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News Center Items by Jane Hirschi

Group Seeks Playground Equity in Baltimore

Kaboom, a nonprofit that has helped build 3,100 playgrounds in schools and parks across the U.S., is conducting an equity study in Baltimore to ensure any new playgrounds it installs are built where they are needed most rather than just in places that apply. Focusing its efforts on schools and prioritizing racial equity, Kaboom aims “to make sure every kid has access to a safe, great play space.”

Amid Population Growth and Historic Divides, Austin Organizations Work Toward Park Equity

Together with a number of local nonprofits, the city of Austin, Texas is working to improve park equity with a number of newly completed projects spanning sections of the city that have historically been split along racial and socioeconomic lines. Improving park access is a goal of the city and its parks and recreation department, which has focused on equity in a number of its policies and departments.

Canadian Kids Aren’t Playing Outside Enough, Experts Say, and It’s Harming Their Health

Children in Canada are playing outside less than previous generations with a recent Statistics Canada report finding that children between the ages of five and 17 had an average of three hours of screen time per day. Experts also warn that children have a much more constricted range of how far they wander from their home. In response, some experts have formed a new group, Outdoor Play Canada, that aims to get kids spending more time outside.

Austin Parks Department Receives Grant to Study Health, Climate Change

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the Austin Parks and Recreation Department a grant to study whether worsening heat decreases opportunities for physical activity and reduces the overall emotional well-being of young people. The two-year project is a collaboration between the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, the National League of Cities & Children and Nature Network’s Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative and the Austin school district.

Living Near a Coast Is Linked With Better Mental Health, Study Suggests

According to a new study published in the journal Health & Place, living near the ocean is significantly linked with better mental health among urban adults in England. Using data from the annual Health Survey for England, the study compared people’s health with their proximity to the coast, from those living within half of a mile of the ocean to those more than 31 miles away. The effect found in this study appeared only in people from the lowest-income households.

London to be the World’s First National Park City

London is poised to become the world’s first ‘National Park City’ that aims to make life greener, healthier and wilder for residents. According to a new charter by the National Park City Foundation (NPCF), London seeks to push citizens toward building a better relationship with the city’s green spaces and urban wildlife via activities, events, capacity building, awareness programs and responsible consumption strategies. The charter is also likely to guide urban planning, as it shares London mayor Sadiq Khan’s vision “to make 50% of London physically green by 2050.”

Learning in Nature: Washington Becomes First in the Country to License Outdoor Preschools

Washington State has become the first state in the country to officially license outdoor preschools. Until recently, no outdoor preschools in the United States were licensed, which meant they couldn’t offer full-day programs or offer state financial assistance to families.
The new status of outdoor preschools in Washington will increase access for more families, encouraging more children to spend time in nature.

Nearly All U.S. Adults Want to Protect Natural Resources

The 2019 Engagement with Parks Report, based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, found that nearly all U.S. adults (93 percent) believe it is important to protect natural resources, including fresh air and clean water. The survey also revealed that the vast majority (88 percent) of people agree local parks and recreation provide good opportunities to interact with nature and the outdoors. The Engagement with Parks Report is an annual research series from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) that tracks the general public’s interaction with and support for public parks.

Minnesota DNR Wants No Child Left Inside

The 2019 Minnesota Legislature authorized the No Child Left Inside grant program, which makes funding available to public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 for outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and related natural resource education expenses. According to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, children in Minnesota have historically spent time outdoors, but the trend has reversed. The No Child Left Inside grants are intended to boost outdoor programs and initiatives all around the state.

Melania Trump to Visit Wyoming to Promote ‘Every Kid Outdoors’

First Lady Melania Trump is visiting Wyoming to highlight US national landmarks and national parks and to encourage children to spend more time outdoors. The first lady will talk about the “Every Kid Outdoors” initiative, through which the National Park Service offers free park access to fourth graders. One of the pillars of Trump’s “Be Best” initiative is well being, which she says is served by visiting the natural beauty of the American outdoors.

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