Mental Health and Wellbeing is an epidemic. Children today spend an average of 7 minutes outside everyday. Our extreme excessive use and constant access to technology is proving to cause what is known as Nature Deficit Disorder. Children do not know how to balance, climb, measure risks, build a fire, find their way out of a forest, so many life skills that this generation simply do not have. Mindfulness and Outdoor Learning program will provide children in the Newmarket community aged 3- 12 years old with the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, engage in unstructured and supervised risky play, and further develop life skills. Through week long sessions our students will have an opportunity to experience forest school, learning hands on about their environment, learning first to understand in order to develop a sense of care for our environment and community around them through an emergent based approach allowing inquiries, curiosities and discoveries to guide their learning. Our daily mindfulness practice incorporated through sit spots, sensory walks, sound mapping and various other activities will help children develop an understanding of themselves, their emotions and improve self-regulation skills, reducing anxiety and building confidence and esteem through sense of self. Providing young children with opportunities to learn in nature, take risks and lead their learning is essential in developing resiliency, problem solving skills, self awareness, children learning their own boundaries. Learning coping strategies is crucial in developing children in order to control emotions and support overall wellbeing. Mindfulness activities outdoors will strengthen children's observation skills using their senses and investigating the natural world. These opportunities provide children with the chance to connect deeply to nature, developing a love for the outdoors. Repeated opportunities in nature ultimately lead to children caring for and sustaining our environment.
Funded by Newmarket, ON (June 2019)