Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Ocean Hour Canada by Amanda Lounsbury

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In the fall of last year, I had just moved to the Okanagan and was looking for a unique way to meet new people. I wanted to do my part. I wanted to participate in something that would fill my heart- something that was important. Something that would make a difference. My friend Bob Purdy had been in touch with Justin Riney of Florida, who out of his foundation “Mother Ocean” had just started a satellite project called “Ocean Hour”. He’d been out training for his paddle around the entire state of Florida (!!!) and having encountered enormous amounts of trash, he decided to do something about it, so he started “Ocean Hour”. “Ocean Hour” is every saturday between 9 and 10 am, on your own local waterway, wherever you are on this beautiful planet.

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We remove trash from the beaches and from the water and we have a great time doing it! There are a number of groups participating around the world regularly, including in Taiwan, Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii and now Canada. Our chapter of “Ocean Hour” began in Kelowna at Bob’s urging and has seen interest growing in the surrounding communities of West Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton, and a bit further away, to Vancouver and the East Kootenays. The idea is to eventually have groups participating all across this great country, cleaning up their own local beach, stream, river or lakeshore and then passing the pictures along to us at https://www.facebook.com/oceanhourcanada Social media is powerful and we utilize it to share what we find, to recognize people for their efforts, and of course, to spread the word.

When I tell people about “Ocean Hour”, aside from the fact that we’re doing something important, one of the things I like to underscore is that it’s really fun! It truly is! We get out in the wild. We explore. We see places that other people don’t. We get fresh air. We get to enjoy the sun. We get exercise. There’s a sense of satisfaction in cleaning up a beach. It betters you.

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Once you start focusing on finding trash, it becomes sort of meditative and when the birds are singing and the waves are lapping at the shore, there is no more relaxing way to start the day! This one good deed feels great and it becomes a spring board that catapults you to a new awareness.

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It starts to shape your life and the things you care about. When you really notice how much garbage is out there, you find yourself looking at things differently. You become more aware of how much garbage you yourself generate. You will likely be more conscientious when you go shopping, perhaps thinking twice about buying tomatoes with plastic wrapping on them. You might reject the plastic bags offered to carry your goodies home. You might just go out and get yourself a recycling bin. You’ll feel good about all of this!

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“Ocean Hour” will inevitably be about more than picking up garbage for one hour a week. I encourage everyone to come out, lead by example and see where it in turn leads you! It’s especially important to educate our children about trash as well. They’re the future stewards of the environment and they deserve to grow up on a safe, clean planet earth. Their children deserve it too. If we all work together, that one hour a week makes a huge difference. One hour in which you set an example for future generations. One hour in which to share in something that’s good for the planet. One hour in which to give back a little of your own energy to this planet that gives us so much.

Please send any photos from your cleanups or direct any questions to https://www.facebook.com/oceanhourcanada You can follow Justin Riney’s adventures at https://www.facebook.com/XF500

Thank you for your interest! We hope to see you out at a cleanup soon!

Amanda Lounsbury Ambassador Ocean Hour: Canada

Teenagers Need a Balance

FINDING A BALANCE

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Technology is sucking the very life out of our children not to mention our own. Even though I spend a great deal of time outdoors in nature, I too am guilty of spending hours in front of a computer screen. All be it mostly work related, I can get distracted and a facebook post can end up being an hour long visit. I am not saying these interactions are not important or meaningful, they are!!! I have met some amazing, beautiful beings online and I would not be attending the Nature Phenomena Conference in New Zealand in November, had I not connected via online networks. The problem lies when the time spent on a computer distracts us from the more important things in life

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…Like spending time outdoors with our children.

Sadly today, “the average Western child spends more than 90 per cent of their time indoors, and more than six hours a day in front of screens. We have become increasingly urban and disconnected from the natural world”, says David Suzuki. “Symptoms of our nature deficit are easy to spot; stress, obesity, heart disease, asthma, depression. The good news is that we already have an easy prescription for healthier lives and communities. We simply need to increase our dosage of nature”

We need to find a balance in our lives

Children need to return to the wilds of nature . When we are outdoors we connect to our ancestral roots, and revert back to who we are…wild and free.

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You can’t smell the dampness in the air or hear the ROAR of the raging waterfall pound against the cascading rock-face in a computer game.

Take a walk on the wild side: Hunting for a Waterfall

Unplugging teenagers is difficult but not impossible

My sister-in-law has 4 teens and explains the lengths she has to go to to get her 4 children unplugged.

Here are just a few things you could easily try with your teen/teenagers and cost you nothing other than your TIME.

  • Take a hike….make it an adventure- go on a waterfall hunt
  • Ask your teen to bring along a friend
  • Camp out in the backyard.If you don’t have a backyard, use a friends or grand-parents. Some local city parks are now introducing camping at certain times of the year…yeah).
  • Go camping as a family (a small fee)
  • Try out Geo-cashing (a small fee)
  • Join a nature club or start one yourself
  • Participate in a beach clean up
  • Take up Mountain Biking or hire bikes for the day (small fee)
  • Go for a forest picnic, get the teens to go shopping for the picnic. Let them choose and eat whatever they want.
  • Get creative with Nature Art: Teenage girls love getting creative with nature art (boys do too but you have to choose carefully, wood crafts are great, making real bows and arrows for example; using their own tools, building and constructing large or small pieces of rock or wood art).

Teenagers are Happier and Healthier when they spend time in Nature

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A computer can’t hug you or tell you I love you…

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All children should be given the opportunity to fall in love with this magical, enchanting, awe-inspring natural world. The younger the better so that when the technological world descends upon them, and it will….they will value the benefits of nature they have experienced and return to it, providing them with some kind of balance in their busy teenager lives.

Life is for living… we all need nature in our lives to be happy, healthy, well-balanced human beings.

 

A Way Forward – The Manitoba Nature Summit

The Manitoba Nature Summit Inc., was founded in 2008 by a small group of Early Childhood Educators (ECE’s) who professed an eagerness for sharing their love of the outdoors with others.

The group was concerned with the lack of outdoor play that was happening in ECE programs and after many conversations determined that perhaps the people who were providing ECE might be lacking an understanding of what it means to be outside, or in short, what to do outside with children.

The idea for a Summit, a meeting of the minds, was developed and the first-ever Manitoba Nature Summit was held in September 2010.  Adults who work with children were invited to explore and experience an outdoor extravaganza of activities, all with the mindset that these were things that could be done with children.

Folks from Wilderness Awareness School (http://wildernessawareness.org/) from Duvall, Washington shared their awareness raising expertise with a small but committed group of educators.

Met with success, the second Manitoba Nature Summit was held in September 2012 with choices of activities to engage in and develop the sense of being outside with children is not only good for them but good for those who work in Early Learning and Child Care, the education system or outdoor learning programs.

The majority of the workshops were facilitated outdoors in a hands-on interactive manner to ensure educators filled their own personal toolkit with activities, fun and knowledge that they could in turn share with the children they interact with.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2012 Manitoba Nature Summit.

Dr. Heather Hinam shared her vast knowledge of Manitoba’s flora and fauna.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki delivered an empowering emotional address that exemplified the power of the grass roots movement.

Laura Reeves led the group in a dusk “Blind Drum Stalk” walk where we learned how to walk like foxes.

Marghanita Hughes shared the beauty of fairy houses and the joy of connecting children with nature.

Gardening can happen even in the smallest urban space and children still get their fingers muddy.

Camp Manitou, http://www.campmanitou.mb.ca/, provides a beautiful riverbank setting to re-connect with nature.

The Sunday morning closing ceremony was powerful for all participants.

In Manitoba the movement is growing to get children of all ages outdoors regardless of the weather.  A small but committed group of early childhood educators, teachers, college instructors, government officials is leading this group.  Watch for details of the Manitoba Nature Summit 2014 on our website at www.naturesummitmb.com or on Facebook.

The Manitoba Nature Summit is a collaboration of some amazing professionals in Manitoba – early childhood educators, teacher, government official, college instructors.  Pictured below are the authors of this success story.

back row (l to r) – Corine Anderson, Sigrid Quinn, Kristi Fitzgerald, Maddi Kettner, Michele Henderson, Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong , front row (l to r) – Jamie Snydal, Cheryl Tremblay, Mavis Lewis-Webber

Earth Rhythms by Heather Hinam

I seem to feel the rhythms of the earth most acutely this time of year, when the skies are alive with the relentlessly flapping wings of millions of birds embarking on their twice-yearly migration.  In Canada, about 80% of all of our bird species migrate, in many cases covering thousands of kilometres back and forth every year between their summer breeding grounds and a warm place to spend the winter.

They may be the most noticeable migrants for us residents of the ‘Great White North’; but birds are not the only animals on the move this time of year.  In the Yukon and Northwest Territories, herds of barren ground caribou are thundering down out of the arctic tundra to wintering grounds within the treeline.  A number of whale species on both sides of the continent are cruising south to lower latitudes to enjoy warmer waters and breed. Even delicate Monarch butterflies are floating over thousands of kilometres to spend their winter in dazzling clusters of fluttering wings tucked away in a remarkably small portion of Mexico.

The autumn migration season is a perfect time of year for anyone to reconnect with nature. It’s a time when even the most urbanized of us can’t help but notice the wild world as it breezes through our backyards, parks and past our windows.  The insistent honking of geese stops just about anyone in their tracks, drawing their eyes upwards in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the passing birds.

It’s especially magical for children. I still have vivid memories of riding my bike over to the neighbourhood retention pond to feed the hordes of geese that were resting there before the next leg of their journey.  For kids who might not see animals every day, it’s a chance to make a fleeting connection with something that is truly wild.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn. What do geese eat? What shouldn’t you be feeding them? Where did they come from? Where do they go? How to they find their way?

All of these questions and more can be borne out of one simple encounter.  I could answer all them for you here, but that would defeat the purpose. Thankfully, there are lots of places to find answers to those questions. Oak Hammock Marsh (http://www.oakhammockmarsh.ca/nature/wildlife/index.html ), a wildlife management area in Manitoba, maintained by Ducks Unlimited has a number of wildlife information sheets you can read up on. All About Birds (http://www.allaboutbirds.org) is a great resource for anything you’ve ever wanted to know about birds and migration and even my own blog (http://naturalistsmiscellany.wordpress.com/) is full of information on all sorts of natural phenomena.

One thing I will tell you is not to feed the geese bread or crackers. These refined products offer little nutritional value to the birds and they get full on this junk food and neglect eating what they really need, which is whole grains. They really aren’t that different from humans in that way.

Regardless of where you go for information, I encourage you to begin your explorations outside, stretch your senses, listen for the honking and watch the skies for fluttering wings or just take a moment to sit still and take it all in. If you give yourself a chance, you too will feel the rhythms of the earth all around you.

Heather Hinam

A highly-trained naturalist and experienced educator, Heather Hinam’s endless curiosity fuelled her studies through three university degrees, culminating a doctorate in Conservation Biology. Now, she has taken her love for the wilderness and over 20 years artistic experience and devoted herself to helping people reconnect with the natural world around them through workshops, tourism experiences and the development of interpretive tools though her business, Second Nature, Adventures in Discovery (www.discoversecondnature.ca).

Occupy Outside

This year, a team of teachers, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist worked together to add a new station at Powell River’s Ages and Stages. Ages and Stages is an annual event designed to educate and enlighten parents of preschoolers about ways to provide optimum all-round development for their preschool child. The team from my school decided we needed to get the word out to parents about the importance of getting their children outdoors and away from TV, Computers, video games etc. In other words: SCREEN to GREEN!

As an elementary school teacher and special education teacher for the past 30 years, I have seen a very worrisome trend in child development in the last ten or so years. Children, are finding it harder to attend in class, to socialize, to play creatively to print and to coordinate their large body movements. As time went on and I talked to more professionals in education, there seemed to be a consensus…children are not getting outside enough, and they are spending too much time watching TV, video games and playing on the computer. ( Just go for a walk on Saturday morning or afternoon in my neighbourhood and it is rare to see children playing outdoors.)

So, to make parents more aware of the importance of outdoor play, we set up a station where children and their parents could explore nature. We called our station “Occupy Outside” and we had fun showing children the large tadpoles in our little “pond”.

We had a planting table where children could plant colourful beans or sunflower seeds and we also gave out little strawberry and lettuce plants.

We even had Little Humbugs around so the children could make little homes for them with ferns and driftwood. All in all it was a very successful day. I know we adults had a good time as did our Grade 9 helpers and by the looks on the young children’s faces, I know that they especially enjoyed our Occupy Outdoors station.

Thanks to Marghanita Hughes for all the support.

Liz Brach
Special Education Teacher
Assumption School
Powell River B.C.

The UK “Go Outside” Revolution

In the UK the ‘Go Outside Revolution’ is happening all over, down in the woodlands and forests. Forest schools and Nature Kindergartens are emerging and thriving across the country. Both approaches have their roots in Scandinavian outdoor preschools but have taken on a uniquely British flavour.  Forest Schools are delivered by trained practitioners and take children of all ages from the regular school or nursery they attend into local woodlands. These projects take place over a number of weeks with children going regularly to the same part of the woods.  This helps children build up the awareness of the potential of being in the woods and allows time for the children to become completely at ease with their surroundings. Nature Kindergartens are based more closely on the Scandinavian model. Nurseries and preschools may have a building they use, but try and spend as much time as possible outside.

The Forest School approach took off in the UK when Early Years professionals visited outdoor preschools in Sweden and saw at first hand the impact on children’s levels of wellbeing and development. Since the mid nineties The Forest School approach has spread across Britain and across the age range, with somewhere in the region of 25000 people attending Forest School accredited training. Teachers and other members of the children’s workforce using their training to inspire the children and young people they work with and freelance Forest School practitioners are working alongside groups to get more children to Go Outside in almost any weather.

One of the strengths of Forest School is it happens over time. This is not a ‘one-off’ visit but instead children go to the woods at least once a week for half a term or longer. It is this element that allows for personal transformations, for relationships to develop, for ideas to emerge and grow, for children to understand what the woodland affords in the way of possibilities. It is this element that allows the children to take a lead, to make their own plans and take charge of their own learning.

Taking the step outside into the woods can be daunting for any school or setting and having the support of a trained Forest School practitioner or having undertaken the training themselves gives the confidence to make that step. The Forest school training also covers environmental impact so that each step is taken in as light a way as possible.

The teachers get to see their pupils in a different light. They can see children as motivated, enthusiastic problem solvers which has a real impact back in the classroom. Forest School practitioners also try and address the social and emotional needs of children. By helping children develop self awareness they are also able to develop the awareness of the natural environment and the other people around them. Some children find being in the woods unlocks their potential.

Three year old Dylan was electively mute in nursery but found it irresistible to shout “look at me!” as he swung on a rope tied to a tree. Ten year old Reece was at risk of exclusion from school. At Forest School found an environment in which he excelled at something, he carved his own wooden knife which he used to spread butter on the toast he cooked over the fire. Five year old Karam was scared when she went to the woods for the first time, but over the weeks developed confidence and resilience. She grew to love coming to the woods and on the weekend took her Mum and brothers and sisters back to the same spot to show them the tree she loved climbing the most.

So Forest Schools are changing the way children spend their time and giving them skills and connections with nature for life.

Thanks to Lily Horseman at Kindling Playwork for writing such an inspiring post. After reading, I am left full of hope and excited at the fact that there are so many forest schools popping up throughout Britain. Hopefully this will inspire a similar “revolution” across North America.…………………Marghanita Hughes

•       Kindling: www.kindlingplayandtraining.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/Kindling1

http://kindlingplayandtraining.blogspot.com

•        Forest School forum: http://www.forestschools.com/fdirect/index.php

•       Training: http://www.forestschools.com

•        Twitterlist:

https://twitter.com/#!/kindlinglily/forest-school

Hashtags: #forestschool #forestschools

•        Forest Education Initiative:

http://www.foresteducation.org/woodland_learning/forest_schools/

•       Forest School Special Interest Group; Institute of Outdoor Learning:

http://www.outdoor-learning.org/Default.aspx?tabid=104

  • Forest school Wales

http://www.forestschoolwales.org.uk/

Canadian Living’s Let’s G.O. Canada program

Guest blog post from Canadian Living’s online health editor, Daniela Payne

Almost all of my fondest childhood memories take place outdoors. I remember walks in High Park with my family, canoe trips on Ontario’s breathtaking Lake Temagami, or backyard play for endless hours with my sister.

I have current fond ones too – like when I was biking through the Humber River trail with my dad just the other year and almost fell over my handlebars at the sight of two deer grazing along the river. Can you believe it? Nature is present anywhere you go – even in a big city. I carry this image of beauty with me everywhere I go.

I’m thankful my parents encouraged me to play out of the house, as it’s given me a value for nature and outdoor activity I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks. I can confidently identify poison ivy, paddle a canoe, cook up a mean s’more and maintain a hefty vegetable garden. Can you? I also understand the importance of nature and the environment, making most decisions only after I assess the impact it will have on Mother Nature.

Why I heart nature
Nature is so powerful that it can give anyone a sense of wonder, but we you won’t experience this inside. I read on Let’s Go Outside Revolution’s website that many children spend 90 per cent of their time indoors. It’s no wonder the childhood obesity epidemic is on the rise.

One way to ensure your child doesn’t suffer from this frightening condition is to get them to spend time outside. A local park, your backyard or a community garden can provide endless amounts of entertainment and education for both you and your kids.

We were so excited to hear about the Let’s Go Outside Revolution. It’s a great program to encourage folks to get back to nature and reap its many benefits and learn how to value it in return. We especially like it because it echoes exactly what we’re working on with Canadian Living’s Let’s G.O. Canada program.

What’s Let’s G.O. Canada?
The goal is to build a national movement in Canada to reconnect people with nature and battle nature deficit disorder. We hope to inspire you to spend more time outside and share photos and stories of your favourite outdoor places and activities.

In order to help you get outside we’ve compiled a bunch of articles with exciting ideas on how you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors. We’re also running a fabulous contest where you can share photos or videos of you or your family enjoying the nature Canada has to offer – its parks, lakes, trails, gardens, yards, or whatever! One lucky winner will win a fabulous camping getaway prize pack.

What’s your favourite thing about the outdoors? Show us at http://letsgetoutside.canadianliving.com/

Forest Explorers – Connecting Kids with Nature

This year my kindergarten students, my education assistant, and I have become “Forest Explorers” as we like to call ourselves. We spent many hours outside in the forest just behind our school in Port Moody, BC. I filled my rolling teacher cart with all sorts of goodies – shovels, buckets, string, dinosaurs, jingle bells (to scare off the bears!), pencils, clipboards, and magnifying glasses.

The students thrived in this amazing outdoor environment, and soon we were teaching the older students in our school how to “play” outside. Many teachers and parents didn’t even know this amazing space existed on our schoolyard. Students broke into groups using imaginative play to create mud pies and mud soup, racing through the forest playing tag games, scanning the stream for water bugs and creatures, throwing rocks in to see who could make the biggest splash, and digging giant holes!

The year was finished with a giant family picnic in the woods, with over 70 children and adults enjoying a BBQ in the great outdoors. I was never raised as an outdoorsy type person, in fact many people laugh at my Coach brand pink gum boots, however after seeing the positive reaction of my students learning in this outdoor environment, the elimination of any behavior issues while outside, the communication and collaboration that takes place, I am sold and hooked on learning outside!

Next year we have 88 new kindergarten students coming to our school and I can not wait to introduce them to the world that exists outside the classroom!

Lindsay Seto
Kindergarten Teacher
Aspenwood Elementary



Wise Words from David Suzuki.

I thought it only fitting to dedicate the first Revolution blog post to Canada’s Revolutionary David Suzuki. He is a man with great wisdom and knowledge and a constant inspiration to so many.

One of David’s favourite activities as a child was camping with his father and fishing.  His dad would take him camping in many different locations.  After they were released from the internment camp in the Slocan Valley at the end of WWII and they moved to the Leamington area of Ontario one of David’s favourite activities was exploring life in the swamp near his home.

WISE WORDS FROM DAVID SUZUKI…

Our children have exchanged the experience of outdoors and nature with the enclosed world of electronics, resulting in “nature deficit disorder” a phrase coined by Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods”. For those of us who are concerned about the state of the biosphere, this is disturbing because a person for whom nature is a stranger will not notice, let alone care about, environmental degradation.

That’s why many environmentalists are concerned with the way young people are growing up. Computers, television, video games, and the Internet offer information and entertainment in a virtual world without the hazards or discomfort of mosquitoes, rain and cold, steep climbs, or “dangerous” animals of the real world — and without all the joys that the real world has to offer. Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.

Just get outside with your kids wherever you live and explore.  Follow a child’s interest and it will take you both on a wonderful journey of exploration.  Once children and their parents explore the great outdoors together and follow nature’s cycles a person begins to get an understanding of the interconnectedness of the web of life.  We are the earth, we depend on clean air, clean water and as animals living on this planet we need to protect the resources that give us life.

Read more from David Suzuki @ David Suzuki Foundation

Look forward to sharing a short interview with Richard Louv in one of our future posts.