Nature Seychelles is encouraging parents, teachers, and guardians to bring children to visit its natural sites, which are not only centres for biodiversity conservation but are also places where people can heal, rejuvenate and beat the Covid-19 blues.
Being outdoors promotes curiosity creativity and critical thinking (File photo)
As schools close for the August holidays, many parents are looking for ways to keep their children engaged in healthy activities in safe environments. In the absence of the structure provided by school and afterschool activities, children need opportunities to be active. But where can children go to play while still observing the guidelines put in place by health authorities? One option is to take children outside to explore in nature. This is not only fun, but it also helps them reap the benefits of nature's restorative power.
Studies have shown that the outdoors are good for a child’s wholesome development. Children get physically stronger from playing outside rather than indoors. Being outdoors promotes curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. General wellbeing also improves with children expressing more positive behaviour.
Nature Seychelles sites have been used for many years for fun and learning (File photo)
For many years, Nature Seychelles has advocated using nature for nurture through its green health and nature therapy programs. These combine education, play and exercise in nature, healthy eating through organic gardening, and nature conservation, at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman and the Heritage Garden. The results of these programs, which have reached hundreds of people, have been astonishing. Adults and children alike reported, through a survey, that they enjoyed the outings in natural surroundings immensely, slept better, were more peaceful and relaxed, and had more supportive behaviours towards one another.
To take advantage of these sites, a number of groups are organising visits for the holidays. One such group is the Survival Ark Foundation holiday camp, which visited this week. The Bel Ombre-based foundation, which is created on Christian principles, works with kids, at risk families, and the community to build up children to be productive members of society. They do this through after school and vacation programs. During the school holidays they are offering parents the opportunity to bring their children for a holiday camp where they can learn and make new friends through activities such as crafts and going outside to explore.
Visit by the Survival Ark Foundation holiday camp this week
On their visit to the Sanctuary, the children spent time listening to nature and distinguishing different sounds such as those made by birds. They identified the various fauna and flora including lizards, birds, mangroves and a new roost of bats. At the bird hide, they counted the number of chicks a Whimbrel (korbizo) had.
In the garden they looked at familiar plants used in Creole cuisine such as banana, papaya, mayok, sweet potato, chilli, and brenzel. They smelled aromatic herbs such as basil and thyme.
According to a volunteer facilitator for the Holiday Camp, they believe that even at this age children can learn an appreciation for nature and become conscious of it through the little things they do outside.