CHANGE Adventure Camp

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Last month, I wrote about Richard Louv’s Nature Deficit Disorder. In order to support this work, together with my colleagues at the University of Alberta and many community partners, we are starting the CHANGE Adventure Camp. Partnering with Metabolic Syndrome Canada, a charitable organization who mission is to improve the long-term health of Canadians through effective diet and exercise lifestyle interventions, The CHANGE Adventure Camp will work to support Alberta’s families especially those at higher risk.

The CHANGE Adventure Camp will start the process to re-connect families and children with nature. The camp will facilitate the exploration of nature and teach students and families key principles of land use, growing food and meal preparation. In addition, issues of physical activity and benefits of time spent in nature will be taught. The specific activities of the CHANGE Adventure Camp will include school field trips, school outreach program, cooking classes, and both weekend and summer camps for children adults and families. Key partnerships with multiple stakeholders have been developed already. It is expected that the participants will develop a connection with nature as well as improve their physical activity and eating habits.

A key difference between the CHANGE Adventure Camp and other camp offerings is the added expertise associated with physician leadership and the evidence-based research provided by Metabolic Syndrome Canada. Working with the Edmonton Oliver Primary Care Network, I started the MOVE program, which combines the benefits of nature with social interaction to teach that a gym membership isn’t necessary to be fit and active. At the University of Alberta with the research group CHANGE ALBERTA that I founded, I have been able to develop key partnerships with Edmonton area schools, Devonian Botanical Gardens, Alberta Health Services, family physicians, public health professionals and several amazing community partners. These connections will be crucial in developing a sustainable program to support families and schools across Alberta.

The two main strategies of the CHANGE Adventure Camp are school field trips and summer camp style activities. These two strategies are well known to schools and families and can be adapted for our goals around partnership, education and action. Building on the emerging evidence around the health benefits of nature, the CHANGE Adventure Camp will appeal to children and parents alike by selling adventure while teaching environmental principles, health eating and physical activity. Targeting both the family unit and the children will enhance the uptake of new knowledge into everyday living among the participants.

Now is the time to Re-Learning Healthy Living by reconnecting with nature. Through the creation of the CHANGE Adventure Camp we will demonstrate the powerful affect of nature in families and children in Alberta. The Change Adventure Camp will allow the participants to overcome nature-deficit disorder affecting today’s society. We will demonstrate improvement to quality of life, mental health and changes to healthy eating and physical activity among the participants. In addition, the project will result in the development of nature modules and both nutrition and workshop physical literacy workshops that could be used in classroom across the province.

Please check out the Adventure Adventure camp website and also the upcoming fundraiser Healthy Steps for CHANGE.

The Health Steps for CHANGE event will be a fundraiser to solicit both media attention and donations for camp development. On September 16 and 17th, we will mobilize community partners and Edmontonians to join the challenge of walking 1 million stairs (steps) on that day. We hope to get out the University of Alberta faculty and students, community partners and the general public to participate and raise the profile of the event. MetSC will provide tax receipts to donors.

A special thanks to the Central McDougall Community and the John A McDougall School for helping pilot the first camp this summer.

-Written by Doug Klein


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