In January 2014, the Darien Land Trust enjoyed sponsoring the movie Mother Nature’s Child: Growing Outdoors in the Media Age. This film explores nature’s powerful role in children’s health and development through the experience of toddlers, children in middle childhood and adolescents. The film marks a moment in time when a living generation can still recall childhoods of free play outdoors; this will not be true for most children growing up today. The effects of “nature deficit disorder” are now being noted across the country in epidemics of child obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
Mother Nature’s Child asks the questions: Why do children need unstructured time outside? What is the place of risk-taking in healthy child development? How is play a form of learning? Why are teachers resistant to taking students outside? How can city kids connect with nature? What does it mean to educate the ‘whole’ child?
The film screening was followed by a discussion led by Stephen R. Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Kellert is the author of Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World and Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Bio-Logical Capital, a firm that invests in and implements sustainable land uses on large landscapes, as well as a founding partner of Environmental Capital Partners, a private equity company investing in the environmental sector.
The Darien Land Trust co-sponsored the event with the Darien Nature Center and Greenwich Audobon at the Darien Library.