Lake Simcoe Conservation Matters
Research shows that 62% of Ontario youth have concerns over their anxiety levels, affecting both their mental and physical health. These studies further confirm that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems experienced by Ontario children and youth today.
While coping with stress and anxiety may be considered a fact of life for adults, the idea that children are experiencing such high levels of anxiety is of great concern.
As many of us know, there’s a strong connection between reduced levels of anxiety and spending time in nature. This understanding has led to abundant opportunities and programs to get children (and adults) outside learning and enjoying nature as a way to alleviate the effects of our high-stress, always-on-the-go lifestyles.
In this issue we highlight the role that Scanlon Creek Conservation Area, located in Bradford West Gwillimbury, plays in both community recreation opportunities and our outdoor education programs.
Step into Serenity at Scanlon
Home to many species of flora and fauna, our 300 hectare conservation area has a varied and expansive trail system, two covered pavilions, a play “garden”, fenced off-leash dog park and accessible toilets.
Scanlon Creek is a true destination for hikers, nature enthusiasts, photographers, birders and those just looking for a quiet reprieve among the trees and tall grasses.
Protecting and maintaining Scanlon Creek is one of the ways we can nurture nature so it contributes to the health and well-being of our surrounding watershed communities. We know how vital it is to get outside and enjoy green spaces and there are endless ways to spend time in this serene space - lean against a tree and read a book, take your children for a nature scavenger hunt, sketch or paint a landscape, do some yoga, take a forest bath, or just go for a walk!
"Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems for Ontario children and youth."
Education in Nature
Another significant draw to the Scanlon Creek is our
outdoor and environmental education program. In fact, our education program dates back to the early 1970s, when Scanlon Creek became home to the Professor E.A. Smith Natural Resources Education Centre, a facility for overnight programs, and in the 1980s a Nature Centre for day-time programs. In early 2011, as a result of changes in demand for overnight programs, we closed down the Education Centre. Fortunately, and with a lot of hard work, passion and creativity, our talented team of Outdoor Education Specialists have created new and wildly successful day programs that have gained local and regional recognition.
Therapy in the Woods
Offered in partnership with Children’s Development Services at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Therapy in the Woods is an outdoor education program for early learners with special developmental needs. This program provides children with an opportunity to meet their therapeutic goals through outdoor, environmental education.
Targeting children from 2 – 5 years of age, the program is delivered by LSRCA’s environmental educators, in conjunction with speech-language pathologists, communicative disorder assistants, occupational therapists, early interventionists and physiotherapists, to provide a fun and hands-on learning environment. The goal of the program is to offer experiences in nature, as opposed to a traditional institutional setting, where health care professionals can assist the children in meeting their therapeutic goals.
A phenomenal success since it began in 2017, this program has been acknowledged as a “Leading Practice” through Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s recent Accreditation process with Accreditation Canada and is generously supported by the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation.