Connecting with our natural environment is important for improving the health and wellbeing of children, adults and whole communities.
With the expertise of the Healthy Environs Project Management Team in the intersection of health and environment, there has been the opportunity to make an impact in the areas of early childhood development, mental wellbeing and physical health at Roxby Downs, through the inclusion of nature contact/connection activities in the Time For Wellbeing program.
In March 2019, Healthy Environs Consultant Erica Gurner worked with the Roxby Downs Early Learning Centre staff to help them better understand the purpose of nature play, to brainstorm nature play activities and to come up with design features that could be included in their outside space to better facilitate nature play opportunities for children.
After reflection on their own experiences in nature, the staff were able to put themselves in the shoes of the children and consider ways that they could create not just activities but experiences. Experiences that involve adventures, fantasy worlds, quiet time, investigation, secret spaces and so on bring about emotions such as empathy with nature, awe, amazement, sadness, frustration, curiosity and its through the sharing of stories and reflection on these experiences and emotions that nature experience moves beyond simple contact to connection with nature. Connection be it with ourselves, other people or with nature is at the heart of wellbeing and wellbeing is what is necessary for a flourishing life.