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Australia’s Youth Also Lack Nature Connection

On the Brisbane River the other afternoon, out of the corner of my eye I see a bird, a big thing, swoop down. It rises, dragging a fish with it.

I've never seen that happen before in this muddy old river. "What was that?" says a small boy with toothbrush hair nearby. His father says some kind of bird catching dinner. And the three of us stand in wonder.

Standing in wonder is good for the soul. We don't do it enough.

Excuse me if I go all over the place today, readers. The subject matter stirs me like just about nothing else.

But back to wonder by the river. Behind us is the State Library of Queensland and, this Monday, a man will speak there with others about something no one had heard of 10 years ago. Nature-deficit disorder.

Richard Louv coined the phrase and wrote the best-selling Last Child in the Woods in 2006. What is central to this irresistibly persuasive book is wonder.

Nature-deficit disorder is a concept gaining traction with childhood and behavioural experts. Louv says long-standing studies show that in cities, the absence or inaccessibility of open space is associated with high crime rates and depression.

Experts say our children are the fattest, saddest and most anxious in history. Louv says nature is a big part of the solution. Kids who spend time playing outdoors have increased self-confidence, better body image, and cognitive benefits. They do better in…
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