NYRP environmental educational and Community programming

Getting children – as well as adults – excited about nature, and instilling a desire to take care of it, begins outdoors. As a vital part of New York Restoration Project’s (NYRP) goal to ensure that every New York City resident, family and neighborhood has access to and enjoys the vibrant, green spaces that NYRP seeks to restore and revitalize, NYRP’s Education Department provides a wide array of free environmental educational and community programming in classrooms, schoolyards, parks and NYRP’s 52 community gardens throughout the five boroughs.

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The centerpiece of NYRP’s education programming is Nature in My Neighborhood, a series of curricula and activities for students and educators that targets classrooms, after-school programs and youth groups in neighborhoods in close proximity to local and NYRP-managed green spaces. This ever-growing menu of no-cost programming helps teachers instill a passion for environmental education among New York City’s youth – inspiring students to go into local parks, community gardens and schoolyards across the city’s five boroughs to explore and engage in the great outdoors. Touching on all aspects of NYRP’s mission to revitalize underserved parks and community gardens, Nature in My Neighborhood creates opportunities for urban youth to respect nature, strengthen life and social skills, learn about green-collar careers and contribute to New York City’s environmental sustainability.

Building on our Nature in My Neighborhood platform, NYRP also provides a wide array of complimentary activities and events that reach thousands of New York City youth throughout the year. NYRP’s NatureMania Spring Break and NYRP Summer Camp programming – along with several highly anticipated seasonal family festivals – provide children and their families with fun and interactive ways to celebrate and further engage in the natural habitats, distinctive ecosystems and diverse neighborhoods that so richly make up New York City. Together, these and NYRP’s Nature in My Neighborhood programs encourage all New Yorkers to learn about and get involved in NYRP’s revitalization efforts – ensuring that our city’s valued green spaces continue to bring joy to communities for generations to come.

Research shows that the nation’s youth are becoming increasingly disconnected from the great outdoors. Heavily-scheduled students now travel from school to organized activities and then indoors to watch television, play video games or sit in front of a computer. As a result, the outdoors has become a place many kids merely visit rather than spend quality time. According to research compiled by the National Forum on Children & Nature:

  • In 1969, 50 percent of children in the United States walked or biked to school. In 2004, less than 13 percent did.

  • The area in which children are free to roam has shrunk by 89 percent in the past 20 years.

  • Nature-based recreation as a whole has declined every year since the 1980s, for a total decline of roughly 25 percent.

A growing body of evidence suggests a decline in the health of today’s youth is linked to children’s separation from nature. Chronic health conditions – such as obesity, diabetes and depression – have reached alarming rates, affecting a growing number of children. Ongoing studies also continue to affirm that children who spend time exploring outdoors exhibit heightened cognitive function and develop positive environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood. In addition, it has been found that students often learn more effectively within an environment-based context, versus a traditional educational framework – leading to improved performance in math, social studies, science and language arts; fewer behavioral problems; and better interpersonal and citizenship skills.

NYRP understands that kids need to have a place to run, play and explore, and through programming and partnerships with like-minded organizations, NYRP seeks to improve the health and quality of life of young New Yorkers by reconnecting them to nature and promoting outdoor recreation as a daily necessity.