The snap of a twig beneath a rabbit, a rustling of branches and wings above as a bird takes flight, and the quiet crunching of a chipmunk snacking on seeds somewhere high in the tree canopy. These sounds are reminiscent of Canadian childhood, playing outdoors in forests and city green spaces. The sights, sounds, scents, and touches of the natural environment form an interconnected web of experiences and memories that shape us as compassionate people; and valuable parts of our world. Today, many children are missing out on these experiences.
As our cities become increasingly disconnected from nature, and urban school yards turn to concrete, now more than ever we need nature-based learning programs. At Green Venture, we created a cost-free program that fills that need.
Nature Kids is our entirely outdoors, experiential after-school program geared at kids aged 5 – 11 (though we will take helpers aged 12- 13 as well.) Running seasonally, the program aims to get children outside and engaged with nature from a young age; building resilience, curiosity, and a respect and love for the environment. Each week of programming, kids from across Hamilton meet at EcoHouse and its 1.5 acres of gardens, tree thickets, fields, and sloping hills. Here, they can be kids. For an hour and a half each week, Hamilton children play games, explore nature, learn new things, and have a healthy snack; all while being outside. Nature Kids is a breath of fresh air for many children living in our urban city– and for the families who see them grow as a result.
As one guardian in our summer session explained, “The Nature Kids Summer Exploration Program was an incredible opportunity for my son to learn about nature in a fun, interactive way, and to learn about stewardship … He not only learned more about what it means to be a steward of the environment, but also learned valuable lessons about his role in contributing to an equitable and inclusive community of children and guides that share a love for the natural environment.”
Each season of Nature Kids, overwhelmingly positive feedback from both child participants and their families pours in through surveys, affirming the achievement of our goals. Nature Kids is a place for all Hamilton children to learn and grow together, building the next generation of people who will steward the earth, and carry on a love for nature.
We would love to have your child join Nature Kids. Registration for our upcoming February/March season is now closed but please monitor our website and social media pages for information on future registration windows.
If you would like to support Nature Kids, and help us grow the program as a low-barrier resource to serve all Hamilton children, please consider donating to Green Venture.
Written by Akira Ourique, Education Program Assistant and Nature Kids lead