Get Active + Boost Your Mental Health (Long John’s Optional;)
I think everyone will agree that events are currently not what they used to be. And, until we can get back to some sort of normalcy, that trend is likely going to continue. When it came to deciding on this year’s Truro’s Winter Long John Festival, the Town of Truro staff were determined to keep this long standing event alive through the pandemic in new and creative ways.
“It is important that we move forward with this event because we still want people to get out, be active and enjoy their community to boost their mental health,” says Megan Burgess, special events and culture coordinator for the Town of Truro. “Even though we can’t have our traditional events, we feel that individuals will still benefit from getting outside and enjoying all that winter has to offer.”
This year, people are being encouraged to create their own individual activities that mirror the traditional group activities that have become a staple of the Long John Festival since it began in 2007. This year, people are being encouraged to track their own participation in activities like snowshoeing, sledding, skating, hiking, building a snowman, and more through a winter passport. Prizes are up for grabs as an added incentive to participate and, even wearing your long johns to work can get you one step closer to potentially winning a prize.
One addition to this year’s festival is the creation of a story trail, which combines literacy and physical activity by displaying the pages of a book in sequence along a community walking trail. The idea of incorporating a story trail into this year’s Long John Festival came up as a collaboration between Town staff and two Truro and Area Community Health Board members, Mandy Moore and Joel Taylor. Following this initial partnership conversation, the decision was made to showcase the book Hank’s Ball, a children’s book about grief, written by local authors Sam Madore (yours truly;) and Joey Schurman, and illustrated by local artist Amanda Bent.
“Given the hardships that many of our residents have faced this past year, we thought it was important to focus on mental health,” says Burgess. “The story trail allows us to do this in a non-traditional way by using a relatable story to encourage healthy outdoor activity. We chose this particular book as it normalizes grief and its effect on mental health and it explains emotions in a way that is easily understood.”
Now more than ever, we need to keep our mental health a top priority in our day to day lives. Having these friendly reminders sprinkled throughout the Town – nudging us to get outside, get active, be safe, and take care of ourselves – is getting us one step closer to making it through these tough days of winter.
Hank’s Ball will be displayed on the trail along Kiwanis Pond in Truro starting on Friday, February 12. You can find the most up-to-date information on this year’s modified Truro Winter Long John Festival, including details on the winter passport and prizes, on the Truro Parks Recreation Culture Facebook page.