid musicians play songs that capture the beat of life in Raleigh in 2019.  Cameron...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
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Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
Contact Name: Amy Davis
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It's a Fall Homeschool Day at the JC Raulston Arboretum! Join us for a fun rotation through hands-on stations to learn about a variety of fall topics. Students will have a chance to interact with...

Cost: $5.00 per child for Arboretum Family members, $7.50 per child for nonmembers

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JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

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Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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In honor of Cameron Village’s 70th anniversary,  play tunes and games. Learn how some incredible kid musicians play songs that capture the beat of life in Raleigh in 2019.  Cameron...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
Contact Name: Amy Davis
Website »

More information

It's a Fall Homeschool Day at the JC Raulston Arboretum! Join us for a fun rotation through hands-on stations to learn about a variety of fall topics. Students will have a chance to interact with...

Cost: $5.00 per child for Arboretum Family members, $7.50 per child for nonmembers

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #124908.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: FREE

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Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
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Enjoy dinner with your family on us! On Thursday, October 17th, The School for Creative Studies PTSA will be hosting its 3rd Healthy Eating Tasting Night. Local Chef Carmen Settles of Full Street...

Cost: Free

Where:
The School for Creative Studies
5001 Red Mill Rd.
Durham, NC  27704
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Sponsor: The School for Creative Studies PTSA
Telephone: 919-560-3535
Contact Name: Tanisha Davis
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Just in time for your next dress-up event!  Join us to make a tutu.  Kids 8 and up and teens make one for yourself!  Adults make one for yourself or for a child!   Call to register,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
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Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Cost: $4/student

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Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy
Durham, NC  27712
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Telephone: 919-620-0120
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In honor of Cameron Village’s 70th anniversary,  play tunes and games. Learn how some incredible kid musicians play songs that capture the beat of life in Raleigh in 2019.  Cameron...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
Contact Name: Amy Davis
Website »

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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Sip cider and enjoy a cookie while listening to music and a storyteller. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Weaver Street Market Lawn
101 E. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Enjoy live German music, traditional Bavarian food and fare, German cars, a "Kinder Platz" zone wiener dog races, nail-driving competitions and more. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $5-$20

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27511
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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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We think about bats this time of year for Halloween. Join us as we learn the truth about bats and their importance to the ecosystem. After a wonderful story we will take a walk to some places...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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More information

We think about bats this time of year for Halloween. Join us as we learn the truth about bats and their importance to the ecosystem. After a wonderful story we will take a walk to some places...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Come join us for a party of spooky proportions! We will have classic monster mash games including a mummy wrap, Halloween Fear Factor eating challenge, Tarantula Toss, and other fun party...

Cost: Adults & Kids Over 14 years of age:$44; Kids 13 and under: $39

Where:
TreeRunner Raleigh
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Telephone: 919-410-7347
Contact Name: TreeRunner
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N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
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Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Join the Preschool Teachers at Chestnut Ridge for a fun-filled morning of nature inspired activities in the great outdoors at Camp Chestnut Ridge. This event is for anyone interested in learning...

Cost: Free

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Chestnut Ridge Camp and Retreat Center
4300 Camp Chestnut Ridge Road
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Sponsor: Chestnut Ridge Camp and Retreat Center
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Contact Name: Becky Garus
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The World Beer Festival Durham features a sampling of local, national and international breweries. Adults can also enjoy food and live music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $15-$60

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

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Cameron Village
2108 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Sponsor: Cameron Village Merchants' Association
Telephone: 919-630-2908
Contact Name: Amy Davis
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Cost: $19/resident, $25/nonresident

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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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900 Old Fayetteville Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park
1309 Halley St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: $5-$20

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Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
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View map »


Website »

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Cost: Free

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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: FREE

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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
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Cost: $19/child

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Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Park Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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421 Lassiter at North Hills Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

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East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
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Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
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Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Where:
, NC


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