In Seattle, people have been on Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders for two months, a difficult situation for many. Yet a benefit has come out of this quarantine – people are rediscovering their nearby nature. From local park to street trees, from nesting birds to insects in the soil, and from window planters to backyard gardens, residents are realizing how important connection to nature is in an urban setting.
Research shows that the benefits of nature connection is great. Being in nature reduces our stress, improves our academic outcomes, and increases our social cohesion. The benefits are present whether people are looking at a tree rustling in the wind, walking through a neighborhood park, or backpacking in the wilderness. As our community weathers the impacts of COVID-19, access and connection to nature is critical. Especially for our children.
This is why Seattle Parks and Recreation, BestStarts WA, Outdoor Childhood Puget Sound, and IslandWood (among other partners) are considering the creation of a Seattle Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights (COBOR). This effort is part of a national initiative, Cities Connecting Children to Nature, that seeks to increase equitable access to nature for children.
A Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights is a public facing statement of the overarching goals a community has for its children. It identifies the essential “rights” to nature and the outdoors that every child deserves to have as they grow up. Several states and cities have created COBORs, and Seattle is considering one as well.
To ensure diverse perspectives, Seattle Parks and Recreation is conducting an online survey to learn what outdoor experiences people feel are most important to children in our community. What should be included in a future Seattle Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights?
Once complete, Seattle Parks and Recreation will share these results with community partners and work with them to develop this idea further.