Connecting to nature is a trend worth following

Posted on: 9th June, 2017

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: West Cork People

Thomas Riedmuller is one of the founders of The Hollies Centre of Sustainability

When I listened to the radio recently I heard about a shocking trend among young people – according to Dublin City University, just one in ten Irish teens have properly developed fundamental movement skills  that they should have mastered by the age of six, such as running or kicking a ball. The American author Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in modern lives to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression – he calls it Nature Deficit Disorder.

If you connect those ‘dots’  you might wonder what could help. My recipe is spending time outdoors and interacting with the natural world. Outdoor sports can go a long way. Apart from that, I find a lot of enjoyment in learning about plants you can eat and use to make simple remedies…there is so much food for free out there. And then, looking after your own plants, even if it is only a small container garden in an urban back yard, can bring a lot of joy and sanity into otherwise stressful lives. I remember living in an ugly urban environment years ago. Learning to identify all the little plants that still manage to break through the concrete helped me to keep my sanity and maintain a strong level of connection to nature that many people don’t even know that they are missing.hollies 2 hollies

At The Hollies Centre for Sustainability a team of us have created gardens, woodlands, ponds and an array of buildings made entirely from local and natural materials. In some of these woodlands children are being facilitated in so-called forest school activities…crafts and games that allow them to be active and outdoors in a safe way.

While it is important to allow children to experience the natural world that feeds and nourishes us all, adults have the same needs of ‘recharging our batteries’ with earth, wind, sun and rain.

‘Nature Connection’  is  a new series of activities at The Hollies Centre. One in each season they are designed to help adults to gain a renewed sense of aliveness and healing. The next opportunity to join in is on July 2.

An initiative called ‘Mucky Boots’ homes in on the importance for children to have space to be wild. On June 10, an event called ‘Sticks and Stones’ highlights that natural objects need to be reclaimed for their beneficial effects rather than being connected to fears. With a bit of guidance, it is safe to be wild. More than that, it is essential for your health. Between July 3 and 6 this experience will be offered to seven-12-year-olds as a summer camp. A family camp is scheduled from July 21 to 23, with activities ranging from basket weaving to spending time with horses, fireside fun and foraging.

You might look at ‘natural play’ as a term that describes the way we used to play in the not-so-distant past – using existing features and changing natural objects and unused items into play features.

A West Cork-based team of people called Silva Build are taking this to the professional level designing and building playscapes in schools and other public places up and down the country. On June 24, they’ll teach a one-day workshop at The Hollies Centre about Building Natural Play-Scapes.

I’ve decided to be part of the new trend that promotes health by reconnecting with the natural world. Minimum time in front of screens, maximum time out of doors. Which trend do you want to be part of?

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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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