The Vitamin N Challenge - Children and Nature Network (USA)
Vitamin N Challenges come in many shapes and sizes. Yours may be a single project or experience. It may be a lifestyle change over the course of a week, month, or year. To choose your challenge, think about where there is room for more VItamin N in your life. How can it serve your family, school, places of worship, library, health care facility or community in connecting people to nature. Maybe your challenge means designating one day each week "family hike day". Or perhaps you'd like to lead your community in a habitat restoration project. Whatever idea you choose, whatever scale, remember to treat Vitamin N like your other vitamins - don't skip it!
To launch a social media challenge to inspire and amplify ideas for bringing more “Vitamin N” into children’s lives.
Our rationale for the challenge was simple. We know that kids (and adults) need nature for better health, yet it can be difficult for many families to find the time, resources or motivation to get outdoors. Still, we suspected there was a treasure trove of ideas out there, waiting to be shared with the world. The challenge was an opportunity to get more nature into the lives of children, but most importantly, to share ideas that made nature accessible. Children & Nature Network (C&NN) co-founder Richard Louv’s new book, “Vitamin N”, presents over 500 nature-oriented actions for families, organizations and communities. In addition, C&NN’s online resources and similar books, blogs and nature-focused websites offer a wide range of ideas for the Vitamin N Challenge. But, in issuing this challenge, C&NN was looking for ideas from our community for getting more #VitaminN.
The challenge was simple: we asked folks to share their ideas for getting more nature into the daily lives of children.
The Vitamin N Challenge launched in May 2016 at our conference in St Paul, MN. A companion webpage and social media campaign launched alongside the verbal challenge issued by author Richard Louv. We also set up a social media showcase on Miappi. Challenge-goers were asked to share their ideas on social media, tagging their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts #VitaminN. They were also given the option to submit a blog post to potentially run on the C&NN Guest Blog. We announced that we would regularly share ideas submitted in a new Vitamin N e-Newsletter and that we would select ten winners of the Vitamin N Challenge in the fall. Throughout the summer, we featured Vitamin N Challenge blog posts on our website. In November of 2016, we selected ten winners that we felt demonstrated creativity and commitment to helping others get more nature into children’s lives. We shared the results in this post as well as on social media alongside graphics designed for each winner.
Since May 2016, families, bloggers, educators and organizations from around the world have taken on the challenge. Nearly 10,000 posts on Instagram and more posts than we can count on Twitter and Facebook came in. To see some of these posts, just look for the hashtag #VitaminN on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook or check out the #VitaminN showcase on Miappi.
Keep the barriers to participation low. We allowed participants to use whichever social channels or whichever form of content they wished. They only had to use the hashtag, #VitaminN to get our attention.
Allow room for creativity. We did not impose strict guidelines or rules on the challenge. We allowed participants to exercise their own creativity and gave them the freedom to let us know what they imagined a good Vitamin N idea to be. While we provided hundreds of examples, we asked our constituents to be the experts, letting us know what ideas and approaches they have found successful in bringing more nature to children.
Recognize good ideas and show appreciation throughout. In our extensive social media sharing, e-blasts and guest blog posts, we were demonstrating how much we value the ideas and engagement of our audience & fellow movement-makers. We very much wanted this challenge to be about them — not C&NN.