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Biophilic Health

Nature's Unifying Patterns
Biophilic health is a way to describe a state of wellbeing where people exist and thrive in relationship with nature, the earth,
and other species. 

 

It is also an approach to promoting health and wellbeing that fosters a deep connection between humans and nature.  The biophilic health approach is evidence informed and draws upon nature's health benefits and life strategies for resilience.  It is grounded in the concept of biophilia and its premise that humans have an innate need to connect with nature and depend on nature to survive and thrive in life, and the practice of biomimicry which is about learning from nature's intelligence. 

Nature's Health Benefits
When we connect with nature there is benefit to us and to the environment- which is why a biophilic health approach embraces two key concepts: 

The idea that  connecting with nature helps us learn how to be resilient and to create healthier, more sustainable ways of living in the world.

And yet at the same time, 


When we connect with nature- it is nature that helps us  to renew and restore our personal health and wellbeing.  
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Nature and Health infographic.jpg

Infographic credit: Ashley Brubacher

Biophilic health for children focuses on the idea that being connected with nature is crucial to child health and development and a resilient and sustainable future. It explores how exposure to nature in childhood (in all its forms) can have significant impacts on children's physical health and mental wellbeng over the course of their lives as well as the wellbeing of the planet. 

In the context of the climate crisis
and an uncertain future,
children will need to know their nature -
they will need biophilic health.

Why Children Need Nature

Nature is inherently engaging and is always changing, yet it has a calming, regulating influence, along with rich opportunities for learning and many physical and mental health benefits. For these reasons, nature provides an ideal context for promoting child health including developing healthy habits of mind, body and behaviour that lay the foundation for resilience and sustainable health and wellbeing.

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These issues are further compounded by the climate crisis which represents the single biggest health threat facing humanity and the ecosystems upon which a healthy and sustainable future depends.

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In fact, nature has something to teach us about resilience based on over 3 billion years of life experience.  This knowledge is reflected in the ancient ways of knowing of Indigenous peoples in Canada and other place- based cultures from around the world.

 

Increasingly, we are recognizing the critical role that nature plays in child health and development and are turning to nature as a model, mentor and measure for enrichng children's lives and improving child development processes and health outcomes, including climate resilience.

 

A biophilic health approach creates pathways for promotng sustainable health and wellbeing with children, nature, and the future in mind.

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Nature's Life Strategies for Resilience
Child and adolesent
mental health conditions and physical inactivity are on the rise with long term consequences  to their health and wellbeing.

 

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When children and youth connect with nature and observe nature’s life strategies in action.
they become more aware of their own bodies and minds in relationship to others and the environment around them. Along with greater awareness comes an appreciation for life's interconnections and opportunities to make healthy and life sustaining choices, exercise flexibility, and adapt to change- key ingredients for resilience and well-being throughout life.

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A biophilic health™ approach creates opportunities for children and youth of any age, orientation, or ability to connect with nature and learn from nature's strategies how to adapt to change and develop and grow as a person in ways that nurture lifelong social and emotional wellbeing and support the health of the planet. This includes learning to:​​​
  • Be attuned and responsive to changes within the environment, others, and oneself (related social-emotional skills: self regulation; self awareness; interoceptive awareness; attention control; reading social and environmental cues)
  • Build connections and relationships that are life affirming in the ways that they support and sustain everyday functioning, participation and diversity (related social-emotional skills: developing empathy; adopting diverse perspectives; prosocial/cooperative behaviour; social problem solving)
  • Identify and leverage resources and supports to meet goals and adapt as needed, within the constraints of limits and boundaries (related social -emotional skills: working memory and planning skills; critical thinking; cognitive flexibility; sustainability thinking)

References:
1 Chawla L. (2015). Benefits of nature contact for children. Journal of Planning Literature, 30(4) 433-452, https://:DOI: 10.1177/0885412215595441.
2. Shanahan D.F., Thomas Astell–Burt T., Barber E.A., Brymer E., . Cox D.T.C., Dean J., 6 , Depledge M., Fuller R.A., Hartig T., Irvine K.N., Jones A., Kikillus H., Lovell R., Mitchell R., Niemelä J.,Nieuwenhuijsen M., Pretty J., Townsend M., van Heezik Y.,Warber S., & Gaston K.J. (2019). Nature–based interventions for improving health and wellbeing: The purpose, the people and the outcomes, Sports 7, 141; doi:10.3390/sports7060141.
3. Thiery W., Lange S., & Wada Y., (2021). Young generations are severely threatened by climate change, 374 (6564), 158-160, Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes, DOI: 10.1126/science.abi7339
4. Biomimicry Institute (2024). What is biomimicry? Retrieved January 31, 2024, from https://biomimicry.org/what-is-biomimicry/
5. Terrapin Bright Green (2014). 14 Patterns of biophilic design. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/

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To know one's Nature is to have Biophilic Health

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