When I was growing up, we didn't have smartphones, video games or home computers, and my early years were marked by exile. My family's possessions were taken from us and we were sent to an internment camp in B.C.'s Slocan Valley just because our ancestors came from Japan. Throughout it all, I was able to find joy in nature. My father would take me hiking, camping and fishing, and we explored the Slocan's spectacular wilderness. Later, when we moved to Ontario, a swamp became my sanctuary, and I would often return home soaking wet, with jars of insects and tadpoles.
As a father and grandfather, I have made it a priority to share my love of nature with my kids and grandkids — taking them to the beach to explore the rocks and tide pools, going on annual cherry-picking excursions to the Okanagan and getting out on the water. I'm happy to say it's paid off in many ways.
Research confirms that getting outside has numerous benefits. It can reduce stress, boost immunity, improve energy and mood, facilitate better concentration and contribute to physical fitness. And it's fun!
Getting your kids to appreciate and connect with nature is the best gift you can give them — and the planet. Harvard ecologist E. O. Wilson refers to the innate kinship humans share with other living beings as "biophilia." It's necessary, he argues, if we are to protect the biosphere that keeps us alive. After all, people work harder to care for that which they love and see as important.
The David Suzuki Foundation recently completed its 30 × 30 Nature Challenge, and the results confirm nature is the best prescription for healthy living on a healthy planet. We asked people to spend half an hour in nature for 30 days in May. We should spend at least that much time outside every day!
- Dr. David Suzuki