TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. -The Tumbler Ridge UNESCO global geopark project titled “Health in Geoparks” aims to encourage healthy living and address nature-deficit disorder.

Inspired by the theme of the 2016 Global Geopark International Conference, the project encompasses four themes: connect well, move well, eat well, and live well.

The District of Tumbler Ridge says the themes encourage residents that live in or visit the geopark to consider how they can eat sustainably, learn to focus on physical activity and healthy lifestyles, and connect with nature.

The project, led by Dr. Charles Helm alongside other experts, included 146 volunteer hours and opinions of numerous experts, including First Nation elders, Northern Health experts, physicians, psychologists, pharmacists, nurses, and more.

According to the district, experts ensured that the project was evidence-based, incorporated Indigenous knowledge and wisdom and included healthy physical activities.

The project was also presented to 1100 viewers by the executive director of the geopark, Manda Maggs, and Dr. Helm at the (Virtual) Global Geoparks Network Conference in Jeju, South Korea, in December 2021.

Thanks to funding provided by the district, the teacher resource guide “Living Well in Place: Health and Wellness in the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark” was created.

The guide focuses on feature geosites at TRUGG and brings together the four themes of the Health in Geoparks project.

“Through four inquiry-based lessons, the guide embeds movement, connection to place, history and culture as integral to each lesson. In addition, the lessons address our daily choices for health and wellness and address nature-deficit disorder, which is increasingly being regarded as a medical diagnosis,” the district said in a release.

According to the BBC, the term nature-deficit disorder was coined by American journalist and author Richard Louv in his 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods.”

Louv claims that individuals, especially children, are spending more time indoors than they have in the past, causing alienation from nature, which he hypothesizes makes them more vulnerable to negative moods and reduced attention spans.

In a 2018 study on ventilation, Health Canada estimated that Canadians spend approximately 90 per cent of their time indoors.