News Center Items by Katherine Somerville

Study: Children Who Grow up Feeling Close to Nature Are Happier and More Likely to Care for the Planet

According to a research team in Mexico, children who grow up feeling close to nature are happier and more likely to become eco-friendly, compared to those who suffer from nature deficit disorder. The researchers surveyed nearly 300 children to find a link between ecological and sustainable awareness and feelings of happiness. The study is the first to show that connectedness to nature makes children happier due to their tendency to perform sustainable and pro-ecological behaviors.

New York State Senate Passes Outdoor Rx Act in Unanimous Vote

The New York State Senate passed the Outdoor Rx Act which will lower barriers for veterans to access New York State’s scenic and restorative outdoor spaces. More than 800,000 veterans live in New York State, but numerous barriers often prevent them from exercising their human right to access nature.

Spending Time in Nature May Lower Stress, Anxiety

New research from an interdisciplinary Cornell team has found that as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting can help college students feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress. The research, published in Frontiers in Psychology, is part of a larger examination of the therapeutic benefits of nature for college students.

New Report Warns That the World Is Failing to Give Children Healthy Lives

No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures, says a major new report by over 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The report references UNICEF’s work in child-friendly cities, with an emphasis on walkability, outdoor play, and green space in cities for the benefit of children.

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.


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