We went to Lake Louise to escape Zoom and the suffocating, Covid-inspired Edmonton winter. It's hard to feel trapped when you are gliding on skates on a glacial lake, breathing fresh mountain air under big open skies.
The previous few weeks of -36°C dark days had been tough on my fellow northerners. It was easy to feel pessimistic as we entered year two of rolling and unpredictable lockdowns, news about delayed vaccination schedules, and ongoing restrictions.
It's understandable that some people are in a holding pattern. Waiting for this to pass...putting their lives, travel plans, businesses, relationships, community contributions, and creative energy - on hold...
Contemplating this with my kids on our skates on that beautiful glacial-fed lake, I found myself dwelling on a recent conversation I had with Jodie Craven. Jodie and her husband Allan lost their son Frazier after a long and hard-fought battle with a debilitating disease.
Jodie and Allan are both teachers and despite having experienced an unfathomable loss, combined with having to manage through the stress of teaching during a pandemic, they've decided to dedicate themselves to a project to support the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation.
When Frazier was at the Stollery, the Foundation made it possible for him to realize his dying wish...to breath fresh air under the open sky.
It is now the Craven's mission to work alongside the Foundation to raise $5M over the next 3 years to help build a world-class, medical-grade indoor/outdoor play facility in the heart of the Stollery Children's Hospital.
If there's one thing that inspires me during this crisis, it is people like the Cravens. Rising up through unspeakable adversity to drive-forward a community cause with a simple and powerful mission: to give sick kids the chance to just be kids, to give them easy and safe access to a world-class, medical grade, indoor/outdoor play facility in the heart of the Stollery Children's Hospital.
Sick kids with access to fresh air, open skies and safe play facilities, actually heal faster. Which directly supports the Foundation's ultimate goal, "to give all kids the best chance to live a long and healthy life."
There's little doubt in my mind that most of us can relate to Frazier's wish to see the open sky, and to kids and their insatiable desire for play. After all, as Mike House, CEO of the Foundation likes to point out, "we were all kids at one point." However, beyond our subjective and collective experiences, the science supports what we’ve always known. According to an Academy of Pediatrics (APP) report, “outdoor and indoor play supports healing, mental health, language, math and social skills, and reduces anxiety and stress.”
Inspired by their story and their tenacity, I'd like to invite you to join me. Let's break out of our pandemic-induced holding pattern. Let's jump into a cause-based initiative and give the gift of fresh air, open skies and play to the estimated 300,000 kids who visit the Stollery Children's Hospital every year.