Connect kids with nature by breathing life into your neighbourhood

Regardless of religion, race or creed, Mother Nature connects us all.

And in a time of uncertainty, one organisation is urging parents and teachers to embrace the great outdoors by utilising what’s on their doorstep to galvanise young people.

Whether it’s revitalising forgotten spaces, creating healthier environments, or getting people excited about growing, foraging and eating healthy food, Trees for Cities work with local communities to cultivate lasting change in their neighbourhoods.

The charity is also on a mission to create greener spaces, by planting trees in cities in a bid to improve lives for residents.

Trees not only add a backdrop of beauty to our concrete jungles, but also absorb odours and pollutant gases (such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particles out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Chatting about their hopes to engage young people with nature, the project’s chief executive David Elliott said he believes that deep and lasting change can only be made if tomorrow’s generation is involved in nature and feel inspired to take action.

David said: “We believe that an understanding and appreciation of the environment must be gained during childhood and through outdoor education, yet access and connection to nature is reducing with each generation and this has been highlighted by the impact of COVID-19 for many individuals and families across the UK.”

So, to help us big kids help our little kids, Trees for Cities have created free online educational resources and curriculum guides for students do more outdoor learning.

These include tips and tricks on how to plant and grow vegetables, as well as videos and games and exercises linked to nature.

The charity, who have planted a whopping 1,108,63999,302 trees to date, have also been lending a land inside school grounds by creating ‘edible playgrounds’ to inspire learning.

The movement began back in 1993, when the four founders would throw parties to raise funds to bring communities and volunteers together to start planting.

Today, they’ve remained loyal to their roots, planting trees on city streets, in estates, hospital grounds and parks, both in the UK and all over the globe.

Despite huge success already, the Trees for Cities founders say they continue to do what they do, “because we need to breathe cleaner air, remove noise pollution, get outside more often, and enjoy our five-a-day by making cities happier, healthier places to live.”

And one headteacher couldn’t agree more.

Speaking about Lemington Riverside Primary School in Newcastle, Craig Heeley, said: “Since the edible playground’s completion in January the world has been thrown into turmoil, but throughout lockdown it has provided a place of calm and inspiration for the vulnerable children and the children of key workers who continued to attend school.

“For many of the children (and staff), it was their first experience of growing fresh produce and the culmination of the school chef using the home-grown produce for the children’s dinner in the summer was hugely exciting for all involved.”

Not only is outdoor learning fun, research shows that time outside can improve physical and mental health, as well as our understanding of how the planet works which in turn paves the way for more sustainable living.

For more info, visit Trees for Cities.