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.
In an effort to fill huge holes in park budgets, the National Park Service may soon allow corporate sponsorships and branding opportunities in the parks. National Parks have been a long-time haven from commercialization. Proponents say, in addition to the financial benefits, the sponsorships could help increase the visibility of the park service, especially among young visitors, a demographic the park service is having a hard time attracting.
More than one hundred U.S. national parks and partner sites are hosting a nationwide BioBlitz (a widespread effort to gather data on all sorts of species) across America this weekend. The National Parks BioBlitz will be held on May 20th and 21st across the country, with tens of thousands of people expected to participate. This year's BioBlitz is the tenth in a series of BioBlitzes hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Geographic Society.
Researchers in Ontario are breaking new ground with an innovative study that will investigate the impact of regular learning time outdoors in nature. Six classes in three schools will participate in the two-year study, which is being conducted in partnership with the Back to Nature Network.
A study on the pervasiveness of gadgets in the lives of British children finds that most children start using tablets by the age of two and receive a smartphone when they are seven. Researchers polled 2,185 parents as part of a study which questioned parents on the technology habits of their children.
REI took top honors for its #OptOutside campaign, in which the retailer closed its doors on Black Friday of last year, giving each of its 12,000 employees a paid day off, suspended e-commerce and encouraged consumers and its own employees to connect with nature. The campaign won Best of Show at the One Club's 2016 One Show.
A survey in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, finds that most residents believe the city is not child-friendly. Well over half of the people surveyed said there were no nearby playgrounds for children and, where people do have access to existing playgrounds, over half of all respondents say the playgrounds are not suitable for children to play in.
A new program in Washington D.C public schools will teach second graders to ride a bike during school. The school district, with assistance from the District Department of Transportation and some private donors, bought 1,000 bikes that will rotate from school to school throughout the year. Kids will hop on their bikes and pedal around the gym or playground learning how to start, stop and not fall off as well as basic bike care.
A coalition of more than 30 civil rights, environmental justice and conservation groups is pushing for greater efforts to promote diversity in Rocky Mountain National Park and other national parks and public lands. The coalition, which includes the National Urban League and League of United Latin American Citizens, called on President Barack Obama late last month to issue a memorandum on the centennial of the park service Aug. 25 that encourages federal land management agencies to reflect the growing diversity of the country.
A new study finds that Korean children aged 3-9 spend an average of 34 minutes outside each day, significantly less than children in other countries. The study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Research, questioned 8,000 youths aged 18 and younger between 2013 and 2015 to find out the extent to which children are exposed to the environment. The state-run institute said that Korean children are more likely to stay indoors due to time spent on private education and digital technology in their spare time.
The California city of Compton becomes one of nearly 250 cities, towns, counties, and tribal nations to accept President Obama’s challenge to execute a cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the development all young people with its participation in Fresh Tracks. Fresh Tracks is a cultural exchange program which exposes youth leaders to other cultures and excursions outdoors, while helping them build critical leadership and workforce development skills. C&NN is a proud partner of Fresh Tracks.
A new park in Tennessee is making outdoor play available to children of all abilities. Once complete, the park complex will feature a one-of-a-kind inclusive play playground, and a 1.2-mile American with Disabilities Act-compliant trail and reading garden.
Fresh Tracks Leadership Expeditions, a partnership between IslandWood, Sierra Club, Children & Nature Network, REI, and action sports retailer Zumiez launched this week in Compton, California. Inspired by the Obama Administration’s commitment to connecting more young Americans to the outdoors and in support of the goals of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, Fresh Tracks will enable young leaders from Compton and Arctic Alaska to experience diverse cultures, explore the outdoors, and build critical leadership and workforce development skills.
Saturday, May 21st marks the 6th Annual Kids to Parks Day. Headed by the National Park Trust, this year's Kids to Parks Day is expected to bring more than 600,000 people to park events across the country. Children & Nature Network is proud to be a supporter of Kids to Park Day.
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is set to receive $3.16 million in grants (more than $2 million is from federal sources, and more than $1 million is a result of private fundraising efforts) to support conservation employment and mentoring opportunities for youth at 60 projects on public lands nationwide this summer. Through the 21CSC, thousands of young adults and veterans will have the opportunity to work on projects across America's public lands, including maintaining campgrounds, preserving historic sites, monitoring water quality, building trails and more.
A Montreal suburb has drafted an initiative to designate certain streets as play zones that would allow kids and adults to play in the street from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. without getting ticketed by police. The initiative aims to encourage more residents to be physically active and to resist a trend in Quebec that bans playing in the street.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced that nearly $1 million in new grants will be going out to 19 outdoor education and recreation programs located in 14 counties across Washington State to help more children gain exposure to outdoor activities and supports the governor’s Healthiest Next Generation efforts to help kids be more active.
A new show from PBS, “10 Parks That Changed America," looks at the vital role that urban parks play in shaping the development of our cities as well as our interactions with parks and with each other. The show is available for viewing online on PBS.com.