E­di­tor’s co­lumn by Ma­ri­ët­te Bur­ger W­hen kids con­nect to na­tu­re

Graaff-Reinet Advertiser - - Letters | Briewe -

One of Graaff-rei­net's big­ge­st sel­ling points is our na­ti­o­nal park.

In fact, we pri­de our­sel­ves on it. “Graaff-rei­net is the on­ly to­wn in South A­fri­ca to be sur­roun­ded by a na­ti­o­nal park - the Cam­de­boo Na­ti­o­nal Park." Anyo­ne he­ar that phra­se be­fo­re? W­hi­le Graaff-rei­net as a com­mu­ni­ty tends to be very en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly con­s­ci­ous, in my o­pi­ni­on, we're not very en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly acti­ve.

And w­hi­le e­ver­yo­ne has an ap­pre­ci­a­ti­on for the park's na­tu­ral beau­ty, few lo­cals vi­sit it.

S­tu­dies ha­ve sho­wn that e­ar­ly child­hood na­tu­re acti­vi­ties are an ex­cel­lent pre­dic­tor of en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­wards­hip a­mong a­dults.

And this is w­he­re the Cam­de­boo Na­ti­o­nal Park has co­me up with an in­spi­red pro­gram­me to get in on ground le­vel by ex­po­sing young child­ren to na­tu­re.

The Cam­de­boo Na­ti­o­nal Park's Pe­op­le and Con­ser­va­ti­on De­part­ment ha­ve put to­get­her an e­du­ca­ti­o­nal, yet fun pro­gram­me to keep the young­sters en­ter­tai­ned w­hi­le most pa­rents are still at work be­t­ween 26 and 30 No­vem­ber.

The pro­gram­me, held this week, saw the par­ti­ci­pa­ting kids doing a va­ri­e­ty of fun acti­vi­ties, e­ach day cen­te­red around a dif­fe­rent the­me.

The pres­su­res on child­ren to­day to stay in­si­de are gre­at - the lu­re of e­lec­tro­ni­cs, the fast pa­ce of li­fe and the de­arth of g­reen spa­ce in so­me com­mu­ni­ties all con­tri­bu­te to child­ren not spen­ding e­nough ti­me in na­tu­re.

This is al­so a pro­blem for the en­vi­ron­ment it­self - child­ren who do not le­arn to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­a­te na­tu­re do not ha­ve the sa­me dri­ve to pre­ser­ve it in the fu­tu­re.

The be­ne­fits of being in na­tu­re are e­nor­mous and in­clu­de in­cre­a­sed i­ma­gi­na­ti­on, pro­blem-sol­ving skills, self­con­fi­den­ce and the a­bi­li­ty to fo­cus. S­tu­dies ha­ve sho­wn that child­ren who are in na­tu­re e­ach day are mo­re phy­si­cal­ly acti­ve, mo­re a­wa­re of nu­tri­ti­on and are mo­re ci­vil to e­ach ot­her - t­he­se at­tri­bu­tes are cer­tain­ly nee­ded for the fu­tu­re of our coun­try.

Nu­me­rous s­tu­dies ha­ve sho­wn that a con­necti­on be­t­ween child­ren and na­tu­re is one of the es­sen­ti­al com­po­nents to a brig­h­ter fu­tu­re. In fact, it has been sho­wn that this con­necti­on may be one of the key fac­tors in im­pro­ving pu­blic he­alth, e­du­ca­ti­on and e­co­no­mi­cs as well as hu­man hap­pi­ness.

The Cam­de­boo Na­ti­o­nal Park pro­gram­me of­fers an op­por­tu­ni­ty for this con­necti­on to be fos­te­red.

It is so­mething that very few towns in the coun­try of­fer and so­mething we should ce­le­bra­te, sup­port and pro­mo­te as a ma­jor be­ne­fit of li­ving in Graaff-rei­net.

This p­ho­to was cap­tu­red e­ar­lier this week ne­ar the Cam­de­boo Na­ti­o­nal Park’s En­vi­ron­men­tal E­du­ca­ti­on Cen­t­re.

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