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Connecting Kids to Nature through Skiing

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 7:00am
The New Jersey-based National Winter Activity Center (NWAC), a nonprofit geared toward raising the next generation of skiers and boarders, hopes to help urban youth learn the sport. Now in its third season, NWAC has grown from 800 kids in 2016 to 1,100 in 2017 and is now a laboratory for youth sports and wellness

In Chicago and Philadelphia, the Difference a Park Makes

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:06am
Chicago and Philadelphia are at the forefront of a growing, big-city trend of developing parks and public spaces for social and economic benefits. Aided by a longstanding tax that goes directly to parks, Chicago has been undertaking a major parks and open space program, upgrading neighborhood playgrounds and recreation centers, scooping up acres of disused land for new green areas and repurposing large swaths of formerly industrial waterfront.

New Zealand Kids Demand More Nature Play

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:05am
Children in Wellington, New Zealand voice their demand for more nature play spaces in a new Play Spaces Policy draft submitted to the Wellington City Council. The group, Wellington Playcentre Association, coordinated the effort as part of their larger effort to create a network of play spaces. The new policy does not focus on playgrounds, but rather emphasizes nature play including more natural sensory play opportunities and use of sustainable, natural materials and native planting where possible.

Watching Nature Documentaries Boosts Happiness, Says Study

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:57am
A recent study has found that tuning into nature documentaries can have an immediate impact on increasing happiness and reducing overall stress. The study was commissioned by the BBC to mark the launch of its new critically-acclaimed nature series "Planet Earth II.”

Improving Kids’ Health through Play

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:03am
In an effort to promote healthy habits, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix has implemented a new approach to screen time combining technology with physical activity. If children want screen time, they have to earn it with physical activity. A wearable tracking device worn on the wrist, provided to the Boys and Girls Clubs by Unitedhealthcare, keeps track of exercise or play activity. The more points the kids get, the more video time they get.

Optometrists Warn Myopia a ‘Looming Epidemic’ for Screen-Addicted Children

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:15am
Myopia is a “looming epidemic” with young children needing glasses sooner, according to experts in Australia. A decade ago, myopia tended to peak in children when they hit puberty, but optometrists are now reporting significant rates of the condition in children as young as five. Experts point to a decline in time outdoors in favor of screen time indoors as a factor damaging children’s eyes.

Melania Trump Says ‘Gift of Nature’ Can Help Heal

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:05am
First Lady Melania Trump says she is a passionate believer in the power of nature's elements in improving health and well-being. During a visit to New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, Ms. Trump told patients and doctors she believed nature could be "instrumental" to improving children's health.

Making a Case for Undeveloped Open Spaces

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:02am
Americans value undeveloped open spaces, according to a new poll from NRPA. More than four in five surveyed Americans agree that local governments should be setting aside land for the sheer purpose of preserving the natural landscape. Gender, age, region, household size and parental status had no effect on the outcome of the results.

National Park Week Is April 15-23

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:01am
National Park Week will focus on special activities during four fee-free days in mid-April. Parks around the country will offer a range of activities such as living history presentations, ranger-led astronomy programs and camping tutorials. During the week, several day-long celebrations are planned, including Junior Ranger Day, Earth Day and Park Rx Day, which will promote parks as places to attain physical and mental wellness.

Watching Garden Birds Is Good for Your Mental Health, Research Shows

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 10:13am
A new UK study finds that just being able to see birds, shrubs and trees can help mental health, even if people are not in a rural area. The academics found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon. It did not matter what species of bird they were watching.

Want Happy Kids? Give Them More Experiences and Less Stuff

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 10:09am
According to a new study, experiential gifts are more likely to build long-lasting memories for kids than material gifts because of the emotional connection that accompanies doing something rather than getting something. In addition, the type of experience matters less to children than the sense of connection it brings.

National Parks Saw a Record-setting Number of Visitors Last Year

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 10:06am
United States National Parks set attendance records in 2016. A new tally shows 330.97 million recreational visits to national parks last year, a 7.72% increase from the year before. National Park Service says the Find Your Park marketing campaign, designed around the 100th anniversary of the NPS’ creation, built on a five-year upswing in visitation nationwide.

The Secret History of ‘Pokemon G0’

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 10:05am
The creator of the wildly successful mobile game, Pokémon GO, says getting people outside was an original goal for the development of the game. Niantic CEO John Hanke revealed the “secret history” of Pokémon GO as part of his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday. Hanke said the creators hoped to create healthy, wholesome, play experiences.

Adaire Elementary Breaks Ground for New Green Space

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 9:03pm
Philadelphia’s Alexander Adaire Elementary School is getting a revitalized schoolyard which will feature new infrastructure designed to capture and reuse stormwater, a large rain garden with a nature trail, a toddler playground, and seating for community gathering. The new schoolyard is the product of a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Friends of Adaire, and the Trust for Public Land. The $1 million project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer and ready for use in the 2017-18 school year.

‘Forest Cities’: The Radical Plan to Save China From Air Pollution

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 8:58pm
Architect Stefano Boeri unveiled plans to create an entire forest city in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing with hundreds of biophilic buildings. Boeri says the first forest city could be built in China by 2020. Boeri described his “vertical forest” concept as the architectural equivalent of a skin graft, a targeted intervention designed to bring new life to a small corner of China’s polluted urban sprawl. His Milan-based practice claimed the buildings would suck 25 tons of carbon dioxide from Nanjing’s air each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen every day.

Hundreds of Schools in Islamabad to Be Made ‘Green Schools’

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 8:53pm
As part of the ‘Green Pakistan’ campaign, 422 public sector schools will be turned into ‘Green Schools’ through organized tree plantings. The Deputy Mayor of Islamabad made the announcement at the tree planting ceremony held by Pakistan Youth Climate Network (PYCN) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Climate Change. Under the national campaign, 257 million trees, a majority of which will be local and indigenous species will be planted across Pakistan.

The Trust for Public Land To Launch Park Information Database

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 11:08am
The Trust for Public Land will unveil a new, interactive platform that tracks urban park access nationwide, in spring 2017. When completed in 2018, the platform, called ParkServe, will include data from 13,931 cities and towns across the U.S., covering more than 80% of the U.S. population. The web-based tool will let people locate the park nearest to them, determine the percentage of residents who live within a 10-minute walk of a local park, and identify the neighborhoods most in need of new parks.

Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside Summit

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:35pm
Miami will host a Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside Summit on March 11th to connect inviting teachers, industry professionals and families to come together to discover new ways to connect children to nature. This year's summit is the sixth annual Leave No Child Inside Summit.

Gary Looking at Letting Some Parks Back to Nature

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:32pm
The city of Gary, Indiana is considering a reduction of its total number of parks, while revamping some that have been neglected for a long time. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the parks are being examined to see whether they are actually serving the residents in light of the decreased population of the city. Parks Superintendent McKenya Dilworth said as many as 20 of the city's 57 parks could be allowed to revert to their natural state, adding that any decision would be made in consultation with the council and residents.

New Milwaukee Park will be Sustainable, Eco-friendly… and Green

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:25pm
New plans are underway in Milwaukee for a new, super-green park intended for communities and families. The park, which will be built on a vacant lot, will be a “storm water park” that is sustainable and eco-friendly. The project is being overseen by the city’s Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) through a public-private partnership run by the ECO, which converts vacant lots into healthy green spaces to drive economic development and job creation and increase quality of life. Since the partnership started in 2014, the group has created 30 new pocket parks, orchards, and community gardens from more than 50 vacant lots.