Improving young children’s access to nature near their home
Idea for Action Summary
Exposure to nature supports the healthy development of babies and toddlers and the well-being of their caregivers.
Natural elements in play areas, or playable elements in parks, encourage children to explore and interact with nature. Green spaces with enough space for toddlers to run around in help to reduce caregivers’ stress. The presence of nature in cities also improves air quality and mitigates the effects of extreme weather by reducing heat and providing shade in summer.
Governments can help by promoting natural elements in streets along routes taken by families, ‘pocket-parks’ to rest, play and explore, and larger destination parks that allow for unstructured play and community gatherings. Free or low-cost entry to natural spaces, or subsidised transport, can facilitate families’ access. Community organisations and education facilities can support urban farms and organise local gatherings to sensitise families to the benefits of being exposed to nature. City governments also have a major role to play in maintaining natural areas to ensure safety and minimise risks in exposure to nature, such as stray animals or disease-carrying insects.