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The benefits of time spent in nature are well-documented, but fewer and fewer people take advantage of natural spaces. These areas are neglected and, in many cases, disappearing. Children are never given the opportunity to develop positive relationships with the natural world, and are even taught to fear what may be lurking there.
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.
Right now, I am at home with two young children, and I truly understand the trappings of the “indoor life.” Juggling naps, snacks, laundry, dishes, cooking, school pick ups and extra curriculars is a full-time job. The daily wrestling match with snowsuits, carseats, strollers and whiny children can make time spent in nature seem to be an additional chore. Somehow, though, when we do manage to get outside, and especially into a natural space, we feel better. We argue less. We breathe more. We are calm and at peace. Those daily struggles fade away.
This blog is going to explore ways in which we, as community members, government officials, teachers and parents can help children connect with the natural world and the larger community. In part, I hope this blog serves to remind me of what I know is important for my family, and for my own well-being.
I want to live in a community that favours natural spaces, community, creativity, innovation, playfulness, accessibility and inclusion over development, individualism, tradition, efficiency, standards and control. Don’t you?