Welcome – Kiora

There are lots of things I don’t know but one thing I do know for sure is that children and nature were meant to be together.

When children and nature mix, something magical happens.

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Every child deserves the right to experience that magic. Nature is part of who we are. Just like the magnificent Ponderosa Pine or Mighty Oaks, we too, are deeply rooted to the Earth…

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Nature heals and can reduce depression and improve psychological wellbeing

We are deeply rooted to the earth. We have just forgotten; and unless our children are given opportunities to play and learn in the natural world, they too will soon forget and many will become ill. We are already facing an epidemic of children diagnosed with ADHD and other stress related illnesses.

This breaks my heart and why I agreed to speak at the Nature Education Conference in New Zealand.

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I am passionate about reconnecting children with nature and truly believe that outdoor playgroups, kindergartens and forest schools are the way forward for education. I know we can’t change the school system over night, that’s a long term on going process.

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What we can do is take the classroom outdoors, bring nature into the classroom (by infusing nature activities into other subjects); help schools to incorporate a forest school element to their current curriculum; grow a school garden.

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All the above are possible and can make a huge difference not just to the students but the teachers and the whole community. Everyone benefits and long term, nature does too.

Our children are the future caretakers of the natural world.

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After 5 airports, four flights (one flight lasting 14 hours), 2 taxis and a short car ride with no sleep along the way, all I wished to do on arrival was to lie down horizontal; but as soon as I walked onto the sacred woods of Kiripaka in Whangarei, New Zealand, peace fell upon me.

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The grounds where the conference was being held was aptly called “Wildwoods”. The glow of the woods enchanted me and I was spellbound by its magic. The energy of the place envelops you on arrival, gifting peace and tranquility in abundance.

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Dino Aplin, the president and Jane Young the secretary made me feel incredibly welcome and showed me around and introduced me to the other members of the committee. On arrival everyone is gifted a “Kiora” (welcome) bag with thoughtful handmade goodies and helpful information inside.

The Nature Education Conference is like no other. What makes the NEC so enriching is that the whole event is held outdoors. What better way to ignite imaginations and to inspire than to be surrounded by nature.

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It is these authentic experiences that feed our hearts. 

We Are All One

The issues are universal, we are all facing the same “Nature Deficit Disorder” problem. However, by coming together and sharing our ways, our ideas, our gifts, our passion and love, we are able to work together to create a better future for our children and our fragile little planet.

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Individually we can make small changes. Together, collectively, we can create bigger changes.

Falling In Love with Nature

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Falling In Love with Nature was the focus for my speech and workshop. Offering ways on how to actively engage children with nature through art. Allowing for time to play and learn in nature will help children to fall in love with the natural world. The more time they spend outdoors, they will begin to feel the deep-rooted connection that is within them. (And in all of us).

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Very happy Early Childhood Educator with her leaf dragonfly

Each child is a unique, beautiful, curious little being full of love and wonder, bursting with creativity. Each child needs to have experiences in nature and be allowed to expressive themselves creatively in order to grow and blossom into a healthy, well-balanced adult.

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To Be Healthy means to be in Balance. And to be in balance, we need to nurture the “whole” being.

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Dino’s son helps deliver and bless the pebbles for my closing nature activity.

I closed with one of my favourite nature activities: “Earth in our Hands”

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A simple activity where we decorate a pebble and imagine it is the Earth. The audience is reminded to always care for the symbolic Earth in their hands and keep it close to their heart, as they would the larger Earth that their little pebble represents. It gives me great joy to share such a beautiful activity and watch everyone leave with their very own sacred little Earth rock cupped in their hands.

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Highlights:

Dr Rangimarie Tukuki Rose Peri speech resonated with me in so many ways. As much in my personal life as in my work. I have always been fascinated by other cultures philosophies and truly believe the aboriginal’s deep connection with the land is the way we should be living, it is sacred. Sharing our stories is how we make sense of our lives.

An animated, Steve Gurney, enthusiastically shared how to keep the inspiration alive…Griffin Longley offered insight into how we can engage children in the real world with the use of technology. And I attended my first “ communilogue” Nature & Technology” the conversation of a community…something I would definitely share with others.

There is a real sense of oneness when crowded around an open fire beating on a drum.

Camping is offered for all those wishing to attend the whole weekend.

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I would highly recommend camping. It provides an opportunity to build upon new friendships, share stories around the campfire, be spellbound by the mystical starry skies and awaken to the most glorious bird song.

I think it is fair to say that everyone who attended left with a full heart, inspired and ready to take action with many useful ideas that they could incorporate or implement into their own workspace. Also, to grow as an individual and share what they had learned not just in their work environment but with friends and family too.

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The NEC was a humbling experience, especially meeting so many beautiful spirited beings with such a passion for life and humanity. Sharing their ideas, beliefs and friendship.

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I left humbled, inspired and richer in love and passion. By sharing our stories and beliefs, we begin to unite as a whole.

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I feel honored to have been part of this inspirational conference. To have met so many beautiful and compassionate fellow beings who are helping in their own unique way to reconnect our children and youth with nature. I am hopeful and excited about the future of our children having attended the Nature Education Conference. Knowing these events will continue to grow in numbers and create big change over time.

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And so I end this post with love hugs to Pania Baxter, Anna Gentry and Dan Simperingham, Dino and all those who attended the Nature Education Conference, for sharing their love and passion for our children and our beautiful, ever-giving Mother Earth.

Ancient past and new future come together at The Natural Phenomena. There is room for all to share and become part of a new hope.

I hope that you will, if able, attend this great event and share your experiences and ideas with us in New Zealand in November. I leave you with these inspirational lines from Dr Rangimarie Tukuki Rose Peri closing speech:

“ Assemble and join forth all peoples (of the world)

Pursue enlightenment and uphold the presence and breath (of the Great Spirit)

……..unconditional love

All peoples unite and move forward together”

 

Here is a link to register for 2014 Conference: The Nature Education Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

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