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Home Nature pour Tous (Natagora) Enable everyone to exercise their civic action for the protection of nature: the project "Nature for all" Natagora ASBL, Belgium.
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Nature pour Tous (Natagora)
  • 3 rue Fusch 4000 Liège Belgique
  • eric.dubois@nullnatagora.be
  • Eric Dubois
  • eric.dubois@nullnatagora.be


Enable everyone to exercise their civic action for the protection of nature: the project "Nature for all" Natagora ASBL, Belgium.

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  • Europe : Belgium
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From Eric Dubois the Apr 14, 2011

'Nature for All' is a project of civic responsibility, which aims to make nature accessible to all and to promote the integration of people said "different". .

The context
 

Our project “Nature for All” covers all Wallonia, but when we have external demands we sometimes go farther. Most of our work is done in nature. NATAGORA, which supports our project 'Nature for All' has offices in several towns, large cities in Belgium. We can of course use these facilities, but most of our business inevitably takes place outdoors. NATAGORA is an ASBL that deals with nature-related jobs. It manages projects for the creation of nature reserves, making studies on some very specific animal species, protecting nature as well as it can and educating citizens to respect the environment.
 
I have been employed for almost six years now on the project "Nature for all" and I’m trying to develop it in Belgium.
 
It is for everyone as the name says, "Nature for all", but more particularly with an opening to the public called "different", with mental, psychical or physical disabilities ... temporary or permanent; but also to every "unconventional" public. I think among others of young offenders or socially disadvantaged people. We really try to open and give the right of nature accessible to all publics.
 
My director, Mr. Paul Gallant, had this idea to make nature accessible to all. After some time spent on convincing of the merits of this project, he decided, in 2005, of two days to raise awareness and get an overview of expectations and needs from nature guides about the public reception of these so-called "different people". My participation in one of these days was a revelation. The project of defending the right of nature for all really awakened my interest and I have been developing the project “Nature for all” for more than five years now.
 
 

 

The purposepurpose 

 
The goal is really to make nature accessible to all and promote the integration of "different" people. To achieve this objective, the project “Nature for All” organizes various activities (animations, informative days, public events, landscape management). It also gives adapted supplies and teaching tools to interested people (guides, facilitators, educators ...) to accompany a large range of public and diversify their means of communication.

"Nature for All” is a project about civic responsibility, integration and tolerance.
 

 

Implementation
 

One of the axes consists of the creation and implementation of activities for everyone. Applications may come from a very special group. The publics may have to mix with others, and we try to adapt the best to everyone's needs.
 
Apart from our activity as nature guides, we provide any logistics around the trip. We do research and create appropriate tools to best meet people’s needs according to their differences. Expertise and walks organisation are also part of our business.
 
We handle communication around the project, for example through social networks (Facebook). We really try to catch and raise people’s awareness around this project and to make them more sensitive about it. This awareness goes through an agreement with The AWIPH (Walloon Agency for the integration of disabled persons), a public administration responsible for carrying out Walloon policy for the integration of disabled people. The AWIPH organizes special days in schools to educate "ordinary" children to “difference”.
 
Awareness also involves the transmission of knowledge to nature guides, including the reception of “different” publics. We try to make them aware of what they can do with this public.
 
Integration is a key element of the project "Nature for all". For example, our logo, the little orange flower, was designed by artists with mental disabilities. Similarly, when we plan a walk, expertise is required. In that case, a person in a wheelchair, a blind or visually impaired person always comes along, because they are obviously more able than me to determine what people with disabilities really need. This is a real collaborative work which is carried out.
 
The role of the facilitator' is to do everything so that the event is going well. People can sometimes be fairly distant from one another, because of the great outdoors that nature has to offer. But if the host is able to refocus the group on an insect, a flower, the barriers come down and it enables people to get closer.
 
During an event with young BMI, one of them spent the day by himself, giving the feeling of being angry and unhappy to be there. When he was going back to the bus to leave, he turned and said thank you. These are the only words he said all day. Humanly speaking, this project is indeed tough but incredibly rewarding.
 
Similarly, during an event with young adolescents with mental disabilities, we discussed the theme of birds. One of the adolescents started talking about birds that I was bringing up. He seemed to know many things and therefore, I took him with me, so that he can endorse my role as a facilitator, which he did brilliantly. This also quite surprised his teachers who did not expect him to have such knowledge on this subject. It was a revelation for all of us.
 
We also had a lady who was unbeatable in terms of medicinals, as well as a blind person who was able to recognize herons while flying. From those examples, we can see that these people are truly put forward. 
 

 

Means 

 
I was trained as a gardener, and in the meantime, I had a formation as a host of summer camps. I was also trained as an educational worker in health environment and had training as a nature guide, especially for blind people.
 
About 90 people work at Natagora. We are two full-time and one half-time workers on the project "Nature for all". Some volunteers help us (eg adolescents, as surprising as it may seem!). Two students doing their civil services are about to join us.
 
Financially, I am in charge of looking for money from ministries or from other locations according to our needs, and I deal with the financial part of the project.
 
 

 

Evaluation  

 
Humanly speaking, I am living a wonderful experience almost daily. I realize that there is a demand from these "different" publics. Without pretending to make outstanding naturalists out of them, simply giving them the opportunity to take a walk in nature is something fantastic. It is a real fun time to share.
 
The difficulty I happen to be facing is to explain to everyone the merits of such activities. The difference still frightens and opening the doors to the public is not yet very common to most people. We must therefore fight for the recognition of this right of nature for all.
 
Such a project must be developed in other countries. Disability is everywhere, just like nature is.
I am confident that we can do any activity, anywhere, on any topic with anyone as long as the host is willing to adapt.
 
Opening our "nature-related” activities to "different" publics definitely improves their lives but also anyone’s lives, because when a path is suitable for a wheelchair user, a mother and a child in a stroller will also benefit.
 
The goal now is to try to develop our structure, and of course to expand our project to other places. The point is to train as many nature guides and to significantly open these activities to people said "different".
 

 

Translation Project
Canonical language : French
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