International News Round Up
A new report reveals that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Populations with higher levels of green space exposure are also more likely to report good overall health. The research team from the University of East Anglia studied data from 20 countries including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan.
Living in proximity to green space may reduce the risk of schizophrenia, particularly during childhood. Using satellite images of green spaces in Denmark, a group of Danish researchers from Aarhus University found that people who lived in areas with the least amount of green space faced an increased risk of developing schizophrenia compared to those who lived in areas with the most green space.
The Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth released by the non-profit organization ParticipAction indicates that only 35 percent of five to 17-year-olds and 62 percent of children ages three and four are getting the recommended physical activity. Study authors state that physical activity has profound impacts on kids’ brain health including increased cognitive skills to improved mental health.
Children living in a neighborhood in western Canada have been prohibited from activities such as chalk drawing, bike riding and hockey, after a bylaw was passed banning all outside play from the street. The neighborhood council at a small housing development on Vancouver Island voted to ban the use of roadways for anything other than access to and from the community, for safety reasons.
A historic Mexico City fountain will be transformed into a children’s playground. The playground was the winning design in a competition hosted by Mexico City’s new experimental office for civic innovation and urban creativity. The playground uses wooden ramps and horizontal grids to provide ‘moments of moderate risk which encourages interaction and dynamic play’.
In order to help students get optimal benefits from recess, a new study published in “BMC Public Health” looked at benefits of school recess beyond physical activity. Study researchers visited nearly 500 elementary schools spanning 22 urban and metropolitan areas in the U.S., examining safety, resources, student engagement, adult engagement, pro-social/anti-social behavior, and student empowerment during recess. As part of the study results, the researchers developed a 17-point checklist to optimize the playground experience.
A new University of Minnesota, Twin Cities study of more than 400 children finds that parents who exercise excessive control over their children from an early age may be putting their kids at a serious disadvantage. The findings suggest that overcontrolling parenting may prevent children from practicing emotional and behavioral control on their own. Such children, the study suggests, are ill-prepared to cope with stress and prone to lash out at others.
A new study in the journal “Behavioral Sciences” compared three different “levels of nature”—a wilderness setting, an urban park, and an indoor exercise club—to see how they affect levels of stress. Using a psychological test plus a saliva test, the researchers from Indiana and Illinois State Universities found that the location with the highest level of nature had the greatest effect on reducing levels of stress as measured by the tests.
Outdoor gear retailer REI is investing in parks and other outdoor areas around Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The efforts are a continuation of the Rewilding Project, which centers on trail-building, boosting sustainable management practices and increasing accessibility to the public.
A recent survey asking 200 children between the ages of 4 to 8 to identify nature found in Britain revealed that 89% of children were unable to recognize a butterfly, 51% didn’t know what a bumblebee looks like and 29% didn’t realize that bees make honey. The survey was part of the Play More campaign, an initiative designed to encourage parents and children to get back in touch with nature.
July is Park and Recreation Month. Launched by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Park and Recreation Month was designed to encourage the public to get out to local parks and rec centers. This year’s theme is to explore the many “undiscovered” offerings such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming, senior programs, and innovative health and wellness opportunities
The children of the San Francisco Bay Area region’s elite are learning through play in a tech-free space. “Low-tech, high-play” education is becoming increasingly popular with tech families in California’s Silicon Valley, replacing rote-learning and exam-focused schooling with project-based learning and outdoor time.
Excessive video game playing can have the same effect on children’s brains as drug abuse or alcoholism, according to a recent study. Researchers from California State University showed through MRI scans that the impulsive/reward system of the brain, the amygdala-striatal system, was more sensitive and smaller in excessive video game users to be able to process the stimuli of the games faster.
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) recently announced a new adventure-oriented collaboration with The North Face. With 12 new adventure badges, it will be the largest national organization to offer skills like trail running, mountaineering, rock climbing, and backpacking specifically for girls.
A campaign called Generation Wild has been launched by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). The Generation Wild campaign features “100 Things to Do Before You’re 12,” a range of activities from making a mudpie to hiking a 14er. The campaign is intended to inspire kids to get outside more often.