Giving Compass' Take:

• Research shows that nature can have significant impacts on an individual's mental health. During COVID-19, health funders should invest in nature nonprofits that building equitable access to the environment.

• What are the significant access issues regarding the environment and environmental education? How can donors work at the systems level to provide more access to nature? 

•  Learn about connecting youth to outdoors through equity.

In recent weeks, we have seen people around the world turn to nature for reprieve and respite from the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mounting research, combined with our personal and professional experience, suggest that improving equity in access to greenspace may help combat health inequities. Access to safe, nearby nature must be prioritized as critical public health infrastructure and not just an amenity for a few.

With each passing day of this crisis, it becomes clear that too many children and families lack equitable access to the benefits of nature at a time when they need it most. Just as systemic racism impacted the design and distribution of parks and greenspaces, African American and Latinx people in the U.S. are disproportionately dying from COVID-19 in yet another tangible reflection of the true cost of inequitable systems. As we think about how to help communities emerge from this crisis, will we repeat the mistakes of the past, or will we think holistically about what truly supports health and well-being? Let’s not make false binary choices between things like food, shelter, and transportation or access to education, jobs, health care, and nearby nature. People need all of these things to thrive.

So, what can health funders do? Investment is needed in national backbone organizations that provide research, build capacity, and work at the systems level to increase equitable access to the benefits of nature. The work of nonprofits like Youth Outside, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Recreation and Parks Association, the Children & Nature Network, the North American Association of Environmental Education, and others is critical right now in providing information and resources for connecting to nature safely during the pandemic. Their work will be even more critical as leaders and communities think about nature connection as they plan for a new normal post COVID-19.

Read the full article about supporting the need for nature by Gail Christopher, Kim Moore Bailey, and Tyler Norris  at Grantmakers In Health.