The fifth annual WinterKids Winter Games begins in the new year, with 22 schools competing statewide to win a total of $50,000 for their schools!

The Winter Games is a four-week series of challenges in outdoor physical activity, nutrition, family engagement and winter carnival starting Jan. 17, 2022, and ending on Feb. 11, 2022. This is also an Olympic Winter Games year. The first annual WinterKids Winter Games began in conjunction with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

According to the list of competitors announced by WinterKids, the only Waldo County school competing this year is Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport.

The winning school will receive $10,000, second place winner will receive $7,500 and third place will receive $5,000 in school-wide prize ceremonies. All competitive schools will receive a cash prize based on how they finish.

During the last school year, WinterKids offered an adapted, play-along version of the Winter Games to accommodate remote and hybrid learners. This model was so popular that the organization is offering it again this year. All told, 4,000 children and 340 teachers will participate in the competitive track of the Winter Games for a chance to win cash, while an additional 6,000 students and 100 teachers will play along and receive incentives and a chance to win weekly prizes.

“We are thrilled to offer a fun, active way to engage all kids in outdoor learning throughout the winter,” Julie Mulkern, WinterKids executive director, said in a press release. “This year, the Winter Games is focused on the Olympic Winter Games within the context of celebrating winter through outdoor physical activity, nutrition, family engagement and winter carnivals.”

Embracing outdoor learning helps to counteract the negative effects of excessive screen time – particularly for those in elementary school. WinterKids provides resources for both teachers and parents to get their kids outside and active. There is also a WinterKids Winter Games Facebook group for resource sharing, and downloadable activities on the organization’s website at winterkids.org.