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When I finished my PhD in Planning on Nature and the Child Friendly City, I didn’t want to stop doing research. However, the research has taken on a more personal note, as I explore the applications in everyday life, with my own family and community.
While most of us feel instinctively that children should develop a connection with nature, and understand the benefits of outdoor experiences for both children and adults, many of us rarely find the time or energy to get off the couch.
Given these instincts and the vast amount of knowledge and research conducted on these topics, it never ceases to amaze me that communities continue to develop over greenspace, and continue to prioritize things like traffic and economic development over access to natural areas. Are these priorities a symptom or a cause of the problem? Perhaps both. Our lifestyles will have a great influence over urban planning, and urban planning will have a great influence on our lifestyles. When this combination is pushed away from nature, it spirals out of control.
Children and adults alike spend more and more time inside in front of screens, and suffer socially, psychologically, and physically as a result. This generation of bubble-wrapped children views natural spaces as lurking grounds for west nile virus, drug dealers and predators. An outdoor child risks UV exposure, kidnapping, and (horrors!), a skinned knee. Today’s children can identify hundreds of corporate logos and fail to identify a single backyard bird.
The natural world is not the only place with a dearth of children these days. Entire communities are often designed to exclude, rather than include children. Aesthetics focus on adult preferences, and design prioritizes convenience, efficiency and traffic flow.
So, what is the solution? This blog is going to explore ways in which we, as community members, government officials, teachers, parents and children can help.
I want to live in a community that favours creativity, innovation, playfulness, accessibility and inclusion over tradition, efficiency, standards and control. Don’t you?