If you’re interested in finding ways to encourage kids and families to get outside and enjoy the natural world no matter where they are, plan to attend the New Hampshire Children in Nature conference “Discovering Nature Wherever You Are” on October 4, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham, N.H. The day will showcase the many ways we can reconnect children, youth and families with nature, particularly in our urban communities.

“New Hampshire is full of outdoor opportunities that extend well beyond the wilderness areas – there are so many ways we can experience “nearby nature” in our backyards and city parks, school grounds and neighborhoods,” said Marilyn Wyzga, convener of the N.H. Children in Nature Coalition. “We’re excited about bringing people together to exchange ideas and strengthen community efforts to reconnect children, youth and families with nature in our local communities, in simple, accessible ways.”

The conference is open to public participation. “We invite parents, 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 and presentations that no matter who you are or what your profession is, or whether you parent or work with children, you’ll be able to take away tools and ideas for finding and engaging with nearby nature in your community.”

The registration fee for the conference is $50, which includes 3 workshop sessions, lunch and refreshments. For more information or to register, visit http://www.nhchildreninnature.org/events. Registration opens on August 23, 2012.

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) will open the conference with a keynote, and wrap up the day with a book signing. Skenazy was dubbed “America’s worst mom” after her April 2008 column in The New York Sun described her making the controversial decision to let her 9-year-old son take the New York City subway home alone. Drawing on facts, statistics, and humor, she convincingly argues that this is one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world, and reminds us that childhood is supposed to be about discovering the world, not being held captive.

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 outdoor learning and play spaces, finding your way with navigation skills, making arts inspired by nature, creative teaching on the trail, basics and safety for taking kids on walks, early childhood activities from nature walks to fairy houses, successful teen programs, planting urban gardens with kids, 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.

Image courtesy of the NH Children in Nature Coalition

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