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Where wild things grow: Friluftsterapi as a preventative, health promoting, and sustainable method for children with neurodivergence in school, health care, family and leisure settings in Southern Norway

Tara Crank

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK

Tara is a PhD student exploring the ways that digital technologies can support nature connection within the context of a community green health hub. Her interests in modern technologies are seated (with some irony) alongside her skill with primitive technologies, as she teaches bushcraft for one of the UK's leading specialist organisations. Tara integrates her digital technology focus into foraging practices, teaching about wildlife and practical outdoor living skills with the aim to help people struggling with wellbeing issues to have nature in their everyday lives and build relationships with their local places.

Tara Green close up 2 lo rez JPEG - Tara Crank.jpg

Exploring Digital Technology as a Tool for Nature Connection
in Outdoor Therapeutic Engagament

This combined theory and practice workshop addresses tensions regarding the use of digital technologies (DTs) in an outdoor therapeutic engagement context (Richards, Hardie, and Anderson, 2023; Cuthbertson et al., 2004), and presents DTs as a horizon/new perspective to support connection with nature through sensory engagement.

There is a need to address cultural issues surrounding overuse of technologies and health issues; and to address our cultural abstraction from nature that has led to the current environmental crises. Research has shown that DTs have been effective in increasing sensory engagement with nature (Van Kraalingen, 2023; McClain and Zimmerman, 2016), one of the elements highlighted in the Pathways to Nature Connection, a concept associated with increased well-being and pro-environmental behaviors (Lumber, Richardson and Sheffield, 2017). During the workshop, I will examine the cultural challenges presented by ubiquitous DTs and how these can be navigated in an outdoor therapeutic context; I'll present my PhD study design as I start the process to explore how digital technologies can be used to support nature connection. Moving into the practical phase of the workshop, I'll share my professional experience in using DTs and primitive technologies; invite the audience to get hands-on with DTs like digital microscopes and parabolic sound reflectors to enhance their sensory experience of nature; and discuss the experience for further considerations to take forward.

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