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February 12, 2024

Place Matters: Equity Mapping and Access to Nature

One individual cannot possibly make a difference alone. It is individual efforts, collectively, that makes a noticeable difference— all the difference in the world!
– Jane Goodall, primatologist and anthropologist

“A wide range of conditions in the places where children live, grow, play, and learn can get ‘under the skin’ and affect their developing brains and other biological systems,” according to “A Guide to Place Matters” from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. “Rapidly advancing science around early childhood development provides increasingly clear evidence that, beginning before birth, these environmental conditions shape how children develop, which shapes their lifelong physical and mental health, in turn.”

According to the guide, racism “influences multiple dimensions of the natural and built environments that affect the foundations of child development and lifelong well-being…There are clear patterns of risk that can inform universal action.”

Access to natural green spaces is one aspect of place that has a tremendous impact:

“The research is clear: When young children, ages 0 – 5, have regular access to nature and green spaces where they live, play and learn, their physical and mental health improves, they develop social-emotional skills and they are better prepared for school,” according to the Children and Nature Network.

Cities Connecting Children with Nature (CCCN) highlights equity mapping as a first step toward addressing inequities of place and ensuring more children benefit from regular time in nature.

“Nature equity maps depict how natural green space appears in a city relative to key demographic, economic, and social vulnerability data. CCCN cities use these maps to prioritize park and natural spaces programming, renovation and acquisition projects, inform city plans, apply for funding, and develop public-facing messages to promote greater access to nature for young children.”

This week: Come to the World Forum Café to join a free online conversation on the intersection of climate change and young children on February 14 at 11 am US Eastern time. Learn more and sign up.

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