HARRISON, Maine — For more than 20 years, WinterKids has been working to get children outside during the cold winter months.
WinterKids is the only nonprofit in Maine that exclusively does this type of work.
During the previous Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the WinterKids Winter Games was born. Kids get to participate in outdoor activities for four weeks each year, with the chance of winning money for their school.
They also learn about healthy habits while also playing outside.
"Humans are not meant to hibernate. You need to get out and have fun," Julie Mulkern, the executive director of WinterKids, said.
Mulkern added the organization's goal is to create healthy lifelong habits by disguising learning with fun.
"We get to have fun, and we get to learn," a fourth-grade student at Harrison Elementary School told NEWS CENTER Maine.
This year's games included 22 schools across Maine's 16 counties, all competing for a chance to win money for their school. To win, they must complete all the events.
Before the fun of running around outside, the kids have to answer questions like, "Why is it bad to smoke?" or "How much water should I drink in a day?"
"I think the kids really love getting outside. They love doing things that they don't think they're actually learning, but they're actually learning. Because they say it's lots of fun doing different activities, being outside in the snow, and having fun with their friends," Harrison Elementary School Principal Margaret Emery said.
"We see during the month of the winter games our attendance increases in school, and that is incredible. And that is a huge testament of the power, I think, in outdoor learning," Mulkern added.
Mulkern said outdoor learning can happen even when temperatures get very low.
"There's no bad weather; there's only bad clothing," she said.