By Jaclyn Angotti,
CPAWS Southern Alberta
This new year, make a resolution to get outside and bring others with you. There are immeasurable benefits to getting outside and connecting with nature. The Canadian Parks Council (CPC) has a fantastic resource called Connecting Canadians with Nature that details the research showing such benefits. Benefits for our economy, for our health, for our spirit and identity, for our personal development, for our communities and for our environment.
CPAWS envisages a healthy ecosphere where people experience and respect natural ecosystems. For the last twenty years, our education department has recognized the value in taking youth outdoors. Connecting kids with nature is a key piece in the puzzle of environmental protection. In fact, research from Louise Chawla has shown this to be true. Louise Chawla is a Professor in the Environmental Design Program in the University of Colorado Boulder. She is Associate Director of the Children, Youth and Environments Center for Community Engagement (CYE Center) and Co-editor of the journal Children, Youth and Environments. Chawla researched environmentalists and the pathways that led them to choose their values and careers. She identified two main factors for becoming environmental stewards as adults: “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught them respect for nature.”
YOU can be that adult for this generation of youth, whether you are a teacher, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, mentor, friend or youth group leader. Bring the children in your life outside and make a big difference for them and their future!
Not sure where to start? Here are some excellent ideas and activities to get you going:
• CPC’s Nature Playbook – a playbook of actions to get you outside
• Nature Play Flashcards – handy activities from the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association
• Take me Outside Challenge – take the pledge to get outside, be active and reconnect with nature
• CPAWS SAB Environmental Education Resources – a living document of resources to learn about conservation and to get outside and connect with nature
So get to it… go showshoeing, take nature photos, or just go outside and play! Why are you still here, reading this article? Take me outside!!!