Authored by Julie Mulkern
Executive Director, WinterKids
The WinterKids Passport, now celebrating its 15th year, opens doors to an exciting array of fun and healthy winter activities for the whole family—including downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snow tubing. The program is available to all Maine kids for three successive years (grades 5 through 7) and, as such, works to develop healthy lifestyles in children, over time. One grateful Passport parent recently remarked, “Because of WinterKids, our son knows that winter in Maine doesn’t have to be spent in hibernation!” The Passport is availabe for $25 and is scholarshipped to those in need.
We also have a great program for the little ones! The WinterKids FunPass offers children in preschool through 4th grade the opportunity to try snowshoeing and cross country skiing for FREE at 20 participating winter recreation centers all over Maine. The FunPass is available as a downloadable form at www.winterkids.org!
In our work with healthcare professionals, we have learned that pediatricians seek “non-traditional prescription” opportunities for their young patients as a means to offer fun and relatable activities to improve children’s health. These “prescriptions” often take the form of referrals to family-focused organizations like WinterKids, which offer free, low-barrier programs that promote health, well-being, and outdoor physical activity.
Through an exciting collaboration with Let’s Go! Healthcare, pediatricians at the Maine Medical Center Pediatric Clinic, Maine Medical Partners South Portland Pediatrics and the Countdown to a Healthy ME Clinic will be able to prescribe the WinterKids Passport & FunPass for free as “prescriptions” for health this winter to kids who need it most! These family-oriented, physically active programs meet the Let’s Go! strategy for 1 or more hours of physical activity per day.
If this pilot project proves to be a success, the WinterKids Passport will be available to all pediatricians within the MaineHealth system next year.
For more information on these programs, our work with schools, or a list of WinterKids events in your community, please visit www.winterkids.org!
Get Outside! Be Active! Have Fun! In the words of WinterKids spokesman and Maine Olympic Snowboard Champ, Seth Wescott: “This winter, be a winter kid!”