Skip to content

Guelph Outdoor School wants to get your kids connected

It's celebrating its transition to a non-profit organization
Stock image

After almost six years of running the Guelph Outdoor School as a sole proprietorship, owner Chris Green is excited to announce the transition of this initiative to a non-profit. The objective of the Outdoor School has always been to get all kids outdoors and nature connected, regardless of the their ability to cover fees for programs.

As a non-profit, the school will be able to fund raise more effectively to cover costs for families who otherwise would not be able to afford programs. The new non-profit is called the Village Hearth Initiative. The Guelph Outdoor School will retain its name and will be the major project of the Non-Profit. 

To celebrate this transition, The Village Hearth Initiative will host Nature Smart Guelph: An Urgent Call to Get Our Kids Nature Connected, a keynote event with author Jon Young and pediatric occupational therapist Kathleen Lockyer on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 7-9 p.m. at Lakeside Downtown in Guelph.

Jon and Kathleen will share the stage and share perspectives on the urgent need to get our kids outside: connecting with themselves, others and the natural world. Buy your tickets here.

Jon Young is a nature connection mentor, naturalist, wildlife tracker, peacemaker, author, workshop leader, consultant, and sought after public speaker and storyteller. As a leader in the field of nature-based community building over 30 years, Jon’s research into the impact and significance of nature on human intelligence and development has influenced tens of thousands of people worldwide. 

Trained from an early age by renowned animal tracker Tom Brown Jr. and later by Lakota elder Gilbert Walking Bull and many other indigenous leaders from around the world, Jon has delved deeply into the art and science of nature awareness, holistic tracking, bird language, and ancestral living skills– fundamental knowledge that shaped the formation of human neurobiology and the way our species connects and learns.

Jon has appeared as an expert in numerous documentaries concerning nature and ecology and travels to teach widely throughout North America, Europe, Australia and southern Africa. 

Jon has authored and co-authored several seminal works on nature connection and connection mentoring, including What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (2013), and Coyote’s Guide to Connecting to Nature (2007). In 2016, he received the Champion of Environmental Education Award for his innovative work, which has inspired positive developments in the field, and fostered the growth of the nature connection movement on a global level.

As co-founder of the 8 Shields Institute, Jon has established an international network of consultants and trainers working to cultivate effective nature connection mentoring programs in communities and organizations. As the originator of the 8 Shields model, a toolkit of best practices for nature connection mentoring, Jon has implemented vital advancements in the regeneration of nature-based cultural knowledge for the benefit of current and future generations.

Kathleen Lockyer, the founder of Foundations in Nature, has been a licensed and board certified occupational therapist for 20 years. She has advanced training in several areas including sensory processing disorders and therapeutic listening. Kathleen is a Naturalist, Herbalist and mother of two teenage women. 

In 2003 she co-founded a local non-profit Outside Now. Kathleen has dedicated her life to creating programs and trainings to facilitate child development by using routines of Sensory Processing and Integration in the natural world. Kathleen is a self-proclaimed "fierce protector of children and childhood."

Kathleen has re-established nature connection as central to learning and development and a scientifically backed avenue towards health and well being for individuals, families and communities. She has given clear scientific language and practice to something that we all know to be true: that time in nature has positive results on all metrics.

Her work with Foundations In Nature has provided a set of best practices and tools that empower parents by providing a non-clinical approach to supporting healthy and balanced young people. 

Together, Kathleen and Jon will discuss how important nature connection is for the developmental health of children. They will also make the important distinction between Nature connection and nature education.

“The Guelph Outdoor School’s transition to non-profit is about promoting greater and more equal access to essential outdoor immersion programs and wild spaces,” says Chris Green, founder of the Guelph Outdoor School. “It is an all-hands-on-deck shout out for greater diversity, creativity and energy in the name of nature connected kids, families and communities.”

In 2017, The Guelph Outdoor School hosted Jon and Kathleen along with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle and Vitamin N for both a keynote event and a stakeholder workshop engaging health professionals, teachers and school administrators, nature connection practitioners and city Parks and Recreation staff in discussing ways to increase nature connection for the children of Guelph.

At the workshop, Richard challenged participants to make Guelph the most Nature Smart City in Canada. Arlene Slocombe, partner of Chris Green and driver behind the creation of The Village Hearth Initiative has not forgotten this challenge.

“Nature connection is not a ‘nice to have’ for some special kids, but rather a birthright for all children. In these uncertain times we live in, my sense of urgency to get kids nature connected feels increasingly important,” stated Arlene Slocombe, spokesperson for the Village Hearth Initiative. “We need our kids to be healthy and resilient and in their full potential to tackle all that will be coming their way. Nature connection opens the door for all of this.”

Join us for this commemorative event. A packed house for us will mean proceeds for nature connection for more kids. As with all of our programs, every dollar we collect goes towards getting more kids outdoors and in our programs.