Val, Ryan talk Free Haven Forest School, Jerzy Kenar art, high school football, vacation packing lists and new movies

CHICAGO (WLS) — This week on Windy City Weekend, it’s almost Labor Day!

That means back to school and back to football, and Ryan just saw his first ever high school football game!

13% of people don’t pack enough underwear for vacation:

If there’s one item people tend to overpack for trips, it’s underwear. Most people bring one pair per day, but 13% of people say they bring less than that!


At Free Haven Forest School the sound of howling beckons students around the campfire to hear about their next learning activity: extracting honey from a bee hive.

“Why do you think we have to harvest the honey inside?” asked Rachel Mikottis, the school’s founder.

“Because they can sting you,” answered a student.

“So we’re going to have to be very careful,” said Mikottis.

Being inside is unusual at Free Haven. In the last year, the school has served over 300 students between the ages of 3 and 14 through outdoor programs that happen 12 months out of the year.

Their motto at the school is “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

“When nature is your classroom, you’re never going to run out of things to learn about, to be curious about, or to ask questions about,” said Mikottis.

While younger students extracted honey, teacher Becky Sanders instructed older students in fire building, using ferro rods to create sparks on cotton balls and kindling.

At Free Haven, students guide teachers to what they want to learn about, and in turn, teachers design a curriculum that covers all subjects centered around their interests.

Because there were no other forest schools in Illinois, Mikottis decided to start her own. When Free Haven launched in 2021, it held programs at forest preserves.

Now it meets at a single location in Mokena, Illinois equipped with a tree house, creek, chicken coop, and acres of woods for kids to explore.

Forest school as a concept started in Europe, but Mikottis is advocating for new legislation in Illinois and the rest of the U.S. to train teachers on how to make use of the outdoors to educate children.

“I hope in my lifetime we are able to change a lot of policy and make forest school accessible to all students including students in the public schools,” said Mikottis. “Children today are expected to change the world but were not giving future generations an opportunity to have a relationship with nature and with the planet.”

Mikottis said she wants to expand her programs to high school students and is soliciting donations to purchase more land and build a new facility.

For more information on Free Haven Forest School, visit


His “Sh** Fountain” was created after he stepped in a pile outside his home.

“It sparks my brain, so I have to do it,” said artist Jerzy Kenar.

That is the story behind one of Chicago’s most unusual and popular tourist attractions. But, all of Kenar’s art didn’t go to waste!

Kenar’s beautiful artistry can be seen in churches, parks, the Harold Washington Library and other venues throughout the Chicago area. His art was also acquired by private collectors, where it proudly stands between works by Chagall and Picasso.

Kenar came to Chicago as a Polish immigrant, but life was not easy back then.

When he started out he was in desperate need of a loan, but recalls that the loan officer did not think highly of starving artists, and refused his request.

“Artist? Alcoholic and druggy man, get out!” said, Kenar remembering the loan officer’s attitude towards him.

Today, Kenar’s paintings and sculptures grace Chicagoland and include intricately carved crosses and holy figures with “echoes of Africa” at St. Sabina Church in an African American community.

With massive stainless steel “immigrant” doors at Holy Trinity Church representing Chicago’s Polish community, 1,000 pound boulders depicting names of famous African American heroes, LGBTQ+ art, a sculpture depicting children who lost their lives to violence, angels and a towering sculpture paying homage to his mother and father.

Kenar’s art is as diverse as it is inspirational. A frame with several punched-out glass panes hangs in his Wicker Park neighborhood studio.

He created this piece to be autobiographical, but it is a metaphor for life.

Each punch in the pane represents the experience of winning, loosing, failure, success, fear and hope.

Kenar often sits in front of his art to meditate and to reflect on his life’s journey.

He is still creating, and his studio is open to the public by appointment.

Follow @kenarart on Instagram to view Kenar’s inspiring work.


“The Good Mother” – SAVE

In “The Good Mother”, a journalist is uncovering the death of her estranged son. But along the way she discovers a secret world of drugs and city corruption.

“Bottoms” – SPEND

In a hilarious new R-rated Comedy, “Bottoms, two high school girls start a fight club.

“Secrets of Penthouse” – SPEND

“Secrets of Penthouse” follows the rise and fall of the creator of the infamous Penthouse adult magazines, Bob Guccione.

“BS High” – SPEND

In a new HBO documentary, “BS High”, a fake high school falls into trouble when they’re discovered after playing in a nationally televised game on ESPN.


For years, Ryan has been an Ambassador for the “Men Wear Pink” campaign with the American Cancer Society.

The campaign works to raise funds for breast cancer education, awareness and prevention.

You can help support this incredible organization directly through Ryan’s ambassador link at

And later this month, on September 8th and September 21st, the American Cancer Society is holding two events.

You can learn more about these events by heading to our website at

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