Children are spending half as much time in nature compared with 20 years ago. As a result, they are facing negative impacts on their physical, mental and social health.
For example, less than 1 in 5 children and youth, ages 5-17 are meeting national movement behaviour guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep. On Bowen Island, while young children fare well in social and emotional competence, emotional health and maturity, language and cognitive development, they score below average in “physical readiness.”
This last year has been even more challenging for families to meet their daily movement needs. With physical and social distancing measures in place to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, access to playgrounds, public spaces, playdates and extracurricular sports and activities for children and youth have been limited.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities on Bowen for families seeking to be more active. With more than 73 hectares of municipal parkland including established parks and undeveloped natural areas, Bowen Island has numerous opportunities to get active and commune with nature.
The Westside Playscape, on the west side of the island, is one such child-friendly park nestled in the King Edward Bay neighborhood. This municipal park currently has a natural playscape featuring a mud kitchen table and a log balance to stimulate imagination and creative play.
With the support of the Municipality, the Bowen Island Playscapes Group is embarking on a fundraising campaign to add swings, a climbing tower, and an expansion to the existing balance structure.
A covered area provides ample shade and shelter while an open-air picnic table offers visitors a boost of Vitamin D. The neighborhood park is well connected to the King Edward Bay, Malkin Creek, Arbutus Ridge, and Mt. Gardner trails and provides healthy, active fun for children and caregivers of all ages. In the springtime, you can catch a glimpse of the blooming magnolias or enjoy the rapturous singing and buzzing of local wildlife.
Bowen Island’s 10-year Parks Plan prioritizes “active lifestyles, health and wellness through a diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities.” Investments made to the Westside Playscape are the result of community efforts, forward-thinking vision and commitment to the overall health and well-being of the island.
So, if you have not been out to the park, pack yourself a picnic, sunhat and plenty of water for a trip to this little gem.
Chair of the Parks, Trails and Greenways Advisory Committee