Over 700 adults committed to the environment will contribute 140,000 hours to re-connect children with nature. They will be organized into Community Teams with three members representing diverse disciplines - education, environmental science, community health, and landscape architecture. The project will advance through six stages:
Stage 1 - Nature Action Forum, 2010. Seventy-six (76) Community Teams from 6 continents will meet at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska to receive four days of intensive training and interactive tools for leading a community campaign to reconnect children with nature.
Stage 2 - Community Campaigns, 2011. Community Teams will implement projects - national conferences, community forums, public policy initiatives - to reconnect children with nature. Each team will be provided 20 hours of consultation for their projects.
Stage 3 - World Forum, 2011. Representatives of the Community Teams will attend the 2011 World Forum on Early Care and Education to report on their work to delegates from 80 nations and to plan Regional Action Forums.
Stage 4 - Regional Action Forums, 2012 and 2013. Forty (40) Community Teams from 4 regions will be invited to Regional Action Forums and be given training and resources to launch local campaigns.
Stage 5 - Community Campaigns, 2012 and 2013. The 160 new Community Teams will carry out their community campaigns.
Stage 6 - Global Summit, 2014. The World Forum Foundation with organize a Re-Connecting Children with Nature Global Summit where Community Teams will come together to share their successes and failures with each other, as well as provide recommendations for next steps.
Planet Earth is vulnerable to environmental threats of monumental proportions. Our current generation of leaders is only starting to acknowledge these challenges. Globally we are making scant progress in developing renewable energy sources, curbing encroachments on the natural environment, and fostering sustainable development. Finding solutions to environmental challenges will require the best minds and the best efforts of this and future generations.
However, young children today are much more intrigued by what they encounter on video screens than by what they experience in the natural world. This is not a uniquely American problem. In World Forum events around the world, international educators shared concerns that children in Nepal, Belize, China, Egypt, Australia, United Kingdom, and Lebanon, for many reasons, spend less and less time outdoors exploring and enjoying the wonders of nature.
Champions of the environment from partnering organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the International Federation of Landscape Architects are concerned with who will lead the charge in protecting Mother Earth, if future generations are not brought up to appreciate the natural world. The purpose of this project is to reconnect children around the world with nature, creating new generations of environmental stewards. This is a long term objective, but there also will be significant immediate pay offs. Research has shown that when young children spend significant portions of their time engaged outdoors, they are less prone to obesity, less likely to experience attention deficit symptoms, and have increased cognitive gains as their sensory tools are more fully engaged.
SEEKING: financial assistance, implementing partners, best practice information. We are seeking funding and implementing partners to extend the impact of this project to developing as well as developed nations.
OFFERING: best practice information. The World Forum Foundation will provide international NGOs electronic access to practical, translated tools educators, parents, and advocates can use to connect children with nature.