Getting the Gear to get Kids Outside

The most memorable experiences of my life have happened out-of-doors: wins and losses playing sports, hiking with friends on trails, experiencing wildlife in its natural habitat, playing in the surf, bicycling around the city of Philadelphia, and most recently learning to ice climb.

To me, the best moments of life happen outdoors. When you are outside, you experience freedom and joy. You are able to see the people you love in a really pure way, without the distraction of phones and screens.

Getting the Gear to Get Active

As part of the team at Operation Warm I am privileged to help kids get outside and get active. Operation Warm gifts brand new winter coats to children in need. A brand new coat is not just warmth – it is also the confidence to go out and play or walk to school.

The positive benefits of active play and exercise cannot be overstated. Exercise positively impacts our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Thinking about the millions of children who can now go outside for recess, walk to school, or play outside because they have an Operation Warm coat – that makes me so proud.

Empowering Kids to Get Outside

Being an “outdoors” person ties me to Operation Warm in two other ways.

First, I know that having the right gear makes a huge difference. Spring, summer, fall, and winter all have their own unique rhythm in my life, and unique shelves in my closet. In the spring, I garden and in the fall, I hike. In the summer, I swim, and in the winter, I snowboard. Having the right gear for each season is important. This Norwegian saying captures it: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Winter is the most demanding season, of course. You need the right clothes so you can be resilient outside, to enjoy the cold weather, and to stay active. Giving a child a brand new coat gives them the confidence to venture outside and the resilience to play a little bit longer. Resilience is a wonderful characteristic to cultivate!

Second, like most people who love the outdoors, I am an environmentalist. I believe that conservation of our natural resources is important for economic, moral, and public health reasons. As our country urbanizes – we need to encourage children to spend time outside so that they understand that we are a part of a larger ecological system.

In order to inspire young people to conserve our shared natural resources, we first have to inspire them to get outside.

I’m so proud that Operation Warm gives brand new coats to children in need, and even more proud that we are helping kids to see and experience all of the magic and wonder that the outdoors has to offer. Giving a brand new Operation Warm coat is one of the first steps in empowering kids to explore the world. Ultimately, I believe this connection with the outdoors will inspire them to be healthier people and help build healthier communities.

Grace Sica is Operation Warm’s VP of Corporate Partners.

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