Many of us still remember a time when playing in nature was considered normal and expected. Here’s a question: Will we leave this earth and take that memory with us? Or will we do what it takes to connect all children, in every kind of neighborhood, to nature?
The Children & Nature Network needs your help. Please consider giving your time, talent or tax-deductible contribution.
We hear testimonials every day from people who witness the profound impact of the gifts of nature on children and adults, and about the work of the Children & Nature Network.
We hear from parents and children about how reconnecting to nature has transformed their lives. We hear from teachers who describe how the learning capacity of children, especially the ones who often have the most difficulty in the classroom, come alive in natural settings. We hear from community leaders, often from low-income neighborhoods, who tell us how nature has brought people together across political and religious barriers. And we hear from health care professionals.
A few days ago, a child psychologist wrote about how important nature can be to her young patients. I am using this as a therapeutic goal in their treatment plans, she wrote. The greatest moment of my career was watching a mostly non-verbal schizophrenic client say ‘animals,’ tug my sleeve and point at six white-tail deer running across our path.
A similar email came from Mary Brown, MD., a pediatrician in Great Bend Oregon and a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She described how childhood depression and the effects of childhood obesity came to dominate her practice. It never occurred to me that much of my practice as a pediatrician would one day be so focused on childhood obesity and depression. And she pointed to nature experience as a vital, and too often ignored, antidote to so many of the problems that hurt children today.
Across the country, good organizations are now working tirelessly to reconnect children to nature. They deserve your attention and support. But here’s a special request. As 2010 comes to an end, please take a moment to support the Children & Nature Network.
Whether you’re new to the cause or already making good use of C&NN’s services and resources, please consider giving at our “Friends” level of $250 or more, and become a founding member of “Friends of Children and Nature.”
The Children & Nature Network is making a profound difference in the lives of children and adults. Major C&NN initiatives include the Natural Leaders Network, in which 15 – 29 year-olds, many from low-income communities, become leaders in the movement; the Natural Families Network, where families come together for nature-based experiences which instill confidence and nourish family bonding; the Natural Teachers Network, which encourages all teachers (not only environmental educators) to bring nature into the classroom and the classroom into nature.
Today, more than 80 children and nature campaigns and initiatives in more than 40 states and three continents have registered on C&NN’s international map. An independent report sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation reports that these campaigns reached between 900,000 and 1.5 million participants in 2009; that at least 500 new school gardens, natural play areas, and community gardens for children have been established in the areas served by these grassroots initiatives; that nearly 70 percent of the campaigns used or distributed the research and studies made available by C&NN; and that public attitudes have changed and participation is on the rise.
We’ve seen the recent formation of nearly 100 family nature clubs — several with membership of several hundred families each (one has 600 families). What if there were hundreds of regional initiatives and thousands of family nature clubs in the next few years? That’s one of C&NN’s goals.
I could list more examples of progress, but we have a long way to go. The danger is that success will breed complacency.
Public concern about the disconnect between children and nature could become just another passing fad. But with your help, we believe that the movement will grow into true cultural change.
The historic disconnect between children and nature is particularly poignant to those of us in the boomer generation. As the last generation to recall a time when it was considered normal and expected for children to run and play in fields and woods, we have a special responsibility. How long will it be before that memory, that knowledge, disappears? It doesn’t have to. If we can reconnect just 20 percent of the parents and children to nature, we believe we’ll reach a tipping point, and the movement will become self-sustaining. Children, families, and the Earth itself will benefit.
As Cheryl Charles, president of the Children & Nature Network, says, “This is a transformative time in the children and nature movement.” Here’s why C&NN deserves your support:
• C&NN is the only organization to focus solely on building a national and international movement to reconnect children to nature.
• C&NN is the best source of research abstracts, connected to the original sources, on the nature deficit and the benefits of nature to children, available free to anyone in the world.
• C&NN is building a network of tens of thousands of volunteers, young and old. In national and regional gatherings, C&NN brings the leaders of the movement together, face to face, where they share ideas and resources.
• C&NN is creating free tools for parents and professionals, to help them build stronger families and communities — and to build the movement.
We believe C&NN is the mortar of the children and nature movement. So, as 2011 approaches, please support the good organizations growing the movement, and consider sending a donation to the Children & Nature Network. Big dreams win.
Richard Louv is chairman of the Children and Nature Network. He is the author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”