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News Center Items by Richard Louv

National Park Service Announces Plan to Address Infrastructure Needs & Improve Visitor Experience

As part of its ongoing efforts to address aging park infrastructure and improve the visitor experience, the National Park Service (NPS) announced changes to the entrance fees charged at national parks. The changes, which come in response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, will modestly increase entrance fees to raise additional revenue to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments. More than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter.

Culture Shapes How Children View the Natural World

Researchers at Northwestern University developed a methodology for studying rural Native American kids’ perspectives on nature and compared their responses with those of their city-dwelling peers. The findings offer rare cross-cultural insight into early childhood environmental education including the observation that Native American kids were more likely to imagine they were animals rather than give the animals human attributes. The results were published last November in the Journal of Cognition and Development.

Swiss Kids Spend More Time Playing Outside than Using Phones

Swiss children watch TV and play video games for less than half the amount of time each week that British children do, according to a recent digital media use survey. The survey, which is called MIKE for Medien, Interaktion, Kinder, Eltern (translated as “media, interaction, children, parents”), observed more than 1,000 children between the ages of six and thirteen, and surveyed 641 parents in all three of Switzerland’s linguistic regions. It found that 90 percent of Swiss kids play outside and inside at least once a week, 84 percent practices sports, and 80 percent met with friends.

British Kids Stay Inside for Fear of Getting Muddy or Wet

One in 10 British children would rather stay indoors to avoid getting dirty or touching germs than to play outdoors, according to a new survey by the toy manufacturer Little Tikes. The survey included 2,000 parents with children, aged two to 16. The survey also found one in 10 parents frequently bribe their children to convince them to leave their devices behind and play outdoors.

Urban Design May Help Reduce Childhood Obesity

Researchers at The National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) in Canada found that children who live in more walkable neighborhoods have a smaller waist measurement and a lower body mass index (BMI). Measures such as pedestrian crossing lights, wider sidewalks, and signs to help pedestrians cross the road have a greater impact in high-density neighborhoods as such features can encourage children to ride bicycles, play outside, and engage in similar activities.

Outdoor Learning Grows in Scotland as Grasp of Benefits Takes Root

In Scotland, efforts to increase outdoor play and outdoor learning opportunities for children are growing with the inclusion of outdoor experience in Scotland’s “curriculum for excellence.” Recently, a number of local authorities have made ambitious moves to expand outdoor learning. In addition, the Scottish children’s minister recently announced funding of more than £850,000 to make outdoor learning “a defining feature of childhood in Scotland”.

New Survey Finds U.S. Teachers Place High Value on Recess

According to the second annual Voice of Play survey of 500 U.S. elementary school teachers, U.S. Teachers Place High Value on Recess. Among the findings was that each teacher surveyed – 100 percent – said that recess is essential for young students’ mental and physical development. The survey was sponsored by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA).

Council Looks at New Initiative to Let Children Play in the Streets

The Play Street movement is expanding in the UK, with the North East Lincolnshire Council proposal to close streets in the borough for a set period of time in order to let children engage in supervised outdoor ​play. Play Streets was launched in 2011 by a non-profit organization and promotes ‘playing out’ as a way of increasing physical activity in children and also strengthening community relationships.

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