Back in September Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) created a partnership in Northern Arizona with a great organization, Nature Niños. The goal was to get kids outdoors and learn about nature! With bilingual staff, scavenger hunts, and hiking it’s a perfect activity for kids to enjoy.
Nature Niño’s meets once a month at a different trail each time which really allows for different plants and animals to be talked about. Staff ranges from park rangers, city health, AzCA educators, and volunteers!
The age ranges are typically 0-8 years old and the trails are suited to younger kids. Other activities include building bird feeders with peanut butter and toilet paper rolls, a sensory station with dirt and leaves, river rock painting, and so much more. The activities change monthly and follow a theme!
“Getting kiddos outside and giving them a chance to learn in a fun way is really important. It gives them a chance to find a love for the outdoors, while also teaching both parents and kids about nature,” said Jan Lee, Parent Educator for AzCA’s Parenting Outreach & Awareness Program and a team member of Nature Niño’s. “We have a great partnership of organizations that makes these events go by perfectly. It also allows us to invite our AzCA families to join!”
Planning started in the fall of 2020 to pick trails that involved lighting, the amount of trash, restroom availability, and even if it was stroller accessible. The team started this assessment work early in the planning process so they could ensure families would be able to access the spaces and feel welcome there!
“What a perfect match to involve this organization that already has so much knowledge in the community teaching and understanding the needs of the children” expressed Nature Niño’s Education Director, Ellen Bashor, on AzCA involvement with Nature Niño’s.
Ellen Bashor is the Education Director for the city of Prescott’s Community Nature Center where she directs environmental education programming for Prescott Unified School District students and teachers, organizes community events, leads ecological restoration projects, and advocates for the advancement of equitable and inclusive outdoor opportunities and green spaces. She is also a professor at Prescott College where she teaches Environmental Education.
“We need to get families outside. There is a growing body of research on the benefits of kids being outdoors, even though we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the essential role outdoor time plays in children’s development, research does show that it’s crucial to their physical, social-emotional, and cognitive well-being,” said Ellen Bashor.
AzCA is thrilled to expand our resources and get more kids out there hiking and experiencing the outdoors! We love being a part of this partnership and having the opportunity to provide our expertise.
Learn more about Nature Ninos here: https://prescottlivingmag.com/nature-ninos-success-highlights-importance-of-outdoor-play/