By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Nov. 9, 2013
On the surface, it seems like access to our Great Outdoors is free: Anyone, after all, can hike or climb or go for a bike ride.
But lack of knowledge, network and money can restrict access to outdoor recreation.
Enter the Fresh Families program. For the last two years, the program has enabled families new to Squamish to explore outdoor recreation activities in town for free.
Now, this program is facing the axe.
The funding for the program expires this December, and program coordinator Julia Breslair is hoping someone in the community will step up to fill the gap.
“For this program to survive, we need at least $30,000,” she said.
The money would provide for salary, office expenses, and liability insurance for the activities.
The program’s closure would affect hundreds of community members, who cultivated friendships while partaking in fun outdoor activities.
“Fresh Families is the space where people can connect with their own families and with other families in the community,” Breslair said.
With the help of community volunteers, Fresh Families has enabled families to try bouldering, kayaking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, and boating, to name a few.
Tony Howarth first discovered the program last year through Facebook.
The Howarth family went for a bike ride, from downtown Squamish to Brennan Park and back.
Since then, the Howarth family has taken part in a range of Fresh Family activities: From downhill bike rides to paddle boarding to climbing at the Murrin Lake.
Howarth says it would have cost the family thousands of dollars to do those activities with their own money.
“Going boating or climbing with a guide can be quite expensive,” he said.
If the program closes, it would be a big loss for Squamish families, he said.
Trudi Neubert agrees. She has seen several new immigrants use the program which helps them better integrate in Canadian society.
One couple had a chance to go to Alice Lake for the very first time since they didnt have transportation and FRESH offered a ride, she said.
The program also helped South Asian seniors to try canoeing, while allowing others to experience dragon boating for the first time.
Besides outdoor recreation, the program also offers workshops that strengthen parenting skills, provide health and wellness education.
If you can help this program to continue, please email email@example.com.