On World Children's Day please help our children grow up greener
By Sara Collins, Co-founder and Lead of the Nature Premium Campaign
The Nature Premium campaign is a corker of an idea because it’s about transforming a generation to ‘grow up greener’. We think the Nature Premium should be of interest to anyone who has a child and anyone who was once a child.
What is the Nature Premium?
The Nature Premium is a proposal to guarantee regular and ongoing time in nature for all children and young people (C&YP) with additional funding and support to level up those with the least access to natural spaces. We define nature broadly as farming, gardening, fishing, Forest School, countryside activities, adventurous activities, tree planting, pond dipping, seashore exploring and more. We think the funding should go directly to the education setting who should decide the sort of nature experiences relating to their location and the life experiences of the children in front of them.
The Nature Premium would:
- Improve C&YP’s mental and physical well-being via regular nature connections.
- Give C&YP agency to deal with climate and biodiversity emergencies, providing opportunities to address these in practical ways.
- Encourage healthier alternative habits to addictive electronic devices.
- Develop skills in support of the green economy and a sustainable future.
Government research shows 87% of children have stated that being in nature makes them ‘very happy’. Connecting with nature improves mental and physical health and educational, emotional and personal development. In a recent Natural England report, the forecast Social Return on Investment (SROI) for schools that have embedded learning outside the classroom in natural environments as a whole school approach is £4.32 for every £1 invested. In addition, research shows that a close relationship with nature is four times more important than your purchasing power for generating feelings that your life is worthwhile.
Those of us who founded and work on the campaign are motivated because we all work in outdoor education and still see the impact that the pandemic lockdown had on children’s behaviour and physical development. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster though and we are at an exciting point in the campaign. We use the postcard below to show a snapshot of the campaign.
Briefly, we are proud to maintain the Nature Premium as ‘an idea’ that anyone can support in their own way without preferential benefit to any other organisation. We are now a Specialist Sector Group within the Institute for Outdoor Learning which gives us charitable governance and accountability that can manage our ambitions. We work through a constituted Steering Group made up of a selection of members who work in education including representatives from the Royal Forestry Society, The Woodland Trust, the Forest School Association, Learning Through Landscapes, and three head teachers.
We are very excited to be working towards an ambitious Nature Premium trial that will demonstrate:
- how education settings would use the funding from the Nature Premium.
- the associated benefits of ongoing nature experiences to children and young people’s health and learning.
You can find a full explanation of Social Bridging Finance, the funding model that we will be using, here. The link takes you to a recording of a Zoom meeting hosted by Bishop Jonathan Frost with a presentation by Kenneth Ferguson who designed Social Bridging Finance. The exciting news is that Bishop Jonathan Frost wants the joint Portsmouth & Winchester Diocesan education network to partner with our trial AND we have started building our Funding Coalition.
We were recently asked what education would look like when the Nature Premium was established. Imagine a generation of children and young people:
- who know that spending time in nature helps them feel happy and can manage their own mental wellbeing. This has the potential of returning over 50 minutes a day to teachers that they can use to teach rather than looking after pupils' mental health and wellbeing.
- who are inspired to work in traditional countryside activities and new green careers because they understand how they fit into the natural world and want to act against the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity.
- who are confident to take their families into the countryside because they know how to respect the countryside and keep themselves safe when they explore.
- who are informed about their own wellbeing and who understand where their food is produced, how a healthy diet can keep themselves well. Healthier individuals will make fewer demands on the NHS, freeing resources.
This is what motivates us to campaign. It’s a powerful message and not just for children in the UK. World Children's Day is celebrated to commemorate the Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly (1989). This includes Article 29 The development of respect for the natural environment. There are times when it is important to take action and make explicit what has previously been taken for granted. The Nature Premium would help achieve this by giving hope and agency to all children and young people through their connection with the natural world with an additional positive impact on their families and local communities.
If you would like to hear more about our work and campaign please contact email@example.com . Please share this story with anyone else who you think would be interested in supporting us.
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