Smiles are abundant at Nature Playtimes programs. Courtesy/PEEC
The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) and the New Mexico Wildlife Center (NMWC) have received a Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico Healthy Kids Health Families (HKHF) grant for the popular, free Nature Playtimes program.
The grant will ensure that PEEC can continue to provide this program to the community every Monday morning at the Los Alamos Nature Center on Canyon Road.
The grant also provides funds for the NMWC to begin a pilot program of Nature Playtimes at its facility in Española.
HKHF is a grant initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of children and their families across the state of New Mexico. HKHF is part of an ongoing commitment on the part of Blue Cross Blue Shield to invest and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs that focus on four areas, including physical activity.
Nature Playtimes offers children ages 0-5 and their caregivers a way to get outside together, being active and connecting with nature. Parents who attend the program find that not only are their children more active during the one-hour program, but they are more active during the week, as well.
One parent said, “We spend more time outside as a family now, and my kids have learned to love the environment. My kids continue to talk about PEEC and what they learned through the rest of the week, and they count down the days until they can come back.” Another parent reports that her child, who is just learning to speak, insists, “Hike! Hike!” over and over when he wants to go outside.
This is the third year that BCBSNM has supported Nature Playtimes, and the program continues to grow, with up to 30 families attending each week.
Now the program will spread to the Española Valley, as the NMWC institutes a similar program at its facility.