Sunaira’s story

Sunaira’s story

This post was first published by the Outdoor Activity Club, run by the Outdoor Council of Canada. It is posted here with the permission of the authors.

Written by Sunaira Tejpar

This is the story of Sunaira Tejpar, an incredibly passionate young woman from Calgary whose life is devoted to helping others.

Like for many other Canadians, Sunaira developed a bond with the outdoors by starting small. Slowly, she fell in love with the outdoors, pushed her limits and at some point, realized she lacked knowledge to go on. Therefore, she participated in the Outdoor Activity Club, run by the Outdoor Council of Canada. Ever since, she has been passionate about hiking, climbing, car camping, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking and rafting to name a few.

In 2021, Sunaira is 27 years old. She’s a dedicated and passionate teacher for children with exceptionalities in Calgary. She’s finishing a Master’s degree where she looks at how self-concept (how one views themselves) and self-compassion impacts self-regulated learning in students with high incidence exceptionalities. Having just applied for a PhD program in educational psychology, she aims to work both with students and teachers.

In 2034, Sunaira —or should we call her Dr. Tejpar— will be 40 years old. She is now a faculty at the University of Calgary’s Department of Education. Through her courses, she is passing on her passion for the outdoors and for helping others. Hundreds of undergraduate students from across the country have been lucky enough to have her as a teacher over the years. Working alongside an outdoor expert of the university’s Outdoor Center, she takes all her teachers-in-training for expeditions in the wilderness. She even created a forest therapy program, informed by the practices of the Forest Therapy Guides Association of Canada and funded easily thanks to a better understanding by funding bodies of the value and benefits of outdoor programs.

Every day, when she comes back home, her children talk to her about what they learned while being outside. Most schools now have an outdoor program similar to what you see with the Vivian Outdoor Center at the York Region District School Board. Due to the concerted effort of the national outdoor community (those reading this story), Canadians now better recognize the benefits of outdoor activity for physical and mental health as well as learning.

In 2054, Dr. Tejpar will be 60 years old. She is now a professor Emeritus known for her continued advocacy for the outdoors. Over the last thirty years, hundreds of teachers in training have passed through her classes—many of which are now school principals and even politicians! Nearing her retirement, her impact on the Canadian society has been enormous, thanks in part to organized efforts by our community, like the Canadian Outdoor Summit, to educate fellow Canadians and push innovative outdoor programs. She directly and indirectly sparked a passion for the outdoors in thousands, maybe even millions across the country.

Specialized outdoor programs, in partnership with many Led Outdoor Activity providers, such as Scouts Canada, Outward Bound Canada, Akahau Aventures, Colour the Trails, Kâniyâsihk Culture Camp, and many others, are now available in schools, universities, communities and workplaces.

It is 2074 and Dr. Tejpar is now 80 years old.  She is in amazing shape! She still goes hiking every weekend with friends and family. She joined the Slow and Steady outdoor club and she knows that the trips are safe for her. This is because the club has the support necessary to ensure the volunteer leaders are ready for their role. Dr Tejpar feels a strong sense of connection to her country and the world. Over the years, she inspired thousands of Canadians, many of which were teachers, who in turn transmitted their passion for the outdoors to future generations.

This is the life we want for Sunaira. This is an example of the great impact our concerted efforts could have on our society. At a time when mental health is such an issue across the country, the benefits of going  outdoors must be understood and shared with all. We are so fortunate to have such amazing landscapes and such passionate program providers across the country. Let’s stop working in silos and let’s join forces to change the future of Led Outdoor Activities for the better.

Learn more about the Outdoor Council Of Canada.



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