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International News Round Up


Just Seeing Nature May Curb Unhealthy Cravings

Researchers at the University of Plymouth in Devon in the U.K. found that just being able to see green spaces while indoors is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy foods. The study, which was published in the journal Health & Place, showed that even passive exposure to nearby green areas is linked with fewer cravings and the strength of those cravings.

Social Media, Screen Time Linked to Depression in Teens, Study Says

Researchers at the University of Montreal followed almost 4,000 Canadians aged 12 to 16 over four years, surveying them on their screen habits. Over the course of the study, the use of social media and television in adolescents was shown to enhance symptoms of depression, with girls and those who reported lower socioeconomic status showing more severe symptoms of depression.

Study Pinpoints When Teenagers Fall out of Love with Nature

A new study from the University of Derby found that young people’s connection to nature drops sharply from the age of 11 and doesn’t recover until they are 30. The trend has significant implications for their engagement with pro-environmental behaviors like recycling or buying eco-friendly products. The study analyzed survey responses from almost 4,000 adults and children.

Natural Play Spaces Can Benefit Children’s Health Says New Study

A new study found that playgrounds that mimic the natural environment offer physical and mental benefits for preschool children. The research project, conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, set out to redesign the outdoor play space at a preschool for children from low-income households. Redesign included adding features inspired by nature and provided an opportunity for researchers to learn how the changes impacted children’s play patterns. The incorporation of natural elements in playgrounds was shown to positively influence children’s motor skill development and physical activity and to enrich the preschool curriculum

Living Near Protected Areas Can Have Positive Impacts on Human Well-being

A research team found that living near a protected area can improve aspects of human well-being across the developing world. In their analysis, researchers from the World Wildlife Fund, University of Maryland and the University of British Columbia found that households located near protected areas associated with tourism had higher levels of wealth and lower levels of poverty compared to similar households living far from the protected areas.

Noisy Dutch Children Banned from Playground

A primary school playground in the Netherlands has been ordered to close due to children playing too loudly. The De Buut primary school has been given until the end of the month to ban students from the field or face a fine after local residents complained that the children were exceeding noise limits set for residential areas. The decision has faced a backlash, with more than 4,000 people signing a petition calling on the council to overturn the decision to close the 40-year-old playground.

An Hour or Two of Outdoor Learning Every Week Increases Teachers’ Job Satisfaction

A Swansea University study found that as little as an hour a week of outdoor learning has tremendous benefits for children and also boosts teachers’ job satisfaction. Study researchers conducted interviews with teachers as well as focus groups with students aged 9-11 both before and during the implementation of an outdoor learning program within the curriculum. Students conveyed that they felt a sense of freedom when outside of the classroom while teachers spoke of improved job satisfaction and personal wellbeing.

Aussie Pre-teens Spend Most of Their Day Sitting Still, Study Shows

A study based in Australia found that long, unbroken stretches of sitting time are common among Australian 11-12 year olds. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Child Health CheckPoint reveals that this age group spends an average of 11 hours each day sedentary. The study, done jointly with the University of South Australia, examined physical activity and sedentary behavior of 1261 children aged 11-12 and 1358 of their parents over one week.

Washington State Invests $126 Million in Grants to Expand Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board awarded more than $126 million in grants to a suite of 333 projects that enhance & maintain outdoor recreation facilities and conserve habitat, working farms, & forests. Governor Jay Inslee described the grants as those that prioritize outdoor spaces so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy and protect them.

Children Living in Countryside Outperform Children Living in Metropolitan Areas in Motor Skills

A study conducted in Finland found that children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age-matched peers living in metropolitan areas. However, the study also found that children living in urban areas participated more often in organized sports. The study included children ages three to seven years old.

July is Park and Recreation Month

Throughout the month of July, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) will celebrate Park and Recreation Month to highlight the vital and powerful role local parks and recreation play in conservation, health and wellness, and social equity efforts in communities all across the country. Since 1985, America has celebrated Park and Recreation Month to raise awareness of the vital impact that parks and recreation have on communities across the U.S.

Newark Opens its Newest Downtown Park

After more than a decade of planning, Newark, NJ has opened its newest downtown park, Mulberry Commons. The $10-million project turns three acres of former parking lots into an outdoor public space. The park is intended to bring the community together with events, more greenery, and kids’ attractions such as a slide and a splash park.

A New Zealand Petition Urges the Government to Allow Outdoor Schools

In New Zealand, a petition has been presented to Parliament asking the Government to change the rules to allow full time bush-based early childhood education programs. The law currently states that early childhood education programs must have a dedicated indoor space for each child, which does not allow for fully outdoor programs.

Roads in central London to be closed for ‘Car Free Day’

A car free day is being planned for London in September in which over 12 miles of roads in central London will be closed to cars. More than half of London’s boroughs are organizing events for the day with many planning ‘Play Streets’ which see local roads closed off to through traffic to encourage children to play outside.

Study: Kids Gain More Weight During Summer Months

A new study that followed more than 200 kids over six years found that many kids gain weight during summer vacation. Factors that led to weight gain include more sedentary time indoors, such as playing videos games, and more access to junk food. The weight gain was especially true for lower-income families.

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