On July 30, 2012 the Friends of Bonnechere Parks (FBP), lead organization for the Footprints in Time (FIT) pilot project, received the 2012 Canadian Parks Council Merit Award to recognize the innovative and collaborative success of FIT. Thank you to the FBP! Their dedication and innovation produced exceptional trail enhancement tools the support culture-based active transportation -- nearby and beyond.
The Canadian Parks Council presents annual awards to recognize and encourage extraordinary achievement, innovation, organizational leadership and advancement of park and protected areas by federal, provincial and territorial agencies. This is only the second time since 2003 that there has been an Ontario recipient and the first to go to a Friends of Ontario Parks group.
A rich and collaborative project, FIT was also supported by a diverse group of multi-sector partners, and funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport. In addition to KidActive, FIT partners include Ontario Parks, Omàmiwinini Pimàdjwowin – The Algonquin Way Cultural Centre, Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn, Renfrew County Stewardship Program, Renfrew County and District Health Unit, and the Municipality of Killaloe Hagarty Richards.
The goals of the 18-month project included:
- increasing access to trails
- increasing physical activity levels
- connecting children and families to our natural and cultural heritage
- promoting healthy and inclusive spaces
The McNaughton FIT Trail, a shaded 2-km pathway that meanders along the shores of the Little Bonnechere River where it flows into Round Lake, is the first of what project coordinators hope will be many FIT trails developed across Ontario and perhaps Canada. Located in Bonnechere Provincial Park, the trail celebrates the Bonnechere River's rich heritage of exploration and settlement, fur trade and forestry, plant and animal biodiversity, stewardship and conservation. Geared to children and families, on guided and self-guided excursions, the trail invites hikers to enhance their outdoor experience by participating in running, seeking and sensory games, and engaging in role-playing activities.
The FIT trail is themed upon a traditional Algonquin First Nation Teaching illustrating human’s time on Earth, from the Ice Age to present-day. With the help of customized interpretation tools and active play, FIT trail users experience hands-on learning while connecting with the landscapes and timelines of yesterday and today.
The FIT trail concept is designed to help us look differently at the outdoor pathways and open spaces that surround us, to seek out the natural and cultural stories that have shaped these places, and to appreciate their relevance to who and what we become as individuals and communities.