with Burin Peninsula Brighter Futures

We were very excited at the opportunity to participate in Healthy Together- Let’s be Active Outdoor!  Our concept was simple- engage families in creating a Family Bucket List. Parents and children would share ideas about outdoor activities they would like to enjoy, and these would be gathered into two sand buckets- one family bucket to take home, the other a contribution to our Center’s Collective Family Bucket. The result would be a collection of easy, practical and fun activities we would aim to accomplish together over the span of 15 sessions.  These are some of the activities we’ve enjoyed thus far:

  • Beachcombing
  • Nature Walks
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Kite making and flying
  • Rock painting hide n’seek
  • Gardening
  • Outdoor Safety
  • Environmental stewardship
The group proudly showing off the fruits of their labors during gardening day!

You need only look at the children’s expressions in the numerous photos we took to see the immediate value of engaging in such activities. One of our main goals from the outdoor program was to provide experiential learning to families and children in such a way that they could repeat and expand on these as a family unit, without being attached or organised by an outside source. It was important to demonstrate that these adventures could be low cost, did not involve a lot of pre-planning or extra equipment, and that they were enjoyable in and of themselves. You need not plan what happens at the beach, you just need to plan to go. The children will lead.

That’s where we began…

I am repeatedly amazed on how a simple idea can plant a seed, take root and grow into something well beyond what you envisioned in the beginning.  We trusted that families would enjoy the excursions, had bore witness to how physical activity and time in Nature can positively impact one’s health in a holistic way. The most surprising outcome was to see where the wind would take these seeds, whose backyard they would end up in, and where else they would take root. Every activity seemed to draw in a new partner, connecting them not only to our Family Resource Center and our goals, but more importantly, connecting them to families and children in our community. During our small gardening activity, what began with planting a seed in a cup, soon developed into a local business donating planting materials and seeds (and an unlimited supply of drinking water and a stove for cooking programs), an invitation from the municipality to participate in the community garden, support from a parent participant who we discovered is a trained horticulturalist, assistance with planting from the Green Team- a youth group doing summer conservation work (they also volunteered to later do an environmental stewardship session with our family around Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and a donation of fresh produce from a local gardener to contribute to our healthy snacks.

It did not end there…

Through social media (because we love to post pictures of our HT activities), the local food bank asked us if we would disseminate healthy food packs they had secured through Food Bank Canada’s After The Bell program, to our families throughout the summer.  They saw that not only were we connected to families with young children during this time, we were also focused on promoting nutrition and health.  Thus, every week we were able to give families a kit of healthy dry goods along with a bag of fresh produce. It still did not end there… Another food bank from a nearby community became aware of the partnership and offered to provide healthy snacks for families attending our programs in their community for the month of September. We continue today to work together to ensure families have regular access to healthy food.

This is only one example of the impact any one of our HT activities propagated. We did not purposefully set out to increase our partnerships and relationships with the community through the outdoor program; it developed organically. Yet, we recognize that this is how you grow an idea, how you feed it, and how you can turn that idea into something, however unintended, into something concrete, shared, and impactful. We are grateful for the seeds Healthy Together has provided us, for the relentless Newfoundland wind that helped spread them, and for the generosity of its people that nurtured them.