The Great Outdoors

My parents love the outdoors. You would think that right from childhood I had the same feeling. The truth is I distinctly remember several occasions growing up when I chose my computer over nature. Solving the mystery of where Carmen Sandiego could be travelling seemed more interesting than exploring the outdoors myself.

In hopes of instilling some appreciation in me my parents took me on camping trips to Kilarney and the Bruce Peninsula Park. I listened to my favourite radio shows and my portable Discman in the tent. The funny thing is that even then I listened to the tragically hip one of the first bands who would have told me to put down my headphones for a moment to take in my surroundings.

Things began to change for me in high school. I moved with my family to a house in uptown waterloo and was encouraged to walk to school and home every day. This meant 40 minutes of walking and I began to love it. Walking to university was even better, a scenic path through the park.

These early routes to school prepared me to think of walking as a necessary part of my life and one of the positives to come out of my having a disability. As someone with mild cerebral palsy I have to walk and walk often if I am to do all of the things that I want to do. I can see how walking has added so much to my life.

I walk because it makes me feel great. It has led to lifelong friendships and has been a great way to travel allowing me to slow down and be an observer. Here I am on Brighton Beach in England and hill walking in Scotland.

I have taken walking a step further pursuing endurance racing.  I will run my first marathon this fall and run on trails every Saturday with a group from Runners Choice.  Runners Choice Waterloo Facebook Page

My friends will all tell you stories of my getting lost and very muddy and somehow still really having a lot of fun. The picture below is of me and a group of great friends before the Mud Puppy 10km race for Kids Ability.

Mud Puppy Racers

At work I have been part of a green team that has encouraged everyone in our office to take part in the commuter challenge and we have won. See link.  Region of Waterloo Commuter Challenge Stories

I am involved in many walking groups and have several friends who are new to Canada. Walking for me has thus been a way to help newcomers feel welcome here.
This brings me to the main reason I am writing this. Walking enriches our lives when we can walk outdoors. I want to encourage everyone to walk for all of the benefits this brings but also to do small things everyday so that we always have the beautiful outdoors. To me this is a responsibility and I am happy to support Transitions KW  because this group helps me to do what I can.

Written by Christina Koenig

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