International News Round Up
A bill supporting the creation of a Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Office was approved and referred to the state House Ways and Means Committee. The office would be tasked with increasing equitable outdoors access for Minnesota’s increasingly diverse population by coordinating outdoor recreation policy and management, assisting in promoting and marketing outdoor recreation events, and recruiting and growing outdoor recreation businesses. Testimony from C&NN’s Laura Mylan on the importance and necessity of increasing access to outdoor recreation for the well-being of children, struck a strong chord with legislators.
A report published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that, over the past decade, rates of depression, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts and actions have risen dramatically among people 26 and younger, with some of the highest increases among women and people at higher income levels. The study looked at survey data from a broad swath of young Americans, more than 600,000 adolescents and adults. Of note were that the changes were unlikely to be tied to poor financial prospects or substance abuse. Instead, the report said the increases may be linked to increased time spent on social media and electronic communication.
A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families put the play back in childhood. The report notes that the mutual joy and shared bonds that parents and children can experience during play can calm the body’s response to stress, making play a healthy antidote to aggressiveness and uncontrolled emotions.
The Walt Disney Company Commits $1 Million to the National Recreation and Park Association to Support Play Spaces Nationwide
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is accepting applications for its 2019 Meet Me at the Park play space grants. Part of a $1 million donation by The Walt Disney Company, the grant funding supports projects that increase access to play spaces in local parks for children and families.
to provide underserved communities, specifically kids and families, with new opportunities for play and physical activity. The program is part of NRPA and Disney’s commitment to provide 1 million kids and families with greater access to play — ensuring everyone has a safe place to play, learn and live a healthier lifestyle.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia recently looked at ideal outdoor play conditions for preschoolers. The researchers compared the time children spent playing outdoors against a number of factors, including backyard size, outdoor features, fixed play equipment and portable play items. They found that a simple sandpit, swing or cubby house in the backyard are all that are needed to help preschoolers get enough outdoor play time at home. The study was published in the Public Health Research & Practice by the Sax Institute
According to a recent study by three groups including the Centre for Ocular Research & Education in Waterloo, nearsightedness in children jumped from 6% of children aged 6-8 to nearly 30% in kids 11-13 years old. Researchers believe that excessive screen time and not enough outdoor time in childhood is causing the trend. Though the damage to the eyes is irreversible, even an hour more outside every week will go along way in preventing myopia, or nearsightedness.
Two young sisters who were lost in the woods near their Northern California home survived the 44-hour ordeal by practicing wilderness survival skills they learned at their local 4-H club’s wilderness education class and on family camping trips. Through two cold, wet nights, the sisters stayed together, huddling for warmth beneath a bush they called their “huckleberry home” and drinking fresh water droplets from the leaves.
A report by the Association of Play Industries (API) reveals that there has been a 50 per cent increase in children’s discretionary screen time (DST) in less than a decade. The API report, A Movement for Movement, shows a strong link between recreational screen time and children’s inactivity, with children choosing to spend hours indoors and on screens instead of playing outside.
Congress has passed the most significant public lands legislation in more than a decade. The National Resources Management Act includes over 600 pages of wilderness protections and public lands expansion. The package renews the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which directs annual royalties from oil and gas companies toward the protection of natural spaces. The Every Kid Outdoors Act (formerly Every Kid in a Park) was also renewed under the Natural Resources Management Act.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal has found that kids who grow up with greener surroundings are less likely to develop various mental disorders later in life. By examining satellite images of the green spaces surrounding the childhood homes of almost a million people, researchers found that children who grew up around lots of green space had a 55 percent reduction in risk of developing mental disorders in adulthood.
New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that 20 minutes in an urban park can improve happiness and wellbeing, regardless of whether the time is spent exercising. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, found that it wasn’t necessary to visit a national park but that nearby urban green space was sufficient to produce the results.
Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado has introduced a bill to the U.S. House of Representatives that would make the Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) program permanent. EKIP gives fourth-graders free access to federal public lands. The program, established in 2015, gives fourth-grade students and their families free access to more than 2,000 federally managed parks, lands and waters across the country.
The Oakland Unified School District’s Board of Education passed two policies intended to ensure OUSD students are educated in greener environments, become environmentally literate and are prepared to address the challenges of the future related to climate change. The Development of Living Schoolyards policy outlines OUSD’s vision to transform asphalt-covered school grounds into living schoolyards that promote children’s health and well-being while creating green and ecologically rich community parks that connect children and their neighborhoods to the natural world.
A bill that seeks to encourage children to become more independent won approval in the South Carolina Senate. The so-called “free-range parenting” bill would prevent parents from being accused of abuse or neglect if they allow children of “sufficient age or maturity” to play outside and walk or bicycle to school without supervision.
Britain’s top doctors have issued advice to families about social media and screen use. U.K. Chief Medical Officers (CMO) published a commentary on screen-based activities and children and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing warning that too much time sitting down or using mobile devices can get in the way of important, healthy activities. The medical officers declined to set age and time limits, saying that there was not enough evidence to do so.