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Postcards from Scotland

Nature can help unruly teenagers

Some of the psychological problems experienced by young people have been proposed to arise from what, American author, Richard Lou terms as the 'nature deficit disorder'.

What Lou means by this is that young people are increasingly becoming cut off from the natural world, an environment which research shows has an enormous and positive impact on well-being, and this separation has an adverse effect on their psychology. 

Recently an initiative in England has been taking young people, excluded from school for bad behaviour, to the woodland areas to be involved in nature activities or what they call 'woodland therapy' with the aim of bringing them back to nature and helping them to flourish.

The 'woodland therapy' teaches young people about the variety of trees and their importance for the wildlife that they support.  It also teaches them skills such as how to: clear dead undergrowth; coppice overgrown trees; cut wood for gardens and how to build environmentally friendly buildings. 

The therapeutic effects of this type of work are thought to impact upon the physical, mental, emotional and social development of young people.

One young lad, who was once suspended from school and used to drink heavily, said that he would never have predicted that the woodlands would have changed his life.  Yet since being involved in the activities he has passed his exams, and now holds down a job. He attributes this to time spent in the woodlands.

This type of program shows how nature can foster calmness, focus and confidence in young people in a way which brings lasting change.  To read the article in today?s Times click here.



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