In 2006, I helped to found the Children & Nature Network to address the need for a backbone organization for the movement to bring down the barriers between children and nature, to combat nature-deficit disorder. Over the years, I’ve served on the board and helped launch a number of initiatives. Today my central role with the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) is as a volunteer and donor.
Here’s why my wife Kathy and I support C&NN and why we hope you will, too.
Don’t Mourn, Organize. C&NN Supports Grassroots, National and International Leadership
With C&NN’s help, 115 regional, state and provincial campaigns worldwide are reaching more than 3 million children and youth annually. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed, but it’s a powerful beginning. At C&NN’s annual Grassroots Gathering, leaders from around the world are brought together face-to-face to learn from each other and advance the movement.
Information is Power. C&NN Provides the World’s Most Comprehensive Information and Research Center for Children and Nature
C&NN offers the best database of science-based knowledge about the deficit of nature in the lives of children and families, and the benefits to their health and ability to learn. It offers the only one-stop news service and information on existing programs, campaigns and policies. Local and national groups depend on the research and news sections for the development of foundation grants and general policies. Policymakers and journalists find the site invaluable. So do parents, educators, medical professionals and many others.
C&NN publishes, and provides free-of-charge, multi-lingual guides to help families, pediatricians, teachers, young leaders and policy makers move the movement. On C&NN Connect, nearly 4,000 leaders of the children and nature movement meet online to trade information and assist each other. Many thousands of others connect through C&NN’s growing social networks.
While C&NN offers these critical services free of charge, they are not free. Grants and contributions are critical to C&NN’s ability to provide technical assistance and resources to fuel the movement.
Young Natural Leaders Can Lead the Movement — and Every Teacher Can Become a Natural Teacher
C&NN’s Natural Leaders Network trains young people, ages 18 to 30, to become leaders in the children and nature movement and beyond. Today, 90 young people – many from inner city neighborhoods – are connecting 10,000 youth and families to nature in their communities.
Teachers who want to take their students outside to learn face too many obstacles. C&NN’s Natural Teachers Network brings these teachers together to support and learn from each other. At last count, 5,641 Natural Teachers are working to bring outdoor classrooms to students worldwide.
Why Not Thousands of Nature Clubs for Families?
C&NN has helped create and encourage 167 Nature Clubs for Families – groups of multiple families who support each other to confront fear and time pressures, and get their kids outside. Many these clubs have memberships of hundreds of families (in San Diego, for example, Family Adventures in Nature has over 1000 participating families). More than 35,000 families worldwide belong to Nature Clubs for Families.
Many of these family nature clubs and grassroots campaigns are galvanized to further action by C&NN’s Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) and Serve Outside September (S.O.S) campaigns. Last year, 903 Let’s G.O! service projects connected more than 350,000 people to nature in the month of April alone.
New Ideas Fuel the Future
C&NN doesn’t stop with best practices, it develops new approaches – promising practices – emphasizing self-replicating social change – methods that can grow in size and number without central control. Through C&NN’s blog, The New Nature Movement, as well as its Leadership Papers series, C&NN provides an international forum for new ideas, commentary and analysis by thought leaders, and new voices from around the world.
Through its bully pulpit, C&NN keeps the movement alive and growing. C&NN leaders spread the word through media, convening others, and speaking around the world, including keynote addresses to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the first White House Summit on Environmental Education, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and other national and international organizations.
With your help, C&NN can change the world, one child at a time.
A powerful idea has no limits, and no borders. Recently, C&NN helped lead the way to the adoption of The Child’s Right to Connect with Nature and to a Healthy Environment, a resolution adopted at the 2012 World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature — attended by more than 10,000 people representing the governments of 150 nations and more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations.
What’s next? C&NN is already inspiring pediatricians, psychologists and other health professionals to prescribe nature and incorporate it into their practices. Now it wants to build an even larger nature and health movement. That’s just one of C&NN’s goals.
The movement has made progress. We’re proud of that. But the barriers between children and nature remain – and some are growing. Together, let’s bring down the barriers.
Kathy and I hope you’ll join us in supporting the Children & Nature Network in any way you can.
Nov. 25, 2013
Richard and Kathy Louv