Along the pathways through local neighbourhoods you can stand and watch for a moment as young kids wander by. Their eyes are fixed on things adults don’t even realize have joined them on the walk. They spot the tiniest of hops, the most faint of a buzz and a change in the direction of a tiny chickadee looking for a snack.
Their minds aren’t on getting home or the to-do list for the day. They’re right in the here and now, working hardest at finding every curious bit of wonderment they can along the way. Then, they’ll spill the details (and often collections of bits from the journey) out on the dining room table, talking about them for hours and days or until the next time when they return to that place where discoveries were had.
If there is one thing that kids are always able to find in any neighbourhood, it’s the creatures living in it. Whether we’re talking the cat two doors down, the frogs living in the back pond or the owl that hangs out in the nearby forest, kids who spend time outside getting to know the streets and paths of where they live are connected. They see life differently. They become stewards of their own environment.
Beyond the mental mapping, knowing the folks who live around them and feeling safe, kids will often show us all why it’s so important to create and celebrate parks, protect natural habitats such as wetlands and forests, plant flowers and stop seeing the creatures who live with us in our neighbourhoods as pests and more as the charm and wonderment of being a part of the world around us.
When we as adults think about our hopes for our kids down the road, most often we hope that the world will be a healthy place for them. While overcoming global warming and tackling climate change seem like overwhelming topics to dig in to with your kids, helping them begin to care for the planet in deep sorts of ways starts with opening up the front door and letting them head outside to explore.
You don’t have to be a naturalist, hiker or animal lover. You don’t even need to live along the edge of a forest. Kids will find nature just about anywhere you let them. Not to mention, getting to know our natural neighbours is a fun, creative and healthy way to spend time together as a family.
A lot has been said lately about the remarkable value of children getting out there and spending time outside. It’s a conversation that resonates deeply, brings back the best of memories from our own childhoods and helps us to understand how – in the age of technology – our kids and their experience with mud and trees, moss and water, will give us all a base from which to be more connected to each other.
Our Big Earth Media Co. has become an active part of giving kids of all ages and abilities ways to love nature as a regional partner with the Children & Nature Network and the Robert Bateman Get To Know Program.
Over the next couple of months, OBE will be undertaking a major initiative to connect kids to their neighbourhoods, communities, regions and world through simple acts of natural discovery.
In the mean time, join us in local neighbourhood adventures through the NeighbourWood Walks or be a part of the Great Backyard Bird Count next weekend – both fun ways to get to know and rediscover our neighbourhoods.
The Rediscovering Our Neighbourhoods project is a 7-part series that inspires people to see our neighbourhoods through the eyes of kids.
Check out the first installment – Getting to Know You – HERE.
Check out the second installment – The Shop Around The Corner – HERE.
Check out the third installment – Making Maps – HERE
Check out the fourth installment – A Foot’s Eye View - HERE
Check out the fifth installment – Safety In Knowing - HERE