Children across the UK are being denied access to the most basic tool to improve their lifelong wellbeing – the experience of nature and the outdoors.
Before the pandemic, families in deprived areas were already up to 9x less likely to connect with nature, and this inequality has been dramatically amplified by the current crisis.
But a solution is possible – even in lockdown – and communities lie at the heart of it.
Over the last 5 years, ‘Nature Connectedness’ has emerged as a set of simple and effective ways to use nature to improve holistic wellbeing. Experiencing and connecting to nature is a tangible, research-backed solution which can help mitigate the effects of the current crises. Particularly in the context of local community action, nature connection can improve mental and physical health. It can also have a positive impact on children’s educational potential and it can instill pro-environmental behaviour for the future.
Crucially, ‘Nature Connectedness’ and its benefits are not only found in obvious green spaces. The accessibility of ‘Nature Connectedness’ is that it comes from the small, the everyday, the nature we see in our backyards. This could be noticing flowers growing out the pavement, using an app to make sense of the natural world around us, or simply looking to the sky above.
Re-imagining how we can experience nature through the lens of ‘Nature Connectedness’ can remove some barriers to access for children in disadvantaged areas.
This focus on the ‘small outdoors’ provides an opportunity for community organisations to leverage tremendous impacts. By using this framework to build local opportunities for young people in marginalised communities, it is possible for many more children to access this precious resource.