As I mentioned a couple of blogs ago, having access to nature and spending time outdoors is linked to our own wellbeing. Being disconnected from nature is a characteristic of an unhealthy lifestyle. In our increasingly urbanised society, there is recognition that humans are becoming more remote from the natural environment, and this is potentially linked to increased mental illnesses and obesity problems. Research highlights that urban neighbourhoods containing better access to green spaces, on average, have lower levels of mental distress and higher wellbeing.
Children in Britain are on average watching more than 17 hours of television a week (!!!), while another 20 hours a week are spent online! This amounts to a working week for adults and that is without including school hours, no wonder there is no time left for outside play. Research shows that exposure to wildlife during childhood can have a significant impact upon an individual’s attitude towards the environment, which is important for securing nature into the future.
So, it’s not only our own wellbeing but the planets wellbeing that depends on our exposure to green space and our interaction with nature. Yet opportunities for children to participate, play and engage in wild, green spaces are deteriorating. Less than 10% of children today ever play in natural areas, compared to 40% of today’s adults who did. The most shocking statistic I had encountered during my time at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, was that 37% of children have never seen a hedgehog!
This statistic was from a YouGov poll, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, which also highlights the discrepancy between what parents think is best for children and what they actually experience. The poll showed that:
- 91% of parents of children aged 18 and under think that having access to nature and wildlife is important for children, yet
- 78% of parents are concerned that children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature and wildlife
Connecting children with the natural world is one of the major challenges of our modern, technology obsessed world. The Wildlife Trusts campaign “Every Child Wild’ is all in the name of getting every single child in touch with nature in some way. On the campaign page of their website (visit this link: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/EveryChildWild) they say: “Children are happier, healthier and more creative when they are connected with the natural world. This should be an option not just for a few, but for every child in the UK.”
If you are based in Nottinghamshire then here is the link to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts kids activities: http://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/events/category/childrens-activity/ but all Wildlife Trusts and local councils will run things in your local area, so check them out!
But even if you don’t want to do an activity like this search online for FREE activities you could do in YOUR local green space! Some great ideas can also be found on the Wild About Gardens website: http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/things-to-do.aspx