Goal is to increase equitable access to nature
The Children & Nature Network, the National League of Cities and KABOOM! have partnered to launch a new initiative designed to increase equitable access to Nature Everywhere children live, learn and play in 100 communities by 2025. Nineteen U.S. communities have been selected through a competitive application process to join an inaugural Nature Everywhere Communities cohort. Nature Everywhere Communities will receive two years of strategic planning, technical support and start-up funding to develop and implement community-driven plans for connecting children and families to nature-based experiences and learning.
THE BENEFITS OF NATURE
A growing body of evidence indicates that spending time outdoors, in nature, is essential for children’s healthy development. Time in nature improves physical and mental health, academic outcomes and social-emotional learning. Equitable access to nearby nature-filled spaces and outdoor learning and play helps children and families thrive – and can support community-wide sustainability, climate resilience, green workforce and public health goals
TRI COUNTY PLAY COLLABORATIVE IS SOUTH CAROLINA TEAM SELECTION
The Tri County Play Collaborative from South Carolina is a partnership between First Step agencies and community cultural institutions from Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties. Together, they aim to provide historically excluded parents and caregivers of young children with free or low-cost access to immersive experiences that promote early learning and nature connections.
“The Tri County Play Collaborative’s application hit every mark when it comes to our Nature Everywhere goals,” says Sarah Milligan-Toffler, President and CEO of the Children & Nature Network. “At the heart of the team’s work is the idea of community engagement and support for equitable access to nature. With the team’s focus on early childhood and strong existing citywide collaborative, this team can truly benefit from learnings from other cities across the country to bring scale and innovation to the Tri County area. We look forward to supporting their efforts to connect academic learning and nature play.”
THE NATURE EVERYWHERE COMMUNITY TEAM JOURNEY
As a first step, the Tri County Play Collaborative joined 10 other communities for a Nature Everywhere Vision Lab in Atlanta, Georgia, November 15 – 16, to explore proven nature connection strategies and connect with technical assistance experts from the Children & Nature Network, the National League of Cities, and KABOOM!. Over the next two years, the Tri County Play Collaborative team will:
- Engage youth and community residents in creating visions for equitable access to nature
- Map community stakeholders, assets and gaps
- Conduct funding and policy scans
- Identify the best nature connection strategies for the Tri-County community
- Build and deepen regional partnerships
- Develop and begin implementing an outdoor inclusion and access plan
Throughout the process, Tri County Play Collaborative and other Nature Everywhere community teams will have access to a national peer learning network; technical assistance; case-making research; resources, case studies and planning tools; seed grants of up to $50,000; and eventually, access to larger catalytic grants for implementation. Nature Everywhere partners (Children & Nature Network, National League of Cities, and KABOOM!) will also help communities track outcomes and communicate the impact of their work both locally and nationally.