With the release of the 2011 Grassroots Leadership Survey, the Children & Nature Network provides us with evidence that our work and that of grassroots initiatives across the country is having an impact. Results from the survey were analyzed and reported by an independent evaluator as a follow-up to a 2009 baseline survey designed to measure changes in children and nature activities. Among the findings:
- The total number of participants reached in 2011 by activities of the 72 grassroots initiatives responding was between 2.7 and 4.25 million. This is a significant increase over 2009, when the number was between 900,000 and 1,500,000 from 68 initiatives reporting.
- Between 1,000 and 3,000 new nature and place-based opportunities have been established in the areas served by responding grassroots initiatives, for a 50% increase over the 2009 numbers. These include community gardens, school gardens, trail projects, play areas and neighborhood parks.
- The 2011 data indicates a considerable increase in the number of underserved youth being reached through the activities of the grassroots initiatives. Particularly exciting is the increase in “nearby nature” opportunities for underserved children. Examples include school gardens/habitat projects (reaching 1.6 million underserved youth in 2011 versus 401,500 in 2009), community gardens (reaching 1.2 million underserved youth in 2011 versus 176,600 in 2009) and natural play areas, which increased by at least 2.5 times in two years.
Here in Greater Cincinnati, we were able to identify more than 40 school gardens and natural play areas built since our founding in 2006, and we believe there are more yet to be counted. We continue working to inventory those spaces so we can track progress. Thanks to all of our collaborative members, teachers, school resource coordinators and child care centers who are making it possible for children to experience nature where they live, learn and play.
It’s long been known that biodiversity is essential to the health of our environment. The Leave No Child Inside movement is also working toward the health of communities by increasing the diversity of the people who experience nature in their daily lives. Locally, we have focused on enabling children of all races and ethnicities to experience nature on a daily basis in their own neighborhoods by encouraging and facilitating school gardens and natural playscapes. In the coming year, we will expand our local focus on diversity in tandem with the Children & Nature Network, which is taking a leadership role in discussions about increasing diversity in nature. The Huffington Post recently did a three-part series on this topic. Click the links to read Article I, Article II and Article III. An inspiring example of an effort to increase diversity in nature is the Outdoor Afro website, a blog spot “where black people and nature meet”. Outdoor Afro was founded by Rue Mapp, a young woman who has enjoyed camping, mountaineering and rock climbing all of her life, but was “troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities.”
Have you wondered what the television ads for Green Umbrella are all about? Green Umbrella is an exciting new collaborative working to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the region around Cincinnati by maximizing the collective impact of individuals and organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability. Leave No Child Inside – Greater Cincinnati is proud to participate in the Outdoor Recreation and Nature Awareness Team of Green Umbrella. The ORNA team brings together facility managers, marketing directors and nature educators to develop strategies to get more people to become aware and take advantage of the many outdoor recreational and nature education opportunities available in the region around Cincinnati. Please visit the Green Umbrella website for more information, including a long-awaited calendar of events. Please keep your eye on this calendar as momentum builds and the site expands.
Today’s children spend less time in nature than any generation in all of human history. April’s Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) campaign is aimed at reversing that trend! Join in as people of all ages get outside to Play, Serve and Celebrate during the month of April. Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) is the brainchild of Natural Leaders, the youth leadership section of the Children & Nature Network. In their words, “This is not just a call to action, it is a call for fun! Think of it as a party invitation, and the party location is all the green and living space around us. Community gardening, local hikes, river clean-ups, bird watching, fishing, biking, beach days, trail maintenance and habitat restoration – however and wherever you get outside in nature.”
So, join the party, join the fun! For a listing of outdoor activities in April, go to the Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) website, type in your zip code, and you’ll see what’s happening near you. Have your own event to list? We want to hear about it! Follow this link to post your own event. Afterward, post photos and information about your event at the C&NN Connect.
PS – Spread the word! E-mail on to your friends, neighbors, school and co-workers or print the flyer at right using this link.
Who said that kids don’t play outside in the winter in Cincinnati? A recent trip to the Cincinnati NatureCenter’s new Nature PlayScape revealed plenty of area children at play in this fabulous new project. Don’t know what a Nature PlayScape is? Think about playing WITH nature, not playing IN nature. Learn more about this exciting project and plan a visit soon! It’s fun for kids of all ages and an inspiration to anyone thinking of building a natural play area at home, at school, or any place else, for that matter!
Cincinnati has been identified as one of 2011′s Top 100 Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance. The award is presented to communities who are successfully working to improve graduation rates. LNCIgc is actively involved in two of the programs cited in achieving that award: Cincinnati Public Schools Elementary Initiative, which includes Fifth Quarter for at-risk students, and the Safe Routes to School project.
2011 was the first year of Let’s G.O.!, which is a youth led initiative aimed at getting people all across the country outside to Play, Serve and Celebrate during the month of April. Plans are underway to make it bigger and better in 2012. Does your organization have an event or service project planned for April? Register it on the Children & Nature Network’s website to let people in your community know about it. The Ohio Leave No Child Inside Collaboratives will be working to promote Let’s G.O.! events throughout Ohio.
2011 marked the fifth anniversary of Leave No Child Inside – Greater Cincinnati. We’ve come a long way since 2006! See our 2011 Annual Report for some of the highlights of last year. It is thrilling to see all of the good work happening as this message becomes a part of the culture of organizations throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Now it its sixth year, the Kid’s Outdoor Adventure Expo was bigger and better than ever this year. In addition to serving as the conclusion to Cincinnati Public Schools’ Fifth Quarter program, the event provided over 4,000 area children with hands-on experiences designed to “spark their interest in the world of nature” and enhance academic performance. Read more and see photos here: http://www.ohioriverway.org/