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Updated: 20 min 26 sec ago
A survey of 1,000 U.S. parents conducted on behalf of the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) found that eighty percent of parents said their kids enjoy playing outdoors significantly more than playing indoors. Research from the inaugural Voice of Play Parent Survey finds that kids, on average, are playing four days per week. The survey also uncovered generational differences among parents in play attitudes and behaviors, highlighting an opportunity for increased education on why play is critically important.
In the UK, a petition to the government was recently launched calling for the development of a General Certificate of Secondary Education in natural history. The petition hopes to make nature part of British society again. According to the petition, natural history should not be folded into biology but should stand on its own.
Denver, Colorado is making a shift to natural playgrounds. The city’s Parks and Recreation department is focusing on nature play options in its parks with multiple natural playground projects planned. Natural playgrounds, made of recycled trees and boulders, have become a popular option over traditional playgrounds with slides, monkey bars and swings.
Students in the UK will have more opportunities to learn outside, thanks to the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. The organization has launched a project to offer a range of outdoor learning opportunities to primary and secondary schools in the South Yorkshire area as well as outdoor learning training for teachers. Organizers say the effort will boost children’s education by giving them hands-on experience of the wild world.
Brief but intense doses of physical activity could be part of a ‘prescription’ for children to achieve or maintain cardiac and metabolic health. An international study led by a researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that as little as 10 minutes a day of high-intensity physical activity could help some children reduce their risk of developing heart problems and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
A study team of 11 researchers at the Institute for European environmental policy (IEEP) found that nature is an under-recognised healer, offering multiple health benefits from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental wellbeing. The study found that people living close to trees and green spaces are less likely to be obese, inactive, or dependent on anti-depressants. The study team spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report, which is the most wide-ranging probe yet into the dynamics of health, nature and wellbeing.
A new study from thw University of British Columbia suggests that developing positive experiences in nature at a young age can influence attitudes and behaviors towards nature as adults. The study researchers interviewed 50 university students between the ages of 18 to 25. Of the group, 87 percent of study respondents who played outside as children expressed a continued love of nature as young adults. Of that group, 84 percent said taking care of the environment was a priority.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.