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Come Alive Outside strategy teaches kids lost art of unstructured play

By Nicole Kleinsteuber
Prince Edward County will become the first ‘come alive outside’ community in North America, kick-starting the program on July 1st.

Council adopted the healthy living initiative presented by Scott Wentworth, from Wentworth Landscaping Group, during Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting. Plans are to teach young people the lost art of unstructured play at no cost to the municipality.

“Prince Edward County has an opportunity to provide a level of leadership and go beyond what anyone else is doing in North America,” said Wentworth. “With a close-knit community we can execute this and touch the lives of all members of the community.”

JP Horizons founded the group in the United States and plans to engage all ages in unstructured activities through a series of events over 18 months.  JP Horizons and Epic Creative’s A Better Way Community is driving the movement.
“We have seen the joy that comes over people when they unplug themselves from technology and spend time enjoying the outdoors,” the website states. A Better Way members receive marketing and partnership support to implement “strategies that energize people, increase profits and benefit the planet.”

“The goal is to promote healthier outdoor lifestyles and create opportunities for all ages to ‘unplug’ and ‘come alive outside,” said Wentworth.

The landscaping group is working on developing a nature trail with fitness equipment near the soccer fields in Picton. The trail would start at Queen Elizabeth Public School, run across the street from PECI,  along the top ridge of the Johnson Street soccer field and follow the track within the fairgrounds and the youth park.

“The largest amount of users at the youth park are BMX bikers. Would the trail accommodate them?” asked councillor Brian Marisett.

“We haven’t given it much thought about the bikes but there could be conflict because the trail is open to young children and the elderly,” said Wentworth.  “Maybe we could make the trail larger.”

“Are there any plans to extend the program to youth in rural areas?” asked councillor Janice Maynard.  “I think there are a lot of kids in rural areas who don’t have access to a park, let alone the equipment in a park.”

Wentworth is considering starting Saturday afternoon events where the group would travel to different areas in the County to encourage children to engage in outdoor activities.

“We see this as being a great team-building movement throughout the county,” said Wentworth.

Wentworth said obesity; heart disease and diabetes are striking North Americans at alarming rates.  He added childhood obesity rates have increase 350 per cent since 1976.  North American children spend eight-and-a-half hours engaged in electronic media (televison, social media, listening to music, etc).

“What we don’t hear is what anyone is doing about it,” Wentworth said.  “Recent generations of students have a greater academic understanding of nature and the environment but they spend less time in it.  We value and protect those things that we understand by participating in it.”

“There are a lot of youth that aren’t involved in structured sports and we as a community have an obligation to provide opportunities for them,” said councillor Marisett.

Wentworth landscaping has committed $5,000 to get the program started by printing handouts and creating awareness within the community.

“This is a great initiative,” said councillor Terry Shortt. “It’s simple, it’s inexpensive and it’s not going to cost the municipality anything except our support,” said Shortt.  “Children have lost the spontaneity of play.  This is going to give parents a wake-up call to tell their kids to get outside and play.”

Filed Under: Local NewsSports & Recreation

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Maybe we should consider others that are not BMX users. They have their own place to exercise and if they are on a trail that is meant for seniors and children they would be determental to those two groups.

  2. Margaret says:

    A great initiative! Great community building idea! Glad to see that the trail starts at Queen Elizabeth P.S. and proceeds along by PECI! A wonderful motivation for all students and parents to become involved! Thanks for all your efforts on this!

  3. Nancy says:

    Another wonderful community venture that Scott & Yolanda Wentworth have initiated and/or contributed to in our community for all of our benefit.

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