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To: Gavin Williamson MP
Reconnect children with nature
Please fund a Nature Premium to support regular nature experiences for every child.
Why is this important?
We believe that regular and additional nature experiences funded by the Nature Premium would improve children’s mental and physical well-being after lockdown and demonstrate a positive investment in their future development as part of the Green Recovery.
The benefit of time spent in nature to children’s mental and physical well-being has been demonstrated by government research. We are asking Gavin Williamson, Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock to make the evidence-informed decision to support a Nature Premium for every child.
Lockdown has highlighted the inequalities of access to nature. This is not a new phenomenon, but one which now, more than ever, needs addressing. Time in nature is crucial for children’s mental and physical well-being: the benefits are far-reaching and well-documented. Nature provides a way to feel refreshed, revitalised, calm and relaxed. People who visit nature have greater life satisfaction, more self-worth, more happiness and less anxiety. Other benefits include better resilience, improvements in social functioning and social inclusion. Its benefits for physical well-being are critical too: in the UK obesity affects around 1 in every 5 children aged 10 to 11 and in 2014-15 the NHS spent an estimated £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity-related ill health. Research published in 2018 showed that children used more energy on a school day with Forest School (playing in woods), than on a school day with P.E. Wildlife Trust research also found that natural environments can play a key role in increasing physical activity levels. Not all children enjoy organised games and team competition: playing in a nature rich environment is more inclusive.
Prior to lockdown, there was already a mental health crisis in the UK, and the probability of this crisis now being exacerbated is high. It is not unreasonable to anticipate, as we emerge from lockdown, that children will experience high levels of stress, anxiety and withdrawal as a result of prolonged isolation.
The Nature Premium, funding additional and regular opportunities to reconnect and have contact with nature, will set children up to learn. It will help children become happy and healthy and develop their understanding of how they fit into the world, developing a connection and respect for the natural environment.