Regular access to nature brings multiple benefits to children, including improved mental and physical health and increased opportunities for social and emotional learning.
With these benefits in mind, Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN), a joint initiative of the National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network, welcomes 11 new cities to mobilize municipal efforts that increase equitable access to nature for all residents.
Six cities will receive intensive technical assistance and $75,000 in planning and implementation grants:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Houston, Texas
- Gary, Indiana
- San Antonio, Texas
- St. Louis, Missouri
Five cities will join the cohort for peer-learning opportunities, including Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cincinnati, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rochester, New York, and Seattle, Washington.
Each city expressed strong mayoral commitment and dedicated capacity for connecting children to the proven benefits of nature. CCCN city teams will enlist cross-sector agencies and partners to prioritize increasing equitable access for low-income residents and people of color.
“In the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Texas, “as Houston rebuilds our neighborhoods, schools, and infrastructure more resiliently, we will take the opportunity to utilize CCCN assistance to assess gaps, analyze equity, and map assets throughout our City, to improve plans and policies that will increase access to nature for all children as part of their everyday lives.”
This new cohort will build on strategies that gained momentum among seven pilot cities in 2015-17, such as shared-use green schoolyards, early childhood nature play spaces, NatureSmart Libraries and green career pathways, and explore new areas of potential. A partner initiative, the 10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign, will also provide tools for the new cohort to use.
CCCN technical assistance helps participating cities collect data to analyze local assets and opportunities, plan and implement tailored strategies that address community needs, and maximize potential for meaningful nature connections in residents’ daily lives. The CCCN Resource Hub provides resources and tools, including a Municipal Action Guide and Metrics Toolkit, for cities and their partners as they start to connect children to nature, more equitably
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The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) believes that nature makes children healthier, happier and smarter. C&NN is a US-based 501c3 nonprofit organization working to increase equitable access to nature for children, families and communities so that children—and natural places—can thrive. It does this by investing in leadership and communities through sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions, and driving policy change.
The Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative, a partnership between the National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network generously supported by The JPB Foundation, began in 2014 and provides technical assistance, training, extensive resources and documentation, and peer learning opportunities to increase equitable access to nature’s many benefits for all residents.
About the Author: Vera Feeny is an Associate for the Connecting Children to Nature and Early Childhood Success programs in the NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.