Get Back to School
And students back outside!
Riding a bike, playing in the yard, canoeing, team sports, or even just hanging out and enjoying nature are all outdoor activities that are essential for keeping youth active and healthy. Unfortunately, many of our young people do not spend enough time outside. This is an enormous problem.
With the growth of online activities and social media sites, plus the requirments of homework and family, young people today are spending more and more time indoors in front of screens instead of outdoors on the land. Even as many First Nations schools are developing successful land-based education programs, we often don’t put enough overall emphasis on spending time outside. If parents and schools place more priority on indoor tasks and activities, this will translate into how young people spend their time and where. But it is not just up to the youth to change their habits. Educators and parents must be role models in getting younger teens away from computers and TVs. If kids become used to being outdoors at least part of the day, they are more likely to spend time outside well into their teens.
The positive benefits of getting our youth to spend more time on the land are far reaching. Studies have shown that those who do often have improved memory, problem solving skills, and creativity—and they’re physically healthier too. Another important benefit is that time outdoors can be used to reconnect with traditional practices. Snowshoeing, fishing, hunting, berry picking, harvesting medicines, even star gazing and sitting around campfires were all important activities for the First Nations way of life. And, they are all things that young people (and adults!) can do today.
Of course we all know the Internet is here to stay, so why not use it to help discover even more outdoor activity ideas for kids and teens. www.getbackoutside.ca and www.phac-aspc.gc.ca are good places to start. Or search “traditional Indigenous and Aboriginal games, Canada” for some First Nations-based activities.