By cohort 2 BGF-er, Khadija
On the 1st August 2019, BBC Countryfile Live graced the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire with its presence. From a series of thought-provoking debates on current issues affecting rural Britain to live demonstrations in the kitchen by some of the country’s most-loved chefs, this event left me (like many) in a state of awe and excitement. Here I met numerous inspirational individuals who had invested their time continuously in nature – maintaining their local environments and trying to find solutions to many of the environmental problems we are faced with today.
Thanks to one of the BGF mentors Charlie, I was provided with this fantastic opportunity - to be a part of a youth-led workshop delivered by Our Bright Future (Our Bright Future is an ambitious and innovative partnership led by The Wildlife Trusts which brings together the youth and environmental sectors - BGF is one of its many projects) at BBC Countryfile Live. The youth-led workshop focused on promoting three pledges to the public: the first pledge aims to spend more time learning in and about nature through hourly lessons; the second would like support to be given to young people interested in pursuing a career in the environmental sector; and the third focuses on the need for government, employers, businesses, schools and charities to pay more attention to the needs of young people and the environment.
Due to our interest in the first pledge, myself, Laurence and Daniel (with the help of Lydia Allen) decided to create a presentation that would address what we thought to be the most pressing concerns. We all noted from our own experiences how little time we spent learning about nature as primary school children – with this worsening as we progressed into secondary school. Interestingly enough according to The Guardian, in 2016 a survey was taken from a sample of 2,000 parents of 5-12-year-olds and found that 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day which according to UN guidelines is less time spent outdoors compared to what is required for prison inmates (‘UN guidelines for prisoners require at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily’).[¹] The poll also noted that children ‘spent twice as long playing on screens as playing outside’. Taking all of this into consideration we decided to think of innovative, simple and relatively inexpensive ways in which we could achieve our aim, enabling children to spend at least an hour of lesson time a day in nature, learning about nature. From botany lessons, to gardening and creative writing sessions outside, using nature as a stimulus – we were able to come up with numerous ideas. Yet in order to put these ideas into practice we would need to gain public approval…
We are all aware of the many benefits that nature has to offer and as academic research shows us “active play is natural and the primary way that children learn, it is also essential to their healthy growth and progress, particularly during periods of rapid brain development.”[²]
Our aim was to encapsulate all of the above into a presentation, highlighting ways in which we could achieve the first pledge in a sustainable and inexpensive way (I talked about some of BGF’s local projects and how one could take inspiration from them - using these activities in a school setting whilst Laurence and Daniel focused on similar projects they were part of as Shropshire Wildlife Trust members). Then in order to expand the public’s knowledge about the benefits of spending more time in nature, we provided our audience with a number of scientific studies. Firstly, Frances Kuo’s and Andrea Taylor’s 2009 study on a group of children diagnosed with ADHD who concentrated better after just 20 minutes of walking in a park, and secondly, the University of Derby’s 2016 study which “showed that there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness and connection to nature…not just throughout the challenge, but for months after the challenge had been completed.”[³] It is evident that the impact nature can have on one’s cognitive functioning and well-being is substantial.
Through delivering this presentation to the general public we were able to generate an interest and put this pledge in motion. My time here at BBC Countryfile Live was incredible and a heart-warming experience as I met so many likeminded people. I cannot thank Bright Green Future and Our Bright Future enough for this valuable opportunity! I intend to continue raising awareness and gathering support for this pledge, working together with Our Bright Future towards a common goal as we prioritize meeting the needs of both the present and future without compromising our planet’s ability to grow and thrive.
Cohort 3 BGF-ers Katy and Trixie also attend the event through BGF+.
[²] Sir Ken Robinson