And Now a Few Words About the Children & Nature Network
After “Last Child in the Woods” was published, a handful of like-minded individuals came together to form the Children & Nature Network. Our mission was simple: to help build a movement to reconnect children and their families to nature—for their physical health, cognitive development and emotional well-being, and for the good of our communities and the planet. Many groups have been committed to this issue for decades. But we believed that a new network of people and organizations could accelerate efforts to connect children and adults to the natural world.
C&NN keeps track of the movement, offers a single place on the Web to learn about the growing body of research, and most important, provides a way for people, especially at the grassroots, to network – to learn from each other both online and in person at our national leadership gatherings. The site contains links to news, human interest articles, analysis, and the best collection of publicly-available abstracts of studies on children and nature, from England, Australia, Scandinavia and elsewhere.
In the best sense, this is a leaderless movement, and a well-connected one.
As of today, nearly a hundred cities, states, provinces and regions in North America have created their own campaigns to connect children and families to nature. The movement is reaching inner-cities, suburbs and rural areas across the globe. Many physicians in the UK and United States are “prescribing” time in nature to their young patients. In the U.S., we’re seeing changes in local, state and national policies and increased media coverage of the issue.
We’re seeing a growing popularity for nature-based education. We've worked to honor what we call Natural Teachers -- the English teachers, the art teachers, the biology teachers who insist on getting their students outdoors. Conservation groups, large and small, have launched major initiatives to connect children to nature. We’ve seen thousands of families band together to create family nature clubs. Even as urbanization continues around the world, we see growing interest in transforming our cities into places rich with nearby nature. Young people are stepping forward, often from inner cities, to become what we call Natural Leaders of the movement.
These are just a few changes we’re seeing, but we don’t know if these positive steps will continue. The barriers remain. For example, electronic media use by children and youth in the U.S. has increased in the past five years to more than 53 hours per week, up from 44 just five years before. Obesity and other health-related risks continue at epidemic rates among children and youth, as well as adults, here and abroad. Children’s ability to recognize wild species continues to decline, and the first wave of denatured young people is now in their early parenting years.
Along with many other groups, our goal is to create deep cultural change. Some people don't think that's possible. We do. I'd like to invite you to join the movement, if you haven't done so already, and to explore the Children & Nature Network web site. Thanks -- and Happy New Year!
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