Gil Penalosa, World Urban Parks Chair
In the March edition of World Park News, we gave a short introduction to our five newly created committees (Green Infrastructure, Healthy Parks, Healthy Cities, Older Adults and Parks and Children, Play and Nature). These committees reflect the feedback we collected from members on key topics of interest. This month I’d like to take the opportunity to profile one of them: Children, Play, and Nature.
Children need to play. They need to play outside, and they benefit tremendously when they have experiences in nature. We as humans are hard-wired for being outside in the natural environment, but the cities we are building today are making it more difficult for children (and people of all ages) to experience the tremendous benefits of play and nature. In the U.S, research suggests that 35 per cent of households do not have a park within walking distance of their home, and that is in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We must do much better, not only for the quality of life for children today, but also for future generations.
The Children, Play and Nature Committee is co-chaired by one of my colleagues, Amanda O’Rourke (8 80 Cities), along with Helena Bjarnegård from the City of Gothenburg in Sweden. Recognising all children have a right to play and connect with nature, this committee aims to strengthen the World Urban Parks advocacy portfolio by supporting the value and benefits of urban parks and green spaces to children’s health and well-being.
As Co-chair of the Committee (and World Urban Parks member), Amanda recently participated in the Salzburg Global Seminar entitled 'The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play' in March. The Seminar was part of a series in the Parks for the Planet Forum – a collaborative platform convened by Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which aims to position nature at the heart of human health, wellbeing, security, and prosperity.
The Children, Play and Nature Committee has also been working to build a collaborative relationship with U.S-based Children and Nature Network, which I am pleased to announce has accepted an invitation to sit on the Committee.
Their 2017 International Children and Nature Network Conference will take place in Vancouver BC from 18-21 April. World Urban Parks members can receive $25 off full conference registration by using the code 2017WUP when registering at http://www.childrenandnature.org/cnc2017.