Birdwatching for People with Disabilities
Birdwatching is an activity that we can all enjoy, thanks to the efforts of wildlife charities, who are working hard to ensure people with disabilities have full access to nature. Going outdoors in the fresh air is good for the mind, body and soul, according to the charity, Care UK. When you’re surrounded by nature, it can be beneficial for both mental and physical health. This is why it’s so important for everyone to be able to experience the great outdoors in all its glory! Reducing stress Research published by Care UK reveals spending as little as ten minutes outdoors can “significantly improve” the health of people living with dementia, as it can help the memory and concentration. Additionally, it can reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Repetitive activities can be reassuring for someone with cognitive impairment. Looking for birds and spotting the species can be calming over a period of time. Our relationship with nature is a critical factor in supporting good mental health, according to the Mental Health Foundation. We can connect with its beauty in numerous ways, such as listening intently to birdsong in an otherwise quiet place, while touching the bark of trees. Listening to birdsong The Alzheimer’s Society says birdwatching and listening to birdsong provide great pleasure for many people. They suggest getting out as much as possible, armed with a book with clear pictures to help identify the species. You can take some binoculars along to spot birds farther afield. The society also suggests joining in with the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch, which is taking place this year from 28th to 30th January. Everyone all over the UK is invited to take part. All you need to do is count the birds you see in your garden, local park, or any outdoor location, for one hour during the three-day event. The annual Birdwatch is aimed at halting the decline of the wild bird population, as shockingly, we have lost 38 million birds in the UK alone during the past 50 years. It is crucial for organisations such as this to find out why, so that we may monitor the surviving population and look after our birdlife. Birdwatching for kids The Down’s Syndrome Association says birdwatching is a great activity for children with Down Syndrome. Their interest can be awakened by helping them to discover birds in their own garden. By buying kids a book on birds, this can help them identify blue tits, blackbirds, wrens, robins, pigeons, magpies and other species commonly seen in the UK. Attract our feathered friends to your garden by putting out feeders and let the children fill them up regularly with seeds and nuts. Children are also encouraged to participate in the Big Garden Birdwatch. The DSA says getting the kids outdoors is very important, as it fires their imagination, sparks their curiosity and gets them in touch with nature. Disabled access The RSPB has made every effort to ensure birdwatching in the UK is accessible for everyone, including those with a disability. It has liaised with Birding for All, the charity formerly known as the Disabled Birders’ Association, to improve access to nature reserves and other facilities. RSPB reserves all have different experiences for visitors in terms of the onsite facilities, so the charity has published updated information on its website, so you know what to expect across the whole UK-wide network of reserves. On the larger nature reserves, visitors might typically find staff and volunteers on hand with help and advice seven days a week. There are also more comfortable visitor centres and cafes with toilets that are accessible for people who use wheelchairs. People with disabilities should not be discriminated against. They need to be able to enjoy birdwatching, which is a staple of British leisure pastimes.
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