Go Camping. Combat Nature-Deficit Disorder.

According to Robert Louv’s 2005 book, Nature-Deficit Disorder is the “diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness” as a result of too much time indoors and not enough time out.

The solution? An good ol’ fashioned camping trip.

Find out more about it here.

Nature Play for Children lectures and workshops scheduled (Cleveland Area)

For many of us, outdoor play was a daily part of our childhood. Today that kind of childhood has all but disappeared. In the United States kids spend nearly 30 percent of their time with electronic media, but just a tiny fraction as much outside. Frequent, spontaneous play in “wild” outdoor settings provides perfect support for the entire spectrum of child development needs: physical, social/emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual. But over the past 30 years those
positive influences have largely vanished from our children’s experiences.

The Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden are collaborating to offer a series of lectures, workshops and classes. These offerings are for parents, teachers, informal educators and anyone else who has an interest in young children. They are designed to inspire, educate and give first hand experiences about the importance of nature play and how to encourage it and plan for it. Scroll down or click here for a full listing and description of events.

Go Outside and Play! — Why Our Parents had it Right, 7 p.m.Thursday, April 18

Lecture for parents and educators at The Andrews Osborne Academy, Willoughby,Ohio. Free event, but registration is required.

Ken Finch, president of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, Omaha,Nebraska, will help us to understand the value and impacts of nature play and how we can restore it to our children’s lives — whether in backyards, neighborhood parks, child care centers or schoolyards. Finch will use anecdotes and research data to inspire us to head home with new ideas and passion for restoring the true nature of childhood!

Creating a Nature Play Space: Big or Small, 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Friday, April 19

Workshop for parents and educators at The Holden Arboretum, Kirtland, Ohio. Cost $30.

Would you like to expose the young children in your life to more nature play? Join us as we explore the nuts and bolts of how to accomplish this in your space. Ken Finch, president of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, will share the whys and hows for successful nature play. Hear from local early childhood organizations that have taken the first step to incorporate nature play at their sites. Challenges, features, costs and support that are needed for success will be covered. First hand experiences in Holden’s own Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Woods will be included. This workshop is for anyone with the desire to start or add to their outdoor nature play space.

The Science of Play Based Education, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 17

Symposium and Workshop at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Full-day participation (registration required – includes lunch, parking and educational materials) is $35 for members, $42 nonmembers.

Join David Sobel, professor atAntioch University,New Hampshire, as he shares the solid foundation of data that suggests that environmental and place-based education can improve test scores, change teacher behavior, improve school climate, increase stewardship behavior and yes, even improve environmental quality. The morning will continue with a panel discussion led by the Case Western ReserveUniversitySchubertCenterfor Child Development and an exploration of the Hershey Children’s Garden. The afternoon workshop “Applying the Small Worlds Principle in Curriculum Development” will help guide teachers in applying these principles in their classrooms. The morning symposium is free and open to the public (registration is required, parking not included, David Sobel’s book for first 150 registrants).

Learn How to Play in Nature, 9 a.m. to noon, June 26-Aug. 10

Hands-on activity sessions for educators and parents at Holden Arboretum and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. $15 members, $20 nonmembers per session.

Play on Land – Friday, June 28 or Saturday, June 29 – Holden

Play in Water – Friday, July 26 or Saturday, July 27 – Holden

Play in the Garden – Friday, Aug. 9 or Saturday, Aug. 10 – CBG

Learn about the benefits of outdoor play, how kids interact with their surroundings and how you can facilitate and encourage these activities in your own space or those you visit. Experience these activities first hand. Take one session or sign up for all three to increase your repertoire of fun-filled outdoor activities to share. These adults-only workshops will have you thinking and playing like a kid again!

To register for events at The Holden Arboretum or the lecture at Andrews Osborne Academy, visit www.holdenarb.org or contact Vonna at 440.602.3833 or vvecchio@holdenarb.org.

To register for events at Cleveland Botanical Garden, visit www.cbgarden.org or contact Jen or Amanda at 216.721.1600 ext. 100 or programs@cbgarden.org

Visit holdenarb.org/home/NaturePlayandEarlyChildhoodPrograms.asp for more information on these events. 

Health Strategy 5: Real Estate Developments

HEALTH – There is growing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of contact with nature, as outlined earlier in this report. Spending time in nature is free, requires no special equipment, is something that nearly everyone can do and offers not only the opportunity for increased physical activity, but also stress relief and experiential learning. That makes it a perfect fit for initiatives aimed at improving public health. These strategies will advance public health priorities while increasing the amount of time children spend in the natural world:

Strategy #5: Provide model ordinances and technical support for counties and municipalities to encourage Health Impact Assessments of new real estate developments.

The previous strategies are designed to encourage healthy behavior. However, we cannot overlook the need to provide easily accessible, healthy, natural spaces for people and children in our communities. As our world becomes increasingly urban, we need to think harder about how we design our neighborhoods. Health Impact Assessments are tools to evaluate the impact that a development is likely to have on public health. They provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes by encouraging the inclusion of trails, bicycle lanes, and other design features which promote physical activity. They also address social equity issues and offer suggestions to mitigate adverse health effects. The Centers for Disease Control encourages use of such assessments (CDC Healthy Places Website http://www. cdc. gov/healthyplaces). Legislation has been introduced in three states and in Congress to encourage their use.

Health Strategy 4: Non-Traditional Partnerships

HEALTH – There is growing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of contact with nature, as outlined earlier in this report. Spending time in nature is free, requires no special equipment, is something that nearly everyone can do and offers not only the opportunity for increased physical activity, but also stress relief and experiential learning. That makes it a perfect fit for initiatives aimed at improving public health. These strategies will advance public health priorities while increasing the amount of time children spend in the natural world:

Strategy #4: Encourage non-traditional partnerships to improve the health of Ohio’s Children.

In recent years, many Ohio health initiatives have recognized the need to involve the entire community in the effort to improve children’s health. Examples include the development of the Ohio Physical Activity Plan and the establishment of a multi-disciplinary council to administer the new Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act (Senate Bill 210), aimed at reducing childhood obesity. Working through the organizations already in place is the first step toward integrating outdoor play into Ohio’s existing health programs. At the local level, the Ohio Leave No Child Inside Collaboratives are “radically inclusive” in inviting the participation of all individuals and organizations interested in improving the health of our children through outdoor play and learning. The movement to Leave No Child has a unique ability to encourage non-traditional partnerships because it touches so many areas of a child’s life – not just health, but education, social development, appreciation for the environment and even the design of the neighborhoods in which they live.

Health Strategy 3: Public Awareness

HEALTH – There is growing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of contact with nature, as outlined earlier in this report. Spending time in nature is free, requires no special equipment, is something that nearly everyone can do and offers not only the opportunity for increased physical activity, but also stress relief and experiential learning. That makes it a perfect fit for initiatives aimed at improving public health. These strategies will advance public health priorities while increasing the amount of time children spend in the natural world:

Strategy #3: Launch a public awareness campaign on the benefits of outdoor play for children’s health.

As mentioned throughout this report, the Ohio Leave No Child Inside Collaboratives is launching a Public Awareness Campaign this fall. The campaign will provide consistent messaging and resources to organizations which impact the lives of children throughout Ohio, including organizations in the health field.

Health Strategy 2: One Hour of Outdoor Play

HEALTH – There is growing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of contact with nature, as outlined earlier in this report. Spending time in nature is free, requires no special equipment, is something that nearly everyone can do and offers not only the opportunity for increased physical activity, but also stress relief and experiential learning. That makes it a perfect fit for initiatives aimed at improving public health. These strategies will advance public health priorities while increasing the amount of time children spend in the natural world:

Strategy #2: Encourage and support programs which provide training and materials to pediatricians on the importance of one hour of daily outdoor play.

Health Strategy 1: Educate Health Care Professionals

HEALTH – There is growing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of contact with nature, as outlined earlier in this report. Spending time in nature is free, requires no special equipment, is something that nearly everyone can do and offers not only the opportunity for increased physical activity, but also stress relief and experiential learning. That makes it a perfect fit for initiatives aimed at improving public health. These strategies will advance public health priorities while increasing the amount of time children spend in the natural world:

Strategy #1: Educate health care professionals about the importance of nature to healthy childhood development.

Health care providers, from pediatricians to school nurses and health insurers, have greater influence than any other group in informing the public about health issues. In fact, findings from the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine are that two-thirds of patients indicated that they would be more likely to exercise if told to do so by a physician. (www. exerciseismedicine.org).

Nationally, health care professionals are being educated on this topic through keynote speeches to professional associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses. The Children & Nature Network recently published a compilation of annotated research summaries specifically addressing health in their “Health Benefits to Children from Contact with the Outdoors and Nature”, which is available at C&NNHealthBenefits.pdf, making it easier for busy health professionals to learn about emerging research. And recently, the topic of health has been added to the America’s Great Outdoors listening sessions, where health professionals are being invited to share in a conversation about “turning the tide” in human health and the health of our planet. Here in Ohio, the Ohio Leave No Child Inside Collaboratives has begun work on a matrix of the organizations in Ohio which are working toward healthier children. The Collaboratives are developing a plan to make these organizations aware of research and resources on this topic. Some of these resources for health care professionals are already available on the website.

  • NEEF Health Professionals Initiative:
    The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which has a long history of working with health professionals, has a Health Care Provider Initiative on Children & Nature. In addition to educating health care providers, this program offers “train the trainer” workshops where pediatricians learn to train others in their community, using resources like a Children’s Health and Nature Fact Sheet and nature prescription pads. Educating the health care community about the existence of these and other materials will be an important element of the Public Awareness Campaign, with an expansion of resources available on the website.
  • Walk With a Doc:
    The doctors of Nationwide Children’s Hospital can often be found in Columbus area parks on Saturday mornings, walking with a group of families as part of the “Walk With a Doc” program. The mission of this national program is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages, and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.

“Outdoor activity is a major missing link in the health and wellness of our patients. During visits, we are asking parents to get children outside to play. Walk with a Doc allows us to get out in nature and get personally involved in keeping families well.”
– Wendy Anderson-Willis, MD
FAAP Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio