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News & Commentary In the News

The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!

Blogger, author, free play advocate and dad Mike Lanza is a firm believer in risky, free play. To practice what he preaches, Lanza consciously transformed his Silicon Valley family home into a kid hangout to foster free outdoor play.

New Outdoor Museum Space Unleashes Creativity

A collaboration between the Children’s Museum of Illinois and Millikin University’s School of Education has led to a new outdoor play area for deep, outdoor creative play. The play area will be used as a teaching model for early childhood education majors in the School of Education. In addition, the museum will be working with local public schools to bring outdoor play to local children.

Forest School Initiative Aims to Bring Learning to the Great Outdoors

A forest school in Ireland aims to become the hub for the region’s forest schools, teaching students the importance of protecting the environment, bushcraft, building fires and shelter and identifying nature. The Wexford Forest School, the first forest school in the region to be funded by a local authority, will soon welcome children from schools across Wexford.

Sixth Grade Camp: 70 Years of Nature, Human and Otherwise, at Cuyamaca

For 70 years, Cuyamaca Outdoor School has specialized in hands-on, low-tech nature-based education. At one time, Cuyamaca was one of three camps operated by The San Diego County Office of Education, however, funding decisions have led to it to be last one standing. Still, demand only continues to grow.

Natural Families Stipends for Family Nature Clubs

With support from Disney Conservation Fund, C&NN is pleased to offer $500 stipends for materials reimbursement in addition to environmental education (EE) tools and resources. With support from Disney Conservation Fund, C&NN is pleased to offer $500 stipends for materials reimbursement in addition to environmental education (EE) tools and resources. Each stipend recipient will be awarded a “Nature Action Backpack” filled with EE curriculum, tools and supplies, and provided with training for forming a new (or extending the work of an existing) Family Nature Club that provides creative, exciting and innovative ways to connect families to nature. The EE curriculum is intended to enrich the offerings of Family Nature Clubs to its membership, and not replace the core value of unstructured time to play and explore in the natural world.

Natural Families Grants Propel Family Nature Clubs at Zoos and Aquariums

For the past three years, Nature Play Begins at Your Zoo & Aquarium grants have been awarded to AZA members to create and expand opportunities to connect families to nature. With support from the Environmental Protection Agency and in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, C&NN is pleased offer $5,000 stipends to accredited zoos and aquariums for the ongoing enrichment of Family Nature Clubs.

Can a College Course on Birding Change the World?

NBC News profiles “Birding to Change the World,” a course designed by UVM professor Trish O’Kane for students who may not have had extensive or any outdoor exposure. The course teaches students about the natural world, provides an opportunity for them to work with children from immigrant families or underprivileged backgrounds as well as learn about citizenship. UVM will assess the impact of the class on its own students, as well as track the progress of local children through middle school and high school to see how they fare academically.

Mental Health Awareness Week Celebrates Nature

Monday, October 17th, is World Mental Health Day. In honor of the awareness day, the Mental Health Foundation has organized Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) focused on the theme of the importance of connecting with nature for its benefits on health and wellbeing. More than 150 events and activities will be held during Mental Health Awareness Week, many suitable for families.

Pikachu or Sparrow? Many UK Kids Know More About Pokemon Than Nature

New research from the U.K. highlights the disconnect to nature for some children in Britain. Among the study stats, only 38% of children surveyed have ever climbed a tree, compared to 60% of their parents. The research also reveals a strong desire for parents to reconnect kids to nature and spend more time outdoors.

A Breath of Fresh Air: City of Grand Rapids Aims to Reconnect Children with Nature

The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan is taking steps to become a leader in connecting children with nature. Collaborations between local schools, the mayor, parks and recreation, nonprofits, students, parents, and passionate citizens are bringing community input, leadership, research and expertise together to create plans for parks, outdoor learning labs and playgrounds that encourage more nature access for more of the city’s children. Grand Rapids is part of the seven-city cohort of Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN), a partnership between the Children & Nature Network and the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families.

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