Day 108/109 – 41.1 km (2683.6 km)

Me and Roberta!

Me and Roberta!

Yesterday morning, I ran 41 km and ended up about 35 km east of Ottawa.  My body was tired after 5 straight days of running, so Sarah picked me up and we drove into Ottawa.  At some point this coming week, I will go back to that spot and run the remainder into Ottawa, finishing on Parliament Hill.  I’m pretty sure Stephen and Jack are going to extend a big welcome as I run up onto the lawn!  Actually, it will bring back a lot of memories as my summer job through university was doing the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill!  So it will be fun to step foot on the Hill soon… in a different way!

We’ve had to work out some logistics with transportation… with the price of gas, the ol’ Chevy RV costs a fortune to get around.  I had committed to come to Toronto months ago to be part of an initiative by Roberta Oswald to get her school board (Toronto Catholic) outside today, which I’ll talk more about in a second.  So I rented a car last night (cheaper than driving the RV), and drove to Toronto.

Roberta Oswald is connected with the TCDSB and found out about our project through Barrie Martin who I have worked with in Haliburton.  She put out a challenge to her school board as well as others in GTA to have teachers take their students outside on May 6.  As part of the day, about 450 students came to Downsview Park in Toronto to participate in different activities.  Downsview is the biggest urban park in Canada and runs programs throughout the year under the direction of Colin Love, one of the Coordinators for the education programs.  Over 60,000 trees have been planted in the park by students and there are many cool initiatives happening daily (  I had the opportunity to speak with some students inside while it was raining, but then it cleared up and all the students were outside.  Most of the students joined Colin (the other Colin!) and I in a run/walk around the park.  It was awesome!  It didn’t hurt that CBC showed up to film some of the afternoon, so there was a bit of a buzz in the air… I’m pretty sure it rivaled election night – at least in the minds of some grade 6’s!

The world needs more Roberta Oswalds.  Her passion for getting students outside is addictive.  Her desire to connect kids with nature is evident in her energy.  She admits that there is some work to be done to implement outdoor education with teachers and administration.  But her initiative that she put forth today is representative of the change I’m seeing as I visit more and more schools.  Getting youth active and getting them outside is on the radar screen.  There is change happening – from schools in Newfoundland committing to a snowshoeing unit outside for part of their phys ed unit to schools in New Brunswick engaging students province wide to be more active.  I am more and more encouraged by what I see happening and am hopeful that we can get more and more kids outside!  Sure there is work to be done.  But today, 450 students enjoyed an amazing day outside in Downsview Park – there are definitely things to celebrate!

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