Mini-documentary on cities, children and the need for nature

Published February 22, 2022

Following the launch last year of the documentary The Beginning of Life 2 – Outside (O Começo da Vida 2 – Lá Fora), the filmmakers have made available a series of mini-documentaries including Cities and children: a better place for everyone.

This five-minute film features the testimony of experts including the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s  Executive Director, Cecilia Vaca Jones and Michael Feigelson, Chief Executive Officer of the Van Leer Group. It explains why it is a problem that so many cities are built around cars, and how interventions such as improving walkability can make urban life better not only for children but for all citizens.

The Beginning of Life 2 – Outside is a follow-up to The Beginning of Life, launched in 2016 with support from the Bernard van Leer Foundation and others. Both films combine interviews with experts and footage of families: the first film focuses broadly on how children’s environment during the early years can shape their cognitive, emotional and social development; the sequel explores specifically how contact with nature is critical to children’s development.

Another of the expert contributors to the short film Cities and children is Laís Fleury, former Coordinator of the Children and Nature Program at Alana Institute. Writing about The Beginning of Life 2, she explained in the 2020 edition of Early Childhood Matters that “documentaries are effective in catalysing changes in culture: powerful and inspiring stories can be tools of empathy and transformation”.

The Beginning of Life 2 is a partnership of the Alana Institute with Maria Farinha Filmes and Flow, with sponsors including Boticario Group Foundation, UN Environment, Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation, and the Children and Nature Network. The Beginning of Life 2 can be found on Netflix and other video-on-demand platforms.

Watch the mini-documentary Cities and children: a better place for everyone: