Climate change, the economic benefits of National Parks and the role of the next generation in protecting public lands were the focus of President Obama's speech during his visit last week to Yellowstone National Park. Participants of Fresh Tracks, a leadership development and cultural exchange program, were among the attendees at the event. Fresh Tracks is a joint initiative of C&NN's Natural Leaders, the Sierra Club, Islandwood, REI and Zumiez.
The Brazilian Instituto Alana releases the Children and Nature Project to reconnect kids with natural environment. The initial phase of the project was the Children and Nature Seminar last week in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
There's a growing disconnect of children from nature, particularly among children of color. C&NN's recent annual conference highlighted the importance of addressing race and equity issues in the movement to expand children's access to nature.
A multi-year UC Berkeley research project aims to learn about the effects that experiences in nature can have on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in UC Berkeley student veterans. At least 400,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland learn that children who focus more on physical activities, especially outdoor games, will have improved academic successes and reduced obesity level at an early age.
In some Massachusetts schools, gardening programs are starting to blossom. Educators see gardens as a useful teaching tool for nontraditional learners, as well as providing opportunities for self-directed learning
The First Family will visit two National Parks this weekend to help celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday, highlight the need to protect our environment for future generations, and reflect on the diversity that makes our country so unique. C&NN is thrilled that our own Juan Martinez, Director of the Natural Leaders Network, will join the First Family in Yosemite this weekend, along with youth and partners from the joint initiative, Fresh Tracks.
More than 100 Nature Play Days are taking place across the state of Indiana this week. Hosted by the Indiana Children and Nature Network, the week-long event offers kids and families an opportunity to get outside through activities at parks, camps, and other venues. The goal of the state-wide event is to help educate the public about the benefits of the outdoors on children physically, intellectually and emotionally.
In Bucharest, a one-time grand project envisioned by communist leaders is abandoned by humans only to be reconquered by nature and wildlife. Nearly thirty years later, the wild wetland of Văcărești is a symbol of nature’s resilience as well as one of the largest urban nature parks in Europe. Last month, following a four-year campaign led by a small but determined group of environmental activists, the government granted the park protected status.
The Netherlands holds its ninth annual “Play Outside Day," a national effort to encourage Dutch children to play outside. The national campaign, initiated by the organization Jantje Beton and the children’s channel Nickelodeon, includes activities organized around the country by parents, community groups, schools and children themselves. On “Play Outside Day," Nickelodeon does not broadcast children's programs.
The city of Richmond was chosen as one of 50 cities nationwide to receive extra funding to encourage young people to get outside. Selected by the Department of the Interior, the effort is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative and is funded through $5 million from the American Express Foundation and the Department of the Interior. In Richmond, the funding will help support YMCA positions, including a community coordinator to help bring different organizations’ resources together.
Turkey's largest indoor children's play center recently opened in the Antalya Metropolitan Municipality. The center, which aims to offer children in Antalya a chance to play freely, features 21 playgrounds along with a rope platform, the second-largest trampoline in Europe and a special outdoor play area. With a goal of being family-friendly, the play center features cafes, an infant care room, a clinic as well as a mosque.
A Trust for Public Land study of US big city parkland reveals a divide in California's Orange County between communities that are meeting the public's need for parks and those that are not. Based on mapping technology and demographic data, the city of Santa Ana's ParkScore Index came in at 83rd out of 100 cities while Irvine ranked in the top ten. Irvine spent five times as much as Santa Ana did per resident on parks. Numerous studies have shown that access to parks is a key determinant in the overall health of a community.
A program in the city of Madison aims to preserve parks and build nature connections with a nature-mentoring program between middle schoolers and college seniors. The program is just one of many in the greater Madison area designed to connect urban and minority children to nature. Madison was one of seven cities nationally selected to participate in the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative which is focused on getting urban youths to spend more time in green space.
The Australian Institute for Landscape Architects awards Nature Play, a Melbourne children's natural playground, with the title of the nation's best playground. The playground, designed to encourage risk-taking during play, is next to the Royal Children's Hospital in Royal Park. Nature Play was designed to help kids, particularly children from the inner city, find an element of unpredictable play through natural features such as rocky outcropped terraces and climbing ropes.
The Trust for Public Land's 2016 ParkScore rankings give top spots to Minneapolis and St. Paul's park systems. The index, which ranks park systems belonging to the 100 most populous American cities, is based on criteria including the distance city residents must walk to access the nearest public green space, total amount of land within a city that’s dedicated to parks, park spending per resident and the availability of park amenities.
The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is making an investment in outdoor classrooms to counter nature deficit disorder. Educators hope the outdoor learning environment will help reduce anxiety in students.
Over 600 policymakers, health care professionals, educators, grassroots organizers and others from 18 countries gathered in St. Paul, MN this week for the Children & Nature Network 2016 International Conference and Cities & Nature Summit. The group convened to explore the challenges, and needed actions, to get more kids outside. Speakers included author and C&NN Co-Founder Richard Louv, Native American activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and health policy expert from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Gail Christopher.
Calgary goes natural! Two Calgary parks will soon be getting makeovers. Instead of traditional equipment like swings, slides and monkey bars, the playgrounds could feature natural play elements such as plants, boulders, wood and sand. Natural playgrounds aim to inspire active, imaginative and self-directed outdoor play.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, finds that America’s senior citizens make up just 4 percent of park users. The study also found that park usage was lower in lower-income neighborhoods even when the size of the park and the facilities were comparable to parks in more affluent neighborhoods.