The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Youth Relationships with Nature

A Socio-Spatial Perspective

Authors

  • Corey Martz Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver
  • Rebecca Powell Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver
  • Bryan Wee Geography & Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver

Keywords:

children's geographies, COVID-19 lockdowns, nature, qualitative GIS, story maps

Abstract

Youth relationships with nature are profoundly influenced by their day-to-day interactions with people and places. Here, we explored whether abrupt spatial restrictions imposed by COVID-19 lockdowns impacted how/where youth relate with nature. We compared “story maps” created by two groups of youth—before and during lockdown—which combined geographically referenced locations, images, and descriptions about relationships with nature, supplemented by follow-up surveys. Our findings indicate that youth relationships with nature are dynamic, responding to changing circumstances, environments, and needs. Specifically, during lockdown youth were more likely to find fulfillment and respite in nature, value lasting associations, and notice nature near where they live.

Author Biographies

Corey Martz, Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver

Corey Martz is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver. His research explores the lived geographies of young people, and how approaches such as photovoice and story maps can engage communities to share perspectives that inform decision-making, planning, and education processes.

Rebecca Powell, Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver

Rebecca Powell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver. Her research interests include GIS and remote sensing applications to support sustainable communities, implications of spatial and temporal resolution in geospatial analysis, and community mapping.

Bryan Wee, Geography & Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver

Bryan Wee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. His scholarship investigates the socio-spatial dimensions of place attachments, particularly for children. He uses visual methodologies such as drawings, photographs and digital story maps to reveal the underlying assumptions and dominant discourses that shape our realities. This approach allows him to advocate for children’s rights and for greater inclusivity in decision-making processes.

Published

2022-05-31

Issue

Section

Research Articles