International News Round Up
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.
A Swansea University study looked at the connection between afternoon breaks during the school day and impacts on children’s health. Over 5000 students from 56 primary schools in Wales were involved in the study. Researchers found that children who had afternoon play were significantly fitter, which suggests that removing afternoon play for children may be detrimental to their physical health.
With pop-up and temporary green spaces becoming increasingly popular in cities, researchers are exploring the social and ecological impacts of the installations. According to researchers from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR), temporary pop-up parks and green spaces in urban areas offer great benefits for the environment as well as the physical and mental wellbeing of people.
The state of Michigan has partnered with a consortium of states dedicated to promoting the outdoor recreation industry. The partnership is part of a growing national effort to build public awareness about the economic, social and public health benefits of outdoor play and provide a unified voice for the diverse businesses and organizations that make up the industry. Michigan offers more than 8 million acres of publicly accessible lands, 12,000 miles of state-designated trails, Great Lakes, rivers and streams.
A new survey has found that more than half of parents in Britain believe there has been increase in mental health and wellbeing issues in children compared to when they were younger. The parents cited mandatory homework their children must do as a key contributing factor. Almost 50 per cent of the parents surveyed think their children’s time would be better spent playing outside, learning from friends, on field trips and through play rather than doing homework.
The Netherlands has the highest concentration of asthmatic children caused by traffic pollution in Europe according to a new study published in the journal, The Lancet. Researchers report that one in five Dutch children suffer from pollution-induced asthma, rising to over half in the bigger cities. Pediatricians say the damage compromises children’s lives in many ways including preventing them from playing outside.
In celebration of the annual National Public Lands Day, September 28, 2019 has been designed as a Free Entrance Day for most National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas and other participating federal sites. National Public Lands Day is the largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands with hundreds of thousands of people volunteering each year to assist with various projects designed to restore and enhance public parks, forests, waterways and more.
The federal government has authorized the Every Kid Outdoors program for the next 7 years. The program provides fourth graders with free access to explore, learn, and recreate in national parks, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries, and forests. The Every Kid Outdoors Program is an interagency collaboration between the Department of the Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Forest Service. Every Kid Outdoors replaces the Every Kid in a Park program that was established in 2015.
A new e-book, published by Frontiers in Psychology, examines how putting children back in contact with nature could make them more successful in school and in life. The free e-book, “The natural world as a resource for learning and development: From schoolyards to wilderness,” contains 13 articles from scholars around the world. C&NN’s Consulting Research Director & Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Extension at the University of Minnesota, Cathy Jordan, is a co-author of the e-book.
A new partnership between Washington State University Health Sciences and the largest outdoor preschool in the country will study the impact of an outdoor preschool model on children’s health outcomes. The study, supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health and the George B. Storer Foundation, is a five-year project to measure physical activity, body mass index, sleep, and gut microbiome—microorganisms that live in the digestive track—in 200 children. Half of the children will be enrolled at the outdoor preschool, Tiny Trees, while the other half will be children who are on the school’s waitlist and enrolled in a more traditional preschool setting.
England’s Department for Transport has revised its road closure guidelines in an effort to break down barriers that have prevented children from playing outside on neighborhood streets. The new guidelines are intended to help make community events that encourage children’s outdoor play easier to organize. Previously, residents applying for road closure orders to allow children to play on traffic-free streets have previously faced a costly process because of the requirement to advertise notices.
A new study from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) found that large amounts of a certain type of bacteria found in soil may reduce the child’s risk of developing asthma. Researchers analyzed the microbiota in over 400 Finnish homes and concluded that, with regard to microbial exposure, it is important to have contact with nature everyday.
A new study, conducted by the Mayo clinic, uncovered a link between dog ownership and good heart health. The researchers examined a group of 1,769 subjects and scored them based on ideal health behaviors and factors outlined by the American Heart Association. They found that people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level but the greatest benefits were seen in dog owners.
Kentucky’s Daviess County Public Library is building the city’s first StoryWalk, a project that mixes literacy and family engagement. As part of StoryWalk, families make their way around a trail through nearby Moreland Park, stopping at stations and reading pages from a book. The project is aimed at exercising patrons’ bodies and minds.