|Download Ideas for Initiating a (NACC) Community Forum.|
Research shows that when children have regular contact with nature they learn and grow better. Studies document the numerous benefits children gain from spending time outdoors. Community forums provide a venue to bring together participants from diverse backgrounds to discuss how their community or region can form a NACC group to become a model for connecting children and nature.
NACC community forums can help to raise community awareness and interest in efforts to connect children with nature and to improve the quality of early childhood experiences and children’s health. Regional community forums that bring key decision makers from diverse backgrounds together, at a local level, to address effective ways to reconnect young children can generate transformational action.
The vision is to form a network of NACC groups around the globe that increase the connections between children and nature in backyards, neighborhoods, public spaces and educational settings as a means of enhancing early childhood education, public school education, family health and well-being, lifelong learning, community revitalization and environmental stewardship. The following are tips to get you started on initiating a NACC Community Forum.
- Indentify key groups/individuals to be invited to the NACC Community Forum. Make sure the group is inclusive so the network is effective and sustainable. Try to include educators, conservation professionals, landscape architects, design professionals, community planners, family organization leaders, health professionals, civic leaders, and others who might have interest.
- Determine what organizational networks you can use to effectively contact individuals or members of these groups.
- Select a time, date and location for the initial gathering.
- Determine if you want participants to register in advance and, if so, what is the most effective way for people to register.
- Consider asking someone knowledgeable about a variety of existing efforts to connect children with nature to make a short presentation to the group.
- If desired, personalize the Advocacy PowerPoint Advocacy Tool for the event (available on the Web), or use as is.
- At the Community Forum gathering, present some background information about NACC and share examples of forum impacts. Show the Advocacy PowerPoint.
- Divide the participants into discussion groups where each group has people from different disciplines. Prepare a few questions in advance to generate discussion about what effective action might look like and how it might be accomplished. Ask a participant at each table to be a recorder.
- Collect information from participants on who would like to be part of an on-going NACC group….who might be able to host meetings, who might assume a leadership role, who might be able to provide natural materials or volunteer support to help local efforts to connect children with nature or create nature areas where children are spending their daily lives.
- Send out collective notes from the Forum gathering and remind participants of commitments.
- Set a time and date for a follow up meeting and use the “NACC Affiliate Group Guidelines” to get your group up and running.