Help Your Child Overcome Childhood Fears


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"Mom. Come here, now," my 3-year-old urgently whispers as he pulls me toward the yard. "Red eyes," he says, shivering with fear. "Red eyes."

My son believes we have a monster downstairs, but only at night when we are upstairs. Other monsters live in bushes at the back of our yard, where they feast on stray baseballs and Frisbees. That is why he is worried now. I am called in to retrieve the ball he has lost. I grab the ball and run back to him as if I've narrowly escaped. "Monsters are just pretend," I say.

A big, scary world

As their understanding of the world increases, so do kids' fears. Infants may be fearful of separation or loud noises, and those fears may stick with kids into the toddler years. But as their experiences and imaginations grow, toddlers may also become afraid of particular animals or insects, costumed characters and things that lurk in the dark. They may also fear they'll be sucked down the toilet or the bathtub drain, despite your constant reassurance that they won't.

At Halloween time, kids' everyday fears may be overshadowed by anxious reactions to people in scary costumes and fears of ghosts, monsters and zombies. Difficulty separating reality from fantasy is common in preschoolers, and school-aged kids aren't immune. Hollywood movies with vivid depictions of werewolves and vampires can cause the most concrete, fact-oriented thinkers to wonder what lurks beneath the stairs.

"Anxious thinking — for all of us — is notoriously distorted, exaggerated and unreliable," notes Tamar Chansky, psychologist and author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child's Fears, Worries, and Phobias. But don't dismiss your child's fears as childish or irrational. Confronting even the silliest scary scenarios helps kids learn to deal with real-life woes and worries.

Fight fears together

When your daughter shrieks and clings to your leg because the neighbor's dog bounces her way, embrace the teachable moment. Parents can help kids confront fears so they don't grow bigger and scarier.

*    Respect feelings. Fear feels uncomfortable. Your child's heart is racing, her palms are sweaty, and she wants to escape to safety. Be her ally and accept her anxiety. If she isn't ready to pet the snake at the zoo or sleep without a nightlight, don't push it.

*      Word up. Kids can't always express what scares them, especially when the body's fear response is energizing them to fight or flee. Help your child identify specific concerns using age-appropriate words. Ask, "What is it about the dog that worries you?" or "What might happen when the lights are off?" You can't devise monster-slaying strategies if you don't know the enemy.

*    Do reconnaissance. Fear festers when imaginations get the best of us. The more your child learns about the feared situation, the less powerful his imaginary thoughts will be. Hold hands while you both check the basement for monsters. Go online and read about snakes together. Learn how self-flushing toilets work. Knowledge is power.

*    Talk back. Encourage your child to argue against the frightening thoughts or to repeat a calming phrase such as, "I am fast and strong. Ghosts can't catch me!" Talking back shrinks scary thoughts.

*    Take baby steps. "The best way to face a fear is a little at a time, from a safe distance," says marriage, family and child therapist H. Norman Wright, author of Helping Your Kids Deal with Anger, Fear, and Sadness. Face a fear of heights by imagining the scary situation first. Then move to climbing a low structure, followed by a taller one, and so on. Give high-fives as kids conquer each challenge.

*    Be there. Kids need to know you'll stick with them when they face their fears. Don't let your own distress or embarrassment cause you to shut down or disappear. "Research indicates it takes about 20 minutes for the anxiety to subside when a fear is confronted," Wright says. Work toward this goal with your child.

Be afraid, but not too afraid

Fear is essential for survival. It helps us escape dangerous situations. But if your child's fears keep her from engaging in everyday activities, it may be time to seek professional help. Some kids' fear systems are much more sensitive than others. Anxious kids may be trapped in a whirlwind of fearful thoughts, and paralyzed by nagging "what ifs." According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 13 percent of children are affected by anxiety disorders, which include phobias, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Talk with your pediatrician or school psychologist if your child's fears are overwhelming you both.  n

Heidi Smith Luedtke is a psychologist turned freelance writer and mother of two.

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Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Do you LOVE Yoga? We are offering free yoga classes. Kids and families can join our classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about yoga and kids can ask questions online...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
, NC  27099
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

Class Description One day event, July 1st, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm If you've never knit before or need a quick review of how to cast on, knit and cast off, this is the perfect class. We'll knit a...

Cost: $18

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
Website »

More information

Class Description Prior registration/payment required. One day workshop. In this class, we will learn one of the basic rhythms that defines flamenco dance: bulerias, a twelve-count beat. We will...

Cost: $12

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
Website »

More information

Drop in on a Wednesday evening between May 13 and July 1 (8-9:30 p.m.) for a supportive, inclusive, empowering virtual session for parents from prenatal through about 12 months. We'll facilitate a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Zoom
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Area Parenting Support
Telephone: 984-464-1601
Contact Name: Leigh Greene
Website »

More information

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HEY YOU GUYS ITS THAT TIME AGAIN NLDC IS READY TO HAVE AN AWESOME SUMMER WITH YOU COME REGISTER FOR SOMETHING FUN, LEARNING EXPERIENCE AND REASONABLE IN PRICE...... HEY DON'T FORGET THIS INCLUDES...

Cost: $30 (Reg)-$120(weekly)

Where:
No Limitz Dance Company Studio
3326 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd Suite C-130
Durham , NC  27707
View map »


Telephone: 919-391-0022
Contact Name: Ms. Mo Lee
Website »

More information

Sign your children up for a WILD adventure! North Carolina Zoo is excited to offer Online Summer Camps as a way for kids to learn about animals and their natural environment while staying socially...

Cost: $30 - $80

Where:
VIRTUAL
, NC


Sponsor: North Carolina Zoo
Telephone: 336-879-7700
Contact Name: North Carolina Zoo
Website »

More information

https://superkidscience.com/programs-and-class/enrichment-with-finn/ A fun summer enrichment program for rising 6th graders.

Cost: 150

Where:
140 Sudano Court
140 Sudano Court
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Super Kid Science
Telephone: 919-995-3477
Contact Name: Marilyn Jesrani
Website »

More information

Animal Park (AP) Investigators will focus on teaching kids how to identify animals when they cannot see the animals themselves.    At the beginning of the week, we create a mess in the...

Cost: $200

Where:
The Animal Park at the Conservators Center
676 E Hughes Mill Rd
Burlington, NC  27217
View map »


Sponsor: The Animal Park at the Conservators Center
Telephone: 336-421-0883
Contact Name: Elise Gammon
Website »

More information

https://superkidscience.com/programs-and-class/enrichment-with-finn/ A fun summer enrichment program for rising 6th graders.

Cost: 150

Where:
140 Sudano Court
140 Sudano Court
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Super Kid Science
Telephone: 919-995-3477
Contact Name: Marilyn Jesrani
Website »

More information

Class Description Your camper will learn about puppetry while exploring various visual and performing arts games and activities. Campers will participate in three 45 minutes classes through out...

Cost: $80

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto, CA  27009
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto, CA  27009
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Get your family together and go on a scavenger hunt you can do from the comfort of your car.

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Raleigh, NC


Sponsor: Search in the City
Contact Name: Christine
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Do your Kids love Coding? The purpose of this FREE Coding and Minecraft class is to help kids develop awesome social skills during this time of social distancing. We have different classes every...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
North Carolina, NC  20079
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: community@activityhe
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Have a child that misses seeing peers? Hard to keep him/her motivated and learning at home? If your child likes art, join our LIVE art class. Use any supplies available at home, and follow our...

Cost: 12/class

Where:
Zoom Online
RALEIGH, NC


Sponsor: KidzArt North Raleigh
Telephone: 919-271-0710
Contact Name: Chen Jiang
Website »

More information

Do you LOVE Yoga? We are offering free yoga classes. Kids and families can join our classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about yoga and kids can ask questions online...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
, NC  27099
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

Thursday evenings are for music and outdoor adventure at the USNWC, and the River Jam Run is a great way to enjoy both. Kick off the evening with 1.5 mile, 3 mile, or 6 mile group run through our...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Race Director
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

HEY YOU GUYS ITS THAT TIME AGAIN NLDC IS READY TO HAVE AN AWESOME SUMMER WITH YOU COME REGISTER FOR SOMETHING FUN, LEARNING EXPERIENCE AND REASONABLE IN PRICE...... HEY DON'T FORGET THIS INCLUDES...

Cost: $30 (Reg)-$120(weekly)

Where:
No Limitz Dance Company Studio
3326 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd Suite C-130
Durham , NC  27707
View map »


Telephone: 919-391-0022
Contact Name: Ms. Mo Lee
Website »

More information

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

https://superkidscience.com/programs-and-class/enrichment-with-finn/ A fun summer enrichment program for rising 6th graders.

Cost: 150

Where:
140 Sudano Court
140 Sudano Court
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Super Kid Science
Telephone: 919-995-3477
Contact Name: Marilyn Jesrani
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

https://superkidscience.com/programs-and-class/enrichment-with-finn/ A fun summer enrichment program for rising 6th graders.

Cost: 150

Where:
140 Sudano Court
140 Sudano Court
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Super Kid Science
Telephone: 919-995-3477
Contact Name: Marilyn Jesrani
Website »

More information

Class Description Your camper will learn about puppetry while exploring various visual and performing arts games and activities. Campers will participate in three 45 minutes classes through out...

Cost: $80

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
Website »

More information

Animal Park (AP) Investigators will focus on teaching kids how to identify animals when they cannot see the animals themselves.    At the beginning of the week, we create a mess in the...

Cost: $200

Where:
The Animal Park at the Conservators Center
676 E Hughes Mill Rd
Burlington, NC  27217
View map »


Sponsor: The Animal Park at the Conservators Center
Telephone: 336-421-0883
Contact Name: Elise Gammon
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto, CA  27009
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto, CA  27009
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Get your family together and go on a scavenger hunt you can do from the comfort of your car.

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Raleigh, NC


Sponsor: Search in the City
Contact Name: Christine
Website »

More information

Do your Kids love Coding? The purpose of this FREE Coding and Minecraft class is to help kids develop awesome social skills during this time of social distancing. We have different classes every...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
North Carolina, NC  20079
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: community@activityhe
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Do you LOVE Yoga? We are offering free yoga classes. Kids and families can join our classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about yoga and kids can ask questions online...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
, NC  27099
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

●      Antonin Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” ●      Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Avanti! Inspired by American dreams and legends, Dvořák created some of his greatest...

Cost: Free

Where:
Boone, NC  28608


Sponsor: An Appalachian Summer Festival
Telephone: 828-262-4046
Contact Name: Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
Website »

More information

https://superkidscience.com/programs-and-class/enrichment-with-finn/ A fun summer enrichment program for rising 6th graders.

Cost: 150

Where:
140 Sudano Court
140 Sudano Court
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Super Kid Science
Telephone: 919-995-3477
Contact Name: Marilyn Jesrani
Website »

More information

PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

https://superkidscience.com/programs-and-class/enrichment-with-finn/ A fun summer enrichment program for rising 6th graders.

Cost: 150

Where:
140 Sudano Court
140 Sudano Court
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Super Kid Science
Telephone: 919-995-3477
Contact Name: Marilyn Jesrani
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto, CA  27009
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto, CA  27009
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Get your family together and go on a scavenger hunt you can do from the comfort of your car.

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Raleigh, NC


Sponsor: Search in the City
Contact Name: Christine
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Do your Kids love Coding? The purpose of this FREE Coding and Minecraft class is to help kids develop awesome social skills during this time of social distancing. We have different classes every...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
North Carolina, NC  20079
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: community@activityhe
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

Do you LOVE Yoga? We are offering free yoga classes. Kids and families can join our classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about yoga and kids can ask questions online...

Cost: 0

Where:
Online at your Home
-
, NC  27099
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle Lim
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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