The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has entered the Chelsea Flower Show with a “Back to Nature”-themed garden. Middleton is using the show’s platform to advocate for “the outdoors and the proven benefits that nature has on physical and mental health.” One of the Duchess’ inspirations for the garden is Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods.”
A Sydney council has proposed a plan to shut down streets so that children can spend more time outdoors. The Inner West Council intends to launch a “play streets” trial in order to address the increase of young families moving closer to the city and to provide children with opportunities for safe and fun outdoor play space for kids in a home environment.
In an effort to measure how children in Hong Kong, one of the densest urban settings in the world, are faring in relation to nature, researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Auckland surveyed 493 families with children between the ages of 2 and 5. Among the survey findings were that parents who saw their child had a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity, fewer behavioral and emotional difficulties, and improved pro-social behavior. Also of note, children who took greater responsibility towards nature had fewer peer difficulties.
A reduction of the speed limit to 20mph in all urban areas has been proposed by a Member of the Scottish Parliament in an effort to reverse Scotland’s pediatric obesity epidemic. Green MSP Mark Ruskell believes the measure would help encourage more families to get outdoors with their youngsters and take part in physical activities, adding that slower traffic would help make parents feel more confident about allowing children to play outside. In 2017, more than a quarter (26%) of Scottish youngsters aged between two and 15 were at risk of being overweight, the Scottish Health Survey showed – with a total of 13% at risk of obesity.
A national study shows that four in ten children in primary schools in the U.K. are breathing toxic air that breaches guidelines form the World Health Organization. The investigation indicates that 3.7 million students are being exposed to high levels of pollution on a daily basis, with some of the worst findings among the youngest students. Experts warn the pollution levels are placing children at increased risk of lifelong conditions including asthma and other breathing difficulties.
In an effort to reduce the incidence of myopia in children, China’s government has frozen approval for new video games. In addition, it has introduced restrictions on children’s screen time, limiting them to one hour a day. By 2020, it is estimated that half of the population in China, or around 700 million people, will suffer from myopia. Experts link lifestyle changes, including increased use of electronics and more time indoors, to the alarming health trend.
The partial government shutdown is starting to take a toll on some of America’s National Parks. Parks that have stayed open are doing so without full park service staff, impacting trash collection, public information, restrooms and other services not available during the shutdown.
Several Chicago schools will be transformed with green schoolyards next year. The schools were selected earlier this month for participation in Space to Grow, an initiative that transforms Chicago schoolyards with the goal of providing kids in low-income neighborhoods with safe spaces to play. The program is aimed at improving outdoor learning spaces, expanding access to community green space, growing school gardens and addressing flooding in the area.
The state of Washington is making $1.5 million in grants available to programs that help to get young people outdoors in the state. The grants are part of the No Child Left Inside program, which aims to give at-risk children opportunities to experience the outdoors. The program is funded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.