The National Institutes of Health began a $300-million study to examine the effects of screen time on the developing brains of children. Using MRI scans, the NIH researchers examine changes in brain structure among children who use smartphones and other screen devices. The first batch of results from the study shows that kids who spent more than two hours per day on screens scored lower on language and thinking tests.
Raahgiri Day, India’s sustained car‐free event which started as a small initiative and has since blossomed into a national movement, celebrates its fifth anniversary. Every Sunday, in over 70 cities in India, streets are closed to all motorized vehicles until noon. The street closures encourage people to walk, cycle, exercise, and reclaim their streets for safer roads, cleaner air, increased physical activity and community building. The event has helped change perceptions of public space in India.
As Italy’s traditional public schools face a myriad of structural and attendance challenges, the movement to take education outdoors is growing in the country. Dozens of schools in the country have adopted the forest school approach, and even the public school system has shown interest in the novel approach to childhood education.
Grand Rapids Public Schools announced plans to pilot an initiative that will create outdoor education experiences for all students beginning in the 2019-20 school year. The outdoor education pilot is a collaborative partnership with multiple organizations committed to environmental education and access to the outdoors, including C&NN’s Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative. The pilot is funded by a three-year grant and enables four teachers at each grade level to work together to develop an outdoor-based curriculum.
Every child enrolled in a government-funded early learning and childcare facility in Scotland will receive a free healthy meal and access to outdoor play sessions. The plans, set out by the Scottish government, will be required of certain providers beginning in August 2020. Developed in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the change is in an effort to transform the way early learning and childcare are delivered.
A public elementary school in Ontario, Canada is working towards accreditation as a Forest School. While Keewatin Public School follows the provincial curriculum, the outdoor environment will serve as the classroom often and students will do much of their learning outside. Keewatin Public School is also preparing to unveil a new outdoor learning space, based on the four elements of earth, water, wind and fire, to help it achieve its Forest School accreditation.
According to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, people who live in leafy, green neighborhoods may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and strokes. Study researchers from the University of Louisville collected blood and urine samples from over 400 people of varying ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels over five-years to assess the impact of neighborhood greenspaces on individual-level markers of stress and cardiovascular disease risk.
Research by Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) has identified that Australian children cannot jump as far as their parents and their sporting abilities and participation rates are declining. Researchers also highlight that children are not engaging in physical activities common to previous generations, such as playing hopscotch, climbing trees and skipping rope.
National Wildlife Refuges announce five fee-free days for 2019. During these fee-free days, thirty refuges that normally charge entrance fees will offer free admission. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s largest network of conservation lands, encompassing 567 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state and U.S. territory has at least one national wildlife refuge, there is and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.