If you haven’t heard of Nature-Deficit Disorder (NDD), you’re not alone. When we started on this journey, it was a new one for us too… Instinctively we knew that getting kids to connect with nature was a good thing for their wellbeing, but beyond that we hadn’t really given it much thought.
It turns out that children (and adults) are losing touch with nature and spending more and more time indoors. The stats are scary – the average UK child spends 6 hours a day in front of a screen and just over 1 hour a day outside. According to the RSPB, only one in five children ‘have a connection to nature’. And it’s not just here in the UK. Developed countries around the world are seeing similar patterns.
The phrase, Nature-Deficit Disorder was first coined by Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods, which described the direct link between lack of exposure to nature and some of the most worrying childhood health trends. Today, Louv’s assertions are supported by a large body of scientific evidence suggesting that NDD contributes to diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, obesity and higher rates of mental and physical illnesses. On top of that, it also affects the future of the environment. Studies show that when children aren’t engaged with the natural world, they’re less likely to want to preserve it as adults.
There are a whole host of reasons this is happening. Clearly, online culture has boomed in recent years and screens now dominate our lives. Increasing traffic and 24/7 news have helped fuel parental anxiety. It’s reported that the average range children are allowed to play outside on their own has shrunk by more than 90% since the 1970s. Not to mention, available green spaces are also declining.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Since the publication of Richard Louv’s book, numerous charities and initiatives have been set up to help turn the tide and create more opportunities for children to get out into nature. In the UK alone, there are some incredible organisations that we’ve listed below. And of course brands and businesses, just like Jamu, are also helping fund projects to improve children’s access to green spaces and nature.
There are also lots of things we can do for ourselves whether we live in the countryside or city. The number one thing is to become aware of the natural world and to make time to bring it into our lives. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- TAKE 5
Find a place outside where you can sit for at least 5 minutes a day and just observe or listen to nature.
- IN THE KNOW
Expand your knowledge about nature. Read a book or article, listen to a podcast or watch a nature programme.
- GET CREATIVE
Capture the beauty of nature through a photo, drawing or poem. Or use nature to create art.
- GREEN FINGERS
Plant seeds, or take cuttings from your plants and see if you can cultivate new ones.
- RISE AND SHINE
Get up in time to watch a sunrise from start to finish.
- SUPPORT LOCAL
Get involved with local schemes to maintain and improve parks, community gardens and other green public spaces.
Here are some of the organisations that are helping to improve green spaces and connect people with nature in the UK.