Outside every day: More important now than ever

Outside every day: More important now than ever
Randy Barber

For the past month, families across Boulder Valley have been hunkered down at home, as most people abide by the statewide Stay at Home order. While this social distancing is crucially important to slow the spread of COVID-19, our partners in public health and other community organizations are encouraging families to stay active and to get outside – even if it is just in their immediate surroundings.

“We do want people to maintain exercise,” explained Jeff Zayach, the Executive Director of Boulder County Public Health recently said on BVSD’s Let’s Talk Education show, which airs on BV22.

“Getting outside is an ‘essential activity’ under the Colorado Stay-at-Home order,” added Keith Desrosiers, the executive director of Thorne Nature Experience. “It is legal and essential to walk, run, and play outside as long as you follow social distancing and do not use playgrounds, picnic shelters, and public restrooms.”

It, however, is understandable why many people have found themselves vegging out in front of the television, smart phone or video game console while they are sequestered at home. With Home Learning being dependent on computer screens, Desrosiers worries that some kids may not have stepped outside since the beginning of this crisis.

“Kids are missing recess and other activities that bring them outdoors normally,” Desrosiers said. “I especially worry about some of the kids we serve in Title I schools, whose neighborhoods don’t have a park or even sidewalks, and their schoolyard is closed right now. That may be the only place that they can typically go play.”

With this in mind, Thorne and a number of other governmental and nonprofit organizations have banded together to challenge families to get #OutsideEveryDay.

“It could be a backyard, sidewalk or a patch of grass. Do your math lesson under a tree. Just go outside,” Desrosiers said.

While many people won’t be able to take part in Earth Day activities this year, like planting trees or cleaning up a creekbed, he believes that simply reconnecting kids with their surroundings will provide them with peace and serenity during this unsettling situation and a connection with nature that will serve them their entire life.

“Outside is nature,” Desrosiers said. “The most important aspect of becoming a steward of the earth is that empathetic connection to the natural world that just comes from simply being outside.”

When families do venture outside, our local public health officials encourage everyone to exercise social distancing and to wear a mask.

“We need the mask on everyone because it prevents the external projection from the person who could potentially have the virus,” Zayach explained. “If people are going to get out and exercise, the biggest thing is for people to wear that mask, because we know, especially with exercise, that you can exhale those droplets even a further distance, so you want to make sure you’re wearing the mask when you’re exercising.”

MORE RESOURCES: Boulder County COVID-19 Website

He says that studies have shown that the virus can stay on surfaces like metal and plastic for an extended period of time, so he discourages anyone from using playground equipment or playing team sports.

“The police department has taken an education approach about making sure that kids aren’t gathering and playing basketball for example.That is an example of something that could absolutely facilitate the spread of the disease,” Zayach said. “We have had really good cooperation with folks.”

Thorne Nature Experience offers the following suggestions and a lot more resources are in the COVID-19 Resources section of their website:

  • Wear a cloth face mask AND stay 6 feet away from people who are not in the same household

  • Avoid visiting busy places and stay as close to home as possible to recreate

  • Do not gather in groups

  • Limit children to playing with family members living under the same roof

  • Clean hands thoroughly and often, and avoid touching your face

  • Do not take risks – medical resources are scarce and social distancing is not possible for first responders, putting them at risk

Learn more about the #OutsideEveryDay campaign and make a pledge to get the children you care for outside every day at outsideeverydaychallenge.org


 

Recent Stories