About the Author

Katie Scott is the co-founder of NatureWize, www.en.naturewize.org, a non-profit organization she founded with her husband, Boni Jiang, to connect children and their families to nature in China. Katie and Boni have two young sons. They believe that it is critically important for everyone’s health and well-being to have direct experiences in nature, beginning with children and their families. The work of the Children & Nature Network inspired Katie and Boni to start a nature club for families in China.

IN CHINA: Family Nature Clubs Sow the Seeds of Happiness and Health [中文]

This season NatureWize will debut the Chinese translation of the Children & Nature Network’s Nature Clubs for Families Toolkit. But this is more than a debut of a new translation of a certainly useful document. We see it as a way of sharing the very essence of what inspired us and made us grow. And we hope those seeds will keep multiplying with your families!

Read 中文 [in Chinese].

NatureWize began only a few years ago when my own children were toddlers. As any parent can relate to, we seek the very best for our children, which includes the environment in which they grow and learn.

NatureWize Family Nature Club

In a phone call to an old friend I described the challenges of raising my active boys in an urban environment, and raising them in China, where construction sites are endless.

Without backyards and playgrounds, I had to carefully steer my boys out of the way of cars, potholes, and construction debris. Stepping on or sitting on grass, climbing trees, or throwing rocks into ponds was off limits in the community.  I felt sad for my boys as these little things brought me such simple joy when I was a child.

My friend recommended that I read Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, which described this worldwide phenomenon of disconnection from nature for this generation, as well as the well-researched academic, physical and mental wellness benefits of time and play in nature. Most importantly, the book inspired me to seek out the nature spaces around us with other parents. That seemed easy enough, as well as fun. And the Web site created to support such families, the Children and Nature Network, provided all the tools to do so.

Thus began our first Family Nature Club, pre-NatureWize, which we registered later with the Children & Nature Network. Using the simple references, templates and checklists provided in the Children and Nature Network’s Nature Clubs for Families Toolkit, I simply called up a few other families for a picnic and kite-flying in a local park.

Our family soon found that natural areas were actually all around us, in other public parks on the edges of the city, in classic Chinese potted and rooftop gardens, not to mention orchards and the terraced rice paddies a little further out of the city. We then started to regularly call other families to join us, and watched our children run and laugh in freedom. Every nature outing has been a joyful one, for all ages, during all seasons and weather.

We sought a healthy environment for our children to develop naturally in, but we, the parents and grandparents, also found we were healed of urban stresses and found friendship with other families.

I urge you to seek out nature with your own families and friends. With the permission and collaboration of the Children & Nature Network, NatureWize has translated the Nature Clubs for Families Toolkit into Chinese to help give you confidence that you can also gather other friends to go along with you.

Don’t wait for costly experts and organized tours. All you need are good shoes; your kids will bring along the curiosity. And, besides occasional entrance fees, your activity can be free of costs and very, very rich in rewards.

Additional Resources & Reading

Download C&NN’s Nature Clubs for Families Toolkit

 

A short film about C&NN’s family nature clubs,
donated by Gear-6 Productions, narrated by Janice Swaisgood.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Dave Sandersfeld says:

    Look for local retired elders who ran the woods as a kid to help nurture the science education aspects and careers potential in the World around us. Our world needs to make science, math and nature fun to make this a better world for future generations. I bet the China Youth in toxic air pollution need to know ways to help Nature heal. It would help their self-esteem too.

  2. Katie says:

    Thank you Dave for your insight! For our nature outings we highly encourage our elders to join. They often share their own enthusiasm and knowledge of the natural environment from their own younger days, from identifying natural “veggies” they harvested from the woods or along roadsides, to almost instinctual farming habits when us younger adults begin planting our first gardens.They play a very essential role!

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