The Ocean Project Reaches Out to Teens and Tweens
Encouraging children’s appreciation for nature and their concern for the environment must be approached in age-appropriate ways. Some educators and parents with good intentions teach young children by delving into serious environmental issues such as disappearing species, deforestation and climate change before the children possess the cognitive maturity and background knowledge necessary to fully understand the issues.
If children learn abstract information before they have a chance to connect with the natural world, they may end up being confused and the message may not yield results. So, The Ocean Project has developed a new section of its website (TheOceanProject.org) with tips and resources for educators working with young children.
Research suggests that when children spend time engaged in nature and outdoor activities, they are more likely to become long-term stewards of our planet. Children could, for example, begin connecting with nature by learning about plants and animals in their backyard, exploring a nearby park or visiting a zoo, aquarium or museum. Empathy, followed by exploration, should be the main objectives in establishing a connection between children and their environment.
The Ocean Project’s research has shown that youths ages 12 through 17 are a key audience for improving our ocean planet. Not only is this age group more concerned about environmental issues, they are also more willing than many adults to take action to help the environment. They also exert a huge amount of influence within their households, because parents often view their children as more informed about current environmental issues than they are.
This forward-looking age group already reports more involvement with ocean and climate conservation activities than any other age group, but their potential for taking action is far from fully realized.