Get to know TimberNook Founder Angela Hanscom
Few people have done more to advance the nature play movement than pediatric occupational therapist and mama of three Angela Hanscom. In addition to founding TimberNook, an award-winning nature-based program that has gained international popularity, Angela is also the author of Balanced & Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, which outlines the impact of a lack of outdoor playtime on overall sensory and motor development in children. We know you'll find our Q&A with Angela to be both interesting and inspiring.
What is your favorite outdoor childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory was going to garage sales with my friend in our community, buying old curtains and kitchenware, and then enjoying a picnic in the park (using the curtains as our blanket) - without an adult in sight!
What inspired you to found TimberNook?
It really wasn't an idea I just thought of. It was really like a series of events that took place in my life that lead me down this path. It took overcoming my own fears, having my own children (things got personal then), recognizing the desperate need for outdoor play, and that I had a unique story/mission to share. I felt strongly called to do something about it. I also recognized that if I didn't step up to the plate, I would have failed to create this necessary change. I still remember having a mentor tell me, "you were specifically chosen for this. No one else can do it in this way. You can either take this leap of faith or miss the opportunity to create great change in the world." I'll never forget it. I'm glad I took that first step, and I just keep taking the next step, over and over. One thing is for certain, this is only the beginning.
What was the most surprising thing you discovered while writing Balanced & Barefoot?
The knowledge that was truly eye-opening was how child development and children's abilities have changed drastically in the past 30 years. When we did our first initial pilot study, I guess I was a bit alarmed by what we uncovered. Only ONE out of every twelve children could meet core strength and balance from children in 1984! It was a sounding alarm that something wasn't right and drove the whole basis for this work.
You've done so much to support the nature play movement. What’s the accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
There is so much to celebrate. Adults saying they've found joy again in the woods. Children overcoming fears, and transforming before our eyes. However, to be honest...I'm most excited about what actually comes next. We will be bringing TimberNook into schools. We've learned that in order to create great change - people need to witness the benefits first-hand.
What’s one pro tip you’d offer parents looking to spend more time outdoors with their children?
One of the best (and hardest to do!) is for parents to practice our philosophy of stepping back and allowing children the freedom to come up with their own play schemes. It is always amazing to see what children come up with when given the time and space.
Finish this sentence: "Spending time in nature makes me feel…”
... appreciative, joyful, peaceful, alive, refreshed, and inspired. It "recharges" me and reminds me that I'm small amongst the vastness of this world....but so blessed to live in it.
To learn more about TimberNook and find a location near you, visit www.timbernook.com