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[fort ideas]Getting outside: Generation Wild aims to give kids a healthy dose of the outdoors

  Supplies necessary for building a fort: chairs, couch cushions and blankets.

  Kayden, 9, and Kinley, 7, Aldridge ticked off the items in easy order, clearly masters of living room fort construction.

  But the fort, just steps away from the playground area at Lincoln Park, was pretty nice too, and it provided a fun bit of shade on a hot Thursday while the two children waited with their mom and younger siblings for the nearby swimming pool to open.

  The fort’s beams look like colored pencils, banners with Generation Wild logos and colorful ribbons stream down the sides. “Woohoo!” the four kids yelled as they ran through the ribbons in their swimsuits.

  Brek Aldridge, 2, was having a fine time wrapping himself in the ribbons, then running in and out of the fort.

  “He’s good at messing things up,” declared Makelle Aldredge, 5, about her little brother who apparently likes to run everywhere with abandon.

  “Sometimes we call him Brek the wreck,” Kayden said rolling his eyes.

  The siblings described how they like to ride their bikes and scooters, play street hockey and jump on their trampoline. Their dad recently put a mister by the trampoline so they could cool off as they jump, Kayden said.

  “We’re getting a swing set!” Kinley excitedly interjected.

  “Anything to keep them outside,” said Cortney Aldridge, the children’s mother.

  And that is just the point of the fort and Generation Wild, an initiative of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) that is aimed at getting kids outside to explore the greater world around them.

  Generation Wild launched its latest campaign, “Just 20 Minutes Outside” in June. It is a direct result of research showing a dramatic increase in anxiety and depression in children dealing with isolation and disconnection from normal routines because of the pandemic, said Jackie Miller, interim executive director for GOCO.

  It’s also the result of research showing that spending 20 minutes outside can reduce stress and anxiety, according to a study published in 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology and cited by the campaign.

  Working with Sukle Advertising & Design in Denver, Generation Wild’s “Just 20 Minutes Outside” campaign has a video that can be found online and on TV that depicts a monster crashing its way through a house, but once outside it turns back into calmer child after contact with grass, trees and blue sky.

  “That is exactly what my kid is like!” has been the response of many parents to the video, said Mike Sukle, founder and creative director for Sukle, which tracks how people are responding to the campaign through word-of-mount, online feedback and an ongoing study.

  Also part of the campaign is the line “Just 20 minutes outside turns your kids into a kid again” that can be found on billboards around the state as well as on banners on the Generation Wild fort.

  At generationwild.com there is a list of “20 Ideas for 20 Minutes” with suggestions for parents in need of creative ideas, things that can be done right out their front door, Miller said.

  Ideas on this list include hosting a mud party, making sun prints using colored construction paper, setting up a toy car wash and playing flashlight tag.

  Along with downloading “20 Ideas for 20 Minutes,” parents can find even more ideas for getting kids into the outdoors with Generation Wild’s “100 Things to Do Before You’re 12” list.

  No. 7 on that list is “Build a fort.”

  It was the inspiration for Generation Wild’s real fort, Sukle said.

  They wanted it to be big, “so little kids would be like, Wow!” but it was a little bit of an engineering feet to create an 18-foot-tall fort that could be transported easily and attach to different surfaces,” he said.

  They also wanted the fort to be interactive and engaging, to catch the eyes and imaginations of children who never fail to run through or braid the fort’s ribbons, he said.

  While the Generation Wild fort will be at Lincoln Park until mid-August before moving to another spot in Colorado, the campaign’s online lists and inspiration for outdoor play can be accessed anytime at generationwild.com.