Lack of access to nature, or nature-deficit disorder, has a negative impact on young people’s mental and physical health. But nature doesn’t only exist in parks and grand landscapes it is around us everyday; from trees on street corners to the weeds growing through cracks in the pavement or an empty factory site overgrown with brambles.
Feeling connected to everyday nature has long term benefits for young people as it enables them to visit regularly and build a meaningful relationship with natural environment.
1) Encourage young people to notice and engage with the nature around them. Nature can be found everywhere – from wild spaces through to parks, gardens and window boxes. Point out examples of nature – such as trees – as you travel to and from school.
2) Invite young people to talk about nature. You don’t need to be a botanical expert, just talk about what you can see and how it feels different through the seasons.
3) Give young people space to roam. Young people love to explore. When you are in an outdoor space, let them go on an adventure. Follow their lead as they understand the space and discover it for themselves.
4) Set challenges. We all love to collect things. When you are out on a walk keep an eye out for objects that you could collect as mementos or to make something creative with.
5) Play in nature. Young people need time to relax and just muck about! Den building, tree climbing and stone skimming are all great ways to let off steam and unwind as a family.