The following is a Speech I entered in 2011 in the Toastmasters International Speech Competition and which won the club and area final. The purpose of the speech was to inspire adults to become an example for their children and embrace the outdoors as they did when children.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticise
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out….. of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
Contest Chair, Fellow Toastmasters… Guests………Please….. GET OUT
Yes, the times, they are changing. When Dylan wrote these words, he wasn’t wrong!
And as Times continue to rapidly change, that change and the pace of change can be overwhelming.
But we have an important choice to make right now! We sit back and be overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world….or…… become part of the change, part of the change to a society that is ….. Healthier….. Smarter…..Happier?
Perhaps our sons and daughters are beyond our command but it is to them that we look to create this new road, this better society. Shall we lend a hand?
Yes, the children are our future, greatest asset!
Why then do we constantly treat them as if they were liabilities, like costs to be incurred on a balance sheet.
We had no right to put our hands in their pockets and rob them of their financial future…..but they are being robbed on something…..far more precious…..they have been robbed of the gift of the natural world around them.
You see for thousands of years, since humans first walked on this earth, they have lived close to, and in harmony with nature.
We have taken nature from our children and put it behind glass, something to be just observed through the windows of our cars on the way to school, the windows of our homes….. the windows of our computers.
I don’t know if we can ever afford to repay the financial debt that we have burdened on our children and their children. But lets give our children back what we can afford, the gift of nature, can we afford ….not to
So let us lend a hand and be the leaders of a Healthier, Smarter and Happier World, Lets ask our children not to do as I say….. but to do as I Do! ….. Let us first rediscover for ourselves the natural world where we played as children where the only windows were the windows of our imagination.
Millions are being spent every day on drugs that keep us thin, keep us happy, keep us quiet…..
Drug companies make lots of money because no sooner have they discovered a cure for a condition, than somebody has come up with a new condition that needs curing.
We now give drugs to young children, even from preschool to treat Obesity, Attention Hyperactive Deficit Disorder and Depression…..
But there is a Drug….far more powerful, its not available across the counter, nor even available on prescription.
Yet every piece of research and clinical trial carried out points to the fact that exposure to Nature creates Healthier Children. In fact it can even be used to successfully to not only prevent and treat but can even cure some of the common health problem in children today.
But the deadliest condition of all is “Nature-Deficit-Disorder” and is very treatable.
So lets bottle nature and prescribe it to our children and when they have all overdosed and when we have all overdosed, then we will know that our society is a healthier one.
And Healthier Kids are smarter kids.
- I hear and I forget.
- I see and I remember.
- I do and ….. I understand.
Between Whiteboards and iPods, laptops and wii’s …..our children aren’t short of exposure to information, so much to forget and so much to remember….. but so little time to do …..so little opportunity for understanding the world around them.
Our obsession over the past decades with concrete and tarmacadam has left us with acres of grey play areas devoid of even a blade of grass.
Isn’t it sad that many children who grow up in the countryside today have no more exposure to nature than children in inner cities.
But “Play in nature” we are told by the experts, is critical for emotional and intellectual development. And for developing the capacities for creativity, problem-solving.
Yes, what is learned in the classroom is important but what is learned outside in the natural world is just as important. It may be critical to our survival.
Yes, Play in Nature is good for children’s Health and Education.
And of course there are reams of research also to suggest that children who play in nature are also more likely to be sociable, well adjusted and confident …..to be…..Happier!
But who needs research to tell us what we already know.
Here we have here a room full of children…..( who have grown up.)
Tell me…..Can you ever remember….. climbing a tree….?, digging for worms….? building a sandcastle? ….. Did you ever roll down a hill or skate on a frozen pond
Well answer me this…..Were You Happy.
Nobody, ….. but Time and Television took that away from us and nobody should take it away from the children of today.
Lets give nature back to our children, lets create the space from them to Grow and be nurtured by Nature.
So, lets not criticise what we can’t understand!
I want you to do something, when you go home, go outside and do something you enjoyed as a child, climb a tree, dig a hole, roll down a hill.
You see inside everyone of us is a natural child……. who lives out there.
But in order to discover that child…. you first have to get GET OUT