Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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The power of the next generation

The power of the next generation David Parry/PA

Across the country, and far beyond our shores, youth voices are standing up for our environment, championing our planet and inspiring change. With the banner held high for activism, children are a symbol of hope, energy and aspiration, unafraid to speak their mind.

Last week, the children of Damers First School took centre stage in the fight to safeguard the beauty of our countryside, reduce recycling confusion and push to see an ambitious deposit return system. Using the power of their voices, they turned the heads of both peers and MPs – in particular Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment – to show the strength of their passion and their will to make a change.

See what they're calling for:

While this fantastic school stands proud for the environment, many young people do not have the same access to the countryside and the knowledge of the amazing benefits of nature to create this innate love and connection. In a recently published report, it was found that while 70% of children and 64% of young people (16-24) spent time outdoors at least once a week, they tend to spend far less time in places that are considered more natural, with only 17% of children having spent time in woodland, 9% in farmland or countryside and 8% in nature reserves.

From city foxes to snowdrops in the spring, nature can be found across our urban areas too, but what is lost without the access to our ‘natural’ spaces is the connection to our landscape, highlighting the powerful forces that shape our environment and the pressures of human behavior.

The children of Damers First School have had the fantastic opportunity to learn about our planet through an immersive and creative classroom experience, heading outdoors and through small voluntary actions such as the CPRE Green Clean. This has inspired them to see how loud their voices can be heard and how they can make a long lasting change to protect the countryside. Their passion for a better countryside reflects not only the statistic that 67% of children strongly agree that ‘being in nature makes them happy’, but that getting out into nature, even only for a short amount of time, can make a huge difference.

While political activism is not new within the world of campaigning, and campaigning on behalf of the environment a decedent of our countryside heritage, combining these with a new and inherently honest voice is an action that cannot be ignored. However, while celebrating the success of Damers First School is paramount, we need to push to see more children benefit from the beauty of nature, and make their voices heard.

We hope that CPRE can inspire many more generations to come to love the countryside and stand up for its rights. Through recommendations within our response to the Glover Review of National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty, we want every child to visit a designated landscape through a school visit before the age of 11 and learn about their unique character. While our ambition is bold, embracing a love for the countryside is vital to see it, and them, thrive.

Find out more about Damers First School's meeting with Michael Gove

8 March 2019

We need to push to see more children benefit from the beauty of nature, and make their voices heard

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