What happens when we walk? Exploring how walking in nature influences childhood well-being
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This research explored how walking with grade four students in natural spaces within their community on a weekly basis influenced their well-being. Qualitative data was collected through the use of focus groups and observations. Student participants shared stories, thoughts and feelings on their walking experiences. Data was analysed through thematic coding and findings were then compared to a framework of indicators for child well-being. Well-being is a balanced state of the emotional, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual domains that enables students to reach their full potential in the school community. Findings indicated walks that included time for free exploration in a natural setting positively influenced students’ well-being. By studying the development of well-being over time through the students’ perspectives, this work contributes to the growing interest in place-based learning and childhood well-being. Insights from the fields of health promotion and environmental communication were employed to ensure research findings were communicated in ways other educators may use in their own school contexts including an adapted framework of indicators specifically addressing weekly walks.
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