Take Me Outside is the brainchild of Colin Harris. Born out of a childhood of happy, engaged outdoor experiences and inspired by our very own, Canadian icon, Terry Fox, the goal of Take Me Outside is to get school kids off screens and learning outside at school every day. Colin catapulted Take Me Outside by running 7600 kilometers across Canada. You can read about the diary of drama, running challenges and the 80 school visits along the way in his book, Take Me Outside: Running Across the Canadian Landscape That Shapes Us. Last week,Take Me Outside Day on Wednesday, October 19th was celebrated. Thousands of kids across Canada headed outdoors. For the entire week, speakers offered professional development for educators, contests, ideas for outdoor activities, and prizes from places like The Outdoor Learning Store. Organizations with similar goals came together to support Take Me Outside in reaching educators, kids and people in the place to help students connect with the outdoors. People committed to getting outdoors more often.
Wild About Outdoor Learning Society, a fledgling non-profit incorporated in British Columbia on August 4th, 2022, took the opportunity to promote and participate in the week of outdoor learning through social media posts, a bibliography of 100 books to inspire elementary and middle school students to Outdoor Learning, YouTube Read-Aloud of Outdoor Learning books, and blog posts. Colin Harris has been a steadfast supporter since Wild About Vancouver emerged as a grassroots movement in 2015. Our rallying call #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved can easily be applied to Take Me Outside. One goal of the Wild About Outdoor Learning is to create a network of support to extend the message about possibilities and benefits of working, learning, relaxing, playing and investing in the outdoors for all people in B.C. communities.
Last week engaging with other partner organizations in a common activity was inspirational. It felt very much like the annual Wild About Vancouver Event that has been happening since 2015. At Wild About Vancouver Events, community groups in the Vancouver Lower Mainland with a common investment in getting the people outdoors for a variety of purposes, come together and provide inclusive ad accessible outdoor activities for attendees, sharing the goals of their group, and extending an invitation to join. Participants can participate in opportunities to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in those organizations that share their common interests in the outdoors. A beneficial offshoot of the event is the amount of networking that happens between the groups during the event. Wild About Outdoor Learning Society would like communities throughout British Columbia to have the experience of pulling together like-minded outdoor enthusiasts within the community.
Throughout British Columbia, the place we are located defines our understandings and outdoor pursuits. Wild About Vancouver takes place in Stanley Park, due to our fortuitous relationship and support of Vancouver Parks and Recreation. Although many Vancouverites have grown up going to Stanley Park, many of us do not know the stories and understandings of the Squamish people who lived there for thousands of years prior to the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886. My understanding of the park changed phenomenally when my friend Latash Nahanee shared the stories of his Squamish family. Certainly this Indigenous knowledge is necessary to understand the place. Heavy industry in False Creek changed the water quality and animal life able to survive. Friends of False Creek aspire to restore the water quality to levels that support life. OceanWise and SeaSmart also teach groups about sea life and efforts to protect them. The Trek Program, championed by Kate Inch and students in the Vancouver School Board and the Outdoor Program at Homma Elementary School championed by Meg Zeni in the Richmond School District provide options that allow students to learn and grow in outdoor contexts, as do outdoor programs for younger students like Compass Outdoor Learning, Fresh Air Learning, Muddy Bootprints, and Saplings Outdoor Programs. We also had the support of BCLCILA, the British Columbia Literacy Council (Provincial Chapter of the International Literacy Association) and Frontier College in engaging students in literacy activities outdoors and putting amazing outdoor learning books into the hands of kids for free. The groups coming together were particularly powerful because they provide local options for participation.
Moving forward, Wild About Outdoor Learning Society would like to provide the support required so these kinds of events continue in Vancouver and also take place in other communities in British Columbia. Our support and affiliation from The Institute of Environmental Learning has been helpful in reaching out to other communities. Most recently, I participated in a roundtable discussion about outdoor learning curriculum in Prince George at the University of Northern British Columbia in my capacity as Executive Director of Wild About Outdoor Learning Society. Fingers crossed for a Wild About PG event. In the meantime, the pursuit of funding from supporters such as ParticipACTION and new funding sources continues, as well as the plans for our very own book – Wild About Outdoor Learning – The Inspiration, The Possibilities, and the Facts About Outdoor Learning.
Wild About Outdoor Learning Society meets on the first Wednesday of the month in the Exploration Room at Science World at 3:45 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and participation of supporters is encouraged.
Special thanks to the Southern Interior Land Trust for the tech support.
Gratitude to all of our supporters and donors. Follow this link to a full listing.
Our relationship with Science World is integral in exploring the answers to our inquiry questions inspired by time spent outdoors. Our goal is for there to be an understanding of the fluid relationship between learning indoors and learning outdoors.