Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative

Outdoor Play

The National League of Cities has an initiative called Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN).  The initiative is intended to “ensure that all children have the opportunity to play, learn and grow in nature, from city parks to the great outdoors.”  Partners include  National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families (IYEF), the Children & Nature NetworkOutdoors Alliance for Kids, and Wilderness Inquiry.  Funding comes from the JPB Foundation.

Initiative Goals

The program has three goals over the next three years:Feed the Ducks

  1. Improving the health of people living in low-income communities by increasing access to nature-based activities and green space.
  2. Supporting the development of stronger   social-emotional and cognitive skills among young people through increased time in nature.
  3. Nurturing an emerging generation of youth as stewards of and advocates for the natural environment.

Initial Key Cities

In pursuit of those goals the partners have identified seven cities to kickstart the process:

  • Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Austin, Texas
  • San Francisco, California

butterfly playOver the next few months the partners will work with these cities to complete community assessments, and identify equity issues.  By August 2016 each city will have an implementation plan that will make it eligible for further CCCN grant funding and assistance through October 2017.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and founder of the Children and Nature Network says, “These seven cities are on the leading edge of the children and nature movement.  Mayors and city leaders are in a unique position to create opportunities for all children to grow up with nature as part of their everyday lives — and, in fact, could help define the nature-rich city of the 21st Century.”

International Conference

All of these cities as well as nine others:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • North Little Rock, Arkansas
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • New Haven, Connecticut

that were involved in a leadership academy program last year will be participating in the Children & Nature Network 2016 International Conference and Cities & Nature Summit from May 24 to 27, 2016 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  The conference is open to the public and you can register now.

Getting Involved

If you live in any of the cities mentioned above, contact your mayor’s office to see which agencies and groups are involved with this project then offer your assistance.  If you live elsewhere, join the Children & Nature Network and participate in the conference.  You will come away with lots of great ideas and contacts that you can use to help your city bring children to nature.

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