Are your kids getting enough outdoor play and nature this summer?
46% of Canadian kids get 3 hours or less of active play a week.
That's according to an annual Active Healthy Kids Canada's Report Card on Child and Youth Physical Activity released this past May. 92% of the 502 primary school children surveyed for the report however, said they "would still rather play with friends than watch TV".
This summer at Ontario Parks, kids can do that and more. Forty-four provincial parks across Ontario offer Natural Heritage Education programs where kids can play in safe park settings. At many more parks, they can hang out on a beach, swim a cool, northern lake or take a dip in a pool.
The leaders of Ontario Parks' Natural Heritage Education (NHE) programs are trained outdoor educators. Kids under their guidance get to run around, explore and interact with other kids. In 2011, over 34,000 children participated in the programs. Laurel Finney, a Senior Natural Heritage Education Leader at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park calls the NHE programs "self-guided learning" and she says, "kids who participate are quickly captivated by what they see, smell and touch.
They become more comfortable with nature and learn to appreciate it." Leaders in each park develop new NHE programs every year. In "Pond Study", kids discover alien-like insects. Park wolf howls and owl prowls teach them about larger park creatures and park astronomy programs help them to map the night sky. The cost for most NHE programs is included in the price of a day or overnight park permit.
This Park blog describes some of the Natural Heritage Education programs running in Ontario Parks this summer. http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2837 For a list of all provincial parks that offer Natural Heritage Education, use the locator tool on the Ontario Parks web site at http://www.parkreports.com/locator/search_results.php
Ontario Parks' signature landscapes offer some of the best swimming in the province. Several provincial beach parks are located along the Great Lakes. Countless lakes with good swimming are in Ontario Parks across the province. If your child prefers a pool, you'll even find these in the provincial park system. Ontario Parks partners with Mountain Equipment Co-op and Ontario Power Generation to offer a lifejacket lending service (PFD rental) at 79 provincial park locations, http://www.parkreports.com/locator/search_results.php This Park Blog post highlights some of the best places to swim at Ontario Parks according to park staff. http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2843
Overnight camping is still available in many parks this summer. To check for availability, visit http://OntarioParks.com and access the online reservation system under Online Services.