The #NatureForAll CEC-WCPA campaign and the Children&Nature Network proposals have been implemented in Italy. A Pilot Project launched by the Ministry of Public Health promotes educational initiatives in Nature and in Protected Areas to improve children’s health and wellbeing and to reconnect them to the emotions and the benefits granted by Nature.
A pilot project for enhancing measures on children’s health has been launched in 2018 by the Italian Ministry of Public Health. Focused on the great number of scientific evidences testifying the total connection between ecosystem services, biodiversity and human health, the project is spreading, for the first time in Italy, the #NatureForAll CEC-WCPA campaign and implementing guidelines and practices proposed by the Children&Nature Network worldwide.
The partners involved are the Italian National Health Institute, CURSA (University Consortium for the Socioeconomic Research and Environment) and the Epidemiology Department of Lazio Region.
Named “NèB - Natura è Benessere” (Nature IS Wellbeing), the project is based on scientific researches and on international campaigns, such as the COHAB initiative of CBD-COP10; Healthy Parks Healthy People the 2008, 2012, 2016 editions of IUCN WCC, the UNEP-CBD-WHO work carried out in 2015 on biodiversity and human health and the IUCN CEC “NatureForAll” global.
“NèB” considers the urgent need to remedy the detachment from Nature shown today by too many children and young people: a worrying reality, implying the increasing of many physical and mental diseases and distress in youths, definitely confirmed by science.
NèB is a unique project for Italy. Its main objective is to promote the knowledge of the healthy benefits of green spaces for children. Interacting with natural environments allow children to learn by doing, experimenting and learning a plurality of cognitive strategies through a continuous and multiform process of logical openness, developing skills related to emotion, non-verbal and spatial communication. As reported at the XIII Conference of the Parties in Cancun, the biodiversity benefits human health by underpinning ecosystem functioning and resilience provision of essential ecosystem services and by providing options for adapting to changing needs and circumstances, and to climate change. Moreover, biodiversity in urban environments contributes creating wellbeing by stimulating physical exercise, providing clean air and improving mental wellbeing. When outside and surrounded by nature, children experience an ever-changing and free-flowing environment stimulating all the senses: outdoor play fosters children's intellectual, emotional, social and physical development.
An objective addressed by CURSA is to implement communication campaigns to the public, to promote the importance of the relationship between nature, biodiversity, human health and children’s cognitive development, carrying out training and CEPA initiatives for the widest audience of social actors. At the same time, the goal is also to promote awareness on these issues among decision-makers in the relevant sectors and at different level of government.
The NèB character, a kid made by dirt and vegetation who is crossed by a network that connects knots – or neurons – and that infuses wellbeing into the body, was drawn by Aurora (Dawn, sunrise, in Italian…), 9 years old: it has been determined, by the NèB project management board, to use it as the official brand and “mascot” of this Italian important campaign, to spread an extraordinary commitment for children’s health that will continue in time and will hopefully stimulate the support of Communities and Administrators.