Posted by Kristyn Maslog-Levis on Wed, May 14, 2014 @ 7:46 PM
Image from Project Wild Thing
A report called Sowing the Seeds, Reconnecting London’s Children with Nature for the London Sustainable Development Commission, shows how “giving children access to nature promotes their mental and emotional well-being and may have a positive effect on the behaviour of some children”.
It said that too many of London’s children “have little or no meaningful contact with natural places in the city”. Because of this, the kids maybe be denied “the many and varied benefits that experiences in nature bring; experiences that many adults understand at a deep emotional level from their own childhood memories”.
The report said because of this lack of connection with nature, kids may grow up “indifferent to nature and unsupportive of the need for environmental stewardship”.
It has several recommendations that should be implemented over the years to “have the potential to make a real difference to children’s relationship with the natural world”.
It recommends that schools and early years settings give greater emphasis to offering children engaging everyday nature experiences within their grounds. “This should be done through the creation of natural play spaces and more extensive and easily accessible habitat areas.”
“Two thirds of London’s area is made up of green spaces or water, and 10 percent is designated as Metropolitan Open Land, yet children’s experiences of natural places in the capital have been in long-term decline, as a result of societal changes that have been unfolding for many years.”
Although London is quite a green city, its “green spaces are not uniformly distributed, and many parts of the city are deficient.” The report said that one third of families visit natural places every two months. One in seven had not made a single visit for a year. This statistic is also worse with children from poorer families.
“Initiatives are fragmented, and grappling with complex issues and challenges.” The report said that only four percent of London’s children are being reached by existing initiatives.
Some of the suggestions from the report include creating natural habitats or wildlife area on school grounds, the establishment of forest schools, the increase of natural conservation projects, and the creation of ‘natural play’ approach to the design of public play areas in parks and green spaces. Other initiatives include community-based projects, city farms, community gardens, horticultural projects, after-school programmes, play ranger schemes and so on.
A campaign called Project Wild Thing is pushing for parents to turn screen time into “wild time” playing and enjoying nature outdoors. The project is a film led movement to get more kids and adults outside, reconnecting with nature. The project, which started in 2010, has gained a growing following and has become a movement of organisations and individuals who share the same passion for the cause.
According to a report from Western Gazette in the UK, Camp Bestival has teamed up with the campaign to “help adults and children reconnect with nature” while being entertained. Camp Bestival runs from July 31 to August 3 at Lulworth Castle, Dorset.
Project Wild Thing’s David Bond told the Western Gazette that the campaign is all about how children need to get outdoors and into nature.
“We’re really passionate about connecting young people and adults with the outdoors because it makes them fitter, it makes them healthier, it makes them happier and it makes them develop better.”