WWF-Canada Blog:
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How one volunteer is passing down passion for wildlife

WWF is looking for dedicated Canadians, people like you and Irina Ten, to bring Kids’ Run to Nature to your community this June.

The 1km, 3km and 5km fun runs get kids active in nature. (c) Kerry Grogan

Growing up in the Ural Mountains in Russia and Karpaty Mountains in Ukraine, Irina and her husband, Teodor Glinnyi, spent their time camping and walking wooded trails, listening to birds and absorbing the beauty of nature. After moving to Canada and having children, it was a given that they would pass on these values.

That’s why they decided to lead a Kids’ Run for Nature at their local park in Mississauga, Ont.

Community co-ordinator Irina Ten and family at Lakeside Park in Mississauga. (c) Teodor Kochmar

The Kids’ Run for Nature is a growing movement led by kids and families taking action for nature by hosting runs in local parks and schoolyards. The 1 km, 3 km and 5 km fun runs in parks across Canada give kids the chance to get active in nature and raise funds for the conservation of animals they care deeply about.

“From an early age, kids learn to care for, love and respect nature,” Ten said. “They can make a difference for wildlife and the health of our planet.”

Site co-ordinators like Ten are taking on a meaningful task, but it’s not a small one. From navigating park permits, posters and food to sponsorship, photography and entertainment, planning the run meant keeping in mind many details, but the time spent planning was worthwhile to see the smiling faces of the young runners cross the finish line, proud to be helping the wildlife they love, spirits undampened by the rain.

Before the run, participants receive Kids’ Run for Nature T-shirts and warm up together (c) Kerry Grogan

“The most memorable part for me was when I honked the horn and the kids began to run. I thought ‘It’s actually happening’ and felt overwhelmed with happiness.”

Her first-ever Kids’ Run for Nature, Ten is grateful to have had the support of a dedicated team to pull together the event. Friends distributed posters and donated their photography skills, her husband’s company helped sponsor the event and city staff assisted with permits. WWF was there every step of the way to provide guidance, supply T-shirts and ribbons and get the word out.

The event also brought her community closer together and created an opportunity to raise environmental awareness in a way that was more personal and meaningful as people had neighbours, classmates and friends running the course. And despite the rain, kids had a great time. “The atmosphere of the run was great. It felt like we were one big family.”

What advice would Ten give anyone considering organizing a Kids’ Run for Nature? Stay proactive and positive, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t get discouraged. Most of all, have fun.

Start-line excitement in Toronto, Ont. (c) Kerry Grogan

Help bring Kids’ Run for Nature to your community

Thanks to the commitment of organizers like Irina Ten, eight Kids Run for Nature events took place across the country in 2017, with more than 1,100 runners raising $60,000 to support vital conservation work across the country.

Learn more about becoming a community co-ordinator, or contact us for more information