Our mission is to connect kids with nature to develop personal growth and improve access to the natural world. By empowering children through the discovery of nature we give them hope, resiliency and direction.
Research points to “nature-deficit disorder” as a prevalent condition in our culture today with far-reaching and negative impacts on our youth. While not a formal diagnosis, it describes “the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years” (Psychology Today, 2009). A highly respected study (NHAPS, 2001) showed that 93% of the time, kids in the U.S. are either inside or driving – not breathing fresh outdoor air!
This problem is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many children to stay indoors (often in non-ideal housing), away from playgrounds, parks, and other outdoor play and sport sites. For underserved communities, this means that these children are also likely to suffer further deterioration of their physical and mental health outcomes due to poor environmental conditions in their neighborhoods.
To help mitigate this challenge, we created our new Outside Connection Kit (OCK) program. OCKs provide low-income children and families with a way to engage with nature while staying at or near their homes. This program was designed in the midst of the pandemic, to provide low-income families tangible ways to find access to nature – even in small doses – from their yards, porches, etc. Each OCK will provide children with a colorful and easy-to-read book and fun activity that will foster learning and development through nature. We are also providing “Outside Discovering Me!”- a virtual science and social-emotional learning curriculum for students to access through their schools during the pandemic. This helps them create a bond with nature, engage with science content, and deepen their socio-emotional learning – which is essential during the pandemic.
Funded by Cleveland, OH (June 2021)