Banff wants residents to get outside and enjoy
The Town of Banff is challenging people to shut off their computers, turn off the TV and get outside in a bid to encourage healthy lifestyles and a connection with nature.
The municipality has launched the Get Out Banff Community Challenge – an initiative aimed at challenging Banff residents to reduce their screen time and spend more time outside.
Officials say statistics show that Canadian youth are spending as much as 54 hours a week in front of screens, losing their connection with the outdoors, nature and their communities.
“Banff is a very active community, but it’s not exempt from those statistics,” said Colin Harris, coordinator for the Town of Banff’s Get Out Community Challenge.
“And if people are spending as much as 54 hours in front of screens, there’s a chance they’re not spending a lot of time outside and it can have negative impacts on their health.”
As part of the Get Out Banff Challenge, which will run until April next year, students, parents, teachers and adults will be asked to make a pledge in one or more areas.
The pledges will begin mid-October and include commitments to less screen time, more outdoor play, outdoor learning and finding active ways to get to school or work other than driving or taking the bus.
Harris said a connection to nature and time spent outside is invaluable to building the best mental, emotional, social and physical health for people, including children and youth.
He said ongoing research supports the links between a child’s connection with nature and their health.
“Increased outdoor time can be directly connected to improved physical activity levels, higher academic achievement, decreased child injury rates, increased attention spans, positive social interaction and increased engagement at school, home and in the community,” he said.
For the first time in Canada’s history, Harris said, research also indicates today’s generation of Canadian children have a shorter predicted life span than their parents’ generation.
He said children and youth are spending more sedentary time indoors in front of screens and they are losing their connection with the outdoors and their communities.
“Rates of obesity and diabetes are reaching epidemic proportions,” he said.
“As communities, schools, parents, teachers and young people, we can make positive changes to these statistics.”
This program is an extension of the Get Out Program series, the municipality’s after-school and evening drop-in program aimed at getting children and teenagers active and outdoors.
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