Time in nature can provide many benefits to young people and can positively influence their mental health. However it has been found that adolescents typically spend far less time in nature than either younger children or adults.
In parallel, emerging research has noted the conflicting impacts from the benefits of connecting with nature and the realisation that the natural world is under threat due to the impacts of climate change and other human-induced actions. This phenomenon, labelled ‘climate grief’, can include anxiety over the future in terms of loss of nature, frustration over the lack of dedicated action from successive governments at an international scale, and fear that these problems are bigger than an individual can solve themselves. All of these emotions have a negative impact on the mental health of young people.
This project will create a safe space where small groups of adolescents will be provided with the opportunity to spend time in nature, to connect with the natural world and each other in ways that are comfortable for them. The meetings will also allow young people to make a positive contribution to the restoration and enhancement of remnant areas of Box Gum Grassy Woodlands, an Endangered Ecological Community, through native plants, weed management and other on-ground restoration works.
Our team of environmental educators, Landcare volunteers, youth mental health workers and members of the local Wiradjuri community will provide the necessary combination of skills to engage the participants in work that creates positive change for the local environment, in a way that also empowers them and is self-directed. The adolescents who participate in the project will be given the power to provide guidance and decision-making around the direction of activities, with opportunities to focus on art, science, mindfulness, connection to Country and other areas of interest. They will also have the opportunity to educate younger, primary-school aged children about their learnings, helping to build their leadership and connections, and further enhance the impact of the project.
If you would like further information, including details on how your school or students can be involved, please contact Nicole Maher – firstname.lastname@example.org, or 0438 452 814
This project is funded by a NSW Environmental Trust Environmental Education grant, and is being delivered as a partnership between Murrumbidgee Landcare, headspace Wagga Wagga, Visual Dreaming and Wagga Wagga City Council.