K to A: OUTdoor Exploration
OUTdoor Exploration was an initiative implemented in Moose Jaw, SK by Moose Jaw Pride and the Saskatchewan Pride Network in partnership with the Prairie South School Division and the Wakamow Valley Authority. The program was designed to support the mental health of LGBTQ2S+ youth by providing them with a safe setting to explore outdoor leisure skills in the context of building friendships, trust, confidence and appreciation for the environment.
The youth were involved in the planning of the outdoor activities with the organizers;
and the Prairie South Straight Alliance also helped by directing the outdoor activities for the youth. Youth met once a week to spend time together outdoors and some of their activities included camping, gardening, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and “bubble ball” soccer!
The project organizers describe watching the students start out with little talking to gaining in social skills and interactions, independence, and confidence in themselves; and several youth continued to connect with and attend other events put on by Moose Jaw Pride.
Additionally, parents provided feedback about the importance of the program. One parent in particular shared that the program helped their transgender child living in a small town outside Moose Jaw with limited social opportunities become more outgoing, active and connected to the community.