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Daycare in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta and Oulu encourage children to spend more time in nature

Good habits affect the health of children for the rest of their lives

  • December 20, 2019 09:30
  • Author Monika Dimitrova
Medium children

Finland has launched a new daycare pilot project aiming to encourage more contact with nature, informed Yleisradio Oy Since this autumn, the pilot was trialled in nine trial daycare centres in HelsinkiJyväskylä, Lappeenranta and Oulu.

Making up the pilot project are the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the Finnish Environment Institute and the Natural Resources Institute of Finland.

The project encourages children to increase their daily interaction with nature, by, for example, eating more plant-based food. They learn more about the impact of food waste, environmental responsibility and sustainability.

As part of the project,  skin tissue samples were collected from the participating children in order to accumulate data on how microbial activity is affected by increased contact with nature, dirt and a plant-based diet. Spending more time in the local woods, climbing trees and building bridges are also vital activities that create team spirit and encourages children to play more in larger groups.

Good habits affect health for the rest of their lives

According to the researchers, it is important to involve children and youth because these types of lifestyle habits will affect their health for the rest of their lives. In addition, exposure to healthy microbes from nature can help children establish stronger and more robust immune systems.

Neulanen is one of the daycare centres trialing the new programme launched in cooperation with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare named "Natural steps to well-being."

Nowadays, children who grow up in cities have limited contact with nature. Something that is less than ideal, given the fact that frequent contact with nature and exposure to good microbes creates stronger children. The stronger immune system boosts resistance to many communicable diseases. Respectively, reduced contact with nature and biodiversity can weaken immunity and increase allergies and asthma. A good microbial environment is promoted by a diverse diet containing lots of vegetables, spending time in nature and contact with animals.

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