Natural Leaders Network

New E-book Highlights Profound, Diverse Effects of Nature on Learning

A new e-book, published by Frontiers in Psychology, examines how putting children back in contact with nature could make them more successful in school and in life. The free e-book, “The natural world as a resource for learning and development: From schoolyards to wilderness,” contains 13 articles from scholars around the world. C&NN’s Consulting Research Director & Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Extension at the University of Minnesota, Cathy Jordan, is a co-author of the e-book.

Study to Examine Health Benefits of Outdoor Preschools

A new partnership between Washington State University Health Sciences and the largest outdoor preschool in the country will study the impact of an outdoor preschool model on children’s health outcomes. The study, supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health and the George B. Storer Foundation, is a five-year project to measure physical activity, body mass index, sleep, and gut microbiome—microorganisms that live in the digestive track—in 200 children. Half of the children will be enrolled at the outdoor preschool, Tiny Trees, while the other half will be children who are on the school’s waitlist and enrolled in a more traditional preschool setting.

RAISING WILD KIDS: Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy;...

New Guidance to Make It Easier for UK Children to Play on Traffic-free Roads

England’s Department for Transport has revised its road closure guidelines in an effort to break down barriers that have prevented children from playing outside on neighborhood streets. The new guidelines are intended to help make community events that encourage children’s outdoor play easier to organize. Previously, residents applying for road closure orders to allow children to play on traffic-free streets have previously faced a costly process because of the requirement to advertise notices.

Microbiota in Air May Protect Children from Asthma

A new study from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) found that large amounts of a certain type of bacteria found in soil may reduce the child’s risk of developing asthma. Researchers analyzed the microbiota in over 400 Finnish homes and concluded that, with regard to microbial exposure, it is important to have contact with nature everyday.

Study Says Owning a Dog Can Boost Heart Health

A new study, conducted by the Mayo clinic, uncovered a link between dog ownership and good heart health. The researchers examined a group of 1,769 subjects and scored them based on ideal health behaviors and factors outlined by the American Heart Association. They found that people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level but the greatest benefits were seen in dog owners.

StoryWalk Coming to Moreland Park

Kentucky’s Daviess County Public Library is building the city’s first StoryWalk, a project that mixes literacy and family engagement. As part of StoryWalk, families make their way around a trail through nearby Moreland Park, stopping at stations and reading pages from a book. The project is aimed at exercising patrons’ bodies and minds.

Park Equity Gets a New Focus As Cities Tackle Inequality in All Facets of Public Life

A national movement to address park equity is growing in cities around the US, according to a report from City Parks Alliance and the Urban Institute. The report identifies national initiatives to help cities address park-equity and promote innovative strategies for funding parks and green infrastructure. As many cities recognize that poor and minority communities often lack parks, especially ones that are well-maintained with quality amenities and programming, cities are using public data to identify where parks need to be built or improved.

Children Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Less Nearsightedness

According to the National Eye Institute, almost 50% of the world will be myopic, or unable to see far, by 2050. The World Health Organization has called the rapid increase “alarming.”  Experts say the shift from spending time outdoors to indoors on screens is likely responsible for the trend with strong evidence connecting children who spend more time outdoors with less nearsightedness. The National Eye Institute has sponsored a $1.8 million research grant to learn more about the trend.


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