As a leading Illinois family- and child-service agency, Children’s Home + Aid serves more than 40,000 children and families each year through its child-development and -care programs, family counseling, and foster-care-advocacy programs. The organization's roots extend back to 1883, when the Reverend Van Arsdale brought into his home a young girl whose mother was in crisis. The minister's umbrella of care soon spread throughout the country, as he established advisory boards and worked to improve child welfare. Today, Children's Home + Aid focuses on early childhood and juvenile justice, preventing child abuse, and garnering positive child development in strong families.
The organization’s Raising A Reader program helps children ages 3-5 get "kindergarten-ready" by developing early language and literacy abilities. Much of this work incorporates full parental involvement; facilitators encourage parent-child bonding through everything from bedtime stories to engaging, brain-building activities. Currently helping more than 350 children develop these necessary scholastic skills, the Illinois chapter is just part of a larger national trend; in 2011, the national Raising a Reader program touched the lives of almost 118,000 kids across 32 states.
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Speedkleen's powerful brush system purges carpets of allergens and odor-causing contaminants. Speedkleen teams begin a two-step process by applying a nontoxic pretreatment to loosen embedded debris. Using hypoallergenic products, the cleaning crews ensure safer spaces for children and pets and adhere to the same environmentally friendly cleaning practices used by wild carpets in their natural habitats. In addition to cleaning patches of floor fur, Speedkleen performs mattress-cleaning treatments, hardwood-refinishing services, and flood-restoration services.
After traveling to Japan in 1966 and to the Portland Japanese Garden soon thereafter, John Anderson found himself inspired by the country's lush landscape and tranquil gardens. In 1978, after returning to his home in Rockford, he partnered with expert designer Hoichi Kurisu to begin constructing Anderson Japanese Gardens—12 acres of paths, plants, and streams, as soothing as those John visited in Japan.
The gardens still encourage a sense of calm and thoughtful reflection, as guided and self-guided tours stroll past undulating waterfalls, trickling across colorful flowers, beneath arched bridges, and over lily pads. Fruit blossoms on trees and bushes, sculptures stand very still, and koi fish flit about in a pond. On Thursdays, participants read from scripture, listen to music, and meditate during worship services, and a series of classes held onsite, such as origami and tai chi, impart Japanese traditions.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.
Blanketed in wall-to-wall trampolines, Sky High Sports delights barefoot fun-seekers with springy terrain and an exclusive court for jumpers 8 and younger. Guests can hone front flips, back flips, and belly flops during intense free-bounce sessions. Each trampoline comes equipped with a specially designed spring-loaded frame and thick, 2-inch safety pads that grant patrons a landing cushier than a corner office at a marshmallow factory. Stuffed with blocks of spongy, body-molding material, a foam pit dares treasure-seekers to fling themselves in or scour its depths for the lost contents of bygone pockets. Pintsize aerialist posses can safely practice their synchronized Salchows on 360 degrees of trampoline walls while court supervisors watch from the sidelines and award hard-earned praise with oversize scorecards.
Sky High also offers AIRobics fitness classes and monthly dodge-ball tournaments to help jumpers explore the outermost stratospheres of trampoline possibilities.
Across hundreds of stores in the U.S. and Canada, Lumber Liquidators provides homeowners and contractors with more than 340 flooring options. Lumber Liquidators, which has been featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and HGTV’s Dream Home, lays down floors such as solid and engineered Bellawood pre-finished hardwood with a transferable 100-year warranty and eco-friendly bamboo and cork. An array of professional-grade tools, such as table saws and floor nailers, help homeowners easily install their new floors, and the company's Flooring 101 search engine and Ask Bob customer-support team answer any questions that arise on the fly.