The Natural Parenting Expo continues for a second year with major sponsors Willy Street Co-op, Blue River Chiropractor, and Happy Bambino – as well as newcomer, Dane Birth Coalition. The Expo is a production of Natural Parenting Network, founded in 2012 by three local business leaders who created the Expo to combine their passions for parenting, wellness and community-building. With an overwhelmingly strong response from exhibitors and attendees in 2013, there is a clearly a great deal of interest in natural parenting, which organizers say, “means different things to different people.”

“It’s not about giving birth in a lagoon or a particular diet. It’s about family wellness, about sharing resources, about strategies to make parenting a little easier and more satisfying. It’s also about bringing attention to the fact that there are huge disparities in our community – and what can we ALL do to address these disparities – as a community. And at its most basic level, the Natural Parenting Expo is about creating an opportunity for kids and parents to enjoy all these wonderful activities together – learning and growing!” says Alison Dodge, co-owner of Happy Bambino, and NPE Organizer.

Last year, Expo organizers were amazed to see such a large turn-out at a first-time event. Conference Organizer and co-Owner of Blue River Chiropractor, Kim Zahasky, says, “Our 2013 goal was to create a forum for ‘Natural Parenting’ with opportunities to learn and network and for families to have fun. I think we did just that. With over 3,000 attendees, 75 Exhibitors, and a wide range of family-friendly activities, participants left with new contacts and new information that hopefully made a positive impact.”

Madison’s second annual Natural Parenting Expo on Sunday, March 23rd from 10am to 5pm at Monona Terrace will provide an opportunity for beginners and trailblazers alike to stretch both their minds (and their legs!). At the tail end of this incredibly long winter, the Expo provides great opportunities to get kids (and adults) moving and learning. The focus for 2014 is big on programming, with double the number of program activities and presentations for adults from the first year. Because natural parenting is a varied experience and not an all or nothing proposition, the group wanted to make sure there would be a wide range of programming – “something for everyone.”

Adult programming is focused on child development, fitness, nutrition, healthcare, and maternity care – with a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure. Literacy is a key theme this year. Dynamic Keynote speaker, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Medical Director for Wisconsin’s “Reach out and Read” program, will be talking about childhood literacy – recommendations, strategies, and equalizing disparities in his presentation, “Books Build Better Brains.” Locally based, National Humorist and award-winning blogger, Ann Imig, highlights the ironies of parenting in her one-woman show: “The Children Ate My Gratitude.”

There will be plenty to keep children “from tots to tweens” moving and learning throughout the day including inflatable obstacle courses, hula hoop, Irish jig and yoga classes, an International Dance Showcase, David Landau, Wonders of Physics, and the Wild Rumpus World Circus. Many local organizations are involved in the program including UW-Madison, Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison Children’s Museum, Aldo Leopold Nature Center and WORT FM – who will be conducting a live show of Pachyderm Parade (“Madison’s Only Kids Radio Show”) at the Expo. A full schedule of the 40+ activities can be found online at www.naturalparentingexpo.com/schedule.aspx.

As an added opportunity, the FairShare Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Coalition Open House will be held 1-4pm in the Monona Terrace Ballrooms. This concurrent event is free for the community and provides an opportunity to learn more about Community Supported Agriculture and meet individual farmers.

Brendon Smith, Marketing Director for Willy Street Coop says, “We’re thrilled to be a part of the Expo again. It’s a high-energy event that can create much inspiration for the spring at the tail end of another Wisconsin winter.”

Adult tickets are $5 in advance/$8 at the door. Children under 18 are free. Free street parking is available near the Monona Terrace on Sundays.