The Beatty House Society has members who have been actively involved in environmental issues and stewardship for many years, and have worked locally, regionally and even internationally to care for nature in sustainable ways. This Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, the society members have decided to focus on the growing issue of nature deficit, where Canadians, especially children, are increasingly having little or no connection to the natural environment during their day to day activities. According to Richard Louv, who coined the term, “Nature-deficit disorder is not a formal diagnosis, but a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years.”
Is a mouse a critter or a computer pointer? Is Treehouse a place to play or a TV station? An Apple a fruit or a brand? What about a Blackberry? Children in our highly connected world are in fact very connected to nature – but many only via their devices and videos. Several game, toy and movie companies such as Disney tap into children’s love of animals and nature, but are the kids actually getting out there? Are they smelling the flowers, getting dirty, and going wild? Where can Rimbey kids have access to real nature day-to-day especially if they live in town? Do parents feel comfortable allowing their kids to ramble? This is a concern because there is a growing body of evidence that children playing indoors – safe on their devices – has led to a decline in fitness and rise in obesity. Some studies suggest that there may be a link with mental health issues such as stress or depression and nature deficit.
And the reverse seems to be true: that the more often a child connects with Nature and is free to play, to create in spontaneous non-directed even risky activities, there is a related improvement in wellbeing.
After school from 3:30 to 5 p.m.at the Beatty Heritage House, Parentlink and Neighbourhood Place leaders and Beatty Heritage House Society volunteers are going to get wild with kids. During this free open house, there’ll be both indoor and outdoor activities tied to playing in and with nature, and will run rain or shine.
In the evening from 7 to 9 p.m. the Rimbey Municipal Library has generously offered to host an evening to highlight the issues around nature deficit in our computer and safety focused culture, with two related Earth Day evening events geared to parents. First at 7 p.m. Todd Niven an outreach educator from Waskasoo Centre and Kerry Wood Nature Centre, will be talking about the importance of getting kids outside and connecting with nature, and will be giving encouragement and tips to parents to make it happen locally.
After Todd’s talk we’ll be showing a documentary film called “Project Wild Thing”, where filmmaker David Bond tries to sell Nature as the ultimate product to his family and the public, all the while looking at nature deficit and the surrounding concerns through a fun and creative lens. We are hoping the movie will spark a great conversation with event participations afterwards. Free child-minding will be available. At the end of Earth Day 2015, we hope you’ll be inspired to find your own Hundred Acre Wood!
If you would like more information please call either the Rimbey Library (843-2841) or Teri at the Beatty Heritage House Society (843-6497). Here’s a link to a Richard Louv blog post, for some perspective: https://www. psychologytoday.com/blog/people-in-nature/200901/no-more-nature-deficit-disorder