Throughout the Fall Family Challenge, we're profiling families across Canada who make time in nature a priority. Today we're in Canada's largest city, where Jode Roberts, his wife Carol, and their four-year-old son Jasper manage to spend tons of time in urban green spaces. (Full disclosure: Jode is a Foundation communications specialist and the project lead for the Homegrown National Park Project).
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DSF: How often do you get outside together?
We try to get outside together every day. It helps that we live in an area with lots of options for accessible green space. We chose our house because it's in a walkable neighbourhood; the grocery store, café, parks, schools, and subway are all just a few blocks away, which is great since we don't have a car.
DSF: What kinds of activities do you do outside?
Jasper is four and half years old, so we visit a lot of playgrounds, splash in puddles, roll down hills and fly kites. We also like to explore Toronto's ravines, which are particularly unique green spaces because when you're in them, the entire city fades away.
Outside of the city, we spend time canoeing and camping. I grew up on Georgian Bay, so this was a big a part of my youth. Jasper was getting portaged by the time he was a year old. Now he has to carry his own stuff.
DSF: Why is time outside important to you?
Nature helps restore balance in our lives, giving us space to think and be creative. It recharges our batteries. For Jasper, it's important because he needs space to run and explore after hours spent indoors at school and in front of screens.
DSF: How do you make time outside a priority? Any tips for other families?
We make outside time a priority through conscious lifestyle choices. We've put down roots in a walkable community. We walk, ride bikes and take transit to get most places instead of spending time in a car.
I'd advise other families to invest in some wildlife guides and apps to learn about nature around them. Also, every family member needs good set of raingear. There's nothing more joyous than splashing through a puddle with your whole family.
DSF: Any favourite outdoor traditions?
Since Jasper was born we've gradually been stockpiling interesting looking stones and rocks from places we visit. Wherever we go, we head to beaches and other local rock hotspots and spend hours finding just the right stones to add to our collection. They make great decorations in our backyard garden and are a reminder of the fun places we've been.