Thrive Outside, a nonprofit dedicated to utilizing outdoor space to enhance children's education, will host a mud run on Sunday, Sept. 19 at Frerichs Farm in Warren.
In a world dominated by computers, smart phones and digital interactions on social media, there’s something wholesome in the concept of taking the family outside, emptying the pockets of all electronics, and running around with the sole intention of getting covered in mud.
Nearly 200 people have already signed up for just that type of experience on Sunday, Sept. 19 at Frerichs Farm in Warren, where a recreational mud run is scheduled to raise money for Thrive Outside, a Bristol-based nonprofit organization that strives to improve childhood educational outcomes by encouraging the utilization of outdoor space within traditional school curricula.
“Children spend up to 44 hours a week on a screen and less than 10 minutes a week playing outside,” said Shannon Rozea, Director of Thrive Outside, citing research from the Children and Nature Network. “It’s a pretty alarming statistic.”
Thrive Outside, founded just four years ago, has already constructed a comprehensive outdoor learning center at Melville Elementary School in Portsmouth. The Melville space represents the kind of multi-faceted space the Ms. Rozea, who is also the organization’s in-house landscape architect, hopes can be replicated throughout Rhode Island — a place where children can explore or play, identify plant and animal species as a part of classroom activity or simply shake up the monotony of indoor class time.
“At this stage our biggest focus is that we’re teaching the teachers to take what they currently teach and bring it outside,” she said. “In terms of specific curriculum, we’re hoping to do a pilot program with teaching leaders [at Melville] to develop lessons that are more tailored to outdoor learning specifically.”
Other projects have included helping students construct a rain garden at Mt. Hope High School in 2018. A planned outdoor learning space at Kickemuit Middle School in Warren has been put on hold due to the overturn in administration that has taken place in the past year.
“It would be, in my opinion, an amazing asset to that school,” Ms. Rozea said.
The mud run is being organized in partnership with BoldrDash — who is setting up the obstacle course for the mud run — Frerichs Farm, and the Warren Fire Department, who will be helping hose off participants following their muddy triumph. All proceeds go towards Thrive Outside’s mission to implement outdoor learning space.
Ms. Rozea said getting kids reconnected with nature is of the utmost importance.
“Kids are getting so disconnected form nature and outdoors, but they’re going to be the ones tasked with trying to save our existence on this planet,” she said. “We really are aiming to help the young people connect with the natural world and fall in love with nature before it’s a disaster situation for them.”