Failing to meet children’s desire for better contact with nature means generations of London children are losing out.
Everyday contact with nature would boost children’s health, learning and education.
Ultimately, we all benefit from greener communities, lower health bills and even lower crime levels.
“So having access to high quality, local natural environments is critically important to promoting physical health and wellbeing in children and adults.”
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England, Institute of Health Equality report, October 2014
Benefits for children’s development
Children exposed to nature scored higher on concentration and self-discipline; improved their awareness, reasoning and observational skills; did better in reading, writing, maths, science and social studies; were better at working in teams; and, showed improved behaviour overall (Sigman, 2007).
Benefits for health
Where people have good access to green space they are 24% more likely to be physically active. Equal access to green space would help save the NHS an estimated £2.1 billion a year in England alone (Natural England, 2009).
Studies show that more contact with nature helped a high proportion of children suffering from the medical condition Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Taylor et al, 2001).
Children who live close to green spaces have higher levels of physical activity and are less likely to experience an increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) over time (Institute of Health Equality, 2014).
Benefits for education and learning
More contact with nature improves the way children learn, both formally and informally. Outdoor learning gives them direct experience of the subject, making it more interesting and enhancing their understanding (Ofsted, 2008).
The economic benefits of improved children’s health and well-being from increased experience of nature are significant: even a tiny improvement of just one-tenth of one per cent in children’s educational attainment and behaviour would save between £10 and £20 million a year (Dickie et al, 2011).
We all gain
Restoring children’s contact with nature will also benefit London’s places and spaces and communities’ aspirations for lower crime and better health, education and gains when development and regeneration happens.
Strong evidence has been observed that even the lightest contact with nature makes for stronger communities. Studies have shown that even in cases where the only variable is the view of green space from a window, incidences of crime are reduced by as much as 50% (Kuo and Sullivan, 2001).