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Natural Leaders Network

Nature Play Runs Experimental Pilot Program to Encourage Free-Range Kids in Communities

Nature Play Queensland designed an experimental pilot program to encourage “free-range kids,” or free-roaming play, in communities. The program, funded by the Queensland Government, was conducted last year. Results are expected to be delivered to the Government soon. Nature Play hopes the results will be good enough to get more funding to run the program in other suburbs given the statistics that a quarter of Australian children aged 5 to 14 are overweight or obese, and less than one in five Australian children get their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Get Out With the Kids This Spring! Global Attention on ‘Kids Outdoors’ for World Parks Week 2019

World Parks Week will run this year from April 27 to May 4. This year’s theme, “Kids Outdoors,” aims to celebrate the vital role of parks and green spaces in fostering healthy, liveable and thriving communities. The initiative is organized by World Urban Parks in collaboration with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and #NatureForAll, among others.

It’s Science: Viewing Zoo Animals Reduces Your Stress Levels

The results of a recent wellness study conducted by the Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan State University researchers found that viewing animals reduces stress levels. Study participants were separated into three groups and showed a video of either a plain white screen, Detroit traffic or animals at the Detroit Zoo. MSU scientists measured stress indicators, like heart rate, skin conductance, and facial reaction. The results showed that stress levels were lowest in the group who were shown animals. 

Lack of Outdoor Play Is Making Kids Unknowledgeable about the Food We Grow in Gardens

A new survey of 300 U.K children found that kids aged four to eight quizzed had trouble naming fruits, vegetables or herbs. The survey by Sudocrem found that only one in three children can name a single herb and more than half could not name five fruit or vegetables that grow in British gardens, apart from potatoes. Children surveyed could not name a single variety of apple.

Stressed-Out Americans Only Get 43 Minutes of ‘Me Time’ Per Day, But Solution May Lie in Their Backyards

A recent survey found that 75% of people wish they spent more time outdoors and 20% admit they don’t use their own outdoor space enough. The survey by OnePoll involved 2,000 people. Survey results also found that the average American only gets five hours of “me time” in a week — that’s just 43 minutes a day. Current events, jobs, partners, kids, and too much noise were named as the top five things that prevent people from getting enough R&R.

Outdoor Foundation Invests $1.8 Million Into Four Thrive Outside Communities

The Outdoor Foundation will award multi-year capacity-building grants to diverse communities in order to create or strengthen partnerships between existing local organizations such as schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs and nonprofit conservation and outdoor organizations that create repeat and reinforcing positive outdoor experiences for kids and families.
Over the next decade, the Outdoor Foundation will connect and engage a diverse constituency of participants, advocates and volunteers in at least 32 cities, with the goal of getting 3 million people outside.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT IN NATURE: An Interview with Karen Pittman

Karen J. Pittman is president and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” that combines thought leadership on youth development, youth policy, cross-system/cross-sector partnerships and developmental youth practice with...

Just 20 Minutes of Nature Significantly Lowers Stress Hormones

Researchers from the University of Michigan recently asked a group of adults to take “nature pills,” or to spend some time either sitting or walking in nature. Participants were required to spend 10 minutes or more in nature at least three times a week for an eight-month period. After analyzing the results, the researchers found that having a 20-minute nature experience reduced cortisol levels.

An Alarming Kids’ Health Report Shows Cities Must Act Now on Traffic Pollution

A landmark new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health this week reports that as many as 4 million new cases of pediatric asthma occur every year because of exposure to fine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from traffic fumes, which can travel inside the respiratory tract and cause serious health issues such as asthma. While they grow, children are especially vulnerable to external toxins contained in air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 90% of the world’s 1.8 billion children are exposed to toxic air pollutants on a daily basis. Experts are hoping the study will encourage cities to undertake more efforts to reduce traffic pollution

Bush Schools Are Increasing in Australia and Teachers Say They’re Achieving Amazing Results

In Australia, bush schools are on the rise with some primary schools becoming full bush schools in which students spend the majority of their time learning outdoors every day. Bush schools are the Australian version of forest schools, both models embrace outdoor learning. Educators at the bush schools are reporting positive changes in their students.

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