Being outside just feels good.
The act of connecting with nature yields many benefits. It's an opportunity to establish connections, gain new perspectives, and simply play.
A new youth service partnership with a mission to improve access to outdoor experiences for underserved youth kicked off at FortWhyte Alive this summer.
The pilot project, titled ‘Strong Roots’ is a collaboration between FortWhyte Alive, the Amalgamated Transit Union 1505 (ATU 1505), United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg (UFFW) and the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA), with the support of and in consultation with Bear Clan Patrol.
Strong Roots will see a group of inner city youth visiting FortWhyte Alive for a facilitated outdoor experience session – like canoeing, wilderness survival, and campfire cooking – monthly over a six-month period.
"We know that consistent time spent learning and playing in a natural setting yields innumerable benefits for children and youth. But we also know that many youth in Winnipeg lack the opportunity to explore, learn, or play in a safe outdoor setting. That’s why this group has come together to try and change that.”
– Barret Miller, program lead at FortWhyte Alive
As like-minded organizations valuing community service, civic unions and associations, Bear Clan Patrol, and FortWhyte Alive have come together to provide this experience at no cost to the participants.
The program represents a substantial departure from the one-time field trip model, and is expected to yield significant impact for youth participants.
The group of 25-30 youth participants, ages 8 to 12, is already connected with community service-provider Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, which operates in Winnipeg’s North End.
“The opportunity for youth to have meaningful experiences outdoors is just so important, and not always accessible. We are incredibly pleased that our friends at Bear Clan at FortWhyte Alive and the civic unions have reached out with this opportunity.”
– Kyle Muswagon from Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata
This unique partnership brings five key groups together working for a common cause – each partner will also be sending one or more members to serve as volunteer mentors over the six months of the program.
“Outdoor experiences together will foster better relations between all parts of our city,” said Miller. “We’re very much looking forward to kicking this project off and welcoming the youth here to FortWhyte.”