Let’s work together to connect all children to nature across the City of Madison!
Last summer, six Wanda Fullmore City of Madison interns went through a rigorous qualitative data collection process to learn more about neighborhood inequities to nature access. Through an exploratory process, they interviewed youth throughout the city go gain a better understanding of barriers to access, and the benefits of time spent outside.
Through a grant funded by the National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network, Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC), City of Madison Parks Department, and numerous community organizations gathered local perspectives to better understand how nature educators and advocates see these inequities play out in their professional settings. Through a school grounds assessment process, PHMDC staff captured a realistic landscape of outdoor learning environments, as they exist on Madison Metropolitan School District grounds.
The planning team and community partners will continue to assess the current nature opportunities, identify the obstacles to using them and create pathways to facilitate equitable nature access for all residents of Madison.
In September 2016, PHMDC, Parks Department and community partners developed an implementation plan to continue to support this work. Many area residents have been instrumental in providing input in the creation of this plan. Strategies include:
- Strategy 1: Create incentives and increase support for early childhood education and day care providers in the City of Madison to increase the time young children and families spend in nature, especially among those who normally do not have opportunities to do so.
- Strategy 2: Incorporate viable supports to ensure institutionalization of nature-based play and learning at Madison Metropolitan School District.
- Strategy 3: Incorporate equitable access to nature as a key outcome of City of Madison planning processes.
I urge you to stay involved or if you aren’t yet, get involved. To hear more about upcoming opportunities or if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please relay them to Rachel Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-243-0137.
Paul R. Soglin