Can you remember your first experience of the beauty of nature? The first time you stomped through a muddy puddle, or climbed a tree? Early contact with nature can have a hugely positive effect on the wellbeing of children and how they view the countryside. CPRE is campaigning to improve access to green spaces for everyone, and for every schoolchild to be able to experience the countryside first-hand as part of the national curriculum.
Their survey of 2,000 parents, carried out by OnePoll, revealed:
85 percent of parents in England think that every schoolchild should be able to experience the countryside first-hand as part of the national curriculum
96 percent think it is important for children to spend time in the natural world, including the countryside (with 69 percent saying this is very important and 27 percent saying it is quite important)
The top five reasons cited by parents for why children should spend time in nature were:
- Boost physical health (74%)
- Learn more about nature and science (74%)
- Boost their mental health (70%)
- Experience the thrill of observing wildlife first-hand (65%)
- Understand why we should protect the countryside (64%)
In support of CPRE's stance, author and co-founder of Farms for City Children Michael Morpurgo wrote:
‘After close on 45 years of witnessing first-hand the immense benefits to children of spending time in the countryside, the huge benefits to their physical and mental wellbeing, I have no doubt that the only way we can all become truly connected to nature and the world about us is to get to walk in it, work in it, be in it. Only that way can we come to love it, feel it is ours to look after, that it matters.
It should absolutely be part of every child’s life to walk the fields and forests, stomp through leaves, up hills, through rivers, to see buzzards floating high and mewing, to glimpse a fish jumping, to feel wind and cold, to see a sheep give birth, a cow give milk, to plant potatoes, dig potatoes, to look up on a dark night and see the stars, to hear silence. How good is that for us, to know that this world is beautiful and that we are part of it.’