The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and the national nonprofit KidsGardening opened its Gro More Good Grassroots Grants, an annual grant program designed to get more kids outside through the development of youth-based garden and greenspace programs. The Gro More Good Grassroots Grants will support all types of community-driven garden and greenspace projects that directly engage youth. Grant funding will support the creation of new gardens and also the expansion of existing ones. Schools and nonprofit organizations across the country are encouraged to apply.
Exposure to Household Pet Cats and Dogs in Childhood and Risk of Subsequent Diagnosis of Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder
A study examining the relationship between exposure to a household pet cat or dog during the first 12 years of life and having a subsequent diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder found that exposure to a household pet dog was associated with a significantly decreased hazard of having a subsequent diagnosis of schizophrenia. The researchers looked at 396 individuals with schizophrenia and 381 with bipolar disorder.
The National Park Service announced five fee-free days for the year ahead, applying to the 111 park sites that normally charge visitors. The number of free days is the same as last year, but down from the 10 that were offered in 2017 as part of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration.
Playgrounds across Colorado have been redesigned with an emphasis on natural materials such as stumps and boulders instead of slides and swings as part of the ECHO program. ECHO or the Early Childhood Health Outdoors initiative is a joint venture of the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University that brings the outdoors closer to children, making playing in nature easier for time-crunched families. The new play areas have given some kids their first experiences with the natural world.
Adidas Outdoor has launched the Urban Climbing Project, a pilot project introducing the sport of climbing to young people in inner-city Manchester, UK. The project has launched with 83 local schoolchildren from six different primary and secondary schools in the city. Adidas Outdoor hopes to expand the Urban Climbing Project in 2020, offering learn to climb sessions to over 365 kids – one per day – from inner-city schools across the UK.
Researchers at Guangzhou’s South China Institute of Environmental Sciences found that children at schools with more trees and green space are less likely to have ADHD. After assessing the surrounding environments of the schools of almost 60,000 youngsters in China, the study showed that children were less likely to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder if their school offered green space.
The Boulder, Colorado-based organization, Growing Up Boulder, has created the nation’s first printed kid-friendly city map, designed to help parents and children find such child-friendly spaces such as parks and nature trails in the city. Growing Up Boulder collaborated with more than 30 organizations and 700 children, caregivers, and teachers to complete the map. The text is in both English and Spanish, but small icons also allow children who don’t read yet—or don’t yet read well—to navigate the city. The creators of the map say that part of its goal is to get the idea of a child-friendly city out there.
In an effort to encourage more physical activity among children, a Bulgarian city is proposing to cut the taxes of families whose children take part in organized sport. Todor Popov, Mayor of Pazardijk, and Reneta Kamberova, a member of the Bulgarian Rhythm Gymnastics ensemble, have drafted a proposal which will be submitted to the Pazardijk City Council early next year in which the local taxes and fees of families with youngsters playing sport could be reduced by up to 30 per cent.
People living in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to research by academics at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland. The study, which surveyed mental health in over 270 people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or leafier suburban neighborhoods.