April: Children & Nature Awareness Month (Part I)

Grandma Gone Granola™: Simple, Inexpensive Tips for Healthy Living

New research suggests that “family behaviors can have a significant impact on the weight of preschool children,” writes Serena Gordon in a February HealthDay News article (http://www.healthday.com). She quotes the study’s leading author, Sarah Anderson, Ohio State University: “Four-year-olds who regularly ate dinner with the family, got enough sleep and watched less than two hours of TV a day were 40 percent less likely to be obese.”

Vicky Runnoe, a conservation educator, agrees it’s time for kids to get off the couch. “…today’s children spend an average of 53 hours each week with electronic media…. In contrast, they spend less than 30 minutes each week engaged in unstructured outdoor play. Overscheduled kids and families, lack of outdoor play space, and fear of strangers have given rise to a generation of children who live indoors, and rarely go outside to play. …A virtual world has replaced the real world of trees to climb, dirt to dig in, fish to catch, space to run in, things to observe, and places to simply sit and soak up the world around them.”

She says lack of connectedness to the natural world can be summarized in three words—nature deficit disorder. “Coined by author Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, this term provides a label for the problems caused by lack of outside play. These problems include rapidly increasing rates of childhood obesity and their associated medical conditions, childhood depression, and attention deficit disorders.”

More on this subject in the next blog. In the meantime, take your kids and grandkids to the park and visit www.childrenandnature.org to learn about Children & Nature Awareness events in your community. Becky

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