This summer we launched our first Bring it Outside family hiking workshop series. In the series, families from underrepresented and low income communities were provided the gear, resources, and a supportive environment to take their first steps out hiking with their families.
We ran our hiking series in two locations in Oregon – Curry County and Clackamas County, thanks to a Oregon Community Foundation Grant. We were able to help 60 participants and their families connect to nearby natural spaces and their communities across Oregon, by working with local partners Northwest Family Services and Familias en Accion. The six week series provided the opportunity to participate in three different tracks – Turn the Blues Green (babies under 12 months old), Toddle Waddle (12-36 month old children) and Wander Walks (3-5 year old children).
The Turn the Blues Green track focused on postpartum mamas taking their first steps outside with their newborn babies. Participants learned about all of the benefits of bringing baby outside – not only for baby, but for parents too! Parents were provided with soft sided baby carriers, and learned some tips and tricks about hiking with baby – from how to pack light (but effectively!) to how to deal with meltdowns and feeding on the trail. Even better, they had the opportunity to bond with other parents going through the same joys and struggles.
Toddle Waddle programming focused on those little ones from ages 1-3, and included short (ok, very short!) hikes, developmentally appropriate activities like sensory play and reading books to go along with the theme of the week, as well as age appropriate ways to get outside as a family. (Pro tip – snack time is key to keeping toddlers and preschoolers going on the trail!)
Our Wander Walks crew included participants ages 3-5, and their curriculum centered around our Wander Walks activity based signage, incorporating facts and activities based on these signs into their weekly programming. They were provided with trail books to incorporate weekly “nature journaling” (aka drawing some awesome pictures!) into their events, while parents learned how to engage their children on the trail and make getting outside fun for the whole family.
Families received over $250 in gear to support their journey outside including things like backpacks, baby carriers, hats, flashlights, shovels, books, and raincoats. Handouts and various resources were available to participants in English and Spanish to ensure families were able to access material in their native language. By providing bilingual materials and partnering with community groups, we were able to provide resources to these families in a way that helped them feel comfortable and supported. We were so honored to spend 6 weeks with these families and cannot wait to run our next workshop series!
ABOUT HIKE IT BABY
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. With more than 300 communities across North America, they firmly believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. To learn more, visit HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. To support their mission and further their programming aimed at supporting families, donate here.