The Roberta Bondar Foundation (RBF) was established in July 2009 in order to engage Ontarians, especially leaders and school-aged youth, to discover, appreciate and connect with our natural environment. Because she is a firm believer in the restorative powers of nature, and following her mission into space, Dr. Bondar resolved to care for our planet Earth. An increasing body of research continues to correlate a connectedness with nature to health improvement; this is the foundation of RBF’s mandate to promote good health while protecting the planet. The foundation also aims to stimulate interest, excitement and creativity through art to promote environmental education.
One of the pillars of the Roberta Bondar Foundation is The Bondar Challenge. This challenge is dedicated to advancing our overall understanding and appreciation of our interconnectedness with the environment, as well as challenging those who enter to infuse art into science and vice versa. The Bondar Challenge is in its first year of collecting photos and is a great way to celebrate Canada’s and Ontario’s 150th birthdays. Dr. Bondar and the RBF launched the challenge during her Earth Matters Tour in Northern Ontario cities, which promoted the importance of its message. It calls on participants to snap a well-composed photograph of anything in their environment that they hope will exist for the next 150 years. The participant must also describe in 2-3 sentences why they chose their subject and submit the entry (photo and description) to TIMphotos@theRBF.org. The challenge has no entry fee and is open to all ages, individuals and groups in the community, in order to give the opportunity for everyone to share what is admired and valued in the natural world. The first one hundred and fifty entries will be granted a commemorative gift and the deadline to submit photos is October 20, 2017. For more information about the Bondar Challenge, and to find a the list of locations where cameras can be borrowed, visit their website.
An overwhelming response from teachers and students has confirmed the public’s commitment to sustaining the environment; our province’s natural beauty must be preserved for years to come. A number of other initiatives, such as the Summer Camp Bondar Challenge, have proven to be a meaningful experience for thousands of youth who have come to learn to care about the health of our Earth. Emanating Dr. Bondar’s passion for our planet can help others discover and rediscover the wonders of nature and its important biodiversity.