Laat Mokum Bloeien!
Our non-profit project ‘Laat Mokum Bloeien!’ does not just promote biodiversity in the city of Amsterdam, it also contributes to improving our living environment. Because in today’s society, we are disconnected from the natural world. With regards to children, it is proven that this has many negative effects including children’s affinity towards the natural world . These effects are produced by the lack of opportunities to spend time in green spaces, especially in cities.
Effect on health
This calls for a change, as there are many benefits of nature for schoolchildren. Exposure to urban green spaces is associated with positive outcomes related to physical health. Research  showed positive effects on the cardiovascular health of schoolchildren during physical exercise in a green environment.
But there are also many benefits for the mental health of schoolchildren. It was proven that nature has a moderator effect. Which means that nearby nature moderates the negative effects produced by stressful events. This means that children of schools with green spaces are able to cope better with stress than children who attend classes in non-natural schools . Besides, being able to play in a green schoolyard during the break would also help children to think more clearly, feel free and relaxed . For children with ADHD it was especially proven that spending time in nature decreased their symptoms .
Unfortunately, access to nature is a privilege. Research  showed that low-income communities and communities of color are being underrepresented in the use of outdoor spaces or have fewer opportunities to engage with nature . But especially low-income communities may benefit the most from time in nature . Therefore we could conclude that nature is not equitable. And as schools are mandatory, children spend a significant amount of time on schoolyards. It is therefore important that schools integrate nature to ensure that every child has a place to play in nature.
Green schoolyards are a perfect example of this, defined as ‘school grounds where natural elements are present and abundant’ and this can be interpreted in several ways. There are many great examples of green schoolyards, such as the De Lanteerne Wereldplein in Nijmegen  and many companies that help schools become more green such as De Schoolpleinvergroeners or Groenblauwe schoolpleinen.
Besides the fact that the Municipality of Amsterdam is already taking steps to give all children access to the benefits of a green environment, we also hope to be able to contribute to this with our non-profit project ‘Laat Mokum Bloeien!’.
Sources and links
 Corraliza, J. A., Collado, S., & Bethelmy, L. (2012). Nature as a moderator of stress in urban children. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 38, 253-263. Wells, N.M. and Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathway from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16, 1-24.
 Duncan, M, Clarke, N, Birch, S, Tallis, J, Hankey, J, Bryant, E and Eyre, E. 2014. The Effect of Green Exercise on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate and Mood State in Primary School Children. Int J Environ Res Public Health 11(4): 3678–3688.
 Corraliza, J. A., Collado, S., & Bethelmy, L. (2012). Nature as a moderator of stress in urban children. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 38, 253-263.
 Korpela, K., Kytta, M. and Hartig, T. (2002). Restorative experience, self-regulation and children´s place preferences. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 387-398.
 Taylor, A., and Kuo, F.E. (2009). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after a walk in the park. Journal of Attention Disorders, 12, 402-409
 Wen, M, Zhang, X, Harris, CD, Holt, JB and Croft, JB. 2013. Spatial Disparities in the Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in the USA. Ann Behav Med Publ Soc Behav Med 45(Suppl 1): 18–27. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-012-9426-x
 Rigolon, A. 2016. A complex landscape of inequity in access to urban parks: A literature review. Landsc Urban Plan 153: 160–169. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.05.017
 Mitchell, RJ, Richardson, EA, Shortt, NK and Pearce, JR. 2015. Neighborhood Environments and Socioeconomic Inequalities in Mental Well-Being. Am J Prev Med 49(1): 80–84. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2015.01.017