On October 24, 2016 the The Nature Playbook was officially launched in Canada. It is an initiative of the Canadian Parks Council (CPC), and is intended to inspire Canadians to spend time in the out of doors, reconnecting with Nature.
The Nature Playbook is an action-oriented follow-up to a 2014 report released by the CPC, entitled Connecting Canadians with Nature: An Investment in the Well-Being of Our Citizens. The report documents a growing disconnection between Canadians and the natural world. It attributes this disconnection to urbanization and uneven access to green spaces, competition for leisure time, changing demographics, a more sedentary lifestyle, and concerns about safety. The report also details the many benefits of spending time in nature, not the least of which is improvements in health and wellbeing, from lower blood pressure and stronger immune systems to reductions in stress levels and improved sleep quality.
Seven strategies guide the Nature Plays. These strategies remind all Canadians that connections with Nature can be as diverse as Canada itself. The very same strategies also frame international efforts to connect people with Nature through #NatureForAll:
- Bring children into Nature at an early age
- Find and share the fun in Nature
- Use the urban gateway to Nature
- Embrace technology
- Share cultural roots and ancestry in Nature
- Seek out diverse partnerships
- Empower a new generation of leaders
Like a coach’s playbook, The Nature Playbook is intended to bring “the team” together and inspire movement. To this end, the Playbook urges Canadians to participate in Nature plays, “actions that get you or other people outside.” Nature plays range from “quick plays,” like splashing in a puddle or identifying plants and animals, to “signature plays,” organized and inspiring initiatives that can be adapted to your local context, such as forest schools or geocaching. The Northwest Territories' Dechinta Bush University is recognized as one of seven Signature Plays, a model for connecting with the land and also with cultural heritage. (The NWT is represented in another way in The Nature Playbook. Chloe Dragon-Smith, of Fort Smith and Yellowknife, is the Project Co-Chair.)
The Nature Playbook is meant to inspire and generate ideas, but how you play is up to you: “You can plan a play on your own, with friends, with a parent, with colleagues, in a classroom. Use whatever skills and means you have—it should reflect you!”
Plan a play today using this handy template, but most importantly, get outside!