PORT TOWNSEND — A little play therapy — for children and grownups — awaits outdoors during the Turkey Trot and family scavenger hunt, a fundraiser for the Jumping Mouse Children’s Center starting this weekend.
“In August, we realized there was just no way we’d be able to have the event in person,” said race director Whitney Friddle, “so we’d have to get all kinds of creative” in hosting the 5-kilometer fun run.
Friddle, who’s also Jumping Mouse’s development manager, worked with the rest of the staff to make up kits for runners, walkers, families and teams to use on their own jaunts.
People can take solo outings or go with a household member any time during the coming week, Friddle said. They can also choose the “I prefer my couch” option, and with the virtual format, people can participate anywhere in the world.
Friddle and her crew will hand out run/walk packets and goodie bags from noon to 3 p.m. today at Jumping Mouse, 1809 Sheridan St. To arrange another pickup time or have a packet mailed, phone 360-379-5109. For more information, see jumpingmouse.org.
Entry fees range from $15 for participants 17 and younger to $20 for the scavenger hunt, which is set up at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way. The run/walk fee is $30, as is the couch-level fee.
Jumping Mouse, founded in 1999, provides children’s mental health therapy for 80 to 90 kids per week — now, mostly in telehealth sessions.
At the onset of the pandemic, the 11 therapists went to work ensuring their kids had internet service and a quiet place to talk.
The Turkey Trot and scavenger hunt start Jumping Mouse’s year-end fundraising season, Friddle noted, so they’re key to the center’s policy of turning no one away for inability to pay.
The center’s young clients range in age from 2 to 12, and they are coping with emotional stress or trauma. They may also be dealing with pandemic-related challenges, Friddle said, “since their world is especially upside-down.”
In telehealth visits, kids use play-therapy kits that can include drawing and creating stories, she said, and some take their therapists on virtual adventures out in the yard. Youngsters are good at thinking outside the box.
As for the Turkey Trot participants, “we’ve got teams; that’s new this year,” Friddle said.
Team members and individuals can run, walk and hunt separately and, if they’re so inclined, raise additional money via pledges from friends and family.
Turkey Trot week runs through Nov. 29, so people have time to map out their routes and explore the scavenger hunt, which starts at Fort Worden’s Memory Vault.
Friddle and her colleagues are creating a pathway something like an Easter egg hunt, only with hidden words that form a secret answer at the end.
Last year more than 200 people ran in the Turkey Trot, and the hope was for 250 in 2020. But, “the world being what it is,” Friddle is happy with the turnout so far, 128 as of Thursday.
They will be out trotting on, before or after Thanksgiving, in honor of Jumping Mouse.
The center’s name comes from a Native American legend about a mouse whose friends help him discover his strength and spirit.
Virtual as it is, the event “is just a great way to engage with our community,” Friddle said.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, senior reporter in Jefferson County, can be reached at [email protected]