What is NatureHood?
Your NatureHood is nature right in your neighbourhood – from the biggest cities to the smallest communities. It’s nearby nature: the park at the end of your street, your backyard, a tree-lined street, an overlooked urban forest fragment, or a special green space in your community. Your NatureHood is any place in which you ‘connect’ with nature’s wonder – from watching a bee pollinate a flower in your planter box, to feeding wild birds, to witnessing the trees change with the passing of the seasons.
Removing barriers to accessing nature
The goal of our NatureHood program is to connect urban residents, particularly children, to nearby nature. This approach is founded on society’s growing disconnect from nature, coupled with the reality that there are many barriers (real or perceived) limiting people’s access to nature, such as distance, lack of knowledge, perceived cost, lack of equipment and cultural perceptions of nature, just to name a few. Many of these barriers are based on perceptions or false notions about nature, while others are much more complex. Additionally, as Canadian society evolves we welcome new cultural perceptions and experiences of nature, as well as linguistic differences to helping people connect to nature.
With NatureHood we aim to address these and other barriers by helping people discover nature all around them through activities built on celebration, education, stewardship and nature observation. We’re not claiming that an urban backyard is the same as, or is any substitute for, pristine natural spaces – we’re simply helping people see and experience the examples of nature’s complexity and wonder that are right there waiting for them.
Connecting to nature by getting outdoors
Another important part of our NatureHood work is getting people – especially young people – outside and active right where they live.
Canadians are spending more time than ever before indoors and sedentary, which is having an impact on our physical and mental health. Kids are replacing outdoor play time in nature with indoor sedentary time on screens, and many are not meeting their daily requirements for physical activity. What better way to get active then to get outside and into nature?
No conversation about the health benefits of getting outside into nature and being active is complete without mention of the mental health benefits. Studies show that people not only feel calmer and more relaxed when they’re in nature, but simply being in close proximity to a green space can improve the sense of well-being in urban office workers. Some medical professionals are even going so far as to prescribe “nature” to their patients. Our NatureHood program takes all of this evidence into account as we deliver activities to help people connect to nearby nature.