International News Round Up

Malta Primary Schools Celebrate Their Success in Connecting Children with Nature

Nearly 100 primary schools across Malta and Gozo celebrated outstanding achievements in connecting children with nature through the BirdLife Dinja Waħda program. The mission of the program is to connect children with
nature and trigger behavioral changes that will lead to future environmental stewardship. The program works with local schools to provide outdoor activities on school grounds and through visits to Malta’s nature reserves to connect students with nature.

For a Better Conversation, Take It Outside

Researchers from the University of Manchester and Cardiff University found that conversations between parents and their kids were much more “responsive and connected” when they were outdoors versus when they were talking inside. The researchers suggest that the study demonstrates that natural environments can significantly enhance social interactions, in this case improving the quality of parent-child conversations. As part of the study, researcher recorded conversations between parents and their 3- and 4-year-olds.

Researchers Have Concerning News About American Children’s Level of Exercise

According to a study from a team of researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, a majority of children are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity they need, and only 5% are meeting the goal of 60 minutes per day. Researchers also discovered that only one hour of screen time can increase a child’s chance of becoming anxious or depressed. The team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital looked at more more than 7,800 children between ages five and 18 who attended outpatient pediatric sports medicine clinics over a three-year period.

Research Shows Eyesight Epidemic for Children Caused by Lack of Time Outside

A study recently published in the “British Journal of Ophthalmology,” has found that intense education and limited time outdoors play major roles in a global myopia epidemic. Myopia, commonly referred to as being short-sighted, afflicts approximately a quarter of young people globally. Researchers found that children who entered the formal schooling system at a younger age were more likely to develop myopia than their peers. The scientists involved in the research are calling on education systems to make major changes such as more outdoors time to curb the trend.

Wintermission Competition Launched to Improve Public Life in U.S. Cities

Children & Nature Network is a proud partner with 8-80 Cities and the National League of Cities on the recently launched Wintermission project. Wintermission aims to improve public life and overcome social isolation in cold-weather cities with outdoor public space programming in winter in three U.S. cities. 8 80 Cities is accepting proposals for Wintermission project partners in three U.S. cities. Selected project partners will be coached to plan, pilot, and implement creative solutions to increase social interaction and physical activity in public spaces during winter.

The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors

A new study from researchers at North Carolina State University and Clemson University found that middle-school students are spending more time indoors and less outdoors. The study, published in the journal “Environment and Behavior,” analyzed the recreational activities of 543 middle-school students across rural South Carolina. While most of the students spent some time outdoors, more time was spent using electronic media. 

Kids Who Miss Out on Play Outside Are More Stressed, Moody and Have Shorter Attention Spans

New research by Outdoor Play and Learning in Australia has found that almost half of Australian children do not play outside every day, despite the facts that a growing body of research shows that children who miss out on outdoor play are more stressed and moody, have shorter attention spans and are less likely to reach their full academic potential. Experts are calling for increased outdoor time due to the known benefits of the outdoors on classroom performance.

Children Spend Twice as Long Looking at Screens than Playing Outside, Study Finds

Young children spend twice as long looking at screens as they do playing outside, according to a new study of 1,000 British and Irish parents of children aged up to seven. The study found that by the time children reach the age of seven, they will have been looking at screens for the equivalent of 456 days, or an average of four hours every day. By contrast, the children will have spent just 182 days, or an average of just over an hour and a half a day, playing outdoors.

REI Closing to #OptOutside Again on Black Friday While Pledging $1m to Study Benefits of Outdoors

Seattle-based REI Co-op is once again closing all 153 of its co-op locations the day after Thanksgiving, asking shoppers instead to #OptOutside. REI has also pledged $1 million to the University of Washington, where a center for academic excellence called Nature for Health will be established within the school’s EarthLab. EarthLab will partner with the Children & Nature Network on Nature for Health.

Scottish MDs to Begin Prescribing Rambling and Birdwatching

Some doctors in Scotland are issuing nature prescriptions to patients to help treat mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, stress and other conditions. The doctors hope to encourage patients to get out in nature with such prescriptions as birdwatching, rambling and beach walks. The doctors have been authorized to issue nature prescriptions by the health board, NHS Shetland.

Report Card: U.S. Kids Aren’t Getting Much Exercise

According to a national physical activity report card for U.S. children, 76 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 are failing to meet the national physical activity guidelines for their age group. The 2018 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth provides a comprehensive assessment of activity levels by reviewing and summarizing national health statistics and data from multiple national surveys.

Scotland Commits to Making Outdoor Play Officially ‘Fundamental’ to Learning

Over 50 influential organizations and people in Scotland have signed a national position statement that intends for playing and learning outdoors to become “a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.” Among the signatories are the Scottish government, anti-poverty organization Inspiring Scotland, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Glasgow Science Centre, NHS Health Scotland and various education bodies. The statement asserts the health, wellbeing and educational benefits of outdoor play and learning and commits signatories to helping to widen access to natural spaces and to make towns and cities more attractive to play in.

Parents Fear Children Are Too Inactive Due to Time Spent Staring at Screens

A recent UK survey indicated that parents are worried that screen time is leading to inactive lifestyles in children. The survey of 2,022 parents found that 54% are worried that screen time is fueling their children’s inactive lifestyle, with more than a third (36%) saying device use means their children do not play outside enough. The survey was conducted by Internet Matters, a non-profit organization which helps families stay safe online. Parents were asked about their children’s use of any connected device, which could be a mobile phone, laptop or tablet.

The Government of Canada Invests in Protecting Nature

The Government of Canada will invest $2.25 million over three years in the Engaging Canadian Kids in Wildlife Conservation funding program. The initiative aims to inspire and enable Canadian children to take an active role in the protection of wildlife—including species at risk—and their habitats. The investment will support the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Earth Rangers Foundation. The organizations will educate kids across the country on protecting Canada’s nature from the threats to biodiversity and wildlife.

Paris Undergoes a Green Transformation

Paris is undergoing a transformation into one of the most sustainable, environmentally resilient cities in the world. As part of its collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities, Paris will remodel entire streets, both for safe play and for better heat and storm resilience. The city’s Environment and Sustainability Commissioner explains the plan is to get nature back, first for children, but also as a way of escaping from endless concrete and preparing the city for adaptation.


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