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Play Again…and again…and again!

2010 November 23

By Wendy Dew

I have been involved with the national movement to reconnect kids with nature for a few years now. Children play less and less outside and spend a vast majority of their day inside looking at TV, the internet or playing video games.

The disconnect between children and nature has a profound impact on our children’s physical, mental health and sense of environmental stewardship. In the last twenty years, childhood obesity has more than doubled and adolescent obesity has tripled. Studies have shown that time in nature uniquely benefits children’s health, improves a child’s academic performance, concentration, and self esteem. It has even been shown to reduce symptoms associated with attention deficit disorder. In order to create an environmental responsible citizen we need to reconnect our children with nature.

I attended the Colorado Environmental Film Festival this past week and the opening night film was called “PLAY AGAIN.” This film unplugs a group of media savvy teens and takes them on their first wilderness adventure – documenting the wonder that comes from time spent in nature and inspiring action for a sustainable future.

It never ceases to amaze me how different childhood is for kids now versus just 20 years ago. One young girl in the film really struck me. It was a joy to watch her spirit and creativity come out once she was out in nature. It was upsetting to see how dependent kids have become on media for their social interactions. This film re-inspired me to increase our efforts to get kids outside so they can enjoy a wider variety of activities, be healthier and gain a life-long appreciation for the natural world.

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 14 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 23, 2010

    Children are Reflectors.
    Negative, if I use Scout Movement Indicators in my country. Ago, their activities almost to be followed by the children, but it’s null now. Competitive of life make the parents instructing to them to be “sweet-child” stay at home with too much instructions, rule of affective and regulations, because they leave home to go to work. So, the children just stay in house, receive mom’s phone, play the games and guard of homes. “Missing-link” to rebuild The Nation’s, maybe…..

  2. Alexander permalink
    November 24, 2010

    Dear Wendy!
    You are right. But we can’t compel to come the time back. All people lived in natural conditions formerly, but now they live in cars and Internet. These are their forest, friend and environment to my regret.

  3. MiddleWay permalink
    November 24, 2010

    Here is a prescription for happiness called “One Hour Living”. If you follow it, people would go outside walking (or exercising) for an hour a day.

  4. Pegford permalink
    November 24, 2010

    Outdoor games like marbles, jacks, hopscotch not only occupy your kids, they will also strengthen coordination skills. Too hot or cold out? The garage, basement and/or kitchen floors will work fine too.

  5. sonna permalink
    November 25, 2010

    I have been accepted into a graduate urban planning program which will have great environmental and sustainability courses. What environmental career options are out there from an urban planning perspective?

  6. Anonymous permalink
    November 25, 2010

    I agree with you. The problem is the kider much too early to be out of range computer and watch TV. a childhood with play in the dirt, climb trees or just make sport that no longer exists. all only play on computer, chat or watch tv all day. I myself have a little daughter five straight years old. and many of their friends already have a computer or even have their own televisions. I introduce myself an internet show for school children to give them what is really possible to play on the computer instead of just pointless

  7. bob ditt permalink
    November 25, 2010

    I agree with you. The problem is the kider much too early to be out of range computer and watch TV. a childhood with play in the dirt, climb trees or just make sport that no longer exists. all only play on computer, chat or watch tv all day. I myself have a little daughter five straight years old. and many of their friends already have a computer or even have their own televisions. I introduce myself an internet show for school children to give them what is really possible to play on the computer instead of just pointless

  8. ropa plaza permalink
    November 25, 2010

    I agree totally with you! We should sports more.Watching TV seems not too bad a thing but if we put much time on it then it does harm to our health.

  9. Wicked Web Design Perth permalink
    November 26, 2010

    It is through play that we learn best because it is easy to learn when we are having fun. Play, more than any other activity, fuels healthy development of children.

  10. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 28, 2010

    Getting out and walking outside is important for children to become strong, healthy adults. Putting on excess weight will take years off of a life, but the good news is, it is never too late to start being active and begin taking the pounds off. People just need the will to begin and sometimes that is the hardest thing of all to have. We need children to begin learning about nature and pollution impacts now so they will be commited to good environmental stewardship when they get older. The best way to learn about nature is to go outside and spend some time in nature. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  11. web Design permalink
    March 25, 2011

    hello Wendy!
    Nowdays childrens prefer watching TV and playing computer games than reading. I think this happens because neither playing computer games nor watching TV need (needs? ) a lot of effort and it’s easier because you don’t use your imagination.

    I think elderly people are the ones who read more often (…who more often read?)”

  12. web design companies permalink
    March 25, 2011

    Over the past 15 years, world declarations and statements on children’s rights, sustainable development, chemical safety and most recently climate change, have succeeded in cultivating a global focus on children’s health and their right to a healthy environment. Many international calls for research in the area, have also been able to identify patterns of environmental diseases in children, assess children’s exposures to many environmental toxicants, identify developmental periods of vulnerability, and quantify the cost benefits to public health systems and beyond, of addressing environmentally related diseases in children. Transferring this information to front-line health care providers and increasing their awareness about the global burden of disease attributed to the environment and children’s especial vulnerability to environmental threats is the salient aim of this commentary.

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