Youth Corner
Credits Isabelle McEwen, Shasta Grant, and Sarah Lavallée entitled ‘Letters to the Earth’. A showcase of anonymous letters to the Earth from children and adult community members, and students attending Acadia University.
Published on June 5, 2020

How Positive Interactions with the Earth Influence SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Kaitlyn McLay
Acadia University SDG Campus Coordinator. Nova Scotia, Canada

As humanity stays indoors to protect those who are the most vulnerable to Covid-19, several noticeable changes in human behaviour have become apparent. This pandemic has inspired extraordinary levels of human compassion and kindness, as seen from the brave actions of individual medical staff around the world to the collective responses of municipalities which are offering free housing to those in need. Young people in particular are showing their true colours through kind and caring actions. Around the world, many young people are working and volunteering on the front lines—and those who aren’t are dedicated to protecting ourselves and all others from the disease by staying indoors. As for the Earth herself, during this time of enforced human inactivity she is healing more rapidly than most scientists had previously thought possible.

While there are countless acts of kindness and compassion during this time, this pandemic has also caused immense suffering. Many more mourn the loss of loved ones, or fear for their safety. Also, while some struggle to feed their families, others are trapped in abusive households. With all the highs and lows experienced at this time, one experience remains universal: a desire to connect. Having limited connection with each other has caused a global strain on SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing – yet nature might be able to provide the connection we seek.

While going outdoors may not be an option for those living in urban areas or with limited mobility, there are several ways to connect with nature without leaving one’s home. In this time of peace and solitude, it may seem strange, but opening a window can provide one with a sense of Earth connectedness. It enables us to notice how the world has slowed down, how the regular hustle and bustle of activity has almost come to a complete halt. One is able to hear the birds singing outside their window or notice how the air pollution has lifted due to lack of human activity. Even with a closed window, it is wonderful to connect with a tree or plant simply by looking outside. Another way to connect with nature while stuck indoors is to grow a vegetable garden using seeds and food scraps - and it may be one of the most rewarding indoor activities there is – especially for children. It provides them with a little green friend to learn from and to take care of and it helps them understand more about local and organic food systems.

It is also entirely possible to connect with nature by looking at beautiful natural spaces online and meditating to connect with them or with your favourite tree or outdoor location. In times like these, we can take solace in knowing everything is truly connected, for we are part of a beautiful global ecosystem with birds, mountains, trees, and other human beings. When your local health authorities deem it safe to go outdoors, I encourage you to do so frequently – for now, practice experiencing nature indoors. Of course, many, particularly those living in rural areas, are able to go outside – I encourage you to do so as often as is safe. Experiencing the outdoors has been proven time and time again to support SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing. Being outdoors and building deeper relationships with Mother Earth has been shown to dramatically increase one’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

As empowered youth, we can ask ourselves: what kind of world do we want to live in? Moreover, what kind of world do we want future generations to live in? The pandemic we are experiencing provides us with a unique opportunity to create societies that live more lovingly and harmoniously with Nature. Every day we have the opportunity to change our lives and societies, and none more so than today. For we’ve caught a glimpse of a better world; one where we recognize our connection to the earth in every action. In doing so, we allow the Earth more access to take care of us, her children. There are several ways to create a better future, our generation is known for our remarkable passion and creativity, which we can use to inspire good health and wellbeing by connecting with the Earth. This can heal us, bring us peace, and direct us towards a more sustainable future; all it takes is to experience the glory of nature.