As February rolls around, it’s time for the Great Prairie Race, once again hosted by Northern Lights Movement for Kids. The Race is a great way for kids, parents, teachers, schools, and community groups to shake off the winter doldrums, get active, and meet some new friends and colleagues along the way.
Established as part of the Northern Lights Movement for Kids, in honour of fallen Humboldt Bronco Jacob Leicht, the Race has been a part of many schools’ and children’s learning experience for the past few years. Celeste Leray-Leicht organizes the yearly event that has schools and groups tracking the kilometres they move – whether walking, skating, skiing, snowshoeing - whatever the winter conveyance.
“Last year, we had 27 schools from across our prairie provinces register and participate, and most of the schools were able to meet in a virtual gathering at the end of February,” said Leicht. “Students are invited to track the distance they move throughout the month of February in a collective effort.”
This year, Celeste is hoping to beat the 27-school record, and the Race registrations are nearing that goal. Last year, schools from Edmonton, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, Frog Lake, AB and La Loche were among the far-flung locations to sign on.
This year there are prizes at stake for participants. Three winning classroom teachers will receive 2 tickets to an NHL game to enjoy watching the Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames or the Winnipeg Jets in their regular season campaigns. Each of the teachers will also win a pizza and ice cream party for their classes, doubling down on the winning.
Leray-Leicht says the Race is open to schools, but also to teams, youth groups and organizations who want to get in on the fun and the kilometre clocking.
As well as a call to physical activity, the Race is designed to allow youth participants to find out more about their competitors from other parts of the prairies. The event has always strived to connect First Nations and Indigenous communities with non-Indigenous partners in a spirit of learning and friendship. This year’s online connections also offer departures from previous years.
“We are going to launch it off virtually, together, on Thursday, February 1, and I will be challenging schools to reach out to connect beyond virtual means and the Great Prairie Race. So, they might invite each other to be pen pals, or if they live in close proximity, maybe they could visit each other’s schools.”
The ultimate goal, says Celeste, is that students be able to meet face-to-face to make those connections and to share interests and cultures.
Schools from any part of the prairies who want to get in on the excitement and the activity can head to northerlightsmovementforkids.ca.