Making Sure Your Child Gets Enough Vitamin D


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When you were a kid, getting enough vitamin D wasn’t often an issue. If you weren’t in school, you were running around outside. You were exposed to the sunlight, and that was enough to power up your body’s vitamin D. And your parents? They probably endured a spoonful of cod liver oil every night to cover their needs.

But that’s not the case for today’s kids. During the past five years, the number of children with a vitamin D deficiency has increased by more than 200 percent, according to a study by the United Kingdom-based public-awareness campaign Vitamin D Mission.

The lack of vitamin D could be because kids aren’t going outside as much, or because of the rise in the use of sunscreen, which is, naturally, very important for its own reasons. But it leaves today’s parents wondering: Is my child getting enough?

Vitamin D Primer

“Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin,” explains Maria Kennedy, a dietitian and nutritionist in Cary. “It’s actually a hormone.” Vitamin D, in other words, isn’t the end game — it’s a starting player that makes things happen in our bodies.

Scientists believe it works like this: Skin contains a substance called provitamin D. When exposed to sunlight, provitamin D begins to change into vitamin D. But then it has to be “activated,” so it travels to the liver, where it undergoes a chemical change. After that, it takes a trip through the bloodstream to the kidneys, where it goes through another change to become the active form our bodies can use.

“Vitamin D is most important for good bone health,” Kennedy says. “It helps your bones absorb calcium. So, when kids weren’t getting enough sunlight, they’d become vitamin D deficient. They’d end up with a condition called rickets, where their bones became soft and weak.”

Vitamin D goes to work doing other things, too. Research shows it boosts the immune and nervous systems, and may even help battle diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis.

So, how can kids get their vitamin D?

“Mainly from the sun,” Kennedy says. “You can’t get vitamin D from too many foods, but it’s mostly in fatty fish. And there aren’t a lot of kids who readily eat a lot of fatty fish!” It’s also in fortified milk, but Kennedy suggests choosing wisely. “Because it needs to bind to a fat to work, you should use at least 1 percent milk. Skim milk won’t have the fat vitamin D really needs to work efficiently.”

How Much Do Kids Need?

The good news is, it doesn’t take a lot of effort for kids to get the vitamin D they need. Laura Reavis, a clinical dietitian for Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center in Greensboro, says infants up to 12 months old need 400 IU (international units, the standard for measurement) daily. “If they’re formula-fed, it’s most likely fortified with the correct amount of vitamin D,” she says, but check the label if you want to be sure. If your baby is nursing, you’ll want to give him a supplement, because it’s not present in breast milk in sufficient amounts. For kids older than age 1 — and adults up to age 70 — the recommended daily allowance is 600 IU.

“Vitamin D is really most important for kids during periods of rapid growth,” Reavis says. “So, that first year when infants are growing rapidly, it’s important. Then again during the adolescent growth spurt, you want to be sure your child is getting enough.”

If your child is getting her vitamin D from the sun, there’s no need for her to go outside and stand in the middle of the yard for several hours. The ultraviolet radiation waves known as UVB start vitamin D formation, and those waves shine down best around noon. “Exposure for about 20 minutes at noon without sunscreen is enough to make vitamin D and store it,” Reavis says.

Here’s some really cool news: Human bodies can store vitamin D, so if children spend time outside during the summer, Reavis says, typically enough vitamin D will be stored in their fat cells to last them through winter.

What You Can Do

“It’s really not terribly difficult to make sure kids are getting enough vitamin D,” says Dr. Marty Baker, a pediatrician with Carolinas Healthcare in Charlotte. If you have an infant who’s on formula, check the label to see if she’s getting enough. And if you have an infant who’s nursing, talk to her doctor about providing a supplement in a liquid dropper.

But follow the guidelines closely. The Food and Drug Administration cautions parents to only use the dropper that comes with the bottle of vitamin D to avoid toxicity. “And sometimes people think, ‘If one drop is good, 10 would be better,’” Baker says. That’s not the case with vitamin D, since it’s not water-soluble and it’s possible to overdose.

“There’s overload on the kidneys,” Baker explains. “So if it says five drops, do five drops. Not 50 or 15.”

If you’re concerned about your child going outside without sunscreen, it’s not an all-or-nothing scenario.

“If sunscreen were perfect, it would protect us from skin cancer while allowing us to get our vitamin D,” Baker says. Since that’s not the case, apply sunscreen to protect your child’s skin, but be sure he gets outside often to maximize the chances he’ll have enough exposure. Remember, it doesn’t take hours to store up on vitamin D — even several minutes every day is sufficient.

It’s not easy to tell if your child is vitamin D deficient, but if he has pain in his legs or knees, or if he’s getting sick more often, that may be an indication, Reavis says.

If you’re still unsure, Kennedy offers this advice: “If you’ve got a child who doesn’t spend time outside and who doesn’t drink fortified milk, ask the doctor to just have a blood test done,” she says. “It’s simple, it’s quick, and why worry about giving your kid extra vitamin D if they’re already getting what they need naturally?”

Kathleen M. Reilly is a writer and mom in the Triangle. Visit her online at kathleenreilly.com.

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Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

Young children and their families are invited to participate in an interactive program with books, songs, movement, and other early literacy-based activities, carefully selected to engage an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village Regional Library
1930 Clark Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27605
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Sponsor: Wake County Public Libraries

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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Children will have fun with hands-on experiments that increase their understanding of our good ship Earth! They will learn how animals are camouflaged and go on the hunt for scents and tracks as...

Cost: $250/full week

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-933-1455
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

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on week of camp

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

This program is designed to move at a toddler’s pace: Run. Stop. Pick dandelions. Run. Climb on a rock. Find an interesting leaf! Join others for an easy-paced hike around the greenway...

Cost: FREE

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

KidzArt is a drawing based art program teaching children grades K-5th. Traditionally offered as an after school program, we are now offering drawing classes online to bring the fun and creativity...

Cost: $12 per class/ $43 per week

Where:
Zoom Online
, NC


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

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets Dave Ramsey" class that has teens experience...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

More information

Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

More information

Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
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

Young children and their families are invited to participate in an interactive program with books, songs, movement, and other early literacy-based activities, carefully selected to engage an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village Regional Library
1930 Clark Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Sponsor: Wake County Public Libraries

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Children will have fun with hands-on experiments that increase their understanding of our good ship Earth! They will learn how animals are camouflaged and go on the hunt for scents and tracks as...

Cost: $250/full week

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-933-1455
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on week of camp

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Bring your junior paleontologist on an excavation adventure as they hunt for colorful dinosaur eggs and explore the Museum’s Dinosaur Trail! ·         Excavate fossils just like a...

Cost: $7 per Egg Hunter, $2 for Accompanying Adult +Museum Admission

Where:
Museum of Life and Science
433 West Murray Avenue
Durham, NC  27704
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Life and Science
Telephone: 919-220-5429361
Contact Name: Ro Rode
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

The Community Farm at Chestnut Ridge + Growga are excited to offer outdoor yoga classes this spring!   The Little Sprouts Growga program is for ages 2-5. They learn basic mindfulness elements...

Cost: $150

Where:
The Community Farm at Chestnut Ridge
2902 Mt. Willing Road
Efland, NC  27243
View map »


Sponsor: The Community Farm at Chestnut Ridge
Telephone: 919-304-2178
Contact Name: Erica Romkema
Website »

More information

Participants will learn about a cherished outdoor pastime. The program will cover fishing basics such as how to prepare a rod and reel, bait a hook, cast your line and how to handle a fish. Fish...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Hippity Hoppity to the 3rd Annual Spring Day at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC, features egg hunts for ages 2 to 12 at 3 pm. The egg hunt field will be divided into sections for various ages.  Be...

Cost: $5-$8

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
View map »


Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
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

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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

Young children and their families are invited to participate in an interactive program with books, songs, movement, and other early literacy-based activities, carefully selected to engage an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village Regional Library
1930 Clark Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Sponsor: Wake County Public Libraries

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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

Bring your junior paleontologist on an excavation adventure as they hunt for colorful dinosaur eggs and explore the Museum’s Dinosaur Trail! ·         Excavate fossils just like a...

Cost: $7 per Egg Hunter, $2 for Accompanying Adult +Museum Admission

Where:
Museum of Life and Science
433 West Murray Avenue
Durham, NC  27704
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Life and Science
Telephone: 919-220-5429361
Contact Name: Ro Rode
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on week of camp

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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

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

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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

Join us for an egg-cellent time on the farm Saturday, April 4 & 11,  2020 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Explore the farm while you hunt for eggs and enjoy spring farm fun activities. Search for 12...

Cost: $10.00 for Hunters $7.00 for Non-Egg Hunters $6.00 for Non-Egg Hunters Senior (A

Where:
Patterson Farm Inc. Market and Tours
10390 Caldwell Road
Mount Ulla, NC  28125
View map »


Sponsor: Patterson Farm Inc. Market and Tours
Telephone: 704-636-4005
Contact Name: Megan Hedrick
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

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

Preschoolers (ages 3-5 with an adult) welcome hummingbirds migrating back to Raleigh and places north from their winter homes in Mexico and Central America.  Learn about hummers and play some...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Mandy Hunter
Website »

More information

Join us for a special spring-themed geocaching program! Learn what geocaching is all about and head out to find a real geocache in the park! We will provide GPS units and instruction on how to use...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Bring the whole family for this fun interactive Growga family class. Siblings and parents come together for a fun Growga hour, combining elements of our Little Sprouts and Growga Kids programs...

Cost: $150

Where:
The Community Farm at Chestnut Ridge
2902 Mt. Willing Road
Efland, NC  27243
View map »


Sponsor: Chestnut Ridge Camp & Retreat Center
Telephone: 919-304-2178
Contact Name: Erica Romkema
Website »

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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

Young children and their families are invited to participate in an interactive program with books, songs, movement, and other early literacy-based activities, carefully selected to engage an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village Regional Library
1930 Clark Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Sponsor: Wake County Public Libraries

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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