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A: Why Nature

Posted by on September 1, 2012

Nature ….simply put … unlocks the full potential of people.

As our increasing journey into a built up, time devouring world creates an ever greater barrier to natural life . The forward movement of technology’s original intention was to give us more quality time. But now ‘quality’ has taken on a meaning far removed from what we need.

With this ‘progress’ we have found that cutting off from Nature locks us into an inner world. Locks our potential down. Nature is vital to our wellbeing.

Nature Sense brings this back into our children’s lives and with wonder; and in turn back into our lives too.

The efficacy of nature in the healing sciences

There is a large and growing body of evidence to support the role of nature in the healing process. Scientific research that began in the United States has now spread to Australia, Canada, the Fenno-Scandanavian countries, the UK and the Netherlands to name but a few. Some of the key findings include:

  • The UK Department of Health commissioned a report which concluded that; access to nature when combined with a degree of physical activity is at least as effective in combating mild to medium scale depression as a combination of drugs and counseling.
  • This was echoed in an English Nature report to the UK Government in 2006, where regular exposure to nature within a clinical programme was shown to be more effective than anti-depressants in treating certain types of mental health problems.
  • In the Netherlands research has shown that people who experience nature on a regular basis are 30 times less likely to suffer from depression.
  • Children with ADHD or ADD showed significantly reduced symptoms following after-school or weekend activities in green outdoor settings (natural areas such as parks, farms, or a nature reserves) compared to activities in other settings, including built outdoor settings (shopping centres, bowling alleys, etc) or indoor settings.
  • Particularly noteworthy was the finding that “green” areas were more effective than other outdoor areas in reducing ADHD/ADD symptoms, suggesting that it was not merely the fresh air and space to move around outside that was important, but rather the natural setting itself.

The Disconnect from Nature

In addition to the psychological element, there are also a number of physical symptoms manifested in part by this disconnect from nature. Case studies from the USA have thrown up the following facts:

  • Type-2 Diabetes. Due to the drastic increase in the prevalence of paediatric diabetes over the past few decades, the definition has changed from “adult-onset” diabetes to type-2 diabetes. Approximately 176,500 children and adolescents suffer from diabetes.
  • Childhood Obesity in the United States. Approximately 16% of US children (~ 9 million) aged 6-19 are overweight or obese. According to the Institute of Medicine, childhood obesity has doubled over the past 30 years for preschoolers and adolescents, and more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years old.
  • Asthma. Currently 9.4% of children in the US have asthma. Overweight children are at an increased risk for developing asthma and other respiratory problems and for being hospitalized for asthma.
  • Hypertension. 1 in 10 children with a Body Mass Index within or above the 95th percentile have hypertension (vs. only 2.6% with a BMI <85th percentile).
  • Cardiovascular Disease. Overweight adolescents are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and earlier death. Most overweight children have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including higher cholesterol levels, abnormal glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends screening overweight children for high cholesterol and prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs if needed.

All the research points up the effectiveness of a planned programme of nature based activities and how this can help reverse these trends. This is why BMCC Nature has developed Nature Sense for schools.