The Good News ... Nov. 30, 2008

It is a matter of physical, and spiritual, and mental, and emotional health for children. It's an ongoing experience that aids in the development of healthy social relationships, strong self esteem, and the ability to take risks. It's a fundamental part of focusing cognitive functions, developing cooperative behavior, and eating a healthy diet. It's called: "playing outdoors," playing in Nature.

Research is confirming what many of us remember:

  • "The greener the neighborhood, the lower the risk of childhood obesity," Gilbert C. Liu, M.D., senior author of a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

  • "Play is a scaffold for (neural) development, a vehicle for increasing neural structures, and a means by which children practice skills they'll need later in life," Association for Childhood Education International.

  • "Nature is the most complex, information-rich system we'll ever encounter. When children interact with nature. . . there's adaptation, response to different conditions, challenge, mastery, uncertainty, and surprise," Yale Professor Stephen Kellert.

  • "Nature introduces children to small, calculated risks, like jumping on rocks, crossing a creek on a log, or climbing a tree. These activities teach kids their physical limitations and abilities and promote feelings of independence and accomplishment. They also demonstrate that behavior has consequences: if young adventurers miss a rock and step in the water, they will get wet," Erica Gies, Trust for Public Land.

  • Children "function better than usual after activities in green settings," University of Illinois.

  • "Often a natural feature will be the kids' favorite place in a playground," Jennifer Durand (mom).

    The Good News
    Access to nature play can be found in small parks and playgrounds, not just on long vacations... and playing in nature is not just for kids. Get out there! Author Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods), "It doesn't seem to matter what somebody's politics are or religion is. Passionate memories of a childhood spent in nature are nearly universal. In natural places, kids tend to play more cooperatively. That comes as no news to those of us who built a tree house with our buddies or built a dam in the ravine in front of our houses." Children love, and benefit from, playing outdoors.

    Thanks for reading!
    See below for links to more.

    Switch to Clean Electricity
    Speaking of what's good for children - getting off of coal & natural gas-fired electricity, is literally the best thing you can do for their health and the environment. The link below will take you to nation-wide clean energy options.

    Have a great Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, New Year!!
    And thanks for a beautiful, successful and meaningful year. See you next month!

  • Click to enlarge
    blog: "Inner City Kids Need Greenspace"

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    article: "Long-Term Positive Impact on Kids"

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    blog: "Green the City, Get Healthier Kids"

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    blog: "Green Parent Chicago"

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    how to play: "Red Light, Green Light"

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    book: "Last Child in the Woods"

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    interview: Richard Louv

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    blog: "Myopia linked to Lack of Outdoor Play?"

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    our friend Eliza Gilkyson talks, "Beautiful World"

    Switching To Clean Energy
    Switching To Clean Energy

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