Across the ages and in every culture, childhood has included time playing in and exploring the outdoors. Yet over the last few generations, childhood has moved indoors, leaving kids disconnected from the natural world.
To combat this challenge, the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families and Children & Nature Network (C&NN) launched the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative in November 2014.
Now, the latest phase of the initiative from 2017-2020 will engage a second cohort of cities in 2.75 years of technical assistance to develop and implement strategies that equitably connect children to nature, with support of $75,000 in planning and implementation funds and eligibility for an additional catalytic grant. Generous support from The JPB Foundation underwrites the CCCN initiative.
Technical assistance such as customized city support, access to tools and field experts, and peer learning will guide city teams as they develop strategies that address three key questions:
- Does my city offer enough places for children to connect with nature?
- What programs and partnerships can draw children and families to nature?
- How can my city integrate access to nature with other city functions?
The 2018-2020 cohort will build upon strategies such as green schoolyards, early childhood nature play spaces, green career pathways, and NatureSmart Libraries that gained momentum among pilot sites and explore new areas of potential in their own cities. The new cohort will also engage with and benefit from tools from partner initiative, the 10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign.
Coordinated efforts between city departments and partners such as school districts and community-based organizations can maximize benefits to both young people and their communities, including:
- Improved health outcomes
- Higher academic achievement
- Increased social and emotional learning
- Strong social connections
- Increased creativity, self-esteem, focus
- A greater sense of environmental stewardship
Interested cities are encouraged to attend one of two informational webinars, which will include an opportunity for questions and answers:
About the author: Priya Cook is the Principal Associate for the Connecting Children to Nature program, the newest program of NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.