The #52NatureAwarenessChallenge is inspired by other outdoor and nature challenges. Being outdoors can improve physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, enhance our sense of belonging, and help us connect with others. But many of the challenges aren’t realistic for sick and disabled people – leaving the house isn’t realistic sometimes! So how can we enjoy some of the same benefits?
The 52 Nature Awareness Challenge is meant to inspire you to enjoy nature in the ways that are accessible for you, have fun with other participants, and help you grow in awareness and connection with place.
52 times over the next 12 months, notice something new in nature. It can be around your home, on your commute, during a hike, or any where else in the course of your daily life. Take a photo, draw a picture, or write a note of where you were and what you experienced. Share it on social media with the hashtag #52NatureAwarenessChallenge and #DisabledHikers.
To add to the challenge, use a website like Native Land to begin researching about the Indigenous peoples of the land. Learn about the Native place names and languages, colonization and treaty rights, and the current work, contributions, and struggles of Native people.
Ready? Sign up here!
What kinds of things count? Anything! Really, the smallest being to the grandest sky. And the closer to your home, the better! For example, you may notice the way a bee explores a flower, or how the wind sounds in the tree outside your window, or how the winter sunset differs from the summer.
We don’t always need a big adventure to feel connected with nature and receive the benefits of being outdoors. We can, and perhaps we should, achieve the same things by being present with nature that is around us every day. Connecting with the natural world in our daily lives can remind us that we are not separate from nature. It is something that we can do anywhere: from the bed, from the bus, from the top of the mountain.
Non-disabled people are welcome to participate too. Everyone can benefit from connecting with place in our every day routines. Abled people need only keep in mind that this challenge centers sick and disabled folks; indeed, you may learn something from us about slowing down and enjoying the experience where you are.
Is there a charge to participate?
Not at all! This is a free challenge. If you register and complete the challenge, I’ll send you a free sticker! (quantities may be limited)
Who is this challenge for?
It is intended for people who are disabled, chronically ill, d/Deaf, Blind or low vision, neurodivergent, have a mental illness, or otherwise identify with disability. However, non-disabled people are welcome to participate.
Can I repeat my observations?
Yes and no. Nature is never the same from moment to moment, so every experience should be different! For example, perhaps one week you notice the way that the sunlight breaks through the leaves in the tree outside. A few weeks later, the light looks different because the leaves have dropped and the sun has shifted. Its an opportunity to notice how everything around us changes; just find one thing that is different and it counts!
How can I connect with others in the challenge?
Follow #52NatureAwarenessChallenge on Instagram and Facebook. Invite your friends to join the challenge with you. Set up a meeting in your area to enjoy observing nature together. Tag @disabledhikers and we’ll share some of your stories.