Cities Connecting Children to Nature

Support for Rochester’s Children and Nature

  Mayor Lovely Warren envisions a future where all of Rochester’s kids reach their full potential. Improving children’s connections to nature can help achieve this vision. Increasingly indoor lifestyles have created pressing child development issues including higher rates of emotional and 

nature 1physical health challenges.  Regular time spent playing and learning outside enhances children’s physical and mental health, social emotional skills, nd academic outcomes- as well as inspiring environmental stewardship. 

The CCCN Rochester initiative focuses on confronting the marked disparities in access to nature that run along economic and racial lines. For greatest impact, it is crucial that city leaders hold equitable access to nature for all their residents as the first and foremost tenet of their efforts.

The National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network selected Rochester as one of 18 US cities to join the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative. CCCN helps cities increase equitable access to nature and improve the wellbeing of children.

Rochester, through the CCCN initiative, receives technical assistance, grants and peer learning designed to help implement nature connection strategies so that Rochester’s children experience the many benefits of nature.


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A closer look at Rochester’s CCCN Initiative:

Strategies to Connect Rochester Kids to Nature:

Strategy 1: Increase out-of-school time environmental programming.

Increasing environmental programing through our R-Centers and after school programs is one of the ways in which we hope to increase nature engagement among out city youth. Our long standing Earth Explorers program expanded to include more centers and more educators, as well as adding long lasting infrastructure to provide continued, quality environmental education for children.

Strategy 2: Develop a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights.

In collaboration with the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, Youth Voice One Vision (YVOV), the City is working towards adopting a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights (COBOR) into City legislature. If passed, this will help guide priorities and decisions regarding access to nature and funding. It will also help get youth involved in the conversation around why nature connection is important for everyone, and what we can do to increase access to nature in our neighborhoods.

Strategy 3: Launch the Maplewood Nature Center.


Located along the Genesee River and adjacent to the historic Maplewood Rose Garden, Maplewood Nature Center (MNC) will include an exhibit/learning center, the Gardenwood Preschool, teaching gardens and nutrition center. This center will help bring together key stakeholders and providers of environmental and nature-based programming from across the community.

Get connected:

Sign up for CCCN news at

 and follow #citykids2nature.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Benway at