With the release of the 2011 Grassroots Leadership Survey, the Children & Nature Network provides us with evidence that our work and that of grassroots initiatives across the country is having an impact. Results from the survey were analyzed and reported by an independent evaluator as a follow-up to a 2009 baseline survey designed to measure changes in children and nature activities. Among the findings:
- The total number of participants reached in 2011 by activities of the 72 grassroots initiatives responding was between 2.7 and 4.25 million. This is a significant increase over 2009, when the number was between 900,000 and 1,500,000 from 68 initiatives reporting.
- Between 1,000 and 3,000 new nature and place-based opportunities have been established in the areas served by responding grassroots initiatives, for a 50% increase over the 2009 numbers. These include community gardens, school gardens, trail projects, play areas and neighborhood parks.
- The 2011 data indicates a considerable increase in the number of underserved youth being reached through the activities of the grassroots initiatives. Particularly exciting is the increase in “nearby nature” opportunities for underserved children. Examples include school gardens/habitat projects (reaching 1.6 million underserved youth in 2011 versus 401,500 in 2009), community gardens (reaching 1.2 million underserved youth in 2011 versus 176,600 in 2009) and natural play areas, which increased by at least 2.5 times in two years.
Here in Greater Cincinnati, we were able to identify more than 40 school gardens and natural play areas built since our founding in 2006, and we believe there are more yet to be counted. We continue working to inventory those spaces so we can track progress. Thanks to all of our collaborative members, teachers, school resource coordinators and child care centers who are making it possible for children to experience nature where they live, learn and play.