Comox Valley Schools StrongStart educators are taking a page out of a beloved children’s book and encouraging children to get up, get out, and get moving with their families.

Inspired by a children’s storybook by author Michael Rosen We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, they’re searching for teddy bears.

 #GoingOnABearHunt is a way to encourage children to go for a walk and spot a teddy bear. 

You’re asked to take part by putting a teddy bear in your window.

StrongStart educator Colleen Friendship says this isn’t a one-day event: “It’s going to grow; I think it will go on for quite some time.”

Friendship said they’re piggybacking on the ‘hearts in windows’ initiative that recognizes the sacrifices of front-line workers.

“The idea is to put a teddy bear in their window, and then when they’re out for a walk they can look for the teddy bears and see how many they can find,” Friendship said. “It’s something they can do as a whole family so the older children can count the number of teddy bears, the type of teddy bears. The little ones can take a look for the teddy bears, and it’s an opportunity to get outside.”

Bears can be found in neighbourhood windows, front windows of local shops and businesses, or maybe even in cars and gardens.

The program is spreading across communities worldwide from California to the United Kingdom, where the book originates.

 “We are encouraging play-based, meaningful activities for our StrongStart children to get them moving while they are at home,” said educator Michelle Hawkins.

“Movement is medicine for our physical and mental wellness. Children need social interactions, and this is one activity we can adopt in our bigger Comox Valley community to support all students, not just our young StrongStart children and families.”

“It’s as simple as placing a bear in a window,” added Hawkins. “We really need to support our children through this pandemic and stimulate their wellness in a fun way.”

Friendship said the project has grown beyond her expectations.

“Part of that is because all of the StrongStart facilitators in the Comox Valley are sharing it out as well as the school district is sharing it out, so it’s continuing to grow, even as we speak,” she said. 

The #GoingOnABearHunt already has a presence on Facebook with other communities adding their city name to their own group.

Friendship believes this ‘teddy bear hunt’ will be a welcome distraction for children and their families.

“When we think about children and we think about what’s important to them, it’s being with their family and especially young children who don’t understand. When you tell a two-year-old or a three-year-old that they can’t go to the park anymore or they can’t see their friends or can’t see their grandparents, it’s really hard for them to understand why. The opportunity to be together as a family is so important.”

She added that she would like to think, in 10 years time, when all this is behind us, “children will remember about the pandemic but maybe their memories will also be dotted with some of these wonderful times, such as, ‘I remember going to look for teddy bears together as a family.’”

Friendship said the Comox Valley School District will be posting a ‘spotter sheet’ on its website, that you can use to keep track of how many and what types of teddy bears you will see.