Ontario's Healthy Kids Panel recently proposed a strategy to help kids get onto a path to health. Being in nature is good for all of us. The problem is that the path doesn't lead them into nature. People who get outside regularly are less stressed, have more resilient immune systems and are generally happier. And it's good for our kids.
As it turns out, countries with low GDP ranked high in the HPI and had smaller eco-footprints compared with nations with high GDP that ranked low in the HPI and had larger eco-footprints per capita. Evidently material wealth does not equate with happiness, but instead creates more waste and pollution.
Pushing our kids out the door may be the best way to save the planet. In a survey conducted for the David Suzuki Foundation, 70 per cent of Canadian youth said they spend an hour or less a day in the open air. And when they are out, it's usually to go from one place to another. In other words, it's just a consequence of trying to be somewhere else.
For our healthy enrichment, we must leave the office and the living room for that factory of senses -- Mother Nature. Sure, Google Images and HD television can provide stirring images of Niagara Falls, and yet they don't allow us the true roar of the falls and seagulls squawking over our shoulder and the touch and taste of soft mist on our lips. Treat your senses to time outdoors!
It's called the Flotilla for Friendship and for 12 years it's succeeded in building bonds between two very disparate groups: police and aboriginal youth. Distrust of police is both common and deep-rooted among many in Canadian aboriginal communities. In the flotilla, the 21 police officers and 47 aboriginal youth pile into their canoes and bond on the water, resulting in a change for the better.
I belong in the city: sidewalks to keep my shoes clean, garbage receptacles every few steps, women spraying me with concoctions on Bloor Street -- the city needs me. Algonquin Park does not need me, in fact I feel like it'd rather I not be over. But I discovered my patriotism not in fireworks or beaver tails, but in a paddle. Out in the water with trees all around me, watching my paddle slice in and out of the water, I got why people do this.
"Canadians are so nice!" Yes, yes we are. Keep thinking that world -- but that's not all we are. We are talented, and disciplined and personable, and easy-going and really, just good at life. I love Canada and it's super nice people because while non-Canadians are thinking, "Isn't that cute how she says aboot and pardon me," we are busy getting exactly what we want.
My family and I are city slickers, that's a fact. We love the life that living in the downtown core affords us. People say that "back to nature" is the way to go if you want to get a real perspective on life. Hogwash, I thought... until now. My motor-mouth and city swagger was at once shot down by the scene before me. I had been humbled by the mountains.
I'm happy that my children have also grown up with a love for the natural world, inspired by time spent at the beach or in the mountains, and that their children are learning the same lessons. After all, people will not care as much about, or work to protect, something with which they feel no connection.