Can you feel it, the community expanding? Building local communities is one of the most powerful outcomes of school ground greening projects, but as you start meeting this fall to talk about site plans and fundraising, consider the bigger picture, too—that you are part of a worldwide community of people engaged in reuniting kids with nature. It's a movement driven in part by our intuitive understanding that children's bodies, minds and spirits benefit from being in nature but also by a growing body of research that supports these gut instincts. For example, a recent study by Andrea Faber Taylor (2009) found that a walk in nature can substantially improve the symptoms of attention deficit disorder over a walk in the city.
We know that today's wired, sedentary kids are spending less time outdoors than any generation in history, with a host of consequences: increased rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, anxiety and attention disorders, decreased physical fitness, and diminished daily experience with the natural world. Without a base of experience, it is difficult to build an understanding of how nature sustains life on our planet. Additionally, new social media adds yet another dimension of screen allure, enticing children to "scroll" and "click" rather than to run, jump and explore.
It paints a depressing portrait, but there is an equally uplifting story. At the recent Children's Health and the Environment conference in London, Ontario, there were many reasons for optimism. One example was the Growing up Boulder program, building…
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