Participants Enjoy a Bright Night at ZooLights

January 8, 2015

Center for Independent Futures participants and staff members enjoyed an evening of lights and learning at Lincoln Park Zoo's ZooLights on Friday, Jan. 2. Supported by CIF staff members Jeff Morthorst, Sharon Purdy, and Cynthia Witherspoon and community volunteer Amy Wojitas, six participants traveled to Chicago to view the beautiful holiday display.

"The trip was a dream of a participant," Jeff, CIF's Activities Director, shared. "It was an idea generated by a community member, and we gauged interest at one of our monthly Social Hour gatherings."

From navigating public transportation to choosing dinner, the outing provided countless learning opportunities in addition to fun. For instance, the trip into the city became a lesson in choosing bus and train routes. The group didn't catch the bus needed to make the planned Metra connection, so the travelers had to be flexible. They selected a new route and navigated to the city safely. When they arrived at the zoo, the evening was illuminated by over 2 million bright and colorful lights.

"The lights were all ablaze and playing to music!" Jeff describes. The group watched the main light show on the promenade, where a huge display of lights flashed in time to popular holiday tunes. After watching the show, they stopped in the cafe for dinner.

"Dinner provided the opportunity for budgeting, using change properly, and making connections over conversations at the table," Jeff explains. During dinner, the group came to a consensus about plans for the rest of the evening.

Even though the lights were the main attraction, the group viewed some animals as well, heading to see the bats and reptiles, the big cats, the monkeys, and the apes. The Helen Brach Primate House was the group's favorite destination, with active monkeys to observe and plenty to learn about the animals and their environment.

Overall, the outing was a perfect blend of entertainment and education, providing life skills development opportunities at every turn. Lincoln Park's ZooLights may become a CIF holiday tradition! To learn more about CIF's activities offerings, read more here or call the CIF office at (847) 328-2044.

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