Connecting kids and nature

19 Jun 2020 by Angela Cadena in: Features

Connecting with nature has so many benefits, for all ages – but where do we start? How can we help our children and young people to connect with nature? And with God in nature?

Ruth Wivell and Uniting Earth Advocate Jessica Morthorpe put together a resource full of their wisdom about connecting kids with nature.

When the COVID lockdown started, the Uniting Earth team were concerned about anxiety in the community, and how it was impacting people’s mental health. They knew just how beneficial connecting with nature can be for mental health, but also that lockdown was making access to natural spaces like beaches and National Parks more difficult.

Ruth is the Academic Tutor at United Theological College, and has a lot of experience in helping children to connect with nature through play and creative engagement. She is also a member of the Climate Anxiety and Pastoral Care Task Group, one of the five task groups in the Synod Climate Action Strategy. She was the perfect match to create something together, and so the idea was born.

According to Jessica, this resource will be incredibly useful, even post-COVID, not just for children but for adults as well. “The idea that we have to go camping or travel to a pristine wilderness to see and experience nature is not a helpful one. Nature is like a vitamin – we need a dose every day, not just one big dose occasionally.” 

These resources help people to think about how they and their kids can build connections with nature at home (or close to home) – even if they only have a balcony or small outdoor space. The philosophy and thinking behind them are great. This is so much deeper than just a few ideas – it’s about building important habits and ways of thinking – about being embodied, grounded, caring, grateful, and thinking about ourselves and time differently.

Through this resource, Ruth Wivell will help people to recognise that they are a part of the natural world, that nature is not something ‘out there’ or a car trip away, but in us and around us. She strongly believes that if we recognise that we are a part of creation, then we can make decisions to notice it, to be in close proximity to it, to care for it.  

This resource compiles all sort of games, activities and advice on how to achieve the connection with nature, among others, they suggest to actively remember times we have spent in nature, read, write, and sing about nature, and tell creation stories. They also recommend some books and music.

Jessica firmly believes that now, more than ever, children need a sense of safety and security. And so do we adults! Feelings of security and safety come not from the absence of danger, but rather from a sense of connection. Children seek this connection with the people in their lives, and we can often offer it to them. 

In times of crisis, the natural world is a source of both joy and solace. The natural world produces the comfort that can come from nothing else.

David Attenborough

Click here for the Kids and Creation Resource.