‘Nature Matters’ in Tech-Filled Lives of Teens

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Why This Matters: Through discovering their sense of self in the natural world, teen participants in ASC’s Studio 345 Journeys program became environmental stewards and advocates.

Studio 345 Journeys participants explore at Yellowstone National Park.
Studio 345 Journeys participants explore at Yellowstone National Park.

By Natalie Blundell
ASC Davidson College Impact Fellow

Technological advancements mean that kids don’t have to go outside anymore to find something to do.

The upside is that kids now have a wealth of information at their fingertips. The downside is that those young fingertips aren’t regularly exploring or digging around in nature.

What will happen to this generation if they remain indoors and develop no relationship with nature? How can parents reduce the onset of behavioral issues associated with this technologically-dependent lifestyle?

The answer is to expose children to the natural world, the key solution presented in ASC’s second advocacy documentary Nature Matters, which premiered at Johnson C. Smith University on October 20.

Nature Matters tells what happens when 10 teenage digital natives from ASC’s Studio 345 Journeys Program get their first real exposure to nature. Over the course of one summer, these students find themselves at the crossroads of art and science as they hike local and regional trails, clean a polluted city creek, and travel 2,000 miles to spend a week in Yellowstone National Park. These resilient teens discover their sense of place within interconnected ecosystems across the country. As a result, they become environmental stewards and advocates for the natural world.

Studio 345 Journeys students and mentors hike in Yellowstone National Park.
Studio 345 Journeys students and mentors hike in Yellowstone National Park.

When you take a group of city kids into nature for the first time, you’ll see “instantaneous positive feedback,” says Mark Tercek in the film. Tercek is the president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy  and is a strong voice in this national conversation. Also featured in the film is Richard Louv, author of the bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. These two add expertise and impetus to the suggested solutions in the film.

Nature Matters is a living example of what happens when people create the intentional space of opportunity in the natural world,” says Barbara Ann Temple, executive producer and vice president of education at ASC. “May this film prompt you to ask what you can do in your own life, neighborhood, and community that will ensure children and youth have opportunities to step outside into a world of wonder, breathe deeply, and learn that nature does matter.”

Studio 345’s Journeys Program offers a solution to the problem for teens in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This summer program is designed to educate, engage, and empower high school youth through a variety of hands-on experiences that help them discover the importance of preserving our environment.

The program is a three-phase experience that includes local and state hikes and educational sessions, a week-long trip to a National Park and opportunities for the students to advocate for change within their communities. Thanks to Duke Energy and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the program is free to students who are accepted. Applications for the summer 2017 program open in January at ArtsAndScience.org.

Want to see the film?

The next screening of Nature Matters will take place from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Coco and the Director (100 W. Trade St., Charlotte). Drink specials and complimentary appetizers will be available. To RSVP for the event and learn about upcoming screenings, visit NatureMattersFilm.com.

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