"There is a saying, 'When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago.' The man smiles. 'When is the next best time? Now.'
Until today, he has never planted anything. But Now, that next best of times, is long, and rewrites everything." -Richard Powers, The Overstory
Engaging with the natural world is good for children's health. The UW Nature and Health group and the American Academy of Pediatrics have multiple ongoing projects focusing on the health and nature connection. Some current research projects include:
Review of studies exploring health effects of nature interactions on children
Check out the groups below to seeking to get kids and families out into the natural world!
Playing and exploring outdoors can improve a child’s overall health and wellbeing. But not all children and families have access to nature. Racism, economic inequality, and lack of awareness are some of the barriers that impact nature contact for children.
Project Nature wants to break down these barriers to connect all children with better health. We seek to engage children early in life with advice and tools from health professionals in the clinic and resources online. Project Nature also conducts public health research projects to more fully understand the health benefits of nature contact and deepen its knowledge of conditions that hold families back.
ActNow Science provides a fully supported pathway for teachers and students to restore ecosystems in their schoolyard or within walking distance of their school by partnering them with land managers, local restoration experts and providing a high-quality, standards-aligned ecosystems unit that integrates a restoration project. Students take on the role of restoration ecologists to study a healthy ecosystem and apply their understanding of how the healthy ecosystem functions to designing an ecosystem restoration plan for degraded land. Many teachers want to engage their students in ecosystem restoration, but don’t have the time to create their own curriculum and don’t have the knowledge nor tools to restore land on their own. ActNow Science is making it possible for all teachers and students to become empowered as stewards of land.
“Restoration offers concrete means by which humans can once again enter into positive, creative relationship with the more-than-human world, meeting responsibilities that are simultaneously material and spiritual. It’s not enough to grieve. It’s not enough to just stop doing bad things.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
The Green Seattle Partnership coordinates restoration projects to care for our urban forest and bring people into the parks to build community through hands-on volunteerism. The Partnership was started in 2004 to respond to a critical threat facing the City’s forested parks. Without intervention, we risked losing 70% of the tree cover in our parks in just 20 years. With thousands of volunteers getting involved every year, dedicated staff with City agencies and partners, and professional crews to help out on our toughest sites, we are making great strides, but the work is far from done. Join us!
The Nature Conservancy does great work with ecosystem restoration around Washington state as well, so check it out here.
For a literature review on ecosystem restoration, please refer to our Further Reading page.