Dec 23, 2020

Hiking Toward a Healthier Future


From CVC Foundation’s Terri LeRoux

During the holidays, we find ourselves reflecting on the year past. Whether it’s lessons learned or what we’re grateful for, it’s a time to cherish what’s important.

This holiday season is unlike any other for my 10-year-old son Luke. When he was four months old, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. It’s the fourth most common neurological condition and it affects people of all ages. It often results in unpredictable seizures. Luke was having as many as 16 seizures a day.

For most of the his life, we managed his epilepsy with medication – sometimes having to take 10 pills a day. But not anymore! And access to nature and greenspace had a lot to do with it.

I’m always worried for his safety, anticipating his next seizure and its severity. Luke’s epilepsy medication was critical for managing his condition, but it also came with unwanted side-effects. It affected his language processing, dexterity, cognitive abilities, coordination and confidence. Just being a kid was difficult.

Despite the difficulties, I’ve always encouraged him to get outside. Having grown up canoeing, fishing, hiking and camping, I’m no stranger to the benefits of nature. And just like me, Luke found that he can be his best-self outdoors. Being active in nature significantly reduced his overall stress levels, which was a major trigger for his seizures.

Luke’s journey to being less reliant on his medication began on January 1st. We set out to complete 100 hikes across Ontario over the course of the year. We documented our hikes on Instagram, highlighting stunning outdoor spaces, many of which are supported by generous donors who value the special role nature plays in our lives.

I immediately noticed a calming effect on Luke, which was incredibly helpful as we slowly weaned him off of his medication. And Luke isn’t alone. In a recent study, 95 per cent of participants saw a significant increase in calmness just from being active in nature.

Luke Hiking the Credit Valley Trail at Upper Credit Conservation AreaThe decision to wean Luke off his medication became clearer with each hike we conquered together. After our 100th hike at beautiful Upper Credit Conservation Area on November 9th, we revealed to our friends and family that Luke was no longer dependent on his medication to manage his condition. We were overjoyed and it wouldn’t have been possible without access to beautiful natural spaces, so close to home.

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is trying to ensure that people in our community have even more access to natural with the Credit Valley Trail.

CVC is creating a 100-kilometre trail along the banks of the Credit River, from the headwaters in Orangeville to Lake Ontario in Port Credit. The Credit Valley Trail will connect people like Luke to the beauty of nature and the sustaining waters of the Credit River.

32 kilometers of the trail currently exist, including the first signed section at Upper Credit Conservation Area. This is thanks in part to generous donor support through the CVC Foundation. It’s my hope that Luke’s story and the holiday season will inspire you to give so we can connect the remaining 68 kilometers.
Your donation will fund critical aspects of the Credit Valley Trail, including securing new land, building the trail surface and creating stops along the way where people can explore the rich natural and cultural heritage of the Credit River. Nature offers a safe, carefree space for Luke and so many others to explore, destress and build their confidence. Having access to a connected and protected trail so close to home will be transformative for our children. Whether big or small, your holiday donation will have a major impact on people in our community for generations to come.

Please donate before December 31st and our partner, Imperial, will generously match your holiday gift (up to $10,000)! Every dollar you contribute will have double the opportunity to connect people like Luke with nature.

Donate Today

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday,

Terri LeRoux,
Credit Valley Conservation Foundation