For some, winter brings about an increase in physical activity. Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and ice-skating are popular forms of winter activity, and adherents of these sports await the winter season with gusto. Not everyone enjoys winter activities, however. Some avoid the outdoors during the season, and unless they take part in indoor activities, exercise takes a backseat.
In order to motivate young people to stay active during the winter months, the Norwich-based Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA) offers a program called the Passport to Winter Fun. Kaitie Eddington, program manager at the UVTA, heads up the youth-oriented effort.
“It’s a self-motivating program,” says Eddington. The children choose the winter activities they wish to take part in, and record the time spent in that endeavor. The only rule is that the chosen activity has to get them moving. “It must be a physical activity.”
The children record each time – during the winter – that they spend at least 60 minutes participating in a physical activity. The ultimate goal is to record 30 days when they’ve devoted one hour to these activities. Prizes are awarded to those who reach the threshold.
The actual program runs from January through March, and students of elementary-school age can participate. This year, 29 schools have students participating in the Passport program, including students at the Marion Cross School, and the Ray Elementary School in Hanover. About 2,800 students signed up for the program this year, with the Passport program now in its 14th year.
Students enrolled in area schools are not the only ones who take part in the Passport program. “We reach out to homeschoolers, too,” says Eddington.
The main activities students in the program undertake are the popular ones in our area: skiing, skating, and sledding. The program encourages all manner of activities, however, so the kids can devise many ways to record their efforts.
Eddington adds that she is also happy to provide ideas for activities.
Though the program focuses on kids taking part, often reaching the goal becomes a family affair, where everyone joins the child in their efforts.
Many area businesses and organizations assist the Winter Passport program by offering prizes and incentives for the participants, and by holding winter events where Passport participants and their families can participate in qualifying activities. A great example of one such event is UVTA’s Skate-a-thon held each winter on Lake Morey, with the support of the Lake Morey Resort, among others.