Former first lady Laura Bush highlighted the decline in the amount of time that children spend outdoors today and the impact on their health during an address at "A Natural Connection: Exploring Positive Outcomes in Health & Healing through Nature”, an ongoing symposia focused on bringing awareness of natural resource issues to new audiences in both rural and urban areas. More than 250 statewide conservationists, business leaders, clinicians, and researchers attended the event at Houston Methodist.
50 organizations from across the United States will receive a grant to implement an innovative play space in their city through KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting play in underserved communities. The winners of the grants will develop and install their innovative play space designs throughout the fall and spring.
Kids who spend more time outdoors seem to gain a boost in their peer relations, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. Overall, children who spent more time outdoors were less likely to have peer relationship problems and better psychosocial health, based on scores such as functioning and aggression.
Take A Child Outside week starts tomorrow and runs through next week. The program, inspired by the book “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, is designed to encourage children and adults to spend time together outdoors. Take A Child Outside week is an initiative of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and held in cooperation with partner organizations worldwide.
A new book “Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World” suggests that children should be allowed to get dirty when they play. The book’s authors present evidence that suggests that keeping children too clean shields them from certain microbes that are essential for a healthy immune system.
The Children & Nature Network announces the launch of its new Research Library to synthesize the latest research around nature’s impact on children’s learning and educational outcomes. This expertly curated, free resource offers robust search functionality to help users find scientific evidence about the benefits of increased nature access for children, families and communities.
With support from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF), Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoos and aquariums will receive a combined total of $270,000 to encourage family nature play and conservation education. The Nature Play grants are intended to provide financial, logistical and creative support to increase or enhance family-centered nature experiences in communities. The program is a partnership with the Children & Nature Network, building on its successful Family Nature Club initiative.
A park is St. Paul is showing its true grassroots. The park in the St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood is being designed by the local community as well as students at nearby Gordon Parks High School with the goal that the park reflect the needs and desires of the local community, rather than a central park planner. The park is expected to open sometime in 2019.
Park Prescriptions, programs designed in collaboration with healthcare providers and community partners that utilize parks, trails, and open space for the purpose of improving individual and community health, are becoming more popular around the country. To educate about the program, the National ParkRx Initiative will host a series of free webinars throughout the fall. The National ParkRx Initiative is led by NRPA, the Institute at the Golden Gate and the National Park Service.
With increasing awareness of the benefits of natural play for the psychological and physical health of children, the forest school movement is growing around the world. From publicly-funded forest kindergartens in Finland to a wave of forest school programs in New England, more children are experiencing the benefits of natural play in early childhood through these programs.
New research from the University of Loughborough indicates that children’s mobility levels are at an all-time low, with a concerning number of four-year-olds not physically ready to start school. A key finding of the research is that a high number of children studied experienced balance and coordination problems, ultimately affecting their ability to learn in class. The experts associate the alarming results with a decline in physical activity and an increase in screen-associated activities.
To address the dire shortage of young farmers, the nonprofit, the Young Farmers Coalition, is pushing Congress and individual state legislatures to add farming to the list of public service jobs as well as to include young farmers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The hope is that loan forgiveness will help farming become a more viable option for college students and help develop the next generation of farmers.
The Natural Connections Demonstration Project recently released findings from a four-year initiative to help school children – particularly those from disadvantaged areas – experience the benefits of the natural environment by empowering teachers to use the outdoors to support everyday learning. Commissioned by Natural England, the project worked with 125 schools from across the southwest of England to embed outdoor learning into their school culture. The project provides strong evidence that learning outdoors has multiple benefits for school children with 92 percent of teachers surveyed responding that pupils were more engaged with learning when outdoors and 85 percent seeing a positive impact on their behavior.
A Seattle program called “Play Streets" encourages kids to play outside on city streets without cars. The program allows neighborhoods to turn away cars in favor of play time. Neighbors set up signs at both ends of the block and the kids are able to play freely and safely. Play Streets have been set up on hundreds of streets throughout the city through spring and summer this year.
Like city parks, urban forests bring a host of benefits to communities, including better health and development for children. A new plan from the National Urban and Community Advisory Council says that more communities should adopt policies that include urban and community forestry plans and recommends increasing the annual investment in urban and community forestry to $85 million.
Experts weigh in on the health benefits of national parks to children and the community including increasing health equity, promoting physical activity, fostering cognitive development and reducing symptoms of disorders like ADHD.
An increasing disconnection from nature is affecting children's physical health, mental health and behavior, say experts recently gathered at Nature Play WA’s inaugural Children and Nature Conference in Perth, Australia. The conference, attracting specialists from around the world, was the first ever of its kind held in Western Australia and focused on the topic of the benefits of nature to children.
The end of summer shouldn’t mean the end of time outdoors for children. In this Associated Press piece, C&NNs Richard Louv and Sarah Milligan-Toffler discuss the importance of keeping nature experiences going, and how schools can offer bountiful opportunities to expose kids to nature.
As the National Park Service marks its 100th birthday this week, the agency has made an active push to engage two groups it's had trouble connecting with in the past — kids and minorities. City Kids Wilderness Project, a DC-based non-profit organization aimed at getting inner-city youth off the streets and into the great outdoors, has had success helping the most vulnerable kids get out into nature.
A recent survey finds that 94% of parents would like schools to help their kids get outside and discover nature. The survey, conducted by the organic food company Nature's Path, prompted the manufacturer to launch a free outdoor nature discovery program for schools and camps blending tactical hands-on discovery with geocaching.