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Kids Urged to Take it Outside: Nature’s Calling Aims to Help Plugged-in Families Connect with Nature

Kids Urged to Take it Outside: Nature’s Calling Aims to Help Plugged-in Families Connect with Nature
Bernie Solymar remembers playing road hockey in the fall and winter as a child.

The players would get called in for supper and as soon as it was done they’d be back out playing again.

“Or we’d be exploring behind the house in the woods and the cliffs, collecting animals,” said Solymar, founder and executive director of Nature’s Calling, a Simcoe-based environmental education charity.

“But the bottom line was, we were outside,” he said at a recent environmental town hall meeting at the Port Dover library.

“Sadly, in the last 20 years, childhood has moved indoors.”

Solymar spoke about something called “nature-deficit disorder,” a term the journalist and author Richard Louv coined.

“It’s not a formal diagnosis,” Solymar said. “It’s a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature.”

Solymar and co-presenter Carmen Davis, a schoolteacher and director at Nature’s Calling, focused mainly on the effect nature deficit has on children.

Kids often spend more than seven hours a day in front of TVs, computers, iPads and cell phones, Solymar said.

“When you walk into a McDonald’s these days and you see a young teen couple sitting there, more than likely they’re not talking to each other,” he said. “They’re actually texting somebody else. And that’s the way we’ve gone these days.”

Solymar pointed to the benefits of being outside on the body, mind and spirit, saying outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds…
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