International News Round Up
Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey has introduced a new bill, the Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act. The bill, HR 2435, would establish a task force charged with finding ways to make better use of public land in treatment and therapy for vets. The bill acknowledges the important role public lands and unspoiled wilderness play in American society and could direct one of the largest budgets in the world—that of the U.S. military—toward protecting public lands and funding the guides and gear necessary to recreate on them, all the while educating millions of veterans about the importance of conserving our wild places.
REI and National Forest Foundation have teamed up for a third consecutive year to restore trails and connect youth to National Forests. This year funds will support up to 15 high-impact projects on National Forests around the country. In addition, every project supported year has a youth element such as an internship, a summer field program or a day of stewardship.
Adidas Outdoor and 1Climb, a nonprofit co-founded by American rock climber Kevin Jorgeson, announced an initiative to build 10 climbing walls in Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S. (a nonprofit that “inspires and enables” underserved youth through various programs and opportunities) around the country. The partnership hopes to introduce 100,000 kids in urban areas to their first climb. The 1Climb Boys & Girls Club facilities will be completed by 2020 and join three others that 1Climb has already built in Saint Louis, Missouri, Los Angeles, and Sonoma, California.
New York State Parks Announces ‘New York State Connect Kids to Parks’ Program Welcomes 200,000th Public School Student
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced the “New York State Connect Kids to Parks” field trip grant program welcomed its 200,000th New York state public school student. The program, which began in 2016, offers state grants to public schools in Title 1 districts throughout New York to fund field trips to state parks and historic sites for environmental, historical and physical education programming. To date, the program has funded over 4,000 field trips.
The city of Denver announced plans to spend its new $37.5M parks fund, funded by an increase in sales taxes to pay for a host of urban issues, including tens of millions of dollars for parks and green spaces. Among the projects to be funded is a $2 million nature play area in City Park, a collaboration with Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Kids to Parks Day (KTP Day), celebrated on May 18, 2019, is expected to bring over one million people to hundreds of national, state, and local parks, and public lands across the country. KTP Day, celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, is a national day of play that connects kids and families with their local, state, and national parks.
A nascent global movement made up of parents, educators, researchers, and health practitioners who believe that universal and equitable access to nature is fundamental to our humanity as well as to the future of life on Earth is taking shape. The movement grows alongside a new body of scientific evidence that associates improved wellness and lower mortality rates with access to green and biodiverse spaces.
The World Health Organization has issued a new set of guidelines that states that infants under 1 year old should not be exposed to electronic screens and that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should not have more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” each day. Researchers at the organization also urged that children should also get more exercise and sleep in order to avoid chronic diseases in childhood and later in life.
Nature Play Queensland designed an experimental pilot program to encourage “free-range kids,” or free-roaming play, in communities. The program, funded by the Queensland Government, was conducted last year. Results are expected to be delivered to the Government soon. Nature Play hopes the results will be good enough to get more funding to run the program in other suburbs given the statistics that a quarter of Australian children aged 5 to 14 are overweight or obese, and less than one in five Australian children get their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
World Parks Week will run this year from April 27 to May 4. This year’s theme, “Kids Outdoors,” aims to celebrate the vital role of parks and green spaces in fostering healthy, liveable and thriving communities. The initiative is organized by World Urban Parks in collaboration with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and #NatureForAll, among others.
The results of a recent wellness study conducted by the Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan State University researchers found that viewing animals reduces stress levels. Study participants were separated into three groups and showed a video of either a plain white screen, Detroit traffic or animals at the Detroit Zoo. MSU scientists measured stress indicators, like heart rate, skin conductance, and facial reaction. The results showed that stress levels were lowest in the group who were shown animals.
A new survey of 300 U.K children found that kids aged four to eight quizzed had trouble naming fruits, vegetables or herbs. The survey by Sudocrem found that only one in three children can name a single herb and more than half could not name five fruit or vegetables that grow in British gardens, apart from potatoes. Children surveyed could not name a single variety of apple.
Stressed-Out Americans Only Get 43 Minutes of ‘Me Time’ Per Day, But Solution May Lie in Their Backyards
A recent survey found that 75% of people wish they spent more time outdoors and 20% admit they don’t use their own outdoor space enough. The survey by OnePoll involved 2,000 people. Survey results also found that the average American only gets five hours of “me time” in a week — that’s just 43 minutes a day. Current events, jobs, partners, kids, and too much noise were named as the top five things that prevent people from getting enough R&R.
The Outdoor Foundation will award multi-year capacity-building grants to diverse communities in order to create or strengthen partnerships between existing local organizations such as schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs and nonprofit conservation and outdoor organizations that create repeat and reinforcing positive outdoor experiences for kids and families.
Over the next decade, the Outdoor Foundation will connect and engage a diverse constituency of participants, advocates and volunteers in at least 32 cities, with the goal of getting 3 million people outside.
Researchers from the University of Michigan recently asked a group of adults to take “nature pills,” or to spend some time either sitting or walking in nature. Participants were required to spend 10 minutes or more in nature at least three times a week for an eight-month period. After analyzing the results, the researchers found that having a 20-minute nature experience reduced cortisol levels.