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The New Nature Movement – Columns by Guest Writers

To Bolster Academics, Philly Schools Turning to the Outdoors

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.

Malta Primary Schools Celebrate Their Success in Connecting Children with Nature

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.

For a Better Conversation, Take It Outside

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.

Researchers Have Concerning News About American Children’s Level of Exercise

According to a study from a team of researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, a majority of children are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity they need, and only 5% are meeting the goal of 60 minutes per day. Researchers also discovered that only one hour of screen time can increase a child’s chance of becoming anxious or depressed. The team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital looked at more more than 7,800 children between ages five and 18 who attended outpatient pediatric sports medicine clinics over a three-year period.

Research Shows Eyesight Epidemic for Children Caused by Lack of Time Outside

A study recently published in the “British Journal of Ophthalmology,” has found that intense education and limited time outdoors play major roles in a global myopia epidemic. Myopia, commonly referred to as being short-sighted, afflicts approximately a quarter of young people globally. Researchers found that children who entered the formal schooling system at a younger age were more likely to develop myopia than their peers. The scientists involved in the research are calling on education systems to make major changes such as more outdoors time to curb the trend.

Wintermission Competition Launched to Improve Public Life in U.S. Cities

Children & Nature Network is a proud partner with 8-80 Cities and the National League of Cities on the recently launched Wintermission project. Wintermission aims to improve public life and overcome social isolation in cold-weather cities with outdoor public space programming in winter in three U.S. cities. 8 80 Cities is accepting proposals for Wintermission project partners in three U.S. cities. Selected project partners will be coached to plan, pilot, and implement creative solutions to increase social interaction and physical activity in public spaces during winter.

The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors

A new study from researchers at North Carolina State University and Clemson University found that middle-school students are spending more time indoors and less outdoors. The study, published in the journal “Environment and Behavior,” analyzed the recreational activities of 543 middle-school students across rural South Carolina. While most of the students spent some time outdoors, more time was spent using electronic media. 

Kids Who Miss Out on Play Outside Are More Stressed, Moody and Have Shorter Attention Spans

New research by Outdoor Play and Learning in Australia has found that almost half of Australian children do not play outside every day, despite the facts that a growing body of research shows that children who miss out on outdoor play are more stressed and moody, have shorter attention spans and are less likely to reach their full academic potential. Experts are calling for increased outdoor time due to the known benefits of the outdoors on classroom performance.

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