Today there is no doubt that life in cities has left nature farther away with children spending more and more time at home without contact with nature and no chance of playing outside in open spaces. São Paulo, for example, has 2.6 sq. meters of green space per inhabitant, much less than the 12 sq.m./inhabitant recommended by the World Health Organization. Direct contact of children with the natural environment contributes to the holistic development of the child in all of its aspects: social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical. With the goal of systematizing the discussion of this issue in Brazil, Alana Institute, launched its newest project, Children and Nature, that also inaugurated Alana’s office in Rio de Janeiro.
“The reconnecting of children with nature is still a diffuse and unstructured debate. We want to communicate society the importance and positive impacts that direct experience and contact of children with nature brings”, explains Lais Fleury, director of the Project Children and Nature. Today there is scientific evidence that prove these benefits. For Lais it’s important to highlight the admiration for the natural universe, expressed in their dreams, drawings, and love for animals. The liberty that the outdoor environment offers satisfies the genuine desire that a child has to run, jump and get dirty, creating possibilities of experimentation with nature and giving incentive to his/her creativity and imagination through contact with the natural elements.
The Children and Nature Project acts as a focal point or clearinghouse of actions and debates about the topic. “We want to accomplish this through the production, development, and dissemination of content about the importance of the connection between children and nature via unstructured play, as well as by influencing public policy and supporting access to direct experiences of contact with nature”, adds Laís.
The initial phase of the project was the Children and Nature Seminar on June 13th through the 15th, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. Professionals from different fields but all address the question of connecting children and nature were in attendance. C&NN Co-founder and North American journalist and author Richard Louv, who coined the non-medical term nature-deficit disorder was a featured speaker. The author launched the Portuguese edition of his book, ‘Last Child In the Woods’, which has already sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into 15 languages.
The Children and Nature Seminar took place on the 13th of June in the Bienal Auditorium in São Paulo and, on the 15th of June in the Tom Jobim Theatre in Rio de Janeiro. Enrollment in the seminar began on May 18th via the website: www.criancaenatureza.org.br.
About Alana Institute:
Alana Institute is a non-profit organization that supports projects that look to guarantee conditions for children to live a holistic childhood. Created in 1994 Alana today has its own projects and that of its partners and is financed by a fund since 2013. Its mission is to “Honor the Child”.
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