Various state park systems and organizations are offering free admission on Black Friday as part of REI’s #OptOutside campaign. More than 15 million people and over 700 organizations have chosen to #OptOutside over the years since REI started the campaign in 2015, and each year state parks, national parks and a number of groups and societies band together to get people outdoors.
The Association of Play Industries (API) has uncovered an alarming rate of playground closures across the UK, despite increasing national concerns about children’s health. The API estimates that by 2020/2021 there will have been a 44% decrease in spending on outdoor play facilities, with a further 29 play areas set to be closed in the North West of the UK in the next three years. Since 2014, local authorities have closed a total of 347 playgrounds across England.
Preschool-aged children are twice as active, and less sedentary when outdoors compared to indoors, according to a US study conducted by researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. During the study, children were fitted with GPS technology, and their movements monitored. The results may impact the way outdoor play spaces are accessed and designed in Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings.
A widespread review by the World Cancer Research Fund has found that sedentary behavior from increased exposure to cellphones, computers and other electronic entertainment is associated with weight gain, which increases the risk of 12 cancers. The report, which looked at 80 studies involving more than 200,000 people, found that risks of colon, breast, endometrial cancer and others jump with a lack of physical activity.
The Philadelphia School District has strengthened its partnership with Outward Bound’s Philadelphia arm, spending up to $340,000 annually so students can have access to Outward Bound programming in an effort to improve graduation rates. Nearly 1500 ninth graders in the Philadelphia School District will participate in Philadelphia Outward Bound School programs this school year, participating in such activities as climbing tall trees, taking nature walks, and completing physical challenges in one- and multi-day expeditions, all in the name of social and emotional learning.
REI to Invest $1 Million in Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Program, Youth Development Initiatives
The REI Co-op is investing $1 million in the Outdoor Foundation, the charitable arm of Outdoor Industry Association, to support the Thrive Outside program. The program is focused on getting kids and families of diverse backgrounds outside to enjoy the many health and wellness benefits of nature. The goal is to grow healthy individuals and build healthy communities by weaving the outdoors into families’ day-to-day routines and providing consistent outdoor programming. REI’s pledge will help build out critical work in select communities across the country focused on how access to the outdoors can help with youth development.
Nearly 100 primary schools across Malta and Gozo celebrated outstanding achievements in connecting children with nature through the BirdLife Dinja Waħda program. The mission of the program is to connect children with
nature and trigger behavioral changes that will lead to future environmental stewardship. The program works with local schools to provide outdoor activities on school grounds and through visits to Malta’s nature reserves to connect students with nature.
Researchers from the University of Manchester and Cardiff University found that conversations between parents and their kids were much more “responsive and connected” when they were outdoors versus when they were talking inside. The researchers suggest that the study demonstrates that natural environments can significantly enhance social interactions, in this case improving the quality of parent-child conversations. As part of the study, researcher recorded conversations between parents and their 3- and 4-year-olds.