CONCORD, N.H. — If you’re interested in finding ways to encourage kids and families to get outside and more involved with the natural world, plan to attend the New Hampshire Children in Nature conference “Where the Children Play: Discovering, Creating and Using Outdoor Spaces” on October 5, 2011, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Cody Outdoor and Conference Center in Freedom, N.H. The day will showcase the many ways we can reconnect children, youth and families with nature in our communities.
“We’re excited about bringing people together to exchange ideas and strengthen community efforts to reconnect children, youth and families with nature here in New Hampshire,” said Marilyn Wyzga, convener of the N.H. Children in Nature Coalition (NHCiNC). “There are so many ways we can do this, from discovering ways to use our backyards, city parks and other existing spaces; creating new outdoor places in schoolyards and neighborhoods; or conserving community land and providing access for the community.”
The conference is open to public participation. “We invite teachers, city planners, environmental educators, artists, recreation professionals, landscape designers, health practitioners and others,” said Wyzga. “This conference offers such a broad range of workshops that no matter who you are or what your profession is, you’ll be able to take away ideas and tools for making positive change in your community.”
The registration fee for the conference is $45, which includes three workshop sessions, lunch and refreshments. For more information, visit http://www.nhchildreninnature.org/events. Registration will begin in mid-August.
Keynote speaker Stephen Kellert, a Yale University professor and founding board member of the national Children & Nature Network, will open the conference by exploring “The Human Need for Nature, Childhood Development and the Built Environment.” Kellert’s work focuses on understanding the connection between human and natural systems, with a particular interest in the value and conservation of nature and designing ways to harmonize the natural and human built environments. His research into the inherent need humans have to affiliate with nature for health, productivity and wellbeing, provided some of the foundation for Richard Louv’s groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods.
The rest of the day will be filled with informative workshops and networking opportunities that will provide participants with the resources, tools and knowledge to create communities that encourage everyone to spend more time in nature. Workshops will include planning and developing schoolyard habitats, making the outdoors accessible for all abilities, Geocaching (using GPS and treasure hunts to explore communities), integrating art and literacy with outdoor learning spaces, creative teaching using trails and open spaces, playground revitalization, early childhood activities for outdoor engagement (from nature walks to fairy houses), getting teens into nature, creating community gardens, and more.
The New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition is dedicated to fostering experiences in nature that improve physical and emotional health, increase understanding of the natural world, and promote stronger connections to community and landscape. The coalition got its start in 2007, when people from health, education, community planning and environmental sectors came together at a series of events to launch a New Hampshire initiative to reconnect children with nature and encourage children and families to get outside and active in the natural world. Find out more about the Coalition at http://www.NHChildrenInNature.org.
The “Where the Children Play: Discovering, Creating and Using Outdoor Spaces” conference and other N.H. Children in Nature Coalition events are made possible in part by generous contributions from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.