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News & Commentary In the News

Kids and Nature Conference Draws Experts from 18 Countries

Over 600 policymakers, health care professionals, educators, grassroots organizers and others from 18 countries gathered in St. Paul, MN this week for the Children & Nature Network 2016 International Conference and Cities & Nature Summit. The group convened to explore the challenges, and needed actions, to get more kids outside. Speakers included author and C&NN Co-Founder Richard Louv, Native American activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and health policy expert from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Gail Christopher.

City of Calgary Developing Natural Playgrounds Aimed at Encouraging Self-directed Outdoor Play

Calgary goes natural! Two Calgary parks will soon be getting makeovers. Instead of traditional equipment like swings, slides and monkey bars, the playgrounds could feature natural play elements such as plants, boulders, wood and sand. Natural playgrounds aim to inspire active, imaginative and self-directed outdoor play.

Study Finds that US Urban Parks Attract Few Seniors

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, finds that America’s senior citizens make up just 4 percent of park users. The study also found that park usage was lower in lower-income neighborhoods even when the size of the park and the facilities were comparable to parks in more affluent neighborhoods.

National Parks Turn to Sponsors to Fill Budget Shortfalls

In an effort to fill huge holes in park budgets, the National Park Service may soon allow corporate sponsorships and branding opportunities in the parks. National Parks have been a long-time haven from commercialization. Proponents say, in addition to the financial benefits, the sponsorships could help increase the visibility of the park service, especially among young visitors, a demographic the park service is having a hard time attracting.

U.S. Parks ‘blitzed’ in Celebration of Biodiversity Across America

More than one hundred U.S. national parks and partner sites are hosting a nationwide BioBlitz (a widespread effort to gather data on all sorts of species) across America this weekend. The National Parks BioBlitz will be held on May 20th and 21st, with tens of thousands of people expected to participate. This year’s BioBlitz is the tenth in a series of BioBlitzes hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Geographic Society.

Study Explores Nature’s Role in Learning

Researchers in Ontario are breaking new ground with an innovative study that will investigate the impact of regular learning time outdoors in nature. Six classes in three schools will participate in the two-year study, which is being conducted in partnership with the Back to Nature Network.

British Kids Start Using iPads and Tablets at the Age of Two

A study on the pervasiveness of gadgets in the lives of British children finds that most children start using tablets by the age of two and receive a smartphone when they are seven. Researchers polled 2,185 parents as part of a study which questioned parents on the technology habits of their children.

REI’s ‘#OptOutside’ Campaign Recognized

REI took top honors for its #OptOutside campaign, in which the retailer closed its doors on Black Friday of last year, giving each of its 12,000 employees a paid day off, suspended e-commerce and encouraged consumers, children and its own employees to connect with nature. The campaign won Best of Show at the One Club’s 2016 One Show.

Not Enough Suitable Outdoor Play Spaces for Children in Dhaka

A survey in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, finds that most residents believe the city is not child-friendly. Well over half of the people surveyed said there were no nearby playgrounds for children and, where people do have access to existing playgrounds, over half of all respondents say the playgrounds are not suitable for children’s play.

DC Kids Learning to Ride Bikes at School

Washington D.C. public schools will now teach second graders how to ride a bike. With assistance from the Department of Transportation and private donors, the school district purchased 1,000 bikes that will rotate between schools throughout the year. Kids will pedal around the gym or playground learning the basics of safe riding and proper equipment care.

Coalition Pushes for Diversity at National Parks

A coalition of more than 30 civil rights, environmental justice and conservation groups is pushing for greater efforts to promote diversity in Rocky Mountain National Park and other national parks and public lands. The coalition, which includes the National Urban League and League of United Latin American Citizens, called on President Barack Obama late last month to issue a memorandum on Aug. 25, the NPS Centennial, that encourages federal land management agencies to reflect the growing diversity of the country.

Korean Children Spend 34 Minutes Outdoors per Day

A new study finds that Korean children (ages 3-9) spend an average of only 34 minutes outside each day, significantly less than children in other countries. The National Institute of Environmental Research questioned 8,000 youth (18 or younger) to examine the extent to which children are exposed to the natural environment. Findings suggest Korean children are more likely to spend spare time indoors on school work and digital technology.

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