Sunday, March 27, 2011

Take Me Outside

When your children come home from school telling you that they need to get outside more, you stop and listen!  Turns out they were receiving this wonderful message from Mr. Chambers, their gym and health teacher at school.  He had been following the incredible journey of Colin Harris, who is running across Canada to call awareness to an increasing need for "people, both young and old, to get outside."  Take Me Outside {the name of Colin's awareness campaign} has put out a challenge to children, schools, parents and teachers across Canada to "inspire everyone to spend more time outside, be active and connect with nature."

I was intrigued by not only the message but the intensity of such commitment to a cause.  All of my children were very serious about the message they were receiving through Mr. Chambers, and were following Colin's progress during class time.  They were so interested that one day after school when all 3 were in the playroom watching television, Fleur piped up to say, "we have to turn off the t.v. and get outside!"  She proceeded to take her younger brother into the front yard to put him through a "Colin" workout of running around the trees, and made up obstacle courses.  

I had started to think about how I could help Colin's campaign, and had visited his website {you can visit it here}, when I received an email from Mr. Chambers soliciting my help with some brainstorming.  Mr. Chambers {I should really start calling him Rob} had been following Colin's progress through Newfoundland, where he began the trek across Canada, and was excited that Colin had agreed to speak at Armbrae Academy when he came to Halifax. 
{you can read about Colin's visit in a later posting}

When Rob and I met, it was obvious that we both had enthusiasm for this project and wanted to be we got to work planning!

Through the luck of timing, our first week of March Break coincided with Colin running through Nova Scotia on his way towards Halifax.  We were so excited!  Rob really wanted to meet him somewhere and get a chance to give him a little company running on the TransCanada Highway.  I loved this idea and knew the kids would want to be involved too.  Take Me Outside has a t-shirt initiative, being sold at Mountain Equipment Co-op stores across Canada, that say "Ask your teacher to take you outside!"

The message on this shirt originated in a teacher's college class at Queen's University in the 2008 cohort. While out on a trip one day, the class ran into an elementary student and after a brief conversation, a teacher candidate responded to the student, saying "You should just ask your teacher to take you outside!"

First stop was to MEC to buy t-shirts for all of us.  

You can do the same by visiting your local MEC or 

Rob was communicating with Colin and we were able to organize a day to drive the TCH, heading to find Colin running on the actually wasn't that random!  We were tracking his progress each day and knew where he would be running, within a few kilometres.  

We left early in the morning, my girls in tow (Yale was unfortunately sick that day), and headed towards Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  It was an easy drive and after a quick break just outside Antigonish we spotted Colin running in his blue Take Me Outside t-shirt!  We were so excited, it almost felt like a celebrity sighting!

We turned just off the highway and made a quick day itinerary that included Rob running the first leg with Colin back towards Antigonish, a stop for lunch (and a little run with the girls), then a finish with my run, before heading back to Halifax.  We were like a bunch of giddy teenagers!

{colin & rob}

We drove back towards our star sighting, pulled off the road, and Colin ran across to meet us.  Its funny to refer to Colin as a celebrity, because he is one of the most humble, unassuming people I have ever met.  From the moment you meet him, you can feel the warmth, the realness, the passion.  I felt an instant respect for him.
Rob and Colin set out on their run, with a plan to communicate their whereabouts in about an hour.

The girls and I drove around, and planted ourselves in a parking lot to wait for the guys to arrive.  They ran about 13 km together and then the girls joined them for a 1 km run to the Tim Horton's for a snack stop.  

We had a chance to meet Sarah, Colin's friend and the driver of the RV they live in through this journey.  As Colin often writes on his site...this experience would not be possible without Sarah, they are quite a team.  Talking to Colin about his passion for this campaign had me very inspired.  After our brief pit stop, Colin and Sarah gave us a "tour" of the RV and we got to meet their 2 dogs, Sammy and Koona.  I had made a basket of fresh fruit and gourmet dog treats (assuming these treats might be hard to come by on the road) to leave with some little cards the kids had made.

Then it was time for my run with Colin!  We ran through downtown Antigonish, to the TCH.  Running along the highway took a little...I mean A LOT of getting used to.  We ran for quite a while with me on the outside, closest to the fast 18 wheelers driving by.....the inside was quite muddy and I didn't want to get my running shoes dirty!  But after about 40 minutes of that nerve wracking experience I finally asked Colin to switch places with me.  It was a bit surreal, talking to this amazing person about things we are both passionate about.  At times it was overwhelming and I wondered if my emotions were so heightened that it would explain the fact that I felt like I was sucking wind!  Colin would ask me a question that took me about 2 minutes to answer....say 2 words...breathe for 10 second....2 words.....breathe!  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me!  Turns out we were running on quite an incline for a portion of that run that you don't really see on the highway...Rob and I had a laugh about that on the way home.

After about 9 km together we stopped on the highway where Rob was parked with the girls and had to say our good-byes.  I felt a bit like I was abandoning Colin on the side of the road.  There are alot of words here, lots of narration, but to express the true feelings of the day is so difficult.  It was so moving, so real, so genuine, and passionate, and exhilarating....and for one day of Colin's journey we had the privilege of supporting him.  

There are so many ways that you can support Colin's campaign.  
Colin may be running across Canada but his message extends to all places in the world.  

Support Take Me Outside

talk to people in your communities about take me outside
invite Colin to visit your school

Colin wrote about our day on his site.  You can check it out here.

Watch for upcoming posts on Colin's visit to Halifax, my Dinner Dance rainforest contribution, and the awesome Bust a Move event!

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