Young people must find safety and meaning in their environments, and they need to engage the natural world repeatedly and in multiple ways. Yet modern society offers fewer opportunities to safely explore the natural and built worlds that children inhabit.
A growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our experience with nature. New studies indicate that restoring children’s connections to nature may reduce the symptoms of ADHD, autism, and improve children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stressors.
The disconnection from nature that can result from loss of a safe and healthy natural habitat carries grave consequences for human health, well-being, and child development.
Health cannot be seen in a vacuum. Sky Islands uniquely links issues of public health in educational programs that study of environmental justice and sustainability, healthy habitats, and vital communities.
Healthy schools provide the needed opportunity for children and the adults who work with them to become highly reflective, even critical participants, in environmental issues in their own communities, including the school itself. These schools will also equip students and teachers with the ability to think about and make global connections to local issues of environmental justice and toxic sites.