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 efforts to bring back unstructured outdoor play.
News Center Items by Akiima Price
A survey of more than 1400 children in Singapore identified excessive screen use in the study group of eight to twelve-year-olds. 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 the current lack of activity among US children ages 8–11 years (just over 30 percent get 25 minutes of high-calorie-burning physical activity three times a week), could result in $1.1 trillion of direct medical costs over the course of their lifetimes.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee recently signed Senator Kevin Ranker’s outdoor preschool bill, which creates the opportunity to license full-time outdoor preschools. The pilot puts in-demand nature education programs in Washington on track to offer full-day programs, expanding access to families who might not be able to afford outdoor preschool.
To address 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.
In Iran, half of environmental studies university graduates are having trouble securing jobs, according to official figures from the Department of Environment (DoE). Out of a total of 10,577 graduates last year, 5,191 are still looking for work. Experts in this field suggest that opening more nature schools across the country to employ the graduates is an excellent way to address the problem.
Children, families and schools in communities across America will celebrate their local, state and national parks and public lands on Saturday, May 20th in commemoration of the 7th Annual Kids to Parks Day. Kids to Parks Day organizer, National Park Trust, estimates that nearly one million people will attend 1,000 park events across the country in what is fast becoming America’s national day of outdoor play. The Children & Nature Network is a proud collaborator on Kids to Parks Day.
A tool to encourage and assist parents to allow their children more opportunities to enjoy ‘risky’ outdoor play has been developed by the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health together with its Department of Pediatrics. The tool, Outsideplay.ca, walks parents through their options and identify priorities for their children. It aims to help them address common concerns about playing outside and give them both the information and a process to develop an action plan for changing their approach to their children’s outdoor play.