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.
A study of 15,000 schoolchildren from across Mumbai, Delhi, & Navi Mumbai found that about 79 percent of school girls are at risk of developing potential health risks, which include cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases. Other findings of the survey include low agility, strength among girls (44 per cent), increased risk of low muscle strength and agility among boys (65 per cent) and overall risk of low agility, strength and endurance among boys and girls (60 per cent) and the need for boys (35 per cent) to engage in fitness activities to avoid the risk of obesity.
This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a clinical report stressing the importance of play in child development, urging parents to play with their children every day. The report suggests pediatricians should offer a prescription for play to new parents, advising moms and dads to make time for playtime, and suggesting schools do the same. The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children get one hour of physical activity per day, as well as one hour of simple, creative play.
The 2018 edition of the Trust for Public Land’s annual City Park Facts report finds that, over the past year, public spending on parks in America’s 100 largest cities saw an increase of 6 percent. When combined with $500 million in public/private partnerships, park spending reached $8 billion during the last fiscal year. Still, thirty percent of people in America’s largest cities reside in more than a 10-minute (half-mile) walk away from a local park.