A study found that children in Hong Kong are not getting enough outdoor playtime. Nearly half of the children in the study were taken to outdoor playgrounds fewer than four times a month. The study results have prompted the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children to warn against the detrimental effects of such little outdoor time on children’s social, cognitive and physical developments and urge parents to ensure that children get at least an hour of free playtime daily. Experts say playground facilities in Hong Kong are not child-friendly, nor do they appeal to a wide range of ages.
Over 500 Queensland, Australia schools will hold classes outdoors on September 7 as part of the state’s first Outdoor Classroom Day. The organization, Nature Play QLD, says the event will involve more than 49,000 students in 2,172 classes and will prompt schools to make outside lessons part of their regular curriculum in order to boost children’s physical activity.
Scotland’s new “Away and Play” initiative will highlight the importance of unstructured play for kids’ health, risk-taking, creative thinking and teamwork. The year-long “Away and Play” initiative will be led by the charity, Inspiring Scotland, which aims to tackle some of Scotland’s toughest, long-term social problems. The charity cites global studies which provide evidence that play helps children as they grow up and can lead to more innovative, creative and caring societies in the future.
To mark the 101st birthday of the National Park Service, NPS is launching a “Parks 101” campaign enlisting celebrities as ambassadors for the parks. Parks 101 ambassadors include cast members from the cable show “Queen Sugar,” Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Keri Hilson. While the National Park Service hosted a record number of visits last year, half of those were in just 26 of the system’s superstar destinations like the Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite and Yellowstone. This year’s effort highlights lesser known treasures that even locals might not know about.
A team of researchers at the University of Washington have recently published a research agenda on nature contact and health with the aim of identifying key questions related to the health benefits of nature for future research attention. According to the researchers, though much scientific evidence of the health benefits of nature is already available, much remains unknown.
Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) boosts children’s brain power. In the first study of its kind, researchers discovered this type of exercise – which involves short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by a brief low-intensity activity – was shown to increase cognitive skills more than moderate activity. Previous studies have suggested that long, sustained workout sessions, performed at a moderate intensity for 30 to 40 minutes, are most beneficial to learning and memory.
A University of Wollongong (UOW) researcher will examine whether urban green spaces play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Astell-Burt will collaborate with city and green space planners, clinicians and other leading international researchers to look at the possible benefits of nature for Alzheimer’s disease. Astell-Burt says that, while knowledge of the general health benefits of green spaces is growing, there has been little epidemiological investigation into green spaces in relation to Alzheimer’s disease.
The NSF-funded Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network will publish a special issue of the open-access journal “Frontiers” on the field of learning and nature. The journal will be curated by Network members, titled “The Natural World as a Resource for Learning and Development: From Schoolyards to Wilderness.” Researchers are invited to submit papers to the journal.
Ireland’s National Heritage Week in August will feature “Wild Child Day” on Wednesday, August 23rd, to celebrate the importance of experiencing freedom in nature for children. The event is an effort to change attitudes and make families feel more at ease in the outdoors. A 2015 study “Children Outdoors” confirmed that a disconnection from nature is seen in both children and young parents across the island.