International News Round Up
National Public Lands Day (NPLD), the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22 in 2018. NPLD is also a “fee-free day”—entrance fees are waived at national parks and other public lands.
London will close around 50 streets to traffic this Saturday (September 22nd) to mark World Car Free Day, the even intends to encourage residents to reclaim the city streets for play and gatherings. London Play, the organization that works to give children the freedom to play by shutting roads to traffic, is leading the event.
London Play helps residents to organize Play Streets, where roads are closed to traffic a few hours once a week or month to provide a safe space for children to play outside with their friends. Play Streets also encourage a sense of community by giving neighbors the opportunity to meet.
A new study has found a link between teenagers’ frequent use of digital media and symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The research group consisted of over 2,000 high school students from Los Angeles County who did not have symptoms of ADHD and was the largest and longest study on the topic. One of the strengths of the study is that it includes teens from a range of backgrounds as sociodemographic diversity had been a limitation of prior studies on digital media.
A new study has looked at the impact on families caused by a shift away from free play outdoors to screen time indoors. The study results indicate that most families have lost the balance at home, and spend a significant amount of time arguing over screens. Among the results of the study is the finding that families are dealing with screen overload at home with the average household owning 15 tech devices.
PlayCore has joined forces with the Children & Nature Network to raise awareness and help scale the implementation of green schoolyards. Studies have proven that children’s exposure to nature is beneficial in a variety of meaningful ways. Collectively, this body of research shows that children’s academic, social, psychological, cognitive, and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily exposure to nature.
This week, members of the US Congress passed The Every Kid Outdoors Act. The bill authorizes the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to administer a pass program to provide free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our national public lands, waters, and shores. The companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
The prevalence of forest schools in Denmark continues to grow, with one in 10 Danish preschools now held outdoors. The country has become such a leader in the forest school movement, that educators visit Denmark from all over the world to learn about the forest school model.
The Discover the Forest campaign, headed by the US Forest Service and Ad Council, is kicking off with the goal of inspiring children to develop an early interest in nature through their local National Forests and trails. The campaign hopes to expose families to the health benefits of being in nature, as well as encourage a lifelong connection to nature.
A new law in France prohibits students of ages three to 15 from using smartphones on school grounds with a few exceptions. Lawmakers hope the ban will remove distractions during class and encourage students to play outside as well.
According to a new survey conducted by the UK’s National Forest, parents would like to see increased outdoor learning as part of the school curriculum. More than half of parents questioned believe increasing use of technology is driving their children away from nature and nearly a third think modern technology is having a negative impact on their ability to interact verbally with people around them.
Several Toronto schools are participating in a pilot project to use the Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) program. Funded by Earth Day Canada, the only organization in Canada licensed to deliver the OPAL program, the program aims to bring back unstructured play and encourage children to use all sorts of “loose parts” – spares tires, ropes, sticks, logs and other castoffs – to build whatever comes into their heads. The program, originally developed in Britain, has expanded to 25 Toronto-area schools this year.
Seattle’s new Yesler Terrace Park is a milestone in the remaking of the community. The 1.8-acre park, built for about $6 million, is located in the heart of a mixed-income redevelopment on property previously occupied by a Seattle Housing Authority. Construction of the park started in 2012 and is expected to last more than 10 years.
A recent study sponsored by Save the Children Bangladesh found that excessive pressure to study, a lack of playgrounds and a perceived insecurity of the outdoors deny children the opportunity to play in the capital city of Dhaka. The study, conducted with 300 children and as many parents of 600 households, was led by Salma Akhter, a sociology professor at Dhaka University. According to the findings, girls play less outdoors than boys out of fear of security, with parents worried about the possibility of girls being sexually harassed.
A partnership between the city of Denver and the private sector has led to the development of state-of-the-art pollution sensor technology to monitor and evaluate air quality in local schools. The real-time, hyper-local air-quality data-monitoring system will enable teachers, administrators, and students to assess the risks of pollution at any given time and take appropriate measures to lessen exposure. The technology will collect, interpret and disseminate data to the community, which can then act on the results in ways that ultimately can benefit not just Denver, but anywhere the technology is used.
In an analysis of children living in different types of neighborhoods in Seattle, researchers from Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that children who resided in less walkable areas with fewer recreational activities had a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity compared with kids living in more environmentally supportive areas. The study, reported in the journal Obesity, was based on data involving more than 1,200 children ages 6 to 12 who were tracked for two years.