Get Active in Nature

Research suggests that many folks do not spend enough time outside.  This is particularly true for the younger generations.  Kids are spending more time indoors, using technology and engaging in generally sedentary activities.  want to change that.  It is recommended that children get at least one hour of physical activity every day.   I want to see our kids being active and engaging in the outdoors.  Playing in the outdoors is a natural way to relieve stress, be active and to experience the world around you! 

This past summer a friend of mine and I, through our collaboration with a community based nutrition and activity program, launched a program for Yamhill County youth called Get Active in Nature this Summer (GAINS).  The program was offered through the Student Nutrition and Activity Counseling for Kids (SNACK) program and was supported by a grant from the Nike Community Impact Fund.  We had an awesome summer. Every week we offered kids opportunities to be active, outside in a local park or up in the hills and canyons. We had a run club where kids worked up to participating in the Portland Bubble run 5K. We offered kids and their family’s boot camp style activity sessions at local parks.  It was great to see the parents running the ladder activities alongside their kids.   We offered cooking classes for families. We organized hikes – starting off short and ending in an overnight experience on Mount Hood – hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and learning about shelter building and knot tying.   We aimed to provide kids with the opportunity to remain active over the summer months without organized sport or expensive equipment. 

The leaders of the GAINS programs are all students from Linfield College. They are student interns charged with engaging kids with opportunities to eat healthy and be more physically active.  My favorite part of the whole program was hiking the PCT with the kids and Interns.   The farthest these kids had hiked before our adventure was a couple of miles.  That day, we hiked nearly seven miles, all at 6,000 feet, around the base of the majestic Mount Hood.

The kids in the GAINS program ran, swam, hiked, hoped, bear crawled, climbed and had a blast in nature!