The mission of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children is to re-connect children with the natural world by making developmentally appropriate nature education a sustaining and enriching part of the daily lives of the world’s children.
The rapidly changing global condition of children and childhood requires new collaborations with new approaches to all that we do with and for children. One area of change is the disconnection of children from the natural world. In this regard, children increasingly face challenging societal, technological and environmental conditions that are producing deteriorating trends in physical and mental health; at the same time, existing educational approaches and conditions are inadequate to enable them to meet and overcome these challenges, much less secure their future.
Transforming our approach to environments, health, and early education is critical. Connecting children with the natural world:
- Is crucial for their optimal intellectual and physical development;
- Provides a sense of refuge and healing in a sometimes violent and frightening world;
- Helps them grow into adults who care about environmental stewardship;
- Nurtures a sense of shared community among the world’s peoples.
The Nature Action Collaborative for Children welcomes involvement from anyone who shares the common goal of re-connecting children with nature. The Collaborative works worldwide on efforts to:
- Provide opportunities to collect and disseminate information (including research)
- Provide professional growth and mentoring opportunities
- Become a strong voice for advocacy
- Provide opportunities for early educators, environmentalists, and landscape architects/community planners (as well as others such as architects, health care professionals, parents, and elected officials) to meet together on a regular basis.
Children in today’s world are being adversely affected by their growing disconnection from the natural world. During the World Forum on Early Care and Education in Montreal, Canada in May, 2005, Wil Maheia from Belize, Monique Sweeting from the Bahamas, and John and Nancy Rosenow from the United States gave a presentation entitled “Helping Children Learn to Love the Earth Before We Ask Them to Save It.” During the Forum, others from around the world discussed the need for adults to help children re-connect to the joys of nature and to shield children from frightening environmental concerns before they are developmentally ready to understand them.
After the Montreal Forum, a planning group came together to create a Working Forum on Nature Education. Bonnie and Roger Neugebauer from the World Forum Foundation, John Rosenow from the Arbor Day Foundation, Nancy Rosenow from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, and Eric and Elyssa Nelson from Child Educational Center/Caltech JPL Community served as the initial organizers of the Working Forum on Nature Education for Young Children, held in October, 2006 at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, USA.
The Forum brought together, for the first time, people from three diverse disciplines – landscape architects and community planners, environmentalists, and early childhood educators – to share information and plan for future collaborative efforts. Participants from 25 nations as diverse as Swaziland, Denmark, and Belize came together to learn from and with each other. One of the major outcomes of the Forum was the creation of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children (NACC).
After the 2006 Working Forum, a global regional representative structure was developed for NACC, which will include up to three regional leaders for each of the six regions of the world. The initial group of regional leaders has been selected to provide as much representation as possible for each of the three disciplines.
The NACC Leadership Team convened for the first time at the World Forum on Early Care and Education in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in May, 2007. Leaders, and others who had attended the 2006 Working Forum, presented the following sessions during the Forum: A “Town Hall” meeting session that gave participants a chance to discuss nature education ideas and challenges; A session on the value of the three professions working together; A poster session that displayed nature education projects throughout the world. The NACC Leadership Team also set plans in motion for the Working Forum on Nature Education 2008.
The Arbor Day Foundation once again invited the Nature Action Collaborative for Children to its magnificent conference center in the midst of great natural beauty to participate in the 2008 Working Forum on Nature Education: New Tools for Connecting the World’s Children with Nature. 280 delegates from a wide range of professions from six continents gathered at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska.
Delegates participated in the exploration of center and play yard transformations, gained tools for advocacy, and new ideas and new perspectives. In addition, they participated in outdoor art, music, and photography experiences.
At the 2009 World Forum on Early Care and Education, members of the NACC Leadership Team planned their upcoming “Action Forum on Connecting Children with Nature” to take place at the Arbor Day Farm, Lincoln City, Nebraska in October 2010.
To learn more about NACC Leadership Team members, click on their names:
Bishnu Hari Bhatta has completed his Masters Degree in Business Administration. He is currently working as Director for Youth Volunteer Program for PSD Nepal
for the last four years. He has worked as a full time staff for the last 15 years in various capacities for many organizations like British Charity and American Peace Corps Nepal etc.
He has also served as the Country Coordinator for i*EARN for two years and also served as International Deputy Coordinator for Medicine Plants in Our Backyard Project that was implemented in 7 different countries. This project focused to schools children. He has presented several papers in number of international conferences. He also involved in different organization executive committee internationally.
Swati Popat is President of Podar Education Network, an educational organisation with 80 years of experience in schools and education. She is also the director of the preschool chain Podar Jumbo Kids (36 centres in India) the daycare chain Podar Happy Kids (4 centres in India) and Podar Institute of Education that conducts a one year program in early childhood education and a certificate program in learning disabilities in children. Swati has written two books, “Mr. Pencil and Friends” and “How to Teach so Kids Can Learn.”
She is also the educational advsior for Tatasky-Wizkids for their interactive games channel. An advocate for children’s rights Swati is proud to be a member of the NAEYC and promotes developmentally appropriate curriculum and gives workshops on ‘Save Childhood’.
Raed working with team of Khatawat program (Steps):
- Increases children’s access to early education through the creation of new kindergartens and the renovation of existing facilities.
- Enhances the quality of children’s development and learning by introducing ‘learning-through-play’ approaches in the kindergarten classroom, improving teachers’ knowledge and skills and supporting the leadership capacities of center supervisors.
- Incorporates ‘Child Friendly Spaces’ and child protection concepts and approaches within a holistic, interactive kindergarten curriculum in line with the Ministry of Education’s Interactive National Curriculum and international standards.
- Engages parents and communities in early childhood education and development through activities in the community, classroom and at home.
Khatawat partners with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Development, and community-based kindergartens in urban and rural areas throughout Jordan, as well as with parents and whole communities in the areas surrounding the kindergartens.
During 2008-2009 Khatawat will:
- Renovate, furnish and fully equip 100 kindergarten classrooms in both public and community-based kindergartens to meet high quality standards that enable teachers to apply the ‘learning-through-play’ approach.
- Facilitate access to kindergartens for more than 2,500 Jordanian and Iraqi children aged 4 to 6, living in low income areas in Jordan.
Develop, test and modify an interactive teacher training curriculum that builds on the resources of the Ministry of Education and introduces ‘Children’s Friendly Spaces,’ child protection approaches.
- Build the capacities of more than 200 teachers, kindergarten and school principals and center supervisors using a step-by-step applied learning methodology that is strengthened through peer coaching and mentoring.
- Involve more than 1000 parents in their children’s early learning and development both in the classroom and in the home.
- Build and nurture partnerships with at least 10 community-based kindergarten centers as well as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development.
- Work with partners in the Middle East to share experiences, resources and lessons learned in order to strengthen and enrich both approaches and materials.
Irma Allen is an internationally recognized education and environment specialist, with wide experience in development work in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
One of her main interests is to promote and assist the process of integrating environment into formal and non formal education at all levels (specially early childhood).
She resides in Swaziland and has worked there as a teacher, University lecturer, Director of In-service Education, and technical advisor to Projects in curriculum development and teacher education. She also works closely with the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCD) Unit of the Ministry of Education developing materials, training teachers, and monitoring and evaluating ECCD programs.
Apart from her consulting work, she currently serves as Chairperson of the Boards of SOS Kinderdorf, the Baha’i Schools, and the Swaziland Environment Authority. In 1988, she was awarded a Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Hadijah Nandyose is a graduate with experience of 8 years working with grass root projects in Uganda to support educational activities with a bias in non formal education and work experience implementing projects for early childhood, primary and adult non-formal education.
Her career in Education started in 1994 as a part time school teacher while still an undergraduate student and later on transferred to the NGO sector as Education Officer supporting the design and implementation of educational activities for the children and wives of disabled soldiers a program that was supported by the Uganda Ministry of Defense. In 2001, she joined Save the Children with the major responsibility of training and supporting the roll out and implementation of a parent education program that aimed at fostering participation of parents and other community members in development initiatives especially linked to education.
Her role expanded in 2002 to include support for Non Formal Primary Education and Early Childhood Development (ECD) projects as she took on the position of Education Co-ordinator a post she still holds to date. The ECD project designed to target 4 – 7 year olds has a strong emphasis and promotes reading for children, safe spaces for play and outdoor activities that ultimately aim at increasing stimulation and readiness to start school for these children. The Non Formal Primary project reaches out to children missing out on the formal sector especially in rural setting with high HIV/AIDS prevalence, resource constraints and limited or no education services providing an opportunity for them to access primary education. As departmental head she is also charged with capacity building of partners, project staff, community volunteers and facilitators for the learning centers in this area.
Sebastian Chuwa was born in 1954 in Sungu Village, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He was educated in botany, studied in Kew Gardens in England and took an International Diploma in Botany in Stockholm, Sweden. He has worked as a safari guide for over 30 years, guiding tourists to the wealth of natural beauty in the northern Tanzania park system, including Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, the Serengeti Plains, and Lake Victoria.
He has worked in a volunteer capacity as a conservationist throughout his adult lifetime. His particular love is planting trees. He is a champion of the mpingo, or African Blackwood, tree, the National Tree of Tanzania. This tree has important international uses for the manufacture of woodwind instruments and within Africa it is utilized by native carvers. He also works tirelessly in the reforestation of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, where he was born and still lives, planting trees to preserve the ecology of the mountain and to serve the economic needs of the people who live there.
Sebastian has organized various youth environmental clubs to implement tree planting, working with local conservation networks in schools called Malihai Clubs and also with Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Clubs. Sebastian’s wife, Elizabeth, is an elementary school teacher and together they place great importance on the education of the youth of their country. They seek to impart a sound environmental conservation education to the thousands of children that their work has reached. Sebastian also serves as mentor for various adult conservation groups around Mt. Kilimanjaro, and together with the school groups, Sebastian has supervised the planting of one and a quarter million trees, including both mpingo and other indigenous species.
Spending a considerable part of his life outdoors, he is a tireless advocate for the environment, influencing the children whose lives he impacts with a message of appreciating nature and preserving it for future generations. Sebastian partners with a US team who have founded the non-profit organization called the African Blackwood Conservation Project (www.blackwoodconservation.org) in promoting and implementing tree planting and environmental conservation education in northern Tanzania. In recognition of his conservation work, Sebastian has been honored with several international awards: an Associate Laureateship from the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2002, a Spirit of the Land Award from the Salt Lake Olympic Committee at the 2002 Winter Olympics, a World Saver Award from Conde Nast magazine in 2006 and the J. Sterling Morton Award from The National Arbor Day Foundation in 2007.
Helle Nebelong – a Danish Landscape Architect and Master of Public Management – has created children’s outdoor spaces for more than twenty years.
Her work is based on experiences and observations from her own childhood and from her roles as a mother and a designer. For more than ten years, she has worked for the City of Copenhagen now as a private consultant. She runs her practice www.sansehaver.dk, since 1990, that specialises in the design of natural spaces for children, young disabled people and the elderly. Helle is President of the Danish Playground Association and Vice-president of International Play Association Denmark.
Claire Warden is an educational consultant who has developed her approach to experiential learning through a variety of experiences. Her experiences have taken her on a pathway that includes working in a variety of types of centre, advisory work, and ultimately to lecturing in further education.
As a lecturer in Primary Education at Strathclyde University, the development of training strategies and course creation have been applied to the dynamic and creative work currently undertaken by her company called Mindstretchers.
Mindstretchers was set up as a training consultancy in 1996. It has now grown to develop many aspects such as a project approach called ‘The Living Classroom’ which explores sensorial and experiential learning in challenging outdoor spaces across Scotland; resources and the publication of materials.
Claire Warden is an author of many books and materials relating to early years methodology. These include ‘The Potential of a Puddle’ that details National vision and values for outdoor play; ‘Talking and Thinking Floorbooks’ which presents the planning methodology that supports consultation and democracy in early education; ‘The Right to be Me’ which explores the rights of young children to high quality provision and ‘Nurture through Nature’ which explores working with children under three outside.
The pathway has recently taken her on to set up Whistlebrae Nature Kindergarten in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, United Kingdom. This outdoor nursery, works with children from 2-6 yrs old. The ethos is based on the rights of a child to high quality care. The three spaces of inside, garden and the wild wood are designed to develop skills and confidence in the natural world. The whole environment is eco-friendly, down to fair trade resources, organic food and alternative energy sources.
Claire is one of a leadership group of consultants who make up the World Nature Collaborative. The purpose of the group is to develop a cohesive network and approach to experiential learning in outdoor spaces in a variety of climates. The nature collaborative brings together educators, landscape architects, environmentalists and health workers to support a multidisciplinary approach to outdoor educational provision. Claire is the European education co-ordinator and as such would invite you to join the collaborative and take forward children’s right to outdoor play around the world.
Articles are available from www.mindstretchers.co.uk.
Marc Veekamp is a specialist on nature education and young children. In the Netherlands he is a leading person on this subject. He is involved in many innovative projects all over his country. In his work for young children he believes in the importance of the connection between educators and nature. Once connected, people like educators, pedagogues, parents and teachers are able to take their responsibility to accompany young children in their exploration of nature.
The work of Marc Veekamp is related to day care centers in the Netherlands. He carries out workshops, trainings and coaching projects and also lectures on many different occasions. He is author of many practical manuals for pedagogy and articles about his work regularly appear in Dutch journals.
Now he is the leader of a project which works out a more detailed vision of nature education and young children. For this “Groen is Gras” project he recently travelled to Scandinavia and visited some of their special forest kindergartens.
His company, Veldwerk Nederland, is operating nationally and internationally in environmental education for more than 30 years. Its core business is to involve people in issues concerning environment and sustainable development, by focusing on educational processes and how environmental issues interrelate with society.
Personally Marc Veekamp is strongly motivated by the positive way nature affects him. He grew up in a small town where he often played outdoors, building canals and digging huts at a brook side.
He started his professional career as a landscape architect, but after a couple of years he decided to educate himself as a teacher. After a few years teaching children in primary schools he entered Nature Education. For more than eight years, he has been working as a nature-educator for early childcare in kindergartens.
Marc entered the NACC leadership group in 2008. He is strongly motivated to extend the world-wide network in his country and in Europe. The NACC network in the Netherlands starts in 2009. The coming years he is building up the European network together with Helle Nebelong (Denmark) and Claire Warden (Scotland).
Linda has been designing and delivering training for the past thirty-two years. She worked to develop and build the Nebraska Early Childhood Training Center and served as the director for twelve years.
During her work with the Center, she developed a strong commitment to family-centered, developmentally appropriate training, delivered whenever possible at the local level and tailored to meet the community needs.
As a trainer, Linda’s focus has been on team development, community planning, working effectively with families and interagency, collaborative program development.
Currently she is working as a private consultant with Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Nebraska State Department of Education to assist in the development of nineteen pilot sites to develop nature classrooms for young children. Linda has a Masters of Science in Special Education.
Jeanne McCarty is the Executive Director for REAL School Gardens, a grassroots gardening program that helps children by supporting elementary schools as they design, install and sustain outdoor classrooms (gardens). REAL School Gardens has supported 40 schools in North Texas, and has just begun plans for national expansion.
Prior to this position, Jeanne spent eight years as vice president and director of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots, a global youth service program focused on conservation. In this position she worked closely with Dr. Jane Goodall to fulfill her dream of creating a powerful force for positive change: a network of young people in communities all around the world empowered to make a difference. With more than 17 years experience in education and program management, she has also served as the director of Undergraduate Programs for the Department of African American Studies and as an Advisor/Consultant to the Upward Bound program, both at the University of Maryland. Jeanne is active in national and international initiatives to connect children and families to nature and to promote youth leadership in conservation and speaks frequently on these topics.
With more than 23 years of professional landscape architectural practice, and being licensed in 12 states, James Wike, ASLA, CLARB has assembled a wide variety of land planning and site design experience in a multitude of situations. He is responsible for the site planning of parks, hospitals, schools, churches, multifamily housing, single family housing, commercial centers and various public works projects.
His major areas of concentration are site analysis, land use studies, conceptual design, preparation of construction documents, competitive bid administration, and construction administration. He has taught several classes in landscape architecture at the college level in Memphis and in North Carolina.
Jim holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University. He holds a Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Board certification and is a member of many local, state and national landscape architecture associations. At present Jim is working with Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation on the development of Nature Explore Classrooms throughout the United States. He is on the Leadership Team of the International Nature Action Collaborative for Children.
Toni Christie is the Principal of Childspace Early Learning Centres in Wellington, New Zealand. Childspace is a group of five early childhood centres which are well known for their excellent quality management, design and commitment to teacher’s professional development.
Toni is also the Director of Childspace Early Childhood Institute which provides professional development, consultancy, environment design and resources to early childhood professionals throughout New Zealand and overseas.
Together with her husband, Robin, Toni has written two books on the subject of environment design for early childhood settings. She also edits a quarterly magazine for early childhood parents and educators. Toni is currently studying to complete her masters in Education and is fully committed to reconnecting young children with nature.
I am the founding director of BOLD PARK COMMUNITY SCHOOL, a small community school in Perth Western Australia, which has been established by parents to provide children from three to fifteen years with the opportunity to engage with a social constructionist learning environment. Presently my role is as Director of Teaching and Learning and Co-Principal of the school which is evolving to provide an educational environment with a firm base in Nature based and place based education.
In my role as a NACC leader I have organized workshops and conferences aimed at awaking a love of nature in the community. The school has established a REmida centre, a creative reuse centre, for the broader community. From 2006 the school has included high school education and is looking to include an Infant Toddler centre in the near future.
Over the past few years I have presented at conferences in Perth and Hong Kong discussing Bold Park Community Schools approach to education.
Martha Cecilia Fajardo P. Born in Colombia, she studied Architecture in the University Piloto of Bogotá, afterwards she moves to England where she studied in the Master degree course at Sheffield University, obtaining her Landscape Design Diploma in 1981.
Martha is President of GRUPO VERDE Ltda. A firm dedicated to the professional practice of Landscape Architecture and Environmental planning, with emphasis on Urban Design and Planning.
The firm was establishing in Colombia in 1982. Since its founding the firm has been engaged in projects varying greatly in size and requirements. The firm is one of the pioneers in the Country, which produces designs and directs projects from concepts to its completion and construction
GVL has a wealth of background information and research material on the principal cities of Colombia and its surrounding regions as well as information about projects and needs in Latin-American countries.
I’m a Haitian educator with a Master’s Degree in Education living in Haiti.
Besides being a private school principal, I work as a consultant for Step by Step (SbS).
This international program prepares children to function as empowered citizens within a democracy. They learn to make choices, respect each other, and work cooperatively. The SbS methods are quite revolutionary in the Haitian context. I’m presently in charge of the coordination of a project whose ultimate purpose is to adjust the national teacher training to SbS methodology.
I’ve always been particularly interested in nature education and I try my best to integrate it in my everyday practice. In spite of the serious environmental problems we face in Haiti, the discourse around these issues are quite underdeveloped and have been overshadowed through the years by the continuous political crisis.