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Local group looking to get kids outdoors post-COVID

Posted at 5:40 AM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 08:40:23-04

WOOFORD HEIGHTS, Calif. (KERO) — After a year of remote learning, 9-year-old Griffin Boyd is ready to spend as much of his free time outside.

“I think it would be nice to play like this, like rock climb or swim," Boyd said.

Thanks to the Kern River Conservancy, Boyd and other kids are doing just that. The conservancy is looking to get kids outdoors and down and dirty with things like rock climbing and fly fishing.

“Throughout the pandemic, we always heard stories from parents about how their kids aren’t getting outdoors, they’re stuck at home constantly with virtual learning. Some of the parents starting noticing changes in behavior," said Gary Ananian, founder of the conservancy. That's why Ananian made it his mission to get kids back outdoors post-COVID.

He applied for a grant from the Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation to begin a monthly program called Getting Dirty.

“Whether it be rock climbing, paddle boarding, fly fishing, any outdoor based activity," Ananian said.

Ananian says this program is perfect for those tired of the reclusive lifestyle COVID brought on. Thanks to the grant, they can provide all the expensive equipment, activity gear, and instructors at no charge. Now kids like Boyd have the chance to experience something new and even if it's difficult, they’re not afraid. The certified instructors at these events make sure everyone is prepared.

But the program isn’t just about sporting activities. It's also about doing good. Once the weather cools down Ananian wants to take the kids up to areas that were impacted by the french fire.

“The parents are the ones that are reaching out to us," Ananias said. "A lot of these kids like to rock climb or mountain bike and their favorite areas are burned down. So we came up with the idea, let's take these kids to their favorite outdoor areas that recently burned, and have them plant and have the forest regrown in those areas."

The Conservancy is hosting events like this about once a month. They’re able to take around a dozen kids each time so keep an eye on their social media pages and reach out to them if you’re interested in attending one of these events.