A Regina outdoor adventure club is hoping to lessen isolation for children learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nature Regina, Nature Saskatchewan and SaskOutdoors are working together to offer a free weekly program exploring local green spaces for up to 60 people.
In small groups, children and parents wearing masks are provided some materials and guidance for hands-on science lessons at local green spaces.
“That’s the wonderful thing about an outdoor event, there’s lots of space to spread out,” said Leah Japp, the general manager for SaskOutdoors.
“We have people doing self-guided activities, looking at native plants.”
The Get Outside! Outdoor Adventure Kids Club is geared toward children between the ages of six and 12, and is an expansion of the Wandering Wednesdays campaign started by Nature Regina this summer.
While the initial idea focused on individual families, the club is aimed at creating connections within home and online schooling families.
“Lots of people are back at school and every family has made a different choice and there’s not really a sense of community among the e-schoolers, yet,” Japp said.
“So we see this as a chance to bring some of those people together.”
Amanda Hayward and her three children, who are currently doing online learning, took part in Wednesday’s club at the Habitat Conservation Area by Wascana Hill.
“My one son has ADHD and autism and so (we’ve) kind of been cooped up a little bit,” Hayward said.
“We try to get out as much as we can, but it’s nice to be here and social distance with other parents and other kids as well.”
On Wednesday, families took a break from exploring to learn about migratory shore birds in an English-French bilingual presentation.
Lacey Weekes, the conservation and education manager for Nature Saskatchewan, helped lead the presentation. She said it’s important for children to connect with nature at an early age.
“Most of these families here today have never been here before,” Weekes said.
“So we’re introducing a whole new green space they’ve never been to before, and they can come back on their own anytime they want.”
Organizers said while demand for the program is there, the funding isn’t. Donations are being accepted online through Nature Regina.
Right now, the group is committed to offering the weekly program until December, with goals to continue to the end of the school year with sessions Monday through Friday.
SaskOutdoors is also supporting formal — and informal — educators with online resources.
They’ve created a map of Saskatchewan with different educational locations, incorporating information from Nature Regina’s self-guided hikes.
Weeks is also offering her naturehood program top in-school educators, where classes can meet at a nearby park during school hours for socially-distanced, masked, outdoor learning.