Profs aim to get kids off the sofa and on the trail
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Two McMaster professors, with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, have turned their love of adventure running into a community program they hope will get youngsters off the couch and into a recreational sport.
Mike Waddington, professor of Geography and Earth Sciences, and Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of medicine, both of them world-class athletes when they aren't conducting research in their labs or in the field, came up with the idea of Adventure Running Kids when they witnessed an increase in child obesity and a decrease in children's knowledge of their environment.
Adventure running, aimed at children aged eight to 16, combines navigation, trail running, night running, cross-country running and snowshoe running with a fun and sometimes muddy eco-adventure.
"What's missing from so many kids recreation programs is a sense of adventure," says Waddington, a three-time North American orienteering champion. "We will challenge kids but we'll also teach kids how to be stronger, tougher, faster runners while gaining an appreciation of the environment and learning how to problem solve. One of the key skills in adventure running, for instance, is how to read a map. Kids love the independence it instills but also the aspect of being on an adventure."
The Adventure Running Kids/ McMaster connection doesn't end with Waddington and Tarnopolsky. Patrick Goeres, a former McMaster student and North America's top adventure runner, is co-ordinating the program, while Kate McNamara, a McMaster pediatrics nurse and two-time winner of the Around the Bay road race, will share her inspirational stories of adventure as part of the program's adventure speakers' series.
"In addition to running, we're inviting local world-class adventure runners like Kate to motivate kids with their stories of adventure, and we'll also provide the kids with workshops on good nutrition and the physiology of muscles and why they're vital to long-term good health" adds Tarnopolsky.
The first 13-week Wednesday-evenings session will start on March 24.