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EOE - Liz O' Brien's Presentation

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Liz O'Brien's accompanying presentation to her lecture at the European Institute of Outdoor Education conference at Metsakartano, Finland.

Liz O'Brien's accompanying presentation to her lecture at the European Institute of Outdoor Education conference at Metsakartano, Finland.

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine

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  • In this talk I want to focus on children and young people and what seems to be their lack of contact with nature and woodlands sometimes known as nature deficit disorder and wider issues about children’s well-being before moving on to discuss evidence of the benefits and finishing with some concepts and theories
  • Taken on a summers day at a chilli fiesta 10 children on a single tree in south east England This is what we like to think of children having the opportunity to climb trees and have adventures in woodlands. But not same for all We all remember those special trees with large lower limbs that we climbed, swung and bounced on. Where were you’re favourite places as a child
  • Extinction of experience Traced back to start of industrial revolution so not new Growing concerns about lack of contact leading: Poorer physical activity, poorer development Lack of interest in and concern for natural environment
  • But why is nature deficit disorder and extinction of experience occurring? Streets in Bristol that have applied to close the streets to traffic for 2-3 hours per day so children can play on the streets Older young people no place to go Segregation – play happens in designated places but not in others
  • Concern about safety can restrict movement Illustration of how this translates into restricted movement for today's children
  • How do we view children in modern society Not sure how typical this is across Europe but certainly in UK Paradox in UK between a shift to a rights agenda for children and national anxiety about them. The simultaneous positing of children as ‘in danger’ or ‘dangerous’ leads to particular approaches to children’s rights on one hand and on the control of them on the other Our polarised views of children and young people are not helping us think about what is best for them Ferral children ASBO’s used mostly with young people Social norms of acceptable behaviour Conditioned by adult views of appropriate behaviour in the public realm – Broken Society!
  • I want to start by focusing on some key issues/problems faced by children and young people affecting well-being What are we up against Are we creating obesogenic environments?
  • WHO mental ill health biggest cause of disease burden by 2020
  • Comparing the UK with other European countries on the child well-being index highlights that UK is low for most of the indicators The UK does not appear in the top third of the table for any of the domains of child WB What causes this?
  • Parents sometimes don’t mind children doing this as they know where they are
  • Never seemed so important to get children and young people outside Overview of benefits, next slides on outlining some of the evidence A range of research from physiologists, sociologists, educationalists, outdoor education has outlined how children having contact with nature can I considered whether to talk in detail about a small number of studies or to touch briefly on a range of research from different countries – chose the latter
  • There are gender differences in play with boys engaged in more rough and tumble play and girls in friendships and social play Need to be careful as parents were asked what they did when young – difficulties of remembering
  • Also found in climbing trees and building dens young people preferred wild paces to purpose designed and structured woodland playspaces that limited children’s imagination. Korpela in researching 17-18 year olds in Finland found they cited private homes as favourite places – bars, cafes, discos, sports facilities and natural settings
  • Studies consistent across a number of countries but mostly north america
  • With a place based approach the value of the environment can be studied in close connection with the physical characteristics of the locations Providing geocoded data
  • Combine with focus on neighbourhoods and qualitative data gathering
  • Woods can be an important part of the culture of a country I would say there are an important part of English culture even though we only have 9% woodland cover 72% forest cover – state of europe’s forests Traditional practices of reindeer herding, hunting and fishing still important Survey in 2006 of over 1000 children 6-18 What is stopping for 46% who wanted to visit more often? Hunting of moose, deer, waterfowl, grouse
  • Improving play spaces in schools does not cost much more than creating a new tarmac playground Natural experiment – opportunity to try new things
  • physical development, emotional and mental health and well-being, and social and educational development, which may have long-lasting effects into Adulthood What do young people say they value from wild adventure space? The focus groups with teenagers identified the following key benefits: • something to keep you out of trouble • a breathing space, away from family or peer pressures • a place that offers risk and challenge • a place that inspires you to do things • a place where you can do what you want, where you can relax and feel free • a comfortable place, without adults, where won’t be told to go away • a place to have a good time with your friends
  • Campaign for recognition of the concept that all young people have a right and need to experience adventure outdoors. Explore what works to attract young people from areas and contexts of deprivation to experience wild adventure through innovative approaches. Develop a forum to bring together managers of green and wild adventure places and those trained or experienced in working with young people, including educators, police and social workers. Use this forum to develop partnership working and identify examples of good practice. Develop demonstration projects in a few, targeted areas, where different approaches to providing a welcome for teenagers to wild adventure space are tested.
  • Cone war = place in forest with pines were they could throw cones at each other Space ship = a big rock affording fantasy play The cliff = steep rocky wall for jumping off, climbing
  • Digital child track is using a digital computer tool marking leisure routes and routes to school, areas young people normally use and what they do there, areas they avoid or would like to change
  • Children did tests and went out for the 3 treatments over 3 weeks Controlled for day of week, terrain, season, order of walks Contact with nature might be particularly important for specific groups
  • Recent PhD work part funded by the FC Becca’s study Explored rates of p.a. during FS and compared to typical school day and day with PE. Children significantly more active during FS and exceeded the daily 1 hour recommneded level at FS 89.4 mins. Little difference between girls and boys at FS Jenny’s study Explored mental health with young people 10-13 in 3 groups No behaviour problem Significant behaviour problem Mental disorder Measured mood on a mood scale before and after typical school day and before and after FS The forest setting was advantageous to mood in all behaviour groups but particularly for those with mental disorder
  • Key features of FS The use of a woodland (and therefore ‘wild’) setting strict safety rules, flexibility and freedom for child led learning A high adult pupil ratio approx 12 children per session Learning can be linked to the national curriculum and foundation stage objectives The freedom to explore using multiple senses encouraging creative, diverse and imaginative play Regular contact for the children over a significant period of time all year round, all weathers, one morning or afternoon or day per week or fortnight from 2-12 months or more
  • In a piece of research on a small woodland between two housing estates in London I engaged with local children at their youth club session to ask them about their local wood Peabody Hill Wood and they outlined what they liked and disliked.
  • The quality of a wood and its entrances can have a big impact on whether people feel able to access an area – also what your allowed to do there. These photos are from Peabody Hill Wood. The SDC publication every child’s future matters
  • (graduation rates and merit awards) Similar to Ulrich study of hospital patients looking out at tree and gaining benefits
  • Interviews with people in Norway and Kentucky - adults
  • Increase the understanding and appreciation, particularly among young people, of the environmental, social, and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests and of the link between the tree and everyday wood products. (FEI website, 2010) Bottom up partnership
  • There are a range of theories about the relationships of children and natura env For example the biophilia hypothesis suggests there is a geneticically there is an innate need for contact with nature Theory of affordances looks at dynamic relationship between percpetion and action as we move through a wood and that wood will afford different opportunities for activity engagement for different people Propsect and refuge theory – suggests that we want to look out in the landscape and find a space to be in it. Attention restoration theory – fascination, being away, compatability (meets our needs), extent (entices you in)
  • How are children and young people engaging with trees and woods and at what level Organised activity School activity Level of engagement may be important to different types or levels of well-being and may change over people’s life course Formal/informal
  • We have developed a conceptual model to represent the range of factors that enable, mediate, or restrict the realisation of well-being benefits from TWF. This is intended as a dynamic non linear model that can be applied to research case studies (woodland sites/projects) to explore how various factors interact to bring about improvements in well-being for different groups or individuals. Well-being is the outcome of different configurations of and interactions between the physical wood or tree resource, governance structures and processes, the characteristics of individuals or group of beneficiaries and different activity and engagment types
  • There is also an increasing focus on how woods, nature, green spaces can be part of organised and assisted therapies for those suffering from physical problems or disabilites, those with mental health problems, with emotional and behavioural problems
  • We also need to translate research and theory into guidance for those on the ground who are providing opportunities – how confident are they to do this. The FC has created guidance for staff and managers to encourage the creation of play spaces and ally health and safety concerns
  • Evidence is building but to what extent do we need more work on: What nature? - Nearby, far away, quality, type? Good for whom? - Young people, deprived communities, everyone? Under what circumstances? - Types of engagement - existence, hands on? How? - Through restoration processes, physical and physiological processes And longitudinal research that can show changes over time.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Why Woods? Growing adventure and the importance of contact with trees, woods and forests Liz O’Brien Social and Economic Research Group 7 th -10 th October, 2011 Youth Centre Metsakartano, Finland
    • 2.
      • Outline
      • 1: Concerns about a lack of contact with woods and forests
      • 2: Current concerns about well-being of children and young people
      • 3: Benefits of contact with trees, woods and forests from research evidence
      • 4: Concepts and theories
    • 3. ‘ In Glasgow there was no woods at all you couldn’t do anything. All you could do was go outside and play with abandoned cars, stuff like that. There was a wee park, one swing for about 4,000 folk’ (young Man Galshiels)
    • 4. Lack of contact with nature not a new issue! Urban children have become increasingly divorced from the natural environment of forests and fields. Today’s children often learn about nature secondhand. 1977 De-natured childhood and criminalisation of natural play. Nature deficit disorder. 2006
    • 5.
      • Factors impeding use of woodlands
      • Parental/carers fears of risk – safety concerns
      • Car ownership/road safety issues
      • Home entertainment technology
      • Increase in organised activities as opposed to free play
      • Over scheduling of children and young people’s time
      • Quality and accessibility of woodland/nature spaces
    • 6. Illustration of restricted movement in Sheffield
      • Restricted movement
      • Four generations of one family in Sheffield, England
      • Great grandfather – allowed 6 miles from home
      • Grandfather – 1 mile
      • Mother – half a mile
      • Son – 300 yards
      • Bird, W. 2007. Natural thinking. RSPB and Natural England report
    • 7. Societal views
      • Polarised societal views of children and young people
      • Angels (approx 10 and under)
      • Innocent children who need to be protected
      • Media coverage of high profile cases of abuse
      • Those who mind, volunteer and work with children need criminal record checks
      • Devils (approx 11 and over)
      • Knife crime
      • Youth gangs/recent rioting
      • Young people terrorising residents of housing estates
      • The ‘mosquito’ high pitch noise aimed at preventing young people gathering together in certain spaces
    • 8.
      • Overweight and obesity
      • Childhood obesity linked to cardiovascular disease,
      • diabetes, eating disorders, impaired psychological
      • well-being
      • Overweight rates higher in industrialised societies in
      • those of lower socio-economic status
      10-20% children under 15 overweight in Europe (WHO, 2009. A snapshot of the health of young people in Europe. Report to EC)
    • 9. Health and wellbeing
      • Physical inactivity
      • Two thirds of young Europeans do not take part in sufficient physical activity
      • Physical activity levels decrease during adolescence – more marked in girls 13-15
      • Considerable variation across countries
      • Those of lower socio-economic status often undertake less p.a.
      • Mental well-being
      • 10-20% of young people under 18 in Europe have a mental or behavioural problem
      • Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent 10.4% (e.g. panic disorder, phobias, OCD) (more prevalent for girls)
      • Conduct disorders 7.5% (more prevalent for boys)
      • Depressive disorders 4-8%
      • ADHD 4.4% (more prevalent for boys)
      • (WHO, 2009. A snapshot of the health of young people in Europe. Report to EC)
    • 10. Well-being
      • Child wellbeing
      • UK 24 th out of 29 countries well below position expected for a country of its affluence
      • More equal societies do better on child WB – Netherlands and Scandinavian countries
      Child Poverty Action Group. 2009. Child well-being and child poverty.
    • 11. Use of Spare time
      • Spare time
      • Increase in use of computers for playing games, social networking etc.
      • Two hours or more on weekdays
      • - 49% of boys age 13
      • - 21% of girls age 13
      • Use of television as popular indoor activity
      • 24% adolescents spend 4 hours per weekday watching TV rising to 43% at w/ends
    • 12.
      • Benefits of contact with woodlands
      • Personal and social development
      • Physical activity and movement
      • Self esteem and self confidence
      • Exploration, discovery, fun, enjoyment
      • Restoration and stress reduction
      • Cognitive impacts – gaining knowledge and understanding about space, themselves, seasons
      • Affective impacts – changes/development of attitudes, values, beliefs
      • Sensory experience – ability to be able to engage all the senses
      • Kahn and Kellert, 2002; Taylor et al. 2001; Dillon et al. 2005;
      • O’Brien and Murray, 2007; Strife and Downey, 2009 etc.
    • 13. Favourite places research in England
      • Children spend less time in natural spaces (10%) than adults did when they were young (40%)
      • Over 70% of children say they are supervised wherever they play, rising to over 80% in natural places
      Childhood and nature, 2009 Natural England survey. Natural England
      • Favourite places have changed:
      • In past – streets near home (29%), indoors 16% and natural places (15%)
      • Nowadays – playing indoors (41%) and in garden (17%)
    • 14. Preferences for nature in North America
      • Studies in north America
      • Attitudes to wooded places differs between children, teen, adults
      • Youth appreciate the wild, dense and hidden forest more than cultivated and open forest
      • Children and adults preferred open forest landscape
      • Structurally diverse natural places are more inspiring and imaginative for children than organised playgrounds.
      • Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989. The experience of nature - a psychological perspective. Cambridge University Press.
    • 15. Adolescents and nature
      • Time out for teenagers
      • 14-16 yr olds appear to have a reduced affinity with nature preferring time with peers and more developed parks with facilities
      • Favourite places – developed parks, places at home, commercial areas
      • Preference for more exciting activities – e.g. paint balling
      • Kaplan and Kaplan, 2002. Adolescents and the natural environment: a time out? Children and Nature, MIT Press.
    • 16. Place based research in Finland
      • Place based understanding of children/youth and environment
      • 2,800 young people 11-14 years in studies in Helsinki and Turku
      • Use of online questionnaires in schools and GIS
      • Findings suggest densely built settings and places with a high proportion of green structure have clear qualities for a child friendly environment and are crucial for health promoting urban spaces
      • Kytta, M. 2011. The inhabitant friendly, health promoting urban strucutre. Openspace Peoplespace conference proceedings.
    • 17. Using soft GIS and on line questionnaires to identify positive and negative places Where young people go and what they think of these places Now being used with planners in Finland to shape designs
    • 18. Forests, place and identity in Finland
      • Forests culturally important part of Finnish life
      • Wilderness concept has deep cultural roots -symbolise power, stability
      • Preference for rural over urban landscapes
      • Summer cottages – to be alone in middle of nature
      • Children visits forests to ski, hike, pick berries or mushrooms, play
      • 46% want to visit a forest more often
    • 19. Natural play in Scotland primary school
      • New nature play area
      • Created in the playground (£65K versus £63K for traditional tarmac)
      • Methods – focus groups, pedometers, observations, weekly reporting by teachers
      • Reduction in playground of bullying, physical injuries
      • Increased opportunities for free play, interacting with nature, physical activity
    • 20. Wild adventure space literature review
      • Outdoor adventure space
      • Offering freedom and risk 11-18 year olds
      • Review of literature and focus groups with youth
      • Wild adventure space = unregulated space, opportunities for adventure. Free of charge free to all ages, freedom to undertake activities
      • Benefits identified by young people
      • Being away from adult supervision
      • A place that inspires and offers risk and challenge
      • A place to have a good time with friends
    • 21. Wild adventure space review Openspace, 2006. Free range teenagers. The role of adventure space in young people’s lives. Report to Natural England
      • Benefits identified by evidence
      • Physical development, emotional and mental health and well-being.
      • Social and educational development, which may have long-lasting effects into
      • adulthood
    • 22. Motor fitness in Norway
      • Fitness
      • 5-7 year olds in nine month Norwegian study.
      • Significant differences between experimental group playing in a wood and comparison in traditional playground for balance and coordination abilities
      • Favourite places to play ‘cone war’, ‘space ship’, ‘the cliff’
      • Significant difference in motor fitness - better at mastering rugged and unstructured landscape
      • Woodland allowed more diverse play
      • Fjortoft, I. 2004. Landscape as playscape: the effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development
    • 23. Urban landscape and physical activity Norway
      • Aim to examine how urban landscape affords physical activity
      • In 14 year old adolescents – looking at differences between girls and boys
      • Two schools in south eastern Norway
      • Methods: GPS, heart rate, paper mapping, photo elicitation, essays
      • Preliminary conclusions
        • Generally low activity levels
        • Mean activity time at MVPA levels was 26 minutes
        • No gender differences in MVPA found
        • Physical activity primarily linked to organised sports
        • Boys and girls had surprisingly similar patterns of activity
        • Thoren, K, Fjortoft, I, Aradi, R. 2011. How urban landscapes afford physical activity in adolescents? On going transdisicplinary study
    • 24. ADHD and walking in park USA
      • Study of children 7-12 with ADHD
      • Completion of puzzles that require focused attention followed by walk in an urban park, walk in residential area, downtown area, followed by concentration tests
      • Children concentrated better after walking in park
      • Walking in park closed concentration gap between those with ADHD and those without
      • Children rated experience in park more highly than other two walks
      • Potential of using nature in the treatment of ADHD.
      • Faber Taylor, A., & Kuo, F. E. (2008). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park. Journal of Attention Disorders OnlineFirst.
    • 25. PhD Forest School research in Scotland
      • Activity and FS
      • Average levels of activity
      • on normal, PE and FS days
      • Accelerometers used to measure
      • physical activity
      • Lovell, R. 2009. Physical activity at Forest School
      Restoration and FS Intensity of restorative experience was greatest for those with the worst mental health Roe, J et al. 2009. Forest School. Evidence for the restorative health benefits in young people
    • 26. Forest School in England
      • 24 children studied over 8 months from 7 schools. 360 observations. Children attend on average 15 sessions at Forest School – 45-60 hours contact time.
      • O’Brien and Murray, 2007. Forest School and its impacts on young children: case studies in Britain. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 6: 249-265.
      The benefits of Forest School
    • 27. Escaping stress and anxiety in Scotland
      • Stress and anxiety
      • Survey of 1,500 representative sample of Scottish population
      • What people do to escape stress and anxiety
      • Where do people go to escape
      • Overall where do you go? - top of list was go for a walk (47%)
      • Overall what do you do? – second on list was visit wood, beach, countryside (35%) after visit friend/family (38%)
      18-24 year olds NHS Scotland. 2010. Attitudes to violence and escape facilities. Final report, NHS Scotland. 25% Wood, beach countryside 34% Do exercise, sport 35% Pub, bar, social club 36% Watch TV/movies 38% Gym, swimming, sports club 40% Spend time with friends/family 51% Visit friends family 41% Go for a walk Where do you go? What do you do to escape stress?
    • 28. Children and urban woods- London
      • Perspectives on a local woodland in London: Youth club session with 20 children at Peabody Hill Wood (6-12 years old)
      • What they enjoyed about the wood
      • ‘ fun to play games’
      • ‘ hanging out in summer’
      • ‘ you make a base and play with friends’
      • ‘ good places to hide because you can run about and play’
      • ‘ I like playing around there, we play hide and seek’
      • What they disliked
      • ‘ nothing to do’
      • ‘ there’s muggers, rapists, murders’
      • ‘ it’s cold, dangerous, rapists and paedophiles’
      • ‘ too many teenagers smoking’
      • ‘ I like the trees but it doesn’t feel very safe’
      • ‘ Nothing to do, overgrown, messy, mum won’t
      • let me go near it
      O’Brien, L. 2006. Social housing and green space: a case study in inner London
    • 29. Quality of green spaces is important Lack of care, social control and management can lead to a spiral of decline. Fear of crime when vegetation blocks views
    • 30. Aesthetic views and academic performance in USA
      • PhD research
      • Focus on 101 schools in Michigan
      • Explored nature surrounding schools and access to it
      • Identified academic performance and behaviour
      • Schools with larger windows and more views of nature had students with higher standardized test scores, higher graduation rates, fewer reports of criminal behaviour.
      • Schools that allowed students to eat outside or off campus had higher test scores and a greater percentage of students planning to attend college.
      • In examining specific landscape features, Matsuoka found that trees and shrubs needed to be relatively close to the students to provide academic achievement and behaviour benefits.
      • Matsuoka, R. H. 2008. High school landscapes and student performance. University of Michigan. http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/61
    • 31. Interest in nature as adults - Norway and USA
      • What turns/enables/encourages children to be conservationists as adults?
      • Experience of natural areas as a child – frequent and free play in a wild place
      • Influence of a mentor sharing love of nature
      • Involvement with outdoor or conservation organisations
      • Negative environmental experiences – seeing valued spaces e.g. woods disappear
      • Education
      • Friends
      • Chawla, L. 2006. Learning to love the natural world enough to protect it. Norsk senter for barneforskning
    • 32. Forest Education Initiative in Britain
      • FEI review 18 years from 1992-2010
      • 80 cluster groups in Britain in 2010
      • 245 partners have been involved in FEI funded activities
      • 1,405 cluster group members (35% are teachers)
      • 14,776 participants in 2009 – school children, community groups
      • 68% of activity is Forest School – delivery, training, networking
    • 33. Concepts and theories Natural England. 2011. Children and the natural environment: experiences, influences, interventions
    • 34. Levels of engagement Specific interventions might aid engagement e.g. wilderness therapy, Forest School etc Involved in decision making about the creation or design or management of woods Participation in decision making Cycling, walking, sitting etc. on site Use and being in View from a window, car or walking by a wood A view Involved in decision making and responsibility about management of site Practical hands on work e.g. volunteering Forest school, gathering non timber forest products Virtual or mental image, TV, memory etc. Knowing they exist as part of the landscape for yourself or others Types of activity Ownership or management Active ‘hands on’ engagement Virtual access Existence Levels of engagement
    • 35. Towards a conceptual model
    • 36. Structured activities focused on care Sempik J, Hine, R and Wilcox, D. 2010. Green care: a conceptual framework. Loughborough University
    • 37. Provision of guidance How confident are organisations/managers in providing opportunities for children and young people?
    • 38. Final issues
      • There is a range of evidence of the benefits of contact with woodlands and forests
      • One off experiences not as influential as daily exposure to woods and green spaces
      • Lack of regular positive experiences in nature is associated with fear, discomfort and dislike of nature
      • Childhood visits to woods strongly
      • associated with adult visits
      • Experiences vary according to ethnicity,
      • socio-economic status
      • Access and accessibility are important
      • and not the same thing
      • How to facilitate engagement
    • 39. Please visit our website to find out more about our work www.forestresearch.gov.uk/peopleandtrees

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