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News Center Items by Richard Louv

Congress Just Passed the Most Important Public Lands Bill in a Decade

Congress has passed the most significant public lands legislation in more than a decade. The National Resources Management Act includes over 600 pages of wilderness protections and public lands expansion. The package renews the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which directs annual royalties from oil and gas companies toward the protection of natural spaces. The Every Kid Outdoors Act (formerly Every Kid in a Park) was also renewed under the Natural Resources Management Act.

Greener Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal  has found that kids who grow up with greener surroundings are less likely to develop various mental disorders later in life. By examining satellite images of the green spaces surrounding the childhood homes of almost a million people, researchers found that children who grew up around lots of green space had a 55 percent reduction in risk of developing mental disorders in adulthood.

If You Want to Feel Happier, Just Spend 20 Minutes in a Park

New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that 20 minutes in an urban park can improve happiness and wellbeing, regardless of whether the time is spent exercising. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, found that it wasn’t necessary to visit a national park but that nearby urban green space was sufficient to produce the results.

Bill Would Guarantee Free Access to Public Lands for Fourth-graders

Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado has introduced a bill to the U.S. House of Representatives that would make the Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) program permanent. EKIP gives fourth-graders free access to federal public lands. The program, established in 2015, gives fourth-grade students and their families free access to more than 2,000 federally managed parks, lands and waters across the country.

Oakland School Board Passes Policies on Living Schoolyards and Environmental Education

The Oakland Unified School District’s Board of Education passed two policies intended to ensure OUSD students are educated in greener environments, become environmentally literate and are prepared to address the challenges of the future related to climate change. The Development of Living Schoolyards policy outlines OUSD’s vision to transform asphalt-covered school grounds into living schoolyards that promote children’s health and well-being while creating green and ecologically rich community parks that connect children and their neighborhoods to the natural world.

South Carolina’s Free-range Parenting Bill Explores at What Age Can Kids Be on Their Own

A bill that seeks to encourage children to become more independent won approval in the South Carolina Senate. The so-called “free-range parenting” bill would prevent parents from being accused of abuse or neglect if they allow children of “sufficient age or maturity” to play outside and walk or bicycle to school without supervision.

U.K. Doctors Call for Caution in Children’s Use of Screens and Social Media

Britain’s top doctors have issued advice to families about social media and screen use. U.K. Chief Medical Officers (CMO) published a commentary on screen-based activities and children and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing warning that too much time sitting down or using mobile devices can get in the way of important, healthy activities. The medical officers declined to set age and time limits, saying that there was not enough evidence to do so. 

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Announces Commitment to Connect 10 Million Children to the Benefits of Gardens and Greenspaces

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company announced the launch of a national initiative to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens and greenspaces to 10 million U.S. children over the next five years. Through its Gro More Good program, Scotts Miracle-Gro will provide monetary grants, educational curriculum and training to communities across the U.S. in collaboration with its partners, with the goal of creating more gardens, greenspaces and refurbished outdoor play spaces for children.

UK Nursery Group Calls for Two Hours Mandatory Outdoor Play per Day

A London-based nursery group, the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), has introduced outdoor time into their curriculum-based pedagogy, warning that many children aren’t getting enough vitamin D or exposure to the outdoors. LEYF is calling for all London nursery children to play outside for a minimum of two hours per day, regardless of the weather.

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