How can we nurture the natural positivity, creativity and optimism that children have? How can we engage them in co-creating a sustainable world, in a fun and empowering way? How can we protect our precious nature?
Engaging in these questions led me to creating ”Our beautiful world – the children´s dreams and happy news” (In Swedish: ”Vår Vackra Värld – barnens drömmar och glada nyheter”), where I engaged schoolchildren in grade two in co-creating a digital magazine. The magazine then was distributed to their parents and in my network and the reader was invited to give a donation to protection of old Swedish forest.
In the first meeting with the children I held a workshop. I started with telling them a fairy tale that I have written called ”The magical old tree”. In this tale a girl and a boy goes out into the forest and meet a nearly thousand years old oak. The children goes back in time to help the tree remember an important song. ”Now, you will have an opportunity to do something fun and exciting and help trees for real” I told the schoolchildren.
In Sweden, as in many countries, most of the forest is industrial, young and planted. Only approximately 4 % of the forest in Sweden is old (130 years +) which is crucial for the climate as well as for many plants and animals. Also, studies shows that spending time in nature reduces stress and is health-promoting. How ironic is it not then that we – in a time when the stress level in society is so high – by the minute are cutting down this precious resource?
When talking about this with the children I don´t do it from a moral perspective though. Many children already have a natural affinity for being and playing in nature, and for the animals it inhabits. ”What is your favorite place in nature?” I asked them, as a way to connect with that affinity.
I talked with the children about dreams. ”What is dreams?” ”What is your interests and dreams”? Later on, as part of their school lessons, they wrote texts on these kind of topics, which I collected and made part of the magazine.
”My dream is to have a dog. We would have great fun together. The dog would eat candy. Me and the dog would play every day. I would be happy for all of my life.”
I also talked about media and how they feel about the news they hear about. Most of the news the children had heard of was negative ones. I asked them if they think that most things that happen in the world is negative. And they didn´t quite know how to answer that. So I clarified that the nature of media is to try to get peoples attention and one way of doing that is to show events that are unusual and shocking. Every day so many good things happen in the world, but they are rarely reported on in mainstream media. So I invited the children to start practicing looking for happy news, in their own lives as well as in media. Here are some that they found:
”A scientist has found good bacteria in yeast. That eats up all bad bacteria in the body. That is good because no one wants to feel bad!” /Vera
”Year 1990 a third of the worlds population was poor, but now only a tenth of the world population is poor. I think that is good new, that the world is going in the right direction.”/Erik
”Some weeks ago I got a sister. And it was great fun and now she is one month old.” /Safwane
Are you a parent, teacher or in other ways leader for children and like the ideas that I have shared? I´m considering making this into an online-program in swedish and english, available for children all over the world. Feel free to contact me if you want to know more!