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Updated: 1 min 33 sec ago
Doctors and health professionals around the U.S. are increasingly prescribing trips to the park and other nature-based programs and exercises for patients to help them cope with mental and physical illnesses. The growing field of medicine is called “ecotherapy” and can affect a range of conditions, including anxiety and depression, attention deficit disorder and chronic illness such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
A new study reveals that 65 percent of three and four-year-olds are using tablets, a 10 percent rise from last year. In addition, the study found that over a quarter of 10-year-olds are active on Facebook and Twitter. As a reaction, strong countertrends such as the growth of nature-orientated schools are surfacing as well as a new appreciation for the importance of the outdoors among parents, educators, doctors and others.
Dozens of schools in Texas, Oklahoma and California are seeing “transformational” results in students after implementing a pilot program testing out extra recess time during the school day. The pilot program is modeled after the Finnish school system, whose students get some of the best scores in the world in reading, math and science. Instead of 20 minutes of recess per day, kindergartners and first graders now get an hour, broken up into four 15-minute breaks, in addition to lunchtime. Teachers say the kids are less fidgety, less distracted, more engaged in learning and make more eye contact.
Three underused public spaces in Mexico City will be reimagined as innovative children’s play areas as part of an “Urban Toys” competition hosted by Mexico City’s Laboratorio para la Ciudad. Three public squares will include urban toys, or multi-functional objects adapted to the public space that push the boundaries of playground equipment, adapting to the play habits of children. Each of the selected design teams will receive a prize of 50,000 Mexican pesos (approx. 2,630 US Dollars).
The National Park Service (NPS) has extended the public comment periods for proposed peak-season entrance fees at 17 national parks and revised fees for road-based commercial tours. The deadlines, originally scheduled for Nov. 23, have been extended to Dec. 22 in order to accommodate interest in this issue from members of Congress and the public. Already, more than 65,000 comments have been received on the proposals.
The rideshare company Lyft hopes to make it easier for even more people to #OptOutside on Black Friday. With the use of a promo code, people can get $10 off a Lyft ride to major parks in in 12 cities across the country. The campaign is part of the #OptOutside movement.
Demand for forest preschools, where children spend all day outside regardless of the weather, continues to rise in parts of London, with one school's waitlist at over 2000 children. The demand has led to increased interest in further research into the benefits of outdoor learning. Loughborough University, which conducted an initial study that showed forest nurseries develop children's teamwork skills, has plans for a larger study for 2018.
The outdoor gear retailer REI released a new report entitled "The Path Ahead" which reflects trends that affect the future of life outdoors. The report is designed to provoke discussion by exploring nine ‘brutal truths’ juxtaposed with nine ‘beautiful possibilities’ and to paint a picture of what could happen if we stay inside as a species or #OptOutside.
A Singaporean hospital was named the inaugural winner of the Stephen S. Kellert Award for Biophilic Design by the International Living Future Institute. The award is given in an effort to recognize building design that reconnects people to nature and relies on natural materials and themes to make buildings healthier for people. The award itself is named for the late Yale University social ecologist & former C&NN board member, Stephen S. Kellert, whom many people consider the father of biophilic design.
In an effort to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature, many states and national parks will be letting visitors into their parks for free on Black Friday, November 24. Around the US, national and state parks are participating, waiving park entry and parking fees in an effort to entice visitors.
The Mayors of London and Accra, alongside international agencies including the European Network for Child-Friendly Cities, recently launched The Child Health Initiative (CHI). Central to the new initiative is the "Declaration of Every Child’s Right to Safe and Healthy Streets" which calls for global leaders to commit to the protection of children who are currently using the world’s most dangerous streets, to ensure they are not breathing the polluted air that is especially damaging to growing lungs, and to provide a safe and healthy journey to school for every child worldwide. Experts emphasized children’s right to play and socialize within the public realm, and to be supported as full stakeholders in their towns and cities with the right to enjoy their own culture and fully participate in the life of their communities.
A new study of the outdoor play environments in early childcare centers showed significant decreases in depression and antisocial behavior, alongside increases in moderate to vigorous physical activity, independent play, and prosocial behaviors with the introduction of interventions to increase opportunities for nature and risky play. Educators also observed improved socialization, problem-solving, focus, self-regulation, creativity and self-confidence, and reduced stress, boredom and injury in the children. As outdoor space at childcare centers can be many preschoolers' primary experience of outdoor play, the researchers conclude that outdoor play spaces are important for promoting children's well-being and development.
Following a survey showing that computers, consoles, tablets or mobile phones are the most popular way for children to have fun, the Power of Play campaign has been launched in the UK to provide more opportunities for play. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of play in childhood development while raising money to help BBC Children in Need give 30,000 disadvantaged children and young people across the UK the opportunity to develop vital life skills through play.
The Children & Nature Network’s Executive Director, Sarah Milligan-Toffler, was awarded the 2017 Fran P. Mainella Award for sustained and innovative achievement by a woman in the management of North America’s natural, historic or cultural heritage. The award was a part of the Hartzog Awards & Lecture Series at the Clemson University Institute for Parks. Sarah Milligan-Toffler’s 30-year career has been focused on ensuring that women, vulnerable children, people with disabilities, veterans, and other underserved populations have access to the healing power of nature in their everyday lives.
Paris has joined 32 cities from the 100 Resilience Cities Network to release its first resilience strategy, part of which will incorporate public schoolyards as ‘new’ public spaces. The strategy is a part of a plan to prepare the French capital for the risks of the 21st century. The Chief Resilience Officer for the city says the city plans to add green features to city schoolyards and then to open the schoolyards to the public.
New research from Germany has found that living in close proximity to forest land is linked with strong, healthy functioning of a key part of the brain. The findings indicate that, compared with those who live in a mostly man-made environment, people who dwell on the border between city and forest may be better able to cope with stress. The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The outdoor gear co-op REI is closing on Black Friday for the third year in a row. The co-op plans to shutter all 151 of its stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, days which kick off the holiday season’s peak period. REI will also not process any online orders on Black Friday, which is not a statutory holiday but a regular work day. It will pay its 12,000 employees, including hourly workers, for their time and encourage them to spend that Friday enjoying the outdoors.
Under a new proposal from the National Park Service, 17 of the most popular U.S. national parks could see entrance fees for weeklong passes increase from around $25 to $30 to $70 for a single private vehicle. Many worry the cost increase will be a barrier for some families and will disproportionately affect families of color in accessing the parks.
A new report from the 8 80 cities project, the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Urban 95 program entitled " Building Better Cities with Young Children and Families" offers tactics, strategies and principles for the participation and engagement of children, young people and their families in creating more child and family-friendly cities. The report used a mix of background research, place-based research and interviews with researchers, practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders along with snapshots and case studies of innovative and interesting projects. C&NN's Jaime Zaplatosch, Director of Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities, served as an advisor for the report.
UC Berkeley recently established a new institute, the Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity to tackle the most pressing issues facing the future of parks, including climate change and equitable access. The Institute’s inaugural executive director will be Jonathan B. Jarvis, who served 40 years with the National Park Service (NPS) and as its 18th director from 2009 to 2017. During his tenure, Jarvis expanded the NPS by 22 new parks, and led the service through its Centennial with a vision for a second century of park stewardship, engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs.