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THE “LET’S GO OUTSIDE” REVOLUTION: How One Woman Found Her Lifetime Mission

About the Author

Marghanita Hughes is a children’s author and illustrator and creator of the award-winning children’s brand, The Little Humbugs. She is a naturalist and founder of the “Let’s Go Outside” Revolution – a Canadian non-profit organization with a mission to change the way children spend their time. Throughout the year, Marghanita runs nature classes for children and "hands on" workshops for educators wanting to learn how they can connect children with the natural world. She strongly believes that all children should be given the opportunity to discover and explore the natural world.

All children deserve the right to have the opportunity to experience the magic that the natural world provides. I am fortunate to be able to witness this magic every day in my nature classes and during the school visits I make. Because of that magic, my life has been transformed.

A few years ago, I launched nature classes for 3 – 8 year olds. During the classes, we provide a natural space where children can run, play, dance, sing, squeal, shout or be silent in this forest space. They stand, kneel or crouch to paint or create the creatures, birds, trees, flowers and grasses, which are all around us. The children develop a beautiful relationship with Mother Earth. They get to feel who they are, happy and free. Over the past three years, I have expanded the classes, offering them after school.

How did I come to this mission? Throughout life, people come into our lives that help us on our way to finding our purpose in life. Or it may be a book that we read at a particular time in our lives that inspires change in us. One such book for me was Last Child In the Woods by Richard Louv. The very title haunted me. The book had such a profound impact on me that it inspired me to create my nature classes.

Now I believe there is a need to provide a way for people of all ages to benefit from nature in their lives. In Richard’s latest book The Nature Principle, he provides affirmation that adults are suffering from nature-deficit disorder, too, and are in need of reconnecting with nature just as much as children. He quotes Thomas Berry: “We have turned away from nature. The great work of the twenty-first century will be to reconnect to the natural worlds as a source of meaning.”  This is absolutely true.

The Nature Principle led me to add another element to my nature classes: adults. What I try to get across in my presentations to adults and children is that you do not need to be a biologist to teach children about the birds and trees in their backyard or park, or the need to be a life-long gardener in order to grow a small vegetable plot in the school grounds. The simple nature-based activities we teach in my workshops and classes are fun and easy, stimulating the child’s (and adult’s) body, mind and spirit.

During my presentation/workshop in Vancouver for the Early Learning Years Conference 2011, I was overwhelmed by the educators’ enthusiasm and their dedication to changing the way children spend time in their care. Witnessing their sense of awe and imagination was both heart-warming and exciting. It was easy to forget I was teaching adults.

Typically, I start the sessions by getting participants to close their eyes and to take a moment to think back to their own childhood. I ask them to think of their favorite outdoor activity as a child. The room instantly fills up with smiles and I ask who would like to share their fondest memories. Hands shoot up all over the room, eager to reminisce about their childhood outdoors. Having a room full of happy, enthusiastic teachers, excited to take their new knowledge of how to actively engage children and adults with nature, fills me with an abundance of joy and hope for the future. If a teacher is enthusiastic, he or she will get the children excited too.

Since registering as a participant in the Children and Nature Network some time ago, I have watched it grow and blossom into an amazing pulse of creative energy, a network of individuals, organizations and nature groups, sharing and connecting their ideas, dreams, solutions, and challenges: fueling the very movement Richard hoped would happen.

In Canada, I’ve been inspired to start what I call The Let’s Go Outside Revolution, a non-profit organization, providing help at the grassroots level — starting locally, growing organically. The response to has been amazing.

Here is just one example: An elementary school teacher from Vancouver got involved in our Revolution. At the time, she was the only teacher in her school to take classes out into a little forested area behind the school. In December she reported that every single teacher in her school was now taking their classes outdoors.

Yes, there is a long way to go, but a “New Nature Movement,” as Richard Louv calls it, is growing stronger and more powerful every day. We all have a purpose in life. I believe my purpose is to help return our children to Mother Earth and to help re-awaken the awe and wonder in adults who have forgotten or lost their inner child.

I am the revolution. You are, too.

____________________________________

 

Additional Information

Video: My Nature Class

Video: The Future Looks Bright: an interview I conducted with Richard Louv at the 2011 Early Learning Years Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

19 Comments

  1. My dear friend, Marghanita — How nice to see you tell your story here! I too have been inspired by Richard, but I’m also inspired by you — by how you noticed that little door of need and opportunity opening, and then boldly stepped through it. Good for you!

    Reply
  2. We’re giving you a virtual high five and letting you know your friends across the waters in the UK are right behind you on this one!
    We are the revolution too!

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  3. Dearest Jeffrey, the last few years have been amazing journey. Watching the Children and Nature network grow in strength fills me with such hope for the future. What a joy it is to witness Nature clubs and Forest school sprouting up all over, more and more kindergartens are spending more time outdoors….JOY! JOY! JOY!!!! I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to meet like-minded souls like your beautiful self Jeff. Technology can be a wonderful tool…connecting nature lovers together and creating good in the world…now I’m off into the real world to treat all my senses….wishing you a most delicious day in nature, love and peace, Marghanita xx

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  4. You are the Revolution Charlotte and thank you for your kind words and support. I was in the UK last October and truly inspired by the number of forest schools and outdoor playgroups. What I found incredibly exciting was the fact that many schools are incorporating a forest school class in the curriculum. It is an enormous amount of extra work for the teacher but long-term, it’s benefits are huge. Here is a link to my interview with the teacher:http://www.marghanita.com/we-want-to-learn-outdoors/

    Wishing you a beautiful summer, may it be blessed with endless amounts of magical moments in nature, love and peace, Marghanita x

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  5. Oh, Marghanita! How lucky those young nature explorers are to have you sharing your love of all things nature. I’m with Jeffrey – you are a true inspiration to many of us. Thank you for being you. Keep up the magic!

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  6. This is absolutely wonderful. I love how you focus on big and small…living in the city I try to think on a small scale in terms of connecting with nature…growing a few seeds, watering our plants, looking for worms after a rain, bringing crayons to the river and drawing what we see. I absolutely love what you are doing. You’ve totally inspired me.

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  7. You are my inspiration! What you do with adults and children is EXACTLY what I want to do as an about to be certified ( or certifiable) “ecotherapist”. Adults need to know how simple it is to just be with kid in nature, without knowing all the scientific names of the insects (or even their common names!) Getting adults excited about helping children get excited about nature is a beautiful mission!

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  8. How wonderful to hear from you Rachel. I love your ideas, especially taking crayons to the river and simply drawing what you see. It is these small and simple activities you are sharing with the children that will grow and blossom such joy in their hearts. Wishing you a beautiful summer full of awe and wonder, love Marghanita x

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  9. Thank you Ali for your kind words. Congratulations on becoming an “ecotherapist” – how exciting!!!
    Indeed it is very evident that adults are suffering from nature-deficit disorder, too, and are in need of reconnecting with nature just as much as children.
    Your work is so important and I know you will be gifted an enormous amount of joy from what you do. Wishing you a beautiful and enchanting summer. Love and peace, Marghanita x

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  10. Hello, I’m a self-proclaimed nature nut. As a child, I was always outside enjoying nature. Marghanita, how are you funded? How can I get started doing this? Thanks.

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  11. I live in Michigan and my dream is to have a family “Camp Out” night at my school that I teach at. I am a physical education teacher and my plan is to focus on physical activity and outdoor education. I want my kids to see that camping, hiking, kayaking, etc. are all wonderful ways to get active “outside”. I would love to have you visit our school if you ever come to Michigan. Thanks for your dedication.

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  12. Good Afternoon Mary…we have no funding. It’s just myself and my husband and a few friends dedicating their time and passion…you don’t need to find funding, just grab some kids and head outdoors. Your passion and enthusiasm is all you need my nature friend…YOU ARE THE REVOLUTION!!!! You can email me if you wish to talk over a few ideas: info@marghanita.com
    Love and peace, Marghanita xx

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  13. Oh Angie…How exciting…your camp out sounds fantastic. It’s so exciting to hear that you are incorporating all these OUTDOOR activities into your classes. It is these very experiences that the children will take with them into adulthood. My 19yr old son said his most memorable time at school was their camp out trip to Banff (the Rockies). They camped for a week in the wilds, completely unplugged. I know your “camp out” will be a huge success…the kids will LOVE IT!!!! Go for it!!! You are the Revolution!!!I would love to visit your school Angie…wishing you a beautiful week in nature, love and peace, Marghanita xx

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  14. I love to take kids outside too. I have a nature daycare but I live in the city so it is hard sometimes. We learn about plants and look at the bees and butterflies and other creatures in my yard. I would love to have a daycare in a more natural area. I also work with cub scouts.

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  15. Dearest friend, Thank you for sharing your story. I too am a believer in getting teachers motivated to “get outdoors” with their students but I focus on infants and toddlers. I present workshops on how developmentally and age appropriate it is to involve infants and toddlers with the natural environmnents. Society has scared us all of the letting our children be children, so I applaud you in your efforts and I want you to know you are an inspiration. Keep it up.

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  16. I wanted to add that I am a 5 star Family Home Child Care provider that cares for 0-3 year olds. These children and my family are my inspiration for believing in what I do with these little ones daily.

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  17. Dearest Vanessa

    Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement….how wonderful to hear you run workshops…YOU ARE THE REVOLUTION!!! Thank you for sharing the natural world with the children you care for – they are the future!!!

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  18. Indeed it can be challenging at times in an Urban setting Judy. Having a garden at your daycare is such a wonderful way to connect children to nature, especially when you have a limited green space. I admire your passion and commitment Judy. YOU ARE THE REVOLUTION. Keep growing the plants and watching for the bees and butterflies for these moments are magical for young children. Oh what joy to see the wide-eyed wonder and delight of a child glimpsing at a fluttering butterfly…..wishing you all a magical Autumn full of awe and wonder, love and peace, Marghanita x

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  19. humbled and so thoroughly excited by the concept, this is absolutely fabulous, keep up the really blessed work.

    Cheers,
    FJF

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Are Schools Breaking Children’s Spirits? Life and Learning Beyond Walls | singlemomontherun - [...] The “Let’s Go Outside” Revolution: How One Woman Found Her Lifetime Mission [...]
  2. THE “LET’S GO OUTSIDE” REVOLUTION: How One Woman Found Her Lifetime Mission | singlemomontherun - [...] THE “LET’S GO OUTSIDE” REVOLUTION: How One Woman Found Her Lifetime Mission [...]
  3. CHILDREN’S NATURE ART SHOW « Marghanita - [...] Marghanita Hughes was recently asked by Richard Louv to guest post for his organization “ Children and Nature Network.…

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