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News & Commentary In the News

In Korea: Children Have a Right to Play but Little Time

A recent survey shows that Korean kids lead lives that may be too busy for outdoor play. More than 83 percent of 5-year-olds and 36 percent of 2-year-olds in South Korea receive private education, often in the form of tutoring. In some cases, 5-year-olds receive up to four hours of extra classes a day after their regular kindergarten program, revealed data released earlier this week by the Korea Institute of Child Care. In addition, some experts say playgrounds are not stimulating enough for the children, fostering a preference for computer games and mobile phone chatting than outdoor play.

First Study to Show Parents’ Concerns about Neighborhood Restrict Kids’ Outdoor Play

A study conducted by LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health is the first to demonstrate that parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children’s outdoor play. The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Outdoor Learning Boosts Children’s Development

Outdoor learning can have a positive impact on children’s development but it needs to be formally adopted, a report from UK researchers suggests. The report showed that, although there was a significant body of research that supports outdoor learning in both formal and informal contexts, outdoor learning was likely to remain on the margins of education until the benefits were recognized by policymakers and reflected in policies.

Mapping the Urban Tree Canopy in Major Cities

MIT’s Senseable City Lab’s new project called Treepedia catalogues the density of the tree canopy in 10 global cities. Treepedia uses information from Google Street View to create what it calls the Green View Index—a rating that quantifies how green a street view looks according to the number of trees it contains. The result is one of the most detailed catalogs of urban greenery available.

The Health Benefits of Nature

A program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland is including nature as part of its public health strategy.
SHINE (Stay Healthy in Nature Everyday) is a partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District and the Regional Parks Foundation which aims to encourage more patients, particularly socioeconomically disadvantaged families,
to access the benefits from contact with nature.

Seattle’s $700M Waterfront Makeover

Seattle is in the midst of a more than $700 million plan to redesign its waterfront — aiming to evolve the area beyond its shipping and industrial history into a picturesque destination for locals and tourists alike that connects previously separated parts of town. The plan is one of the biggest Seattle has undertaken since the 1962 World’s Fair, and it involves redesigning 26 blocks of the waterfront with active spaces for events like concerts, as well as extensive green space and a connection to the water.

Downtown Miami Will Turn Downtown Parking Lots Into Parks

In Downtown Miami, a pop-up park and promenade project, will transform Biscayne Boulevard into a community gathering space through most of January. Parking lots across the city will host the project, which is meant to give the 90,000 residents of downtown and the more than 235,000 who commute there a vibrant place to enjoy nature.

Experts Call for Official Guidelines on Child Screen Use

A group of leading authors, educators and child-development experts is calling on the UK government to introduce national guidelines on the use of screens, amid concern about the impact on children’s physical and mental health. In a letter to the Guardian signed by 40 senior figures, the group calls for a minister for children and urges the government to take immediate action, including a kindergarten stage for three- to seven-year-olds emphasizing social and emotional development and outdoor play.

Delaware State Parks Launches New Children in Nature Initiative with Monthly Outdoor Themes

In an effort to encourage more Delaware children to enjoy the outdoors and outdoor-related activity year-round, the Delaware Children in Nature Coalition will highlight an “Outdoor Theme of the Month” beginning in January 2017. The effort will use the Delaware Children in Nature Outdoor Bill of Rights, a list of 10 “Outdoor Rights,” as a template.

Non-profits Challenge Manitobans to Make New Year’s Resolutions for the Planet

Six Manitoba nonprofits have issued a challenge to the public to make new year’s resolutions for the planet to protect the environment and to stay active in 2017. Two organizations, A Rocha Pembina Valley Interpretive Centre and Fort Whyte Alive, prescribe a healthy dose of fresh air for the new year. A Rocha is challenging Manitobans to visit a park or green space in each of the four seasons of the year.

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