LEARN | CONNECT | ACT
Updated: 32 min 4 sec ago
The city of Philadelphia is investing $500 million to reinvigorate its parks, libraries, playgrounds and recreation centers, and spread opportunity into all corners of the city. The program, called "Rebuild," is paid for in part by a new tax on sugar-laden drinks. Philadelphia is the first big city to pass such a “soda tax” bill.
What may be the world’s largest nature playground, located in Adelaide’s Morialta Conservation Park, is nearing completion. The state government is spending close to $1 million to build the new playground, which formed part of the government’s $10.4 million plan to improve Adelaide’s national parks. The $900,000 space will include five new play areas, climbing boulders, and new paths.
Working in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, some Vermont doctors are writing prescriptions to get more people outside and exercising. The “Park Prescription” program, designed to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent chronic health issues in patients and their families by encouraging exercise at state parks, offers a free pass to any Vermont State Park.
The Salzburg Global Fellows, a group of experts in urban planning, childhood development, conservation, environmental policy, and health, have called on leaders to ensure all children enjoy the right to safe, free play in a nature-rich space within a 10-minute walk from home. The call to action was part of a larger Salzburg Statement which outlines policies, practices, investments as well as actions that can transform cities for children. The Salzburg Global program The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play is part of the multi-year Parks for the Planet Forum, a series held in partnership with the IUCN and Huffington Foundation.
Israel’s first forest kindergarten is inspiring a forest school movement in the country. The school, Gan Keshet, which means “rainbow kindergarten” in Hebrew, is a public school in the remote town of Mitzpe Ramon. After the ministry of education designated it an official model school, hundreds of educators, students and parents have flocked to the school to learn about its approach. Several private forest kindergartens opened this school year, and more public pilots are planned for next year.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s report of its General Discussion Day on children and the environment makes links between children’s freedom to play, and their ability to enjoy a healthy, sustainable environment. The report calls on municipalities to do more to protect these important children’s rights and for governments to use planning regulations to ensure "the play and child-friendliness of all environments."
Saturday, June 10, 2017, marks the 10th annual "National Get Outdoors Day" (GO Day). The event is intended to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation. Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the recreation industry will offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. Key goals of the day are reaching currently underserved populations as well as first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting youth to the great outdoors. Along with several state parks, the U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at their day-use recreation sites on Saturday for "National Get Outdoors Day."
The Brazil-based Alana Institute will host "II Children and Nature Seminar" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20th. The event brings experts together to talk about how schools, cities and public spaces can encourage children's encounters with nature by reorganizing time, transposing walls, and shaping adult's perspectives. Tijuca National Park is a partnering organization for the event.
Indiana celebrates Nature Play Days Week from June 10th-18th. The event, sponsored by the Indiana Children and Nature Network, is intended to encourage families to play outdoors and reap the physical, mental, and emotional benefits nature play provides. The primary goal of Nature Play Days is to reconnect children with the outdoors and provide a space for outdoor exploration and fun. Across Indiana over 100 events will be offered free of charge at nature centers, museums, libraries, and parks.
In Japan, "adventure parks” that encourage children to engage all five senses to experience the outdoors, are popping up all around the country. At one such park, Miyakubo Play Park, which opened in March of last year, children can play with rope, start fires, make old-fashioned toys, or play in a rice paddy-like mud pit.
The environmental organization Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has started a new campaign called Generation Wild to get youngsters reconnected with nature. The campaign is intended to foster children's healthy development through nature. GOCO Generation Wild's newest project is a "bucket list" called "100 Things To Do Before You're 12", and includes ideas for enriching outdoor activities for kids, such as making mud pies and dancing in the rain.
As it celebrates its 150th anniversary, Canada is offering free admission to all 39 of the country’s national parks (along with national historic sites and national marine conservation areas). Some conservation experts warn it will take care to balance the expected upsurge in tourism with conservation efforts in the parks.
With few trees, plants and green spaces to help with air pollution and cooling, the city of Barcelona has created a Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure Plan. The plan includes creative approaches to increasing green spaces, creating a more functional ecosystem for the city. The green spaces will be networked so birds, bees, and humans can enjoy connected habitat.
In Toronto, risky, free play and safety concerns are at odds on city playgrounds. The city, school board and other agencies have recently installed playground equipment in many playgrounds with gear designed almost exclusively for very young children while more traditional elements such as sandboxes and some swings have been removed in the name of risk management. The proliferation of the “safer" playgrounds has resulted in a wave of effort to bring back unstructured outdoor play.
A study that surveyed over 1400 children in Singapore from ages eight to 12, found that children are getting excessive screen time. The study, conducted by DQ Institute and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), found that nine-year-olds are spending over 24 hours a week, or about three and a half hours daily, on electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Parents say that time is a key barrier to more outdoor play.
In Washington state, classes are taking virtual field trips to study nature. The high-tech distance learning virtually transports students from across the country to remote state parks in Washington. Washington State Parks Foundation has spearheaded the effort, facilitated by Inspired Classroom and the state-of-the-art satellite-based mobile classroom comes from GCI, Alaska's largest telecom. The organizers of the effort hope the mobile classrooms will offer thousands of students the opportunity to visit far-away places they would not experience otherwise.
A new study published in the journal Health Affairs finds that only about 40 percent of children get 25 minutes of high-calorie-burning physical activity three times a week, which could result in $1.1 trillion in direct medical costs over the course of their lifetimes. These children are often sedentary at school, with physical education and recess time shortening, or in some cases disappearing altogether.
Washington State Sen. Kevin Ranker’s bill to allow for outdoor preschools was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today. The bill creates the opportunity to license full-time outdoor preschools. Based on a Scandinavian model, outdoor preschool educators lead children through exploration and hands-on learning for hours a day, entirely outside. The pilot puts these in-demand programs in Washington on track to offer full-day programs and expands access to families that might not be able to afford outdoor preschool.
To combat recent findings related to excessive screen time and increasing obesity among Irish children, more people in the country are taking steps to ensure children benefit from the great outdoors. Along with a growing outdoor school movement, the country will host several national conferences focused on the benefits of the outdoor for children in the upcoming months including the conference for the recently-formed Irish Forest School Association, where it will discuss ways of involving more young people in outdoor life and giving them an opportunity to take risks.
In Iran, half of the university graduates in environmental studies cannot find jobs, according to official figures from the Department of Environment (DoE). Our of a total of 10,577 graduates last year, 5,191 are looking for work. Experts in this field say opening more nature schools across the country is the best way to address the problem.