May 142013

Face to face empathic communication is essential for our health.  Barbara Fredrickson, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, writes in the New York Times about the cost of instant electronic media on our well being.  Technology has assisted us in communicating more rapidly – the question is how do we balance our increasing reliance on technology with time for meaningful, loving kindness interactions.

Soon to be released ‘Spontaneous Acts of Love’, Meditations and Reflections for Parents, by Jane Hanckel, part of the Eco Parenting Series, provides an invaluable resource for contemplative connected parenting.

“All around you are the keys to knowing – in nature, in the arts and crafts of the generations before us. Be open to the beauty that surrounds you. In that beauty the wonder and mystery of the Earth are revealed.”



Jan 202012

There is a need for the growing body of scientific evidence, linking obesity and other chronic diseases to toxins in our environment, to become acknowledged in public policy.

This was highlighted in the letter, Metabolic Lottery, (1) in the Sydney Morning Herald – ‘obesity is due to metabolic damage wrought by a food supply high in toxins and low in nutrients’.  In the past year $36 billion has been spent cost on treating obesity-related ailments. 25% of children in Australia are overweight or obese. ‘In 1985, the proportion of overweight or obese Australian children (7-to-15-year-olds) was 11.1 per cent. If the trend continues, 65 per cent of Australian children will be overweight or obese by 2020.’ (2)

In ‘Eco Parenting – Growing Greener Children.’ Jane Hanckel provides easy access to information about everyday toxins in our environment and presents an eco parenting model to help parents make healthy choices for their children and their families.

(1) Metabolic lottery‘The fortunate choose foods low in toxins and high in nutrients. The determined starve themselves and exercise frantically. The majority play the metabolic lottery which has many losers. It will be a dark day when our governments begin penalising those losers while still subsidising the toxic food supply.’  Dr Dave Liddy Belrose


Sep 212011


‘What is the extinction of a condor to a child who has never seen a wren?’ asks Robert Michael Pyle, naturalist and environmentalist.

Robert Pyle in conversation with Jane Hanckel in Byron Bay, Australia discussed ‘Where will future stewards of nature come from?‘ and other questions about children and nature.

Topics included the shrinkage of natural play spaces in western countries, identifying nature, containerised kids, mental health and natural settings, naturalist intelligence and the genius of childhood – how nature nurtures creativity

The subject of children’s attention span and relationship with nature was one of the topics raised.    Richard Louv in his bestselling book “Last Child Left in the Wood, Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disordernotes that ‘green spaces may enable children to think more clearly and cope more effectively with life stress…and that being close to nature, in general, helps boost a child’s attention span.’

Louv’s book, ‘Last Child Left in the Wood’ has  sparked a movement ‘No child left inside’ and the ‘Children’s Nature Network’..

Eco parenting run eco parenting groups and provide training and education to support parents to encourage their children to have closer connection with nature.  Working with the principle of the naturing effects of nature, the programs use only natural materials in indoor play spaces.  The change of behaviour of the parents and children attending such programs is extraordinary.  Children who have been labelled difficult or behaviourly challenged play quietly and cooperatively in a nature based environment.  See ‘We packed away all the plastic’.  We need to be taking these ways of working with children into our own homes for the wellbeing of our children.

Sep 062011


Delta Kay, Byron Bay Arakwal spokesperson, works as a Aboriginal Family Support Worker with the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative in Northern NSW, Australia. She describes the phenomenal change in the behaviour of children when all the plastics were removed from playgroup and replaced with natural wooden toys and other natural materials at the launch of the eco parenting book series in Byron Bay in August, 2011.

“We packed away all the plastic and brought out all the wood and everything changed. Their children’s behaviour changed and I watched how the parents changed. Parents couldn’t believe their children’s behaviour by putting plastic away.

In 2009 the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative, Ballina, Northern NSW, invited Jane Hanckel and the Inspir=Ed project to run a nine week parent education program along with a professional development program for Aboriginal health and early childhood professionals.  Following a makeover of the playgroup room which involved throwing out old toys and equipment, painting the playgroup room a soft calming light pink and packing away all the plastic the parents and children were welcomed by the quite calming environment.  Over the nine weeks parents and children learnt new parenting skills in a warm and supportive environment.  As Delta describes, the changes in the behaviour of the children and parents was extraordinary.  From running around and climbing the walls the children played happily and cooperatively with each other.  The children and parents learnt new songs and foods to eat creating a stronger sense of connection to each other and the community.

The work with Delta, Bunjum and other communities was one of the inspirations for Jane to write ‘eco parenting – growing greeener children’.  “I witnessed at Bunjum and other communities how by simply changing the environment by removing plastics and creating calm and nurturing spaces the relationship and behaviour of children and parents change.  In a world where children are increasingly being medicated for dysfunctional behaviour, it is so important to look at the environments along with diet and lifestyle, before resorting to medical intervention.”

Jane Hanckel and Thanh Cherry, international Steiner Waldorf early childhood educator, run training workshops for health and early childhood professionals.  Jane co-founded the Spirit of Childhood Foundation to run Inspir=Ed programs in communities across Australia.




Aug 122011

Natasha Hanckel-Spice, Ray Moynihan and Jane Hanckel at eco parenting book launch

The weather was warm and sunny on Saturday August 6th for the launch of the first two books in the eco parenting series at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Derek Spice the co-founder of Inspir=Ed and the Spirit of Childhood Foundation  gave a short introduction to the launch.

Delta Kay, an Arakwal spokesperson and one of the Aboriginal custodians of Byron Bay provided a welcome to country.

Delta Kay at the launch of the eco parenting book series

Delta is also an early childhood support worker.  Delta and I have worked together running the Inspir=Ed early childhood programs using the eco parenting principles at the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative in Ballina.  Delta spoke movingly about how the programs have helped parents gain new and valuable parenting skills and knowledge to support healthy outcomes for their children.

After the welcome to country MC Natasha Hanckel-Spice introduced Ray Moynihan who officially launched the books.

Ray is an inspiring award-winning journalist, author, documentary-maker, academic researcher and a journalist with Byron Bay’s local independent paper The Echo as well as a writer for the British Medical Journal, Radio New Zealand and other media around Australia.

Ray Moynihan launching the eco parenting series

Ray’s 2005 book Selling Sickness’has been translated into over a dozen languages. In late 2010 he released his fourth book, ‘Sex, Lies & Pharmaceuticals’ which further explores the very close links between pharmaceutical companies and some of the recent medical ‘breakthroughs’ that have been made.  Ray related how witnessing the diagnosis and prescibing of a child with borderline ADHD was one of the turning points in his career leading to his important work investigating the link between doctors and the pharmaceutical companies.

Next to join the conversation was Jo Immig.  Jo is an ecologist, freelance writer and researcher. She is also the Coordinator and spokesperson for the National Toxics Network in Australia, a community group fighting for pollution reduction and raising awareness about environmental health.

Jo Immig talks about children and the environment

Jo has authored three books including ‘Toxic Playgrounds’.   She has recently been campaigning for authorities to recognise the connection between the spraying of macadamia farms in the Lismore area with the rise in a birth defect among babies born in the Northern Rivers.  Jo provided extremely valuable input in the final stages of the ‘growing greener children’ book through her extensive experience in researching the links between the toxins in the environment and human health.

The panel discussion included how plastics have become so prevalent in childhood and the links to hormonal disruption, ADHD and other illnesses.  It was the opportunity to quote from the chapter on environmental triggers.  “American writer Norman Mailer called plastic ‘the excrement of the oil’. He warned about the cost of reliance on this cheap, ubiquitous material and the deadening of our senses. ‘Mailer also saw a link between violence and plastic. He argued that extreme actions were part of a search to discover the senses.’”

There were many questions from the audience which included a suggestion for one of the next books in the series – how to raise healthy young teengage girls in the midst of much peer and media pressure to use potentially toxic personal care products.