Three times more children and youth getting outdoors in nature from 2009 to 2011—some good from Children & Nature Network (C&NN) survey!
The 2011 Children & Nature Network (C&NN) survey of grassroots leaders of regional, statewide and provincial campaigns shows a three-fold increase in the number of children and youth getting outdoors in nature from 2009 to 2011—from one million to three million annually
The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) reported in USA Today, “A back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors is burgeoning nationwide.” The latest survey with data from 2011 provides additional support for that statement.
Reasons for the growth and urgency of this movement include the epidemic of childhood obesity, reports of diminished creativity, increases in behavior disorders, increased time using electronic media, and sedentary behavior among children and youth—all of which are associated with reduced time for learning and play outdoors in nature as a part of children’s everyday lives. Research indicates that children tend to be healthier, happier and smarter when direct experiences in nature are a frequent and regular part of their childhood.
Compared to baseline results established in 2009, the Children & Nature Network 2011 Grassroots Leadership Survey shows significant increases in the numbers of children and youth getting outdoors in nature as a result of the efforts of the Network and its members, including regional, statewide and provincial campaigns to connect children, families and communities to nature. Commissioned by C&NN with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the survey results are analyzed and reported by an independent evaluator, Dr. Lynette Fleming.
Leaders of these campaigns reported that the number of children and youth annually engaged in nature-based outdoor activities and experiences has tripled since 2009 to an estimated 3 million youth in 2011. In 2011, C&NN campaigns and partners reported engaging up to 1.2 million underserved youth in community garden projects (up from 176,600 in 2009); 856,000 in natural play areas (up from 316,1000 in 2009); and 1.6 million in school gardens/habitat projects (up from 401,500 in 2009). Among the many findings, survey participants report increased:
• awareness of the importance of nature for children’s healthy development,
• participation by pediatricians and health care providers,
• educational benefits,
• community support, and
• development of places to play and learn outdoors in nature.
Seventy-eight campaigns completed the 2011 survey. As of May 10, 2012, there are 103 campaigns registered on the C&NN web site.
“While we still have much work to do to reverse the trends of the last 30 years in which children are increasingly sedentary and disconnected from playing and learning in nature, this progress is exciting and an indication of momentum,” said Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Children & Nature Network.
“These findings are encouraging, including the increase in the number of under served youth who are having nature-based play and learning experiences. However, barriers remain, and some are growing,” said Richard Louv, C&NN co-founder and Chairman Emeritus. “As of 2008, more people in the world live in cities than in rural areas. So we need a broader, deeper movement – one that transforms cities into incubators of biodiversity and human health. This movement isn’t about going back to nature; it’s about going forward to nature. Every child needs nature, not only those whose parents love the outdoors.”
Louv and Charles praised the young people, parents, grandparents, physicians, teachers, community leaders, urban planners and others leading the international movement to reduce what, in his book “Last Child in the Woods,” Louv called “our society’s nature-deficit disorder.”
Since its founding in 2006, The Children & Nature Network has been advocating for children, their families and communities to enhance their health and well-being through direct experiences in nature. C&NN’s vision is a world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives. The Children & Nature Network is leading a movement to connect all children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. C&NN provides a wide range of research and user- friendly tools, including those to enhance positive family bonding and access to fun, friendly nature-based activities.
To see the full Survey Report DOWNLOAD a copy of the Report here or go to:
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- Childrenandnature.org Gets Children and Youth Outside in Nature (prweb.com)
- ‘Nature deficit disorder’ at Hay Festival 2012: Children are deprived of access to the countryside (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- If You Liked No Child Left Behind, You’ll Love What’s Coming Next – Without National Debate (psychologytoday.com)
- Kids and the Environment : Pioneering College Explore Nature-Deficit in Children (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
- Richard Louv: The Nature Principle & the New Nature Movement Comes to MA (withywindlenature.com)
- Applying the Nature Principle to a World Gone Too Fast (powerofslow.wordpress.com)
- USA National Trails Day …. One family’s experiences (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- NEW NATURE-SMART CAREERS: 11 for the Future and for Right Now (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
- Book Review #3 – The Last Child in the Woods (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Nearly half of pre-schoolers not playing outside… (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
From https://twitter.com/#!/richlouv and
After “Last Child in the Woods” was published, a handful of like-minded individuals came together to form the Children & Nature Network. Our mission was simple: to help build a movement to reconnect children and their families to nature—for their physical health, cognitive development and emotional well-being, and for the good of our communities and the planet. Many groups have been committed to this issue for decades. But we believed that a new network of people and organizations could accelerate efforts to connect children and adults to the natural world.
C&NN keeps track of the movement, offers a single place on the Web to learn about the growing body of research, and most important, provides a way for people, especially at the grassroots, to network – to learn from each other both online and in person at our national leadership gatherings. The site contains links to news, human interest articles, analysis, and the best collection of publicly-available abstracts of studies on children and nature, from England, Australia, Scandinavia and elsewhere.
In the best sense, this is a leaderless movement, and a well-connected one.
As of today, nearly a hundred cities, states, provinces and regions in North America have created their own campaigns to connect children and families to nature. The movement is reaching inner-cities, suburbs and rural areas across the globe. Many physicians in the UK and United States are “prescribing” time in nature to their young patients. In the U.S., we’re seeing changes in local, state and national policies and increased media coverage of the issue.
We’re seeing a growing popularity for nature-based education. We’ve worked to honor what we call Natural Teachers — the English teachers, the art teachers, the biology teachers who insist on getting their students outdoors. Conservation groups, large and small, have launched major initiatives to connect children to nature. We’ve seen thousands of families band together to create family nature clubs. Even as urbanization continues around the world, we see growing interest in transforming our cities into places rich with nearby nature. Young people are stepping forward, often from inner cities, to become what we call Natural Leaders of the movement.
These are just a few changes we’re seeing, but we don’t know if these positive steps will continue. The barriers remain. For example, electronic media use by children and youth in the U.S. has increased in the past five years to more than 53 hours per week, up from 44 just five years before. Obesity and other health-related risks continue at epidemic rates among children and youth, as well as adults, here and abroad. Children’s ability to recognize wild species continues to decline, and the first wave of denatured young people is now in their early parenting years.
Along with many other groups, our goal is to create deep cultural change. Some people don’t think that’s possible. We do. I’d like to invite you to join the movement, if you haven’t done so already, and to explore the Children & Nature Network web site. Thanks — and Happy New Year!
- Want Higher Grades and Happier Kids? Include Nature (prweb.com)
- Spend more time outdoors with kids in 2012 (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Independent Appeal: Teenage runaway on a mission to change young people’s lives (independent.co.uk)
- 2004 Tsunami : What did we learn from Nature and ourselves? A case for groups like NAEE… (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- No child left inside (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Artivist Film Festival Concludes Another Successful Hollywood Run and Prepares for New York City Festival this week (prweb.com)
- Michael Genecin: Clashes Between the Young and Old: Newt Gingrich and the Republican Primaries (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bullying Among Children and Youth on Perceptions and Differences in Sexual Orientation (education.com)
- A Hug A Day Keeps the Trauma Away (researchingreform.wordpress.com)
- Timeline Puts Your Life In Facebook’s Hands (cosmicbackdrop.wordpress.com)
From Scientific America…
Ten families hiked into Davidson College Ecological Preserve on a bright Saturday morning to get a glimpse of the kudzu-eating goats, usually off-limits to the public. The outing was part of an environmental education program, World of Wonder (WOW!), a partnership of the Davidson Lands Conservancy (DLC) and Woodland Discovery, a non-profit nature program in Cornelius, NC.
The goats were no doubt the initial attraction for families that signed up for the free program, but children were greeted by WOW! Volunteers with recipes for Kudzu salsa, candy, and jellies, along with bags to collect their fill of Kudzu leaves along the way. Immediately darting from vine to vine, choosing only the smallest, most flavorful leaves, one six-year-old girl exclaimed, “this is like free salsa!”
Happily, the kids were receiving a hands-on lesson in invasive plant identification, as the guide pointed out other invasive species like English ivy, wisteria, and Japanese privet, whose seeds are spread primarily by birds. “The reason that these open spaces have a lot of invasives,” explained Irvin Brawley, who worked as Director of Grounds for Davidson College for 40 years before retiring, “is because it’s a great flyway for birds.”
Once they reached the goats rented by Davidson College to graze on five acres of out of control kudzu, the kids saw the sheer growing power of the vine (one foot per day) verses the eating power of the goats (15-20 lbs of kudzu per day). “This is just the start of Davidson College trying to control kudzu sustainably,” said Brawley.
Like the goats, the kids quickly found new uses for kudzu. Several boys began to swing like young Tarzans from a lush, robust vine. Others pulled down dried kudzu vines to weave into small wreaths with the help of their parents. One boy was determined to fill his bag for that night’s dinner, while exclaiming “it smells like asparagus!”
The effect of the outing was different from most educational tours I’ve experienced – the children were encouraged to not only see and listen, but to touch, smell, and eventually taste nature in all its wonder. In just one hour, I watched children interact with peers and family in the outdoors without fear of the unknown, and they learned naturally and in the best way possible – without even realizing it.
Part of the success of the program is groups are kept small, 15-20 people, to allow for a more intimate learning experience and connection with nature. The idea is working, as there is usually a wait-list for families eager to participate in the program.
“Everybody gains,” explains Pam Dykstra, DLC President. “Parents are empowered because they’re learning with their children, and it becomes a bonding experience because they’re sharing the natural world with their children.”
A Childhood Reality: Nature Deficit Disorder
The concept that people, specifically today’s children, are increasingly suffering from “nature-deficit disorder” stems from Richard Louv, the author of “Last Child in the Woods.” Louv explains that the term was not meant to be a formal diagnosis in his 2009 blog post in Psychology Today. “Nature-deficit disorder is not a formal diagnosis, but a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years,” he writes.
The problem stems from the increasingly indoor, controlled and/or sanitized lifestyles that modern families lead. The environments where children live, learn, and play all have an effect on mood, growth, and overall health and well-being. With the rising rates of childhood obesity and attention deficit disorder, two problems linked to sedentary lifestyle and increased use of electronics, now is the time for parents to get their kids out of the house.
Moreover, a recent study shows the stakes are even higher. Researchers at Sydney University reported that excessive TV watching causes retinal damage in children and leads to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes in adulthood. The study also found such effects could be reversed through increased physical activity – like playing outside.
A Natural Partnership
Understanding that not all people are nature buffs able to travel for miles to nature preserves or state parks, DLC identified the need to not only preserve natural areas and make them accessible to people, but to educate families about the value of natural areas in their hometowns and backyards. The partnership with Woodland Discovery was a natural one, as they were already providing outdoor summer camps and nature programs to preschoolers and homeschoolers.
Carolyn Walker, Director of Woodland Discovery, organizes the WOW! educational booth at the Davidson Farmer’s Market, which stays busy with families participating in the latest environmental craft, activity, or concept – from solar ovens to flower printing. Last Saturday there was a line of children waiting to see a cloud of tadpoles and take some home, but only if they promised to release the frogs back into their original habitat.
Overall, Walker has seen an increase in families bringing their children to the market this year. “We have a hardcore following of families that come every weekend, and then others are pleasantly surprised there is something for kids to be interested in,” she said.
The idea that nature has an amazing potential to inspire and motivate people, specifically children, is not a new one. What stayed with me as the WOW! outing ended is the belief that similar outdoor experiences can and must be shared with children, so that future generations will care enough to save the little wild places that fondly remind us of our own childhoods.
Photos by: Patti McKinnon.
About the Author: Lilly Vicens is a freelance writer, nature enthusiast, and volunteer with the Davidson Lands Conservancy and Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists. Her science writing has been published by Coastwatch Magazine, StormwaterMagazine, and the Watershed Education Network. Vicens holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Natural Resources, Ecosystems Assessment from North Carolina State University.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those ofScientific American.
What would life be like if we were as immersed in nature as we are in electronics? In Richard Louv’sworld, we’d be happier and healthier. We’d experience fewer cases of depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder. And we’d build smarter, more sustainable communities.
Ultimately, Louv argues in his new book “The Nature Principle,” the future will belong to those who are “nature-smart”: People who reconnect with the outdoors and embrace the transformative power of the natural world. “Humans need to learn about the power of living in nature, not with it,” said Louv.
Still, establishing a mind-body-nature connection is no easy feat. Getting both children and adults out into nature is one thing, but having them enjoy it is quite another. My own kids complained of boredom while hiking a gorgeous mountain trail in Colorado. Though they were five and three years old at the time; we ended up carrying them after they melted down and refused to walk.
Meanwhile, not everyone is sold on nature therapy or what Louv calls “vitamin N.” In her Brain, Child essay, “Guilt Trip into the Woods” Martha Nichols questioned whether nature is the only solution — certainly people can thrive in urban environments — and cast Louv as a “nature evangelist” and alarmist who shuns all technology. It’s not a crime to enjoy a trip to New York City‘s asphalt jungle rather than the forest primeval, she argued.
“I just don’t believe that wonder can be reduced to one essential experience any more than motherhood can,” wrote Nichols.
But Louv is not calling for us to abandon technology. In his latest book, a follow-up to “Last Child in the Woods” he argues for a new balance. “The ultimate multitasking is to live simultaneously in both the digital and physical world,” he said. “The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.”
Citing growing research, Louv says the medical community is increasingly supporting the idea that nature has restorative and healing properties. Across the country, physicians are starting to write park “prescriptions” for their patients, said Louv, who was recently the keynote speaker at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference. In an effort to fight the high rate of diabetes, the city of Sante Fe, N.M. launched its Prescription Trails program, which is partially funded by theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.
And last year, a pilot program in Portland, Ore. began pairing physicians with park professionals who record whether outdoor” prescriptions are fulfilled, Louv said. “If we’re going to transform the health care system in the U.S., it will require more than institutional change,” Louv said. “It will demand philosophical evolution that goes beyond what we usually call preventive care.”
Louv, my next healthchat guest, will be appearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday May 19 at the Skokie School Auditorium, 520 Glendale Ave. in Winnetka.
- Nurturing Your Children’s Nature with Experiences in Nature! (workingwellresources.com)
- Children and nature : fresh advice for adults! New book…. (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- June is Great Outdoors month in South Dakota (dakotablackhills.wordpress.com)
- Towards a Hybrid Mind (middlemusing.wordpress.com)
- What is Nature Deficit Disorder? (gr8outdrsclub.wordpress.com)
- Against Nature Deficit Disorder: Why All Roads Lead Us to Merge with Machines (singularityblog.singularitysymposium.com)
- The power of the outdoors : Richard Louv provides some hope (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- >Biophilia Explained (acrobaticthoughts.wordpress.com)
- World-Saving, Self-Motivating quotes (growuniversalknowledge.wordpress.com)
- Birdbooker Report 171 (guardian.co.uk)
- Circus ban update : Coalition claim contradicts official advice (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Light Up Your Life: Outdoor Lighting Essentials For Summer (casasugar.com)
- Hadrian’s Wall: The value of our great outdoors… (outdoornation.org.uk)
“May be just what our high-tech, urban culture needs to bring us down to earth.”
In his bestselling book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv sparked a national debate that spawned an international movement to reconnect kids and nature. He coined the term nature-deficit disorder; influenced national policy; and helped inspire campaigns in over eighty cities, states, and provinces throughout North America. In The Nature Principle, Louv delivers another powerful call to action—this time for adults.
Supported by groundbreaking research, anecdotal evidence, and compelling personal stories, Louv identifies seven basic concepts that can help us reshape our lives. By tapping into the restorative powers of nature, we can boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds.
Louv makes a convincing case that we are entering the most creative period in history, that in fact the twenty-first century will be the era of human restoration in the natural world. This encouraging and influential work offers renewed optimism while challenging us to rethink the way we live.
From Publishing Weekly
In this sanguine, wide-ranging study of how humans can thrive through the “renaturing of everyday life,” Louv takes nature deficit disorder, introduced in his seminal Last Child in the Woods, a step further, to argue that adults need nature, too. “A reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health,” he writes, asking, “What would our lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they are in electronics?” Louv’s “Nature Principle” consists of seven precepts, including balancing technology excess with time in nature; a mind/body/nature connection, which Louv calls “vitamin N,” that enhances physical and mental health; expanding our sense of community to include all living things; and purposefully developing a spiritual, psychological, physical attachment to a region and its natural history. The book presents examples of these precepts, from studies of how exposure to a common soil bacteria increases production of serotonin in the brain to designing shopping malls inspired by termite mounds. Although lightweight for longtime nature lovers, the book may be just what our high-tech, urban culture needs to bring us down to earth.
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