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.
The 100th birthday of the National Park Service (NPS) will be commemorated next week on August 25th. In honor of the centennial, the NPS will waive entrance fees at all 59 national parks across the country from August 25-28. Events will take place across the nation's parks—including a U.S. citizenship and immigration service naturalization ceremony at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia and an evening of memorable performances at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
The nation's first park with the specific goal of connecting children to nature recently opened in Indiana. The park, the Children of Indiana Nature Park, allows all k-12 students in Indiana to visit the park's website to download a free deed with GPS coordinates to a specific area of the Children of Indiana Nature Park to visit.
Parents living in a condominium complex in Carmel Valley, CA win a lawsuit that claims the condo management discriminated against children with a policy forbidding children from playing outside without an adult. The families claimed that the condo management would send the children home if they were found playing outside unsupervised and would then serve an eviction notice to parents if the outdoor play continued. The two sides reached a settlement agreement that pays families up to $3,000.
Eighteen youths participating in the Fresh Tracks Leadership Expedition learned how to surf on LA's Zuma Beach with the Surfrider Foundation. The youths were also instructed in beach and ocean conservation. Hailing from Compton, LA and Alaska, the youths are participating in a unique leadership program that focuses on cultural sharing, education, service, preserving the environment and becoming leaders.
Over 10,000 homeless youths live in the Los Angeles area, surrounded by nature but a world apart from experiencing it. The Los Angeles Youth Network, LAYN, provides a safe place for the teens to live along with therapy, guidance—and now an outdoors program. A partnership with the org takes a group of homeless kids on their first-ever camping trip.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced her support for the "Save Outdoor School for All" ballot measure this week, stating that spending time outdoors is the best way bond with the natural environment and instill values of conservation in children. The measure highlights the importance of outdoor education for Oregon’s children. Oregon’s Outdoor School program has been recognized as a ground-breaking way to strengthen and preserve children’s connection to the natural world.
The Louisville-based insurer, Humana Inc., has started a program aimed at getting people to spend more time outdoors. The program, called Park Rx, would let a doctor write a "prescription" for a trip to a local park to help people to think about time in nature as being as critical to their health as medication. Humana hopes that the data gathered from the program will show the need for additional, larger clinical studies examining the health benefits of time in nature.
The University of Western Australia is teaming up with partners in the early education and care sector to find ways to improve young's children's physical activity, health and development. Among other objectives, researchers say the new research will look at how upgrades to outdoor play spaces at early education facilities impact children's physical activity. The study follows a pilot study that found 82 percent of children attending childcare were not meeting national physical activity guidelines.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will host " Take a Child Outside Week" from September 24 to September 30. The goal of the initiative is to “help children across the country develop a better understanding and appreciation of the environment in which they live” and will include workshops and other events.
A leading family doctor in the UK says the popular reality game, "Pokémon GO," can encourage children to play outside, thus helping improve children's health. General Practitioner Dr. Margaret McCartney expressed her views on the positive benefits of the game in the British Medical Journal, calling Britain’s streets a “reclaimed playground” of social interaction and old fashioned values thanks to the new game.
Nearly 20 youths, half from inner city LA and half from rural Alaska, set off for the Fresh Tracks Leadership Expedition this week. The expedition, which aims to introduce members of different cultures to each other and to new environments, launched at IslandWood, an outdoor learning center on Bainbridge Island, WA. IslandWood, the Sierra Club and the Children & Nature Network are partners of Fresh Tracks.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spent five days on a Colorado River trip with a group of 15 high school students, well out of cell phone and internet range. The goal of Jewell's trip was to engage more young people in the protection of public lands and to foster a connection to nature at a time when technology increasingly dominates the lives of youth.
A group of students in Massachusetts created a summer camp program focused on the effects of nature-deficit disorder and ways to combat it. The student-driven program involves groups of students taking on different challenges of the problem and exploring local solutions to ensure more contact with nature.
A leader of the children and nature movement in Texas is named BRIT’s 2016 recipient of the International Award of Excellence in Conservation. Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), has worked throughout his career to introduce millions of children and adults to the wonders of Texas’ wild places and wild things.
Driven by community funding and planning, six elementary schools in Northwest Philadelphia will be breaking up the asphalt in their playgrounds in place of gardens and wooden equipment. The effort to green the schoolyards is especially important for underprivileged students who may not have easy access to nature.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed legislation mandating at least 20 consecutive minutes of free play for every child, every day in elementary schools. The law allows school systems to count recess as instructional time so they do not have to extend the school day to meet the requirement.
Researchers at UK-based Plymouth University released a report urging policymakers to adopt outdoor learning into national curricula. The researchers noted that the benefits of outdoor learning are widely known, yet the loss of exposure to the natural environment will likely have negative long-term consequences if action is not taken.