Social Bubbles, Physical Distancing, Work from home, Daily Updates, sourdough bread, and homeschooling. Cancelled programs, smaller groups, ½ days at school, and change felt in almost all areas of our lives.
Throughout all of this one thing has remained constant, or even grown in its importance – Access to the outdoors for everyone in our community and across the country. With many of the places and activities we never thought twice about suddenly becoming a possible health hazard or simply not being available, the ability to simply go outside and take a walk has taken on an increased significance.
No matter if you live in the Penthouse suite or the basement suite, if you’re living the high life or the #vanlife, the pandemic has truly highlighted that having equitable access to nature and the outdoors matters in all corners of the world.
While we cannot speak for everyone, since 2007 we have worked hard to break down the many barriers that young people in our community face to having access to the outdoors. In that time we have seen ebbs and flows in the importance that society places on the outdoors. There is nothing like being told you should not leave your home for anything other than the essentials to highlight just how essential time outside is to our mental and physical wellbeing.
In the early days it gave us great hope that a shift may be occurring as families found time each day to simply walk around the block together. As things slowly opened back up our parks saw higher levels of use than ever before, everything from the smallest community parks to our Provincial and National Parks seemed busier than ever before. Bikes, Kayaks, camping equipment, and recreation vehicles sold like toilet paper in the early days. As we now lose daylight and move into the colder darker months it does not reduce the need for access to the outdoors.
We are working hard to ensure our programs are still available to youth in our community, and we are exploring what additional programs we may be able to add in order to create more spaces for youth to get outside. Just this week in a poll on the Huffington Post it showed that 1 in 4 Canadians feel their mental health is in a worse off place than at the start of the pandemic. We are doing our part to help combat the negative effects through getting youth outside, over 85% of our participants answered in our survey that their overall confidence improved as a result of taking one of our programs in 2020. With improved confidence comes a greater resiliency and ability to manage hard times in life.
We believe that in anything negative there is always something positive to take away from it. If nothing else we hope that one of the positive outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is that more Canadians will find a connection with nature that will turn into a lasting passion for getting outside. It is only through having a passion for the outdoors that people will then protect and fight for nature, be it a green space in the new housing development or the development and protection of wild spaces so that future generations can also experience the awe of the wild and the powerful impacts that time spend in nature can have in their darkest moments.
Take a moment and consider what you can do in your community, region, or province to help others get outside. Whether that is for a simple walk around the block or a cross country ski under the full moon, anytime outside is better than no time. If you have the means, volunteer or donate to support local outdoor activities, programs or clubs. Clear out your closet or garage and donate that gear you don’t use to a cause that can pass it along to those in need.
Here at Elevation Outdoors you can become a monthly donor, donate that old snowboard, or join us as a volunteer and experience for yourself that our programs don’t only impact the participants, but can have a powerful impact on the lives of our volunteers. Helping out your local community will help us come through this stronger together.
#outsideisthebestside so let’s make it accessible to everyone no matter the neighbourhood, background, or socio-economic status.