WWF-Canada Blog:
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Clifford Street Youth Centre Goes Wild with an Earth Superhero Squad

Go Wild Community Grants presented by TELUS supports Canadians of all ages by helping them connect their local communities to nature.

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For a neighbourhood in North Sydney, Cape Breton, NS where more than 600 children reside within a six block radius, accessible, after-school and summer programming for kids is essential for the community. The Clifford Street Youth Centre offers free programs to the community’s children, and connecting kids to nature is its top priority.

This summer, WWF awarded the Clifford Street Youth Centre with a Go Wild grant to kick-start their engagement project. The centre was able to bring their idea to life with Go Wild – The Earth Superhero Squad: Saving Our Community from Nature Deficit Disorder. The Earth Superhero Squad enlisted local youth to act as ambassadors, and engaged the community to reduce harmful actions, explore and appreciate the natural beauty around them, and inspire everyone to protect nature.

Rebecca Walker of the Youth Centre observes that the kids were great at separating recycling from garbage at the centre. With their Go Wild grant, the volunteer staff at Clifford Street got the kids engaged in all kinds of activities outside, from hiking and gardening, to shoreline cleanups. Inside, they used trivia games and environmental activities to bring youth into the conversation on nature conservation and learn about actions anyone can take in their life to make change. All told, over 140 individuals were engaged by the Earth Superhero Squad!

The impact was truly powerful. Rebecca said the children are now “thoughtfully observing their impact on the environment and doing something about it. They see that their actions have consequences. When they go on a hike or swim at the beach, they’re more attuned to the nature around them. Some of the kids are even choosing hiking over laser tag.”

The goal of WWF’s Go Wild Community Grants is to support people to create deeper, stronger connections to nature that will ultimately lead to better stewardship of the environment where they live. Connecting with nature also has significant physical and mental health benefits for children – it is believed to reduce negative symptoms for children living with ADHD, stimulates cognitive development, promotes physical activity, and reduces stress.

The Earth Superhero Squad not only connects with kids, but is also leaving an impact community-wide. To cap off the Squad’s Go Wild summer, the group held a Race for Nature in Cape Breton. Teams of kids, police officers, and volunteer firefighters participated in the trivia-meets-the-Amazing-Race style event. The participants were tested on local Cape Breton nature and wildlife trivia. Answer incorrectly, and you got slimmed on, like these unfortunate individuals below.

Members of the Superhero Earth Squad competing with community members in the Race for Nature trivia and endurance event. © Rebecca Walker

Members of the Superhero Earth Squad competing with community members in the Race for Nature trivia and endurance event. © Rebecca Walker

Ready to Go Wild? Visit wwf.ca/gowild today to apply and we’ll help you turn your ideas into action! Applications close on December 21, 2015.