Why are Wild Zones needed?

There is currently almost nowhere for urban children to build a tree house, muck around with water and mud and branches, or even dig a hole for no reason. Even where there is open space, these activities are off-limits in parks, playgrounds and vacant lots. The lack of opportunity for unstructured play in a natural environment has a negative impact on many aspects of young people's lives including obesity, stress, cognitive development, attention deficit and hyperactivity, physical confidence and competence, social relationships, and bonding with the natural world. "Nature-deficit disorder' affects urban, suburban and rural children and teenagers.

There are six main needs that Wild Zones address:

Child and Adolescent Health

There are rising levels of obesity, stress, heart disease, diabetes, depression and eating disorders among children and teenagers in developed countries.

Relentless testing and competitiveness lead many students to give up, become angry and embittered. Children labeled with 'attention deficit disorder' and 'hyperactivity' find it difficult to learn effectively in a classroom environment. Even successful students may feel their achievements have been won at the cost of their authentic desire to learn.

Anti-social Behavior
There is grave concern about the levels of crime, violence, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and low levels of public civility among children and teenagers.

Intercultural Relations
Ethnic tensions are fueled by stereotyping, prejudice, lack of respect and lack of equal opportunities in many areas of life. There are not enough public spaces where people from all backgrounds feel welcome to engage in creative activities that celebrate their similarity and their diversity.

Civic Engagement
The failure to give children and youth a voice and a role in civil society risks breeding a dangerous cynicism and ignorance about democracy and community building.

Ecological Stewardship
All of the ecosystems and species of the earth, including humans, continue to be threatened in numerous ways. Our children will inherit this major challenge and will be expected to care for and heal a severely damaged biosphere. But many children will reach adulthood with no experiences of being nurtured and healed by time spent playing or relaxing in natural environments.

Downloadable  Toolkit


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