Release your kids into Coquitlam’s great outdoors

Children are naturally drawn to nature, mesmerized by hopping frogs, slow-moving insects and odd-shaped sticks. The forest is a source of wonder and amazement. If you’re looking for new parks to explore, pay a visit to Coquitlam, which is riddled with trails of varying terrain and offers a reprieve from the city hustle.

One must-visit is Minnekhada Regional Park, a 200-hectare park located just minutes from Coquitlam’s City Centre. Surrounded by old-growth forest and endless views of nature, it feels like you are miles away from civilization. The park is home to 150 species of birds as well as beaver, black bears and singing bullfrogs.

Hiking trails range from a flat path leading throughout the marsh (perfect for younger children) to an uphill climb to the Low or High Knolls, with mind-blowing views looking over the wilderness.

Another place to take a walk in the woods is the urban forest of Mundy Park, rated by TripAdvisor as the #1 thing to do in Coquitlam. Round up the kids for some geocaching (a real-world outdoor hunt using a GPS device in which you search for a hidden container), or play a game of Disc Golf on the free permanent course, or try out the bike skills park.

Looking for someplace to explore that’s just steps from the SkyTrain? A short walk from Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station, you can duck into the Hoy Creek Trail for a peaceful 2.8-kilometre gravel trail (you’ll spot salmon in the creek during fall).

If you’d prefer a flat, paved experience, take a walk around Lafarge Lake, also next to the SkyTrain station, which has a 1.2-kilometre loop – the perfect length for little legs.

Many of these trails and parks are easily accessed by public transit and also offer free parking. Share cars are also available in Coquitlam’s City Centre area. coquitlam.ca/driving

Kids Score a “D” in Physical Activity Levels

Summertime can be full of active, outdoor activities for children—camping, swimming, biking and much more. However, many children also find themselves at home sitting around without a lot to do. The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada report card on physical activity for children and youth indicates that kids ages 5-11 spend 7.6 hours a day being sedentary—that’s like a full-time job! How is this possible when 95% of parents report local availability of parks, outdoor spaces and public facilities or programs that offer the environment to get kids moving? Kids are engaging in all types of routine behaviours that feed this statistic, including things like more screen time and no longer walking to school.

With summer approaching, consider what you and your kids can do to improve on this failing grade. Warm weather is a great reason to get outside and get moving. Check out local parks and amenities that will help keep kids off the couch this summer. “Summer camps are the perfect opportunity to help get kids active and outdoors, and away from TVs, tablets and computers,” says Cathy Poole, General Manager of Healthy Child Development for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. “At Y camps, kids receive an absolute minimum of 90 minutes of physical activity each day—sports, games, swimming, whatever it is, we get kids moving and having a whole lot of fun at the same time,” comments Poole.

Organizations like the Y are committed to helping families and kids live healthier lives, and summer camp programs like the ones they offer help do just that. How will your family stay active this summer?

For more information about YMCA summer camps, please visit vanymca.org/camps or contact 604-939-9622.