MRC partners with Channel Marker in new program
Special from the Star Democrat
— Nurture by Nature, the newest education program created in a partnership between the Midshore Riverkeepers Conservancy ( MRC) and Channel Marker Inc. has nearly completed its first year in providing Channel Marker youth clients with outdoor summer experiences and afterschool programming focused on connecting human health to time spent playing outside.
The Nurture by Nature program was started in the summer of 2015 and kicked off with a three day program in Horn Point where 54 children were able to go canoeing, participate in compass
scavenger hunts and do arts and crafts.
“We have been doing afterschool programs since it began,” said Suzanne Sullivan, education and volunteer coordinator at MRC. “It’s about getting kids away from the computer and off the couch and showing them that playing outside everyday is good for them.”
The program is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust Outdoor Health Initiative Grant, which provides accessible funds to organizations and agencies to connect individuals to spaces within their communities through outdoor recreation and education programs.
This grant received community feedback about people who want to see programs focus on human and environmental health. The MRC decided to partner with Channel Marker, a nonprofit organization that provides communitybased rehabilitation for adults and children living with mental illness.
Sullivan said the program primarily involves children who have an access one diagnosis, such as ADHD or behavioral issues, who just need a little something to do after school instead of just sitting at home.
“It’s to create the idea in the kids’ minds between a healthy body, healthy mind and healthy environment,” Sullivan said.
The MRC education programs are founded on the research that spending time outdoors improves students’ abilities in the classroom, their communication and boosts kids’ confidence and Sullivan said this was a major factor in why they partnered with Channel Marker. Another major reason this partnership was created was because the MRC was aware that Channel Marker had been doing work in the Mid-Shore for many years already.
So far the program has worked with about 50 kids, and many of them participate throughout the year.
“We have had kids that we see throughout the year and they are still talking about that time they went canoeing,” Sullivan said. “A lot of these experiences have stuck with them and they remember it and that was our goal to have a positive connection with the environment to get them outdoors and ultimately have them take care of the environment.”
Sullivan said one of the major goals at MRC is to improve the environment and these programs are important to teach the younger generation about environmental literacy.
“Our goal is to improve the environment but we cannot do that unless the next generation feels connected to it and it cannot just be one set of people,” Sullivan said. “We want to reach out to broader communities and make everyone feel they have a stake in the environment.”