Engaging the Next Generation

youtubeResearch suggests that there is a “moment” between the ages of 6 and 12 years old when nature imprints on a child. This developmental window of opportunity creates a lasting impression which helps to shape the way a child sees nature for the rest of their life. In previous generations a connection with nature was inevitable. That’s not the case anymore, particularly for urban families. And with the increased use of television, computers, and video games, children are more inclined to stay indoors than to go outside and develop connections with nature.

Bringing children to nature affects development in numerous ways. Studies have consistently shown that there are things that just can’t be recreated on a constructed playground, including:

– The pure physical diversity of the natural landscape

– Sensory stimulation: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

– The ability for manipulation of the environment

– Potential for interaction with wildlife

– Increase in motor fitness, balance and coordination

– Better self-esteem and confidence

Cities are designed to be hospitable to one species: humans. As designers and planners, we are uniquely equipped to make a significant change in the lives of children by creating avenues of access and enjoyment of trees, plants, rivers, wildlife, bugs and birds. Maybe just as important, there is a “ripple effect” when children tell family and friends about their experiences.We are thrilled for the chance to help parks and recreation agencies bring kids out in the world to play and discover what can’t be replicated in the built environment where the skills and experiences can have crucial impacts on the adult each child will become.

View this video to learn more about an exciting and ambitious youth initiative that will inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the outdoors.

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