Embrace technology to get kids outside, says presenter at parks conference

Embrace technology to get kids outside, says presenter at parks conference

A new book that outlines seven strategies for connecting kids with nature encourages embracing technology as a "gateway" to get outside.

Chloe Dragon Smith was involved in the creation of the book, The Nature Playbook, and is presenting strategies from the book at the Canadian Parks Conference in Banff Saturday. She's from Yellowknife, N.W.T., and is the youth co-chair of the Canadian Parks Council's working group for The Nature Playbook.

"We recognize that a lot of people are on their devices and that there's great potential to actually connect people using devices and there's a lot of great apps out there that can help you to learn more about your environment while you're out there," she said, speaking to The Homestretch Friday.

"They can help you to explore and they can help you find new ways to connect, and so we're excited about technology as more of a gateway and not the enemy."  

The Nature Playbook was created by an intergenerational working group of seven young people and seven older experienced professionals, Dragon Smith said. It's available online for free.

"We came together about two years ago with an intentionally very vague plan and we decided to try and make something that we thought would work for all Canadians, and The Nature Playbook is what we came up with," she said.

As more people move into cities, it is becoming more difficult to access outside spaces, Dragon Smith said. At the same time, research shows many physical and mental health benefits to being outdoors.

The seven strategies described in the book are to bring children into nature at an early age, to find and share the fun in nature, to use the urban gateway to nature, to embrace technology, to share cultural roots and ancestry in nature, to seek out diverse partnerships, and to empower a new generation of leaders.

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With files from The Homestretch