Enabling young people to connect with nature Christine Crookall-Fallon from our Milestones team outlines some tips on how to connect with nature. As we embark upon another week of staying at home, there are many challenges for us to navigate, from juggling home-working with home-schooling, to taking care of our most vulnerable citizens and coping with feelings of isolation. It’s certainly a challenging time for many of us. At the same time, there are lots of positive things happening too! As Spring deepens all around us, nature seems to be flourishing. As the Milestones team, we have been working hard to keep in touch with our groups at home to provide them with ideas and inspiration for staying connected with the natural world. Spending time in the natural environment – as a resident or a visitor – improves our mental health and feelings of well-being. - ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’ (HM Government 2018) Our 10 ways to connect with Nature: Make something to help nature - You could try: bird tables, bird feeders, bird baths, bird boxes, bat boxes, bug hotels, ponds, small water features, areas of wildflowers, log piles, hedgehog holes in fences … There is a wide choice of projects from The Wildlife Trusts that give basic ideas and designs. Grow something that you (or wildlife) can eat! Take part in a citizen science project – collecting data about wildlife everywhere is vital for tracking changes in populations of species. Look out for hedgehogs and record your sightings and later in the year you can join The Big Butterfly Count. Learn to identify key species – You could download our basic Wildlife Watch spotter sheets. Take on challenges and play games to help develop communication. Fun ideas include camping in the garden, cooking on a fire, eating every meal outside for a day, building a mud castle or creating a den! Watch the seasons change and develop – being aware of and connected to your natural environment is an important part of your health and wellbeing. This could be done through a diary, written, drawn or photographed. Learn how to forage. This could be the start of a life-long bank of natural knowledge and will be easily remembered by children. Go on a walk for some simple and easily identifiable plants and cook up a feast; nettle tea or soup, elderflower cordial, dandelion fritters or wild garlic pesto. The Woodland Trust will guide you through sustainable and safe foraging. Build in mindful moments – being able to put technology to one side and be with yourself in nature can form the basis of good mental health and well-being from an early age. Sitting quietly in favourite spots, taking mindful walks, mindful photography or using a visualisation can help you stop, relax and take in the world around you. You might like to try relaxing to one of our guided nature connection visualisations. Allow free play – let the joy and inspiration of a moment lead children’s activity; that might be running free, playing hide and seek, watching the clouds or crawling through grass to see what’s at that level. Be creative – Use natural resources to make art, learn how to make charcoal, photograph nature from every possible angle, paint or draw nature on paper or a stone. How about learning a natural craft like whittling or weaving? Even if you can't get outside, there are lots of ways to engage with nature. There are plenty of amazing wildlife webcams on The Wildlife Trusts website or at our own Langford Lakes reserve. View our Wildlife Weekly newsletters here. However you experience Nature, we hope that you will find elements that inspire you and your family, as well as memories that stay with you through the coming months and years. The Milestones project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the Our Bright Future programme.