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News Center Items by Heather Kuhlken

Playing Freely in Nature May Boost Complex Thinking, Social Skills in Kids

Researchers from the University of South Australia found that nature play positively impacts the health and development of children ages two to 12. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that nature play improved children’s levels of physical activity, health-related fitness, motor skills, learning, and social and emotional development. It also showed that nature play may deliver improvements in cognitive and learning outcomes, including children’s levels of attention and concentration, punctuality, settling in class (even after play), constructive play, social play, as well as imaginative and functional play.

Study Highlights New Strategies For Helping Children Process Negative Emotions

The findings of a study of indigenous people in southern Chile challenge Western assumptions about the value of spending time outdoors to help children regulate their emotions. The study surveyed 271 parents and teachers in southern Chile, approximately half of which were Mapuche, an indigenous people of the region. Researchers found that the Mapuche parents believe children should respect, but not fear, nature and that nature can help children cope with sadness in a positive way.

Play Is Banned on All Baltimore City Streets. A New Bill Could Change That.

In Baltimore, local councilor Ryan Dorsey seeks to change a law that bans children from playing outdoors in the city. Dorsey aims to repeal a key element of the city code which makes it unlawful for any person to ‘play ball, fly a kite or throw a stone or other object or missile while in any street, alley, lane or other public thoroughfare’.

Reconnecting with Nature Key for the Health of People and the Planet

A new study suggests that physically and psychologically reconnecting with nature can be beneficial for human health and well-being, while at the same time encouraging individuals to act in ways that protect the health of the planet. Conducted by researchers at the University of Plymouth, Natural England, the University of Exeter and University of Derby, the study is the first to investigate, within a single study, the contribution of both nature contact and connection to human health, well-being and pro-environmental behaviors.

Play Access in Cities Is Critical to Children’s Development

The Real Play Coalition, a global play rights alliance founded by National Geographic, The Lego Foundation and IKEA, says society has an obligation to reclaim play in cities because of the critical role of play in child development and learning. The coalition published this conclusion is a new report, “Reclaiming Play in Cities – The Real Play Coalition Approach,” which reviews the evidence around learning through play, along with the impact of city and urban environments on children’s access to play and their overall development. The report recommends cities adopt less ‘passive’ policies, urging them to be more proactive in prioritizing play for children’s benefit.

Boston’s Franklin Park Is Poised for $28 Million in Upgrades — and the City Wants Ideas on How to Spend the Money

The city of Boston will invest $28 million in improving its 500-acre Franklin Park, and is looking to city residents for guidance on aspects such as inclusivity and access. The park is the city’s largest outdoor space and is located in a racially diverse area of the city. The planning process for the upgrade will bring together ecologists, landscape architects, planners, and community engagement experts to build a plan for an engaging and diverse Franklin Park.

These Cities Are Addressing Inequality in Parks Access

A new report from the City Parks Alliance showcases seven U.S. cities that are leading the way in using their budgets to fund parks more equitably. As previous studies have found that city residents with lower incomes are less likely to find green space nearby in their neighborhoods, the report gives recommendations for using park funding to improve equity in city parks systems using data-driven approaches.

City of Atlanta Scores Nearly 13 Acres for a New Tree-filled Park

The city of Atlanta has taken a step closer to its commitment to providing all residents with green and equitable space with the recent acquisition of nearly 13 acres of green space intended to become a new park. Officials say it’s one of the largest acquisitions of green space ever in Southwest Atlanta. While Atlanta claims abundant green space, some areas of the city are deficient in public parkland.

Winter Play Campaign Aims to Get Kids Outdoors

The Association of Play Industries (API) has launched a new initiative aimed at getting children outdoors and using public playgrounds over the winter. The new initiative builds on the API’s “Play Must Stay” campaign, which has shown that parents are becoming increasingly concerned with the steep decline in public playgrounds.

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