Play Again…and again…and again!

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.

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