Like most 6-year olds, Jack O'Neil enjoyed playing with toys; unlike a typical 6-year-old, though, he played with his toys in the hospital. Jack was gearing up for corrective limb-lengthening surgery, a process that affected him long after his successful recovery. Once he was healthy, Jack wanted to make sure other hospital-bound kids had toys to play with. Jack began holding charitable lemonade stands, using the proceeds to buy toys. Over time, his pastime morphed into his current charity, Little Hands Make A Big Difference. Powered by fundraisers such as an annual 5K, the kid-run organization delivers Build-A-Bears and other toys to sick tots, fueling their play and filling their imaginations with geometric shapes. For more information, see the organization’s blog.
E.nopi widens educational horizons by offering after-school enrichment programs in math and English/reading for kids age 4–14. Each program is tailored to an individual child's needs, with the appropriate amount of challenge, creativity, and heads up, seven up. After an assessment, each child is given a skills-appropriate workbook with colorful pictures and accessible activities. The math program jumps off from either the basic or critical-thinking level to develop mathematical mastery in arithmetic and analysis, all the while boosting self-confidence and cultivating powers of concentration strong enough to bend a spoon with a differential equation. English/reading lessons take a four-pronged approach, focusing on listening, speaking, reading, and writing to improve vocabulary, critical thinking, comprehension, and forging report cards. Check the schedule for available tutoring times.
Created in 1936 to bolster fine-arts exposure, the Rockford Coronado Concert Association brings box-office lurkers five classical, semiclassical, and dance performances each season at the architecturally stunning Coronado Performing Arts Center.
Founded in 1884, the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is among the oldest community music organizations in the U.S., inviting patrons into its halls year after year to support and experience the excitement of live music. The center is home to the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, which won the 2011 award for Best Chamber Orchestra from the Illinois Council of Orchestras. The group of in-residence musicians keep fans of classical music thoroughly entertained with concerts throughout the year and tag-team wrestling matches between the string and brass sections.
The Golf Shack Super Driving Range provides golf-ball-wallopers with a place to practice swings year-round, featuring 40 stalls, 20 grass tees, and a bentgrass putting green. Twenty covered stalls stand staunchly next to 20 uncovered stalls, allowing drivers to choose their preferred ambience. Upon entry, visitors receive a basket containing 80 balls, offering golfers a chance to perfect their power drive, take a couple of reps with their new set of irons, or test their experimental rocket-propelled hover-putter. Ambitious Groupon holders also have the option of using all three buckets in one trip.
Be Active Outdoors organizes physical and recreational activities for adults and children of all fitness levels. Regular events challenge locals to break their sedentary habits with 10-mile bike rides, lessons on revitalizing waterways, and group adventure races. An annual river-basin tournament combines a focus on conservation with thrilling paddleboat and shoreline fishing. The Amped Up Adventure race complicates traditional adventure racing with urban elements including biking, running, paddling, and an obstacle course to get people moving in their home environments.