Happy Trails in Trout Lake
June was Recreation and Parks Month! It was a way to celebrate and promote the many personal, social, economic and environmental benefits of recreation and parks. Recreation and Parks build strong, healthy and active NWT communities. The NWTRPA has been encouraging residents to participate in recreation and parks opportunities throughout the year but especially this past June. Over 50 community groups from across the NWT organized active events in celebration of Recreation and Parks Month. One such group was Charles Tetcho School in Trout Lake.
The school organized a Happy Trails event in celebration of Recreation and Parks Month and International Trails Day. In preparation for the event students created their own posters and displayed them in prominent places around the community. About 23 community members met at the Ndu Tah Ukoe Store and together walked or bike and explored the trails in the community. Refreshments and prizes were awarded to participants following the event. “It was a lovely day and spirits were high. All the participants really enjoyed the event” said teacher Lynn MacFadyen.
Let’s take a closer look at why the Trout Lake Happy Trails event was a success. The event was exciting as it provided an opportunity for residents to get outside and enjoy the warmer temperatures of spring. It also involved biking which could not be done during winter. When organizing an event choose something that will motivate your community. Some sample events, depending on resources, time of year and your community, could be:
• Nodic walking
• Dene Games
• Arctic Sports
• Track and Field
Once the event and activities are chosen it is helpful to do the following:
- Build the excitement and promote the event. As in Trout Lake, consider offering small giveaways and incentives for participants and take a few photos to help promote future activities. As the organizer, stay energetic, positive and motivated as it will rub off on others. Some promotion ideas include:
- Asses the risks and safety considerations for the event. Ask yourself these questions before the event takes place:
• Do waivers need to be signed?
• Do photo release forms need to be signed?
• Do I have a backup plan if the weather does not cooperate?
• What safety equipment is needed?
• Who has the first aid kit?
• Do I have an emergency action plan?
- Pick the event location. The local store in Trout Lake was used as starting point for the event. It was a great central location visible and accessible by many. Think about a location that best suites the needs of the specific event and determine if it needs to be booked or reserved and if there is a cost involved.
- Decide who should be involved. Teachers, youth, parents and Elders were involved in the Trails Event in Trout Lake. It was a great idea to involve youth in the planning of the event as it promoted literacy, excitement and ownership. If paid staff or volunteers are needed they should be contacted and booked well in advance of the event.
- Determine what materials/equipment is needed: Little equipment was needed in Trout Lake as participants used their own bikes. Refreshments and prizes were purchased and distributed after the event. Make sure to have all the equipment/materials ready before the event takes place.
- Build the Budget: Charles Tetcho School applied for the NWTRPA Get Active Grant which provided some extra funding. They spent the grant money on healthy snacks and event prizes. It is essential to determine all costs associated with the event in order to stay on budget. You don’t want to lose money
- Build the excitement and promote the event. As in Trout Lake, consider offering small giveaways and incentives for participants and take a few photos to help promote future activities. As the organizer, stay energetic, positive and motivated as it will rub off on others.
- Evaluate the event once it has taken place. Learn from your event by tracking the number of event participants. Consider having a debrief with others involved in the event to find out what went well, what could be improved and what to do different next time.
There is lots to think about when planning and executing an event but hopefully this will help make the process easier. Make sure to talk to people in your community to see what events have worked in the past.
Thanks to all those who organized events during the month of June and helped promoted the benefits or Recreation and Parks!
Don’t forget to stay active, be safe and have fun all year round!