International News Round Up
Kaboom, a nonprofit that has helped build 3,100 playgrounds in schools and parks across the U.S., is conducting an equity study in Baltimore to ensure any new playgrounds it installs are built where they are needed most rather than just in places that apply. Focusing its efforts on schools and prioritizing racial equity, Kaboom aims “to make sure every kid has access to a safe, great play space.”
Together with a number of local nonprofits, the city of Austin, Texas is working to improve park equity with a number of newly completed projects spanning sections of the city that have historically been split along racial and socioeconomic lines. Improving park access is a goal of the city and its parks and recreation department, which has focused on equity in a number of its policies and departments.
Children in Canada are playing outside less than previous generations with a recent Statistics Canada report finding that children between the ages of five and 17 had an average of three hours of screen time per day. Experts also warn that children have a much more constricted range of how far they wander from their home. In response, some experts have formed a new group, Outdoor Play Canada, that aims to get kids spending more time outside.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the Austin Parks and Recreation Department a grant to study whether worsening heat decreases opportunities for physical activity and reduces the overall emotional well-being of young people. The two-year project is a collaboration between the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, the National League of Cities & Children and Nature Network’s Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative and the Austin school district.
According to a new study published in the journal Health & Place, living near the ocean is significantly linked with better mental health among urban adults in England. Using data from the annual Health Survey for England, the study compared people’s health with their proximity to the coast, from those living within half of a mile of the ocean to those more than 31 miles away. The effect found in this study appeared only in people from the lowest-income households.
London is poised to become the world’s first ‘National Park City’ that aims to make life greener, healthier and wilder for residents. According to a new charter by the National Park City Foundation (NPCF), London seeks to push citizens toward building a better relationship with the city’s green spaces and urban wildlife via activities, events, capacity building, awareness programs and responsible consumption strategies. The charter is also likely to guide urban planning, as it shares London mayor Sadiq Khan’s vision “to make 50% of London physically green by 2050.”
Washington State has become the first state in the country to officially license outdoor preschools. Until recently, no outdoor preschools in the United States were licensed, which meant they couldn’t offer full-day programs or offer state financial assistance to families.
The new status of outdoor preschools in Washington will increase access for more families, encouraging more children to spend time in nature.
The 2019 Engagement with Parks Report, based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, found that nearly all U.S. adults (93 percent) believe it is important to protect natural resources, including fresh air and clean water. The survey also revealed that the vast majority (88 percent) of people agree local parks and recreation provide good opportunities to interact with nature and the outdoors. The Engagement with Parks Report is an annual research series from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) that tracks the general public’s interaction with and support for public parks.
The 2019 Minnesota Legislature authorized the No Child Left Inside grant program, which makes funding available to public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 for outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and related natural resource education expenses. According to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, children in Minnesota have historically spent time outdoors, but the trend has reversed. The No Child Left Inside grants are intended to boost outdoor programs and initiatives all around the state.
First Lady Melania Trump is visiting Wyoming to highlight US national landmarks and national parks and to encourage children to spend more time outdoors. The first lady will talk about the “Every Kid Outdoors” initiative, through which the National Park Service offers free park access to fourth graders. One of the pillars of Trump’s “Be Best” initiative is well being, which she says is served by visiting the natural beauty of the American outdoors.
A new study has found that short-term exposure to outside air pollution is associated with increased symptoms of psychiatric disorders, as marked by increased ER visits to the Cincinnati Children’s emergency department for psychiatric issues. The study, the first to show an association between daily outdoor air pollution levels and increased symptoms of psychiatric disorders, also found that children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods may be more susceptible to the effects of air pollution compared to other children, especially for disorders related to anxiety and suicidality.
Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitude Survey found that almost half (47%) of seven to 10-year-old girls do not have access to a playground with swings and a slide, and almost one in three can’t get to a park easily. One in six of the girls surveyed said they would like to play outside more if there was a safer way to cross the road. The
Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitude Survey spoke to 2,118 girls and young women aged between seven and 21 across the UK
A partnership between the Children & Nature Network, the Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, North Carolina State University and PlayCore has resulted in a Play Value Plant Database. The Database is intended to be a tool used by landscape architects, park administrators, nature-focused organizations, schools, and anyone who wants to promote rich and diverse play and recreation experiences for children and families.
City officials and school leaders from the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan held a sneak preview and project update of a green schoolyard project and nature play area at Plaster Creek Family Park. The project is part of the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative aimed at engaging children in outdoor learning spaces and new nature experiences instead of the traditional steel playground structures.
Researchers from Yale University found that a child’s environment can affect such personality traits as patience and being risk-averse. The study, which involved children from four countries, showed that being brought up in an urban setting could dramatically shape the behavior and actions of children.