Sat, Feb 24, 2024 8:00 AM

Junior Landcare initiative a mental health landmark


Staff reporter

A grassroots partnership has been announced to help champion nature regeneration, address eco-anxiety, and encourage mental wellbeing.

The Bupa Foundation and NZ Landcare Trust have announced a nationwide programme – Junior Landcare.

It comes as part of a response to address concerns from younger generations about threats to the natural world.

Junior Landcare will provide opportunities for young people to actively contribute to solutions through a series of nature regeneration projects.

The projects will be carried out by schools and youth groups and include a range of activities, such as planting native trees, ecological monitoring projects, wetland restoration and pest control.

Chief Executive of NZ Landcare Trust Dr Nick Edgar says being constructive has shown to help combat mental health challenges.

“Taking action to protect nature has proven to alleviate eco-anxiety and address mental wellbeing challenges some of our young people face.

“Through working with the Bupa Foundation, we have created something that goes beyond environmental conservation; it extends to supporting the mental and physical wellbeing of participants, fostering a sense of purpose and connection to nature.

“Our team across Aotearoa loves working with schools and the younger generations to create a legacy for those who come after us and this partnership will ensure we can have a great impact.”

Junior Landcare, in conjunction with schools and local communities, will deliver 10 regeneration projects around New Zealand.

It will develop educational resources and research into the effects of nature on wellbeing and mental health and provide an opportunity to establish intergenerational connections by including Bupa’s residents in activities.

Managing Director of Bupa New Zealand Pedro Sanchez says there is a clear link between looking after people’s mental health and connecting with nature/

“We’re focused on improving people’s lives and the planet’s health through the restoration and regeneration of nature.

“Enabling people in aged care to connect with younger generations, to share their wisdom and life experiences, and to connect with nature is proven to have positive impacts on mental wellbeing.

“It’s clear to us that to look after people’s health, we also need to look after the health of our planet.

“I am excited to see our partnership develop as the youth involved in Junior Landcare will take the lead on deciding what we do, where we focus and what’s important to local communities.”

As part of this announcement, the Bupa Foundation and NZ Landcare Trust extend a call to action to young people across New Zealand.

“We want a high level of engagement in Junior Landcare across Aotearoa. So, if you’d like to find out more, or to register your interest as an individual, school, classroom or youth-based group, please visit our website and register your interest”, says Dr Edgar.

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