HOW CAN DESIGN CONTRIBUTE TO BRINGING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE CLOSER TO THEIR NEARBY NATURE?
What was the problem you wanted to work on?
In my master’s project, I wanted to work on how design can contribute to underpinning people’s natural interest in nature. Several surveys suggest that children and young people now spend less time outdoors than previously. Despite children in Norway generally having good access to nature areas in their local environment, there are fewer and fewer children to be seen outdoors. Having easy access to nature areas for recreation and physical activity has health benefits for everyone, not least children.
I began my project with a wish to explore how design can contribute to raising awareness about nature and the necessity of conserving it and the life within it. I chose a relatively young target group early in the process, carried out many investigations, and explored ideas back and forth without quite finding the right angle. The problem was that I was thinking on too grand a scale, but I managed to narrow it down and move on. I thought about what the probable reason was for my interest in nature conservation and discovered that this was where the focus of my project should lie.
What has inspired you?
I grew up with good access to nature areas and believe that this has had a lot to say for my love of nature and concern for its conservation as an adult. Sir David Attenborough put it so well when he was asked by Obama what it was that had made him interested in nature. Attenborough replied that he had yet to meet a child who was not fascinated by nature. The question was rather: How do people lose their interest in nature?
What have you discovered during the process?
Focussing on possibilities and what can contribute positivelyto the problem you are working on is always a good path to follow. When I started my project, I was more concerned about highlighting what was not good, and almost wanted to shake some environmental commitment into my target group. I only needed to look back at the positive nature experiences from my childhood to realise that this was a better approach.
What is the result?
I have chosen to design a tool that can be used and formed by children and young people and their families. The purpose of this tool is to encourage people to explore their nearby nature and inspire them to engage in activities in it.