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The New Nature Movement – Columns by Guest Writers

8 Eye-Opening Ways Kids Benefit from Experiences with Nature

A team of researchers including C&NN’s Consulting Research Director, Cathy Jordan, has conducted a critical review of current peer-reviewed research related to the benefits of nature for children’s health, learning and social and personal development. The review, which was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, has found that having experiences related to nature and incorporating nature-based instruction into kids’ daily school activities promotes better learning via eight distinct pathways,.

One in Five Chinese Children Is Overweight or Obese, and the Booming Economy May Be to Blame, Study Reveals

A new study has found that one in five Chinese children are overweight or obese. This statistic is up from 1 in 20 in 1995. The researchers found that, while China’s rapid economic growth over the past two decades had been accompanied by a reduction in childhood growth stunting and thinness, the country has also seen a four-fold rise in the number of overweight and obese children. Study authors attribute the alarming trend to lifestyle changes such as a decline in outdoor play and high sugar diet.

NParks Opens Nature Playground As Testbed for Future Biophilic Sites

A new natural play area in Singapore designed around the concept of biophilia will be a testing ground to develop new design guidelines for the National Parks Board (NParks) to help pre-schools, government agencies and developers build future biophilic play areas around the island. Biophilia relates to the innate emotional connection that humans have with nature.

Chicago’s Large Lot Program Sowing Change in Inner-city Communities

A program in Chicago that enables property owners to buy vacant lots for $1, repurposing them for such purposes as maintaining green yards, social or play spaces, or community gardens, has been a success, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois. Residents who repurposed vacant lots reported in the study that the projects made their neighborhoods safer, quieter, friendlier places to live. The study was co-written by U. of I. scholars

Proposal Seeks Way to Reform, Better Promote Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Efforts

A bill supporting the creation of a Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Office was approved and referred to the state House Ways and Means Committee. The office would be tasked with increasing equitable outdoors access for Minnesota’s increasingly diverse population by coordinating outdoor recreation policy and management, assisting in promoting and marketing outdoor recreation events, and recruiting and growing outdoor recreation businesses. Testimony from C&NN’s Laura Mylan on the importance and necessity of increasing access to outdoor recreation for the well-being of children, struck a strong chord with legislators.

Mental Health Problems Rise Significantly Among Young Americans

A report published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that, over the past decade, rates of depression, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts and actions have risen dramatically among people 26 and younger, with some of the highest increases among women and people at higher income levels. The study looked at survey data from a broad swath of young Americans, more than 600,000 adolescents and adults. Of note were that the changes were unlikely to be tied to poor financial prospects or substance abuse. Instead, the report said the increases may be linked to increased time spent on social media and electronic communication.

The Importance of Putting Play Back Into Childhood

A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families put the play back in childhood. The report notes that the mutual joy and shared bonds that parents and children can experience during play can calm the body’s response to stress, making play a healthy antidote to aggressiveness and uncontrolled emotions.

The Walt Disney Company Commits $1 Million to the National Recreation and Park Association to Support Play Spaces Nationwide

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is accepting applications for its 2019 Meet Me at the Park play space grants. Part of a $1 million donation by The Walt Disney Company, the grant funding supports projects that increase access to play spaces in local parks for children and families.
to provide underserved communities, specifically kids and families, with new opportunities for play and physical activity. The program is part of NRPA and Disney’s commitment to provide 1 million kids and families with greater access to play — ensuring everyone has a safe place to play, learn and live a healthier lifestyle.

Outdoor Play at Home Key for Young Children’s Health and Development

Researchers from the University of Western Australia recently looked at ideal outdoor play conditions for preschoolers. The researchers compared the time children spent playing outdoors against a number of factors, including backyard size, outdoor features, fixed play equipment and portable play items. They found that a simple sandpit, swing or cubby house in the backyard are all that are needed to help preschoolers get enough outdoor play time at home. The study was published in the Public Health Research & Practice by the Sax Institute

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