LEARN | CONNECT | ACT
Updated: 1 hour 24 min ago
A new declaration from the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) states that, while promoting risk-taking on school grounds may raise questions of liability for schools and concerns for parents, it is essential for the development of healthy young people. The declaration, which was made available in 13 different languages, cites research from around the world demonstrating the benefits of risk-taking and showing that an indiscriminate risk-minimization policy can be a source of harm.
While the academic benefits of school gardens for students have become more widely accepted in recent years, the social and emotional benefits are often overlooked. Numerous studies of school gardens show improvements in students’ feelings of well-being and therefore, ability to learn.
A study found that children in Hong Kong are not getting enough outdoor playtime. Nearly half of the children in the study were taken to outdoor playgrounds fewer than four times a month. The study results have prompted the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children to warn against the detrimental effects of such little outdoor time on children's social, cognitive and physical developments and urge parents to ensure that children get at least an hour of free playtime daily. Experts say playground facilities in Hong Kong are not child-friendly, nor do they appeal to a wide range of ages.
Over 500 Queensland, Australia schools will hold classes outdoors on September 7th as part of the state’s first Outdoor Classroom Day. The organization, Nature Play QLD, says the event will involve more than 49,000 students in 2172 classes and will prompt schools to make outside lessons part of their regular curriculum in order to boost children’s physical activity.
Scotland's new "Away and Play” initiative will highlight the importance of unstructured play for kids' health, risk-taking, creative thinking, and teamwork. The year-long "Away and Play” initiative will be led by the charity, Inspiring Scotland, which aims to tackle some of Scotland’s toughest, long-term social problems. The charity cites global studies which provide evidence that play helps children as they grow up and can lead to more innovative, creative and caring societies in the future.
To mark the 101st birthday of the National Park Service, NPS is launching a “Parks 101” campaign enlisting celebrities as ambassadors for the parks. Parks 101 ambassadors include cast members from the cable show “Queen Sugar," Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Keri Hilson. While the National Park Service hosted a record number of visits last year, half of those were in just 26 of the system’s superstar destinations like the Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite and Yellowstone. This year’s effort highlights lesser known treasures that even locals might not know about.
A team of researchers at the University of Washington have recently published a research agenda on nature contact and health with the aim of identifying key questions related to the health benefits of nature for future research attention. According to the researchers, though much scientific evidence of the health benefits of nature is already available, much remains unknown.
Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) boosts children’s brain power. In the first study of its kind, researchers discovered this type of exercise - which involves short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by a brief low-intensity activity - was shown to increase cognitive skills more than moderate activity. Previous studies have suggested that long, sustained workout sessions, performed at a moderate intensity for 30 to 40 minutes, are most beneficial to learning and memory.
A University of Wollongong (UOW) researcher will examine whether urban green spaces play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Astell-Burt will collaborate with city and green space planners, clinicians and other leading international researchers to look at the possible benefits of nature for Alzheimer’s disease. Astell-Burt says that, while knowledge of the general health benefits of green spaces is growing, there has been little epidemiological investigation into green spaces in relation to Alzheimer’s disease.
The NSF-funded Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network will publish a special issue of the open-access journal "Frontiers" on the field of learning and nature. The journal will be curated by Network members, titled "The Natural World as a Resource for Learning and Development: From Schoolyards to Wilderness." Researchers are invited to submit papers to the journal.
Ireland's National Heritage Week in August will feature "Wild Child Day" on Wednesday, August 23rd, to celebrate the importance of experiencing freedom in nature for children. The event is an effort to change attitudes and make families feel more at ease in the outdoors. A 2015 study "Children Outdoors" confirmed that a disconnection from nature is seen in both children and young parents across the island.
A survey of parents in Wales revealed that nearly a third of children under five (29 per cent) aren’t getting the time outdoors that they need. The same survey found that almost all parents in Wales (97 per cent) think it is important for their child to play outdoors every day. Based on the findings, the group Public Health Wales recommends that children play outdoors for at least three hours of active play per day.
A new study using GPS data from kids’ smartphones to track their movements found that youth spend less time in their neighborhoods if area residents have a high fear of crime. Researchers at The Ohio State University found that adolescents aged 11 to 17 spent over an hour less each day on average in their neighborhoods if residents there were very fearful, compared to kids from areas perceived as being safer. Higher fear of crime was linked to high-poverty neighborhoods.
To help address the problem of clothing and textile waste (85 percent of clothing and textiles in the United States ends up in landfills), Columbia Sportswear has relaunched the ReThreads program—a special initiative designed to simplify post-consumer recycling. From August 9th through September 10th, 2017, for every pound of clothing brought to a U.S. Columbia branded store and Outlet for recycling, Columbia will donate $1 to one of three charities. The Children & Nature Network is one of the three charities included in the program.
The company, Tinkergarten, which operates a network of outdoor-based classes for young children, recently raised $5.4 million from outside investors. Tinkergarten offers a play-based, outdoor-learning curriculum designed for children as young as 18 months to 8 years old. Tinkergarten is just the latest in a string of early-childhood startups that have raised venture capital this year.
Youth Outside, an organization which supports outdoor and environmental programs and organizations in northern and central California, has just released a case study on cultural relevancy, equity, and inclusion. The case study summarizes lessons learned by both Youth Outside and the program participants, and explores the potential of the model to support others in the field, in addition to a broader application in other sectors.
Australia will celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day on September 7th, a global movement in which millions of educators, kids and parents are expected to participate. With Australian kids spending less than two hours a day outdoors, the effort is designed to demonstrate the benefits of outdoor play and learning.
A new study conducted by the U.S. toy company Melissa and Doug and survey company Gallup found that, although parents prefer that their children engage in outdoor play, screen-based play actually dominates their children’s play activities. Researchers surveyed 1,200 families from all 50 U.S.states to learn about activity patterns for the survey results.
A new report published by the U.K. organization, Playing Out, finds that children playing outside are healthier and more active than their counterparts who predominantly play inside. According to the report, allowing children to play safely outdoors leads to happier kids and happier, more cohesive communities.
A report by the University of Bristol shows that playing outside, aided by planned street closures, helps to increase children's physical activity. The report confirms that temporary street closures help children meet a daily target of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. The insights are based on the highly successful "Street Play" project, in which a network of over 5,000 volunteers hold regular street closures to enable children to play outside.