Monday, January 25, 2010

Super Kids In Parks

The Friends of Murphys Point and a number of community partners have launched a new children’s outdoor learning program at Murphys Point Provincial Park. Super Kids In Parks (SKIP) is a six-week program aiming to help kids ages 7 to 12 connect with nature through a range of exciting sessions promoting active and healthy living.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this free pilot program in January and February,” explained Stephanie Gray, Friends of Murphys Point Park president. “Studies show there are big benefits for kids who are connected with nature. SKIP is designed to get them outside and moving, and while they’re having fun they’re learning things, too.”

The Friends, a non-profit, registered charity, have created a volunteer steering committee made up by members from local partners: the Community Stewardship Council of Lanark County, ecoPerth, the Rideau Valley Field Naturalists,
Murphys Point Provincial Park and the Tay Valley Cross Country Ski Club.

The winter session runs on Sundays from
1 to 3 p.m. at the Lally Homestead at Murphys Point. Children register for the full six weeks, which begin Jan. 24 and end Feb. 28. In that time, volunteers with a range of experience and expertise will lead sessions on such activities as cross-country skiing (for various skill levels), nature photography, nature crafts/outdoor stories, winter shelters/cooking snacks outside, snowshoeing/orienteering and a discovery hike with field naturalists.

“There is an outdoor component to each session along with a specific educational theme,” explained Judy Fletcher, SKIP steering committee chair. “We want this to be a fun experience for everyone – kids and volunteers – that gets children thinking about how they can lead healthy lifestyles.”

Equipment is provided for the sessions. An educational workbook and reward program will be part of the experience, and the Lally Homestead site offers a warm shelter if required, as well as privies. A healthy snack will be offered each week.

“We have been able to proceed with the winter pilot session thanks to generous funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion’s Healthy Communities Fund,” Ms. Gray explains. “Based on the success of this session we plan to seek new funding to expand the program into the spring and fall and offer it long term.”

Enrolment is full and has been limited to 20 spaces and there is a waiting list. Anyone wishing to be notified of future sessions should e-mail Stay tuned for weekly updates regarding the winter session activities!

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