Archived project

Evaluation of Nature based interventions

Goal: Evaluating the impact of short nature based sessions for families with pre-schoolers.

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Project log

Caroline Harvey
added a research item
This article uses ethnography to explore young people’s engagement with an intervention run by Feral Spaces, which was designed to promote a meaningful connection to a disused space. Over the course of 3 sessions, each lasting 2 hours, 7 young people aged between 11 and 12 years old took part in a range of den-building activities in a semi-wild area that was local to them. The sessions were recorded using audio and video equipment and an inductive thematic analysis informed by a realist framework was used to analyse the naturalistic data collected. The analysis presents 4 themes—(a) engaging with the environment, (b) developing a sense of awe and wonder, (c) respect and attachment to the space, and (d) a sense of belonging, which map out the young people’s growing connection to nature evidenced during the intervention. Within each of these themes the young people’s experiences are discussed in relation to theory of biophilia and the pathways to nature model to evaluate their relevance for researchers and practitioners who seek to understand children’s connection with nature and promote it. Furthermore, the positive relationships and emotions experienced during the intervention are explored. It is argued that the community-based intervention developed the young people’s understandings of the natural world and their confidence to engage with it in a personally meaningful way. This had positive implications in terms of supporting the young people’s wellbeing.
Fiona Holland
added a research item
Spending time outdoors has been shown to increase people's sense of connection to nature and is beneficial for health and wellbeing in both adults and children. Play Wild is an initiative aimed at providing families with young children from socioeconomically deprived areas with the opportunity to take part in activities outdoors. Participants had the opportunity to access free sessions led by Play Wild delivery partners. These were offered as either single sessions or as a 2 session format. Participants volunteered to complete surveys at the beginning and end of their sessions. These surveys consisted of open and closed questions and assessed their perceptions of how important it was for their family to play outdoors, how likely they were to play outdoors, how confident they felt in playing outdoors and how connected to nature they felt. They also were asked about the places they currently used for outdoor play and for suggestions as to what would help them to play outdoors more. Baseline data measuring self-reported happiness and participants' general health was also collected. 105 participants (81 females and 9 males) provided data for the quantitative analyses and 69 participants provided data for the qualitative analysis*. Ages of participants in the data set ranged from 22 to 70, with an overall mean age of 36 years. The evaluation identified that the Play Wild initiative had a small to medium impact in leading to increases in four of the five key indicators measured. Statistically significant differences were shown in these indicating that participants were more likely to go outdoors to play with their families (small effect size), more confident in knowing where to go to play outdoors with their family (small effect size) and more confident in knowing what to do when playing outdoors with their family (medium effect size). There was also a significant increase in their level of nature connection (small effect size). No statistically significant change was shown in their perceptions of the importance of playing outdoors with their family before and after the intervention. Participants reported that their families played outdoors mostly in parks, gardens/backyards and playgrounds. Participants identified barriers to and facilitators for playing outdoors, that will give wildlife and nature organisations pointers which can support intervention design for the future. Overall the project indicates that even short one-shot sessions in nature can support families in gaining skills, information and knowledge about playing outdoors successfully with their families. This has implications for improving people's health and wellbeing and suggests the value of nature-based interventions for families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
Fiona Holland
added a project goal
Evaluating the impact of short nature based sessions for families with pre-schoolers.