Ontario to unite children and the outdoors

The Ontario government encourages kids to get outside and be active with the new Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter. Ontario is the first province in Canada to develop an outdoor charter for children and youth.

Survey results found that 70 per cent of young Canadians spend an hour or less a day outdoors. Promoting children and their families to connect with nature and live a healthy life, The Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter features a passport for kids to encourage participation.

The passport highlights 12 outdoor activities that Ontario children and their families can take advantage of and enjoy:

  1. follow a trail
  2. explore a park
  3. harvest something to eat
  4. swim in a lake
  5. paddle a canoe
  6. play in the snow
  7. build an outdoor fort
  8. visit a farm
  9. camp under the stars
  10. go fishing
  11. observe plants and wildlife
  12. create an outdoor adventure

“Childhood is a time to play and explore. The Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter reinforces the importance of children being outside to discover the wonders of nature. When we encourage a child to take part in outdoor activities, we help develop healthy habits and a lifetime of appreciation for Ontario’s biodiversity,” said David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources.

A 2011 University of Essex study shows that participating in outdoor activities improves children’s mental health, increases physical activity and boosts self esteem. Children report feeling happier, more energetic and having a more positive outlook on their school, home and social lives.

There are many Government of Ontario programs to help children and their families complete the 12 character activities, including Learn to Camp, Family Fishing Weekends, and the Ontario Trail Network, which features many accessible trails.

“Far too many of our youth have become disconnected from the very life support system that sustains them: our biodiversity. Why would we protect or care about that which we do not understand. The Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter seeks to unleash a lifelong fascination in the life that surrounds them and to install a passion to protect what sustains them,” said Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council.

More information about the new Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter can be found at Childrensoutdoorcharter.ca, where you can also look into each activity and download the activity passport for children to check off as each activity is completed. The charter can be downloaded, as well as posters to help promote the new initiative.

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