Children in Nature

childrens bill of rights

"Through the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative, local officials across the country strive to create abundant access to nature for the benefit of the children and family in their cities.

CCCN works with city leaders to confront pressing child development issues related to increasingly indoor lifestyles. These include higher rates of emotional and physical health challenges."

- National League of Cities

Our Baltimore CCCN Implementation Plan focuses on confronting the marked disparities in access to nature that run along economic and racial lines. For the greatest impact, it is crucial that city leaders hold equitable access to nature for all their residents as the first and foremost tenet of their efforts. The first step has been an inter-city agency task force to create a Baltimore focused Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights that was launched in May 2019.

childrens bill of rights

To join this effort and move our Baltimore Implementation Plan strategies forward, please contact Mary Hardcastle.


GBCANThe Greater Baltimore Children and Nature Collaborative (GBCAN) is an initiative of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. GBCAN encourages partnerships and provides information to foster caring relationships with nature. Recognizing that nature connections are important for everyone (children and adults), members of this collaborative believe the health and well being of children need special guidance and attention.

GBCAN is guided by the following organizations:

Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, Baltimore Green Maps, Blue Water Baltimore, Chesapeake Center for Youth Development, Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, Friends of Herring Run Parks, Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, MD Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics, Natural History Society of Maryland, Nature Art in the Park, Parks & People Foundation, Y of Central MD.            

The Greater Baltimore Children and Nature Collaborative follows these guiding principles to promote nature connections:

• Nature as Teacher and Nurturer—All children need time to explore nature through unstructured and self-directed play in nearby natural spaces;

Kids• Connection—Nature provides an opportunity to deepen our relationship to our self, each other and our environment;

• Community and Society—Preserving and creating natural settings, especially on public lands, provides restorative places for families and neighbors to interact and grow the community;

• Role Models—A caring adult who shares a love of the natural world can inspire a sense of awe and wonder in a child;

• Respect—Learning to respect nature and others is fundamental for our well-being, the wellness of others and the Earth as a whole;

• Access—To engage and connect to nature, children and adults need access to information, resources and developmentally appropriate activities.

In 2013, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks adopted GBCAN as an initiative because we believe in the importance of nature connections. GBCAN activities support our “Get Active and Stay Healthy” campaign by encouraging children and their families to connect to nature in city parks.

Trail KidsGet Out There!
Spending time in nature can foster a child’s sense of self as well as a sense of place in the community. Playing in nature creates fond memories and helps children learn about their world. Not only does it make your kids (and you!) happier, healthier, and smarter, it’s great for family bonding and easy on the pocketbook.

Get Involved!
Become a member of GBCAN and participate in this growing community! Membership is free. 

Join a GBCAN workshop. We know that getting nature on your calendar can be a daunting task, and we’re here to help. In our engaging, hands-on workshop, you’ll learn about research supporting the movement to connect kids and families with nature, while you learn about common fears and obstacles to getting out in nature. You’ll discover your own barriers, and ways to overcome them. You’ll learn specific ways to encourage, support, and enhance your children’s outdoor experiences.

For more information on the forum and GBCAN, contact Mary Hardcastle at BCRP or call 410-396-7020.  You can also follow GBCAN on Facebook.

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