ALEXANDRIA BROTHERS ATTEMPT TO CANOE 350 MILES,
RAISE $10,000 TO HELP KIDS GET OUTDOORS, FIGHT OBESITY
Alexandria, Virginia brothers Ben Malakoff, 22, and Liam Malakoff, 18, will attempt to canoe 350 miles through the Maine wilderness this July to help kids get outdoors and get active. The siblings are also aiming to raise $10,000 for the Northern Forest Explorers, a program founded and run by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) to connect youth in rural communities to the natural wonders practically in their backyards.
The expedition fundraiser was prompted, in part, by the brothers’ concern about the nation’s growing “nature-deficit disorder.” Although not a medical condition, the term is used to describe the declining amount of time that Americans, particularly children, spend outdoors in natural settings. Experts say this nature deficit is contributing to a variety of problems, from obesity to behavioral challenges, and even reduced support for environmental protection.
“For thousands of years humans have spent the majority of their time in the outdoors, only in the past hundred years or so have humans shifted to spending most of their time indoors and we are now beginning to see the consequences of that,” says Ben, who recently graduated from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and has been paddling rivers since he was a child.
“Thankfully we have parents who understand the importance of spending time outside, and we want to make sure others have similar opportunities,” adds Liam, who like his brother graduated from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.
Looking for a way to share their love of the outdoors, the pair decided use their upcoming wilderness canoe trip as a way to raise awareness – and money that would enable more kids, especially those from low-income families, to get out in the wild.
The Northern Forest Explorers is a program designed to do precisely that. It was founded and is run by the NFCT, a nonprofit-based in New England that maintains a
740-mile water trail that runs through four states and Canada. The Northern Forest Explorers connects kids in rural areas along the trail to the amazing natural resources that are practically in their backyards by offering highly subsidized canoe-camping trips along the NFCT.
These trips can have profound impacts: “This experience was a lifelong one that brought us together and made us long to learn more about our surroundings,” said one camper who participated.
Ben first became aware of the NFCT as an avid canoer looking for new rivers to explore. He interned with the Vermont-based group following his freshman year of college. “The NFCT’s Northern Forest Explorers program is a great example of how to pass environmental stewardship on to the next generation while combating the problems of nature deficit disorder,” says Ben.
Liam is an accomplished whitewater slalom racer and former member of the U.S. Junior National Whitewater Slalom team. He has competed across the United States and at the Junior World Championships in France in 2011.
Old Town Canoes and Kayaks, a Maine based boat and outdoor sporting goods company, is partnering with Canoe for the Kids to help bring awareness to nature-deficit disorder.
For more information on the Canoe for the Kids expedition, or to make a pledge, please visit www.canoeforthekids.com.