International News Round Up
In a survey of 1,000 adults and 1,000 children between the ages of five and 16 in the UK, 44% of parents said their child spent less time enjoying nature than they did as children. As part of the survey, children were asked to identify a series of pictures of animals and plants. Results showed a lack of familiarity with species such as the finding that 83% of children did not know what a bumblebee looks like.
A study looking at children’s attitudes toward local wildlife surveyed 2,759 children across North Carolina. Researchers observed that children thought more favorably of faraway charismatic species, such as pandas and cheetahs, than local ones. Researchers also examined whether a child’s attitudes regarding nature were influenced by where the child lived and found that all children, regardless of their neighborhood, were equally disconnected from local wildlife.
According to a new University of Chicago-led study exploring how kids develop a relationship with the outdoors, children prefer urban environments much more than adults. The results suggest that a passion for nature might develop gradually throughout one’s life, rather than being inherent at birth or a young age.
Opening Schoolyards to the Public During Non-school Hours Could Increase Park Access for 20 Million People
Over 19.6 million Americans, including over five million children, could gain access to parks if school grounds were open to the public, according to a Trust for Public Land report. Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix and San Antonio would benefit the most, the report says. Public school districts are among the largest landowners in almost every city and town across the United States. There are approximately 100,000 public schools in the U.S., but only around ten percent of schools currently provide the general public with formal access to schoolyard sites.
The City of Montreal revealed plans to create the largest urban park in Canada. When the park is finished, it will be eight times larger than New York’s Central Park and 15 times bigger than the Mount Royal Park in downtown Montreal. Mayor Valérie Plante said the project is part of her administration’s plan to protect 10 percent of the city’s green spaces.
A survey of over 1000 UK parents found that nine out of 10 parents who were not close to a playground said that having access would make their child play outside more. Of those with access to a playground, 61 percent said it does make their child play outside more and over half of parents said more access to playgrounds would make their child more active. The survey was conducted by Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest website for parents.
In a new survey of British parents, over half reported that they do not think they are fit enough to play actively with their kids during summer holidays. The survey, commissioned by Argos, found that 65% of parents are worried they won’t keep up with their kids over the 6-week break, suffering from “fitness anxiety”.
A first of its kind 13-acre natural playground opened this week in Denver. The park was designed to promote nature play on a variety of levels including gross motor and active play as well as passive and exploratory play, which encourages users to slow the experiential pace and engage in a multi-sensory way. Planners first focused on educating the public on the benefits of nature play so they could could make informed decisions on proposed features within the park.
Dozens of Pacific Northwest doctors have teamed up with the national nonprofit Park Rx America to write ”park prescriptions” that direct patients with obesity, anxiety, depression or certain chronic conditions to spend more time outside. A total of 63 health care providers in Washington state and 12 in Oregon have signed up with Park Rx America. Washington State Parks also recently joined the national group, which provides clinicians a template to prescribe nearby green spaces with address and amenity details.
Eye specialists in New Zealand report that they are seeing unprecedented numbers of children with serious eye problems such as myopia due to excessive screen use. They are urging government intervention on the issue. Children’s developing eyes are the most at risk of developing a severe form of myopia, which can lead to blindness as adults. Experts say the best protection against progressive myopia and general eye health is to spend as much time as possible outdoors in natural light, getting used to the environment and its dimensions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines recommending no screen time before a child’s first birthday, and one hour of screen time per day for toddlers and preschoolers. WHO hopes the guidelines will free up time for critical physical activity, human interaction, and sleep needed by young children The new guidelines were developed in collaboration with WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, and will be part of WHO’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018–2030.
Amid growing safety fears, some U.S. communities have banned the crumb rubber infill used in playgrounds and sports fields around the country. Some experts and lawmakers are concerned about the possible health effects of the material on children. The material, which is made from recycled tires, can contain heavy metals like lead and manganese, volatile organic compounds like toluene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The chemicals are associated with cancer and other illnesses at certain levels of exposure.
Virginia has established an Office of Outdoor Recreation, becoming the 15th state with either an office or task force dedicated solely to strengthening economic development and the outdoor recreation economy. The new state agency will help grow the state’s outdoor industry, working towards land conservation, workforce development, and public health goals. Earlier this month, Wisconsin established its own office of outdoor recreation. In addition, New Hampshire and California currently are working on legislation to create there own state offices.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced that $1.3 million of funding will be provided for the state’s No Child Left Inside grant. The funding will give over 14,000 children the chance to explore Washington parks, forests, and outdoor recreational areas across the state, with a focus on outdoor educational and recreational programs for youths in low-income families.
According to a new APM Research Lab survey, a third of U.S. residents say their job and work obligations are stopping them from spending more time in nature. The survey polled 1,000 U.S. adults and found that thirty-one percent of people cited work as their major barrier to getting outdoors.