We are proud to say that Sweetwater (Newland Communities) is the newest member of the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA). This unique partnership was developed through a mutual desire to connect more children to nature. Over the past few months our staff has worked directly with Sweetwater in the following ways:

· Pocket Park Design – Working with Norris Design and community leaders we have helped encourage the development of a Nature Playscape in the Sweetwater community

· Family Nature Club – By connecting Bess Ouahidi, the Lifestyle Director at Sweetwater, with Families in Nature, a Texas-based non-profit and another CiNCA parter, we have encouraged their development of a Family Nature Club

· Roadrunner Outdoor Adventure Bus – By utilizing the newest program of CiNCA, the Roadrunner Outdoor Adventure Bus, we are collaborating to host community-wide field trips to Westcave Preserve.

The following is an article about our CiNCA partnership written by Sweetwater and published to their online blog:

Sweetwater partners with CiNCA to get kids outdoors

Sweetwater has formed a partnership with the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA) to develop programs and activities to encourage Sweetwater families to spend more time outdoors.

“With more than half of its 1,400 acres devoted to nature, Sweetwater is the perfect partner to demonstrate that development and the environment can co-exist, and that it’s possible to create communities where healthy children are a priority,” said Ryan Spencer, manager of the CiNCA program.

Spencer said CiNCA will work with Sweetwater to create onsite programs that encourage residents of all ages to more fully experience the 700 acres of parks, trails and natural open spaces in the community.

Sweetwater and CiNCA will also partner to create more opportunities for residents to connect with nature at annual events such as the Sweetwater Wildflower Festival, and to plan field trips to Hill Country parks such as the nearby Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center.

Sweetwater will also work with CiNCA to create a Family Nature Club for residents to plan activities in the community and take part in CiNCA events throughout the Austin area.

“Today’s kids spend seven hours a day in front of their smartphones and other screens, and only seven minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play time,” Spencer said. “This has been called nature deficit disorder, and it has led to a dramatic rise in childhood obesity and attention deficit disorders nationwide. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to reverse this ratio once you get kids excited about nature.”

Sweetwater’s Hill Country environment gives the community a natural advantage when it comes to increasing time spent outdoors, according to Bess Ouahidi, activities director for the community.

“Our partnership with CiNCA will build upon some exciting things we’re already doing to connect residents with nature at Sweetwater, both day and night,” Ouahidi said. “For example, our collaboration with Round Rock Honey and our community bee hives allow us to teach kids about the importance of bees. Our newest park, Skyview Point, is designed especially for stargazing, and we will have regular programs there with a planetary geologist.”

Sweetwater Olympics Day, held in early August, was one of the first resident activities resulting from Sweetwater’s growing focus on nature. Families in Nature, a CiNCA affiliate, sponsored several sports at Olympics Day, and also had an interactive nature exhibit inside of the Sweetwater Club.

Residents can expect to enjoy more outdoor opportunities coming soon as Sweetwater moves forward in its partnership with CiNCA and other nonprofit nature groups.

Article written by and published to Sweetwater’s online blog