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Updated: 45 min 21 sec ago

Nature Boosts Your Mental Health

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 8:07am
New research published in the journal Bioscience finds that people were more likely to report higher states of well-being when they were outdoors, seeing trees, hearing birds singing, seeing the sky, and feeling in contact with nature. The researchers used data collected by a smartphone app they created called Urban Mind.

T. Denny Sanford Pledges $30 Million for Children’s Zoo

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 8:05am
A $30 million gift from T. Denny Sanford will help fund a $69 million project to reimagine the San Diego Zoo children's zoo. The project aims to offer visitors more opportunities to discover the natural world through play and better understand and empathize with wildlife. The zoo received in support of the project. Scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2021, the new 2.3-acre Sanford Children's Zoo will include a treehouse, a waterfall and shallow stream that children can play in, and an artificial "walk-in" beehive from which they can observe a beekeeper tending a real hive.

Lessons in Nature Boost Classroom Engagement Afterward, Researchers Report

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 8:02am
A new study published in the journal "Frontiers in Psychology" finds that third-graders who spend a class session in a natural outdoor setting are more engaged and less distracted in their regular classroom afterward than when they remain indoors. The study carefully matched lessons presented indoors and outdoors and controlled for teacher expectations, teaching style, time of day, week of semester and other factors that might have contributed to the differences observed.

Freshkills Landfill, Once the World’s Largest Dump, Being Transformed into Park

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 7:59am
What was once the world's largest landfill will soon be transformed into the largest park developed in the New York City in over 100 years. Hundreds of acres of Staten Island's Freshkills Park, a former dumping ground for New York City's garbage, will become an enormous, activity-filled public space. Freshkills Park won't be fully open until 2036, but plans include playgrounds, art installations, trails, fields and kayaking.

Can Your Child’s Phone Bring Them Closer to Nature?

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 10:21am
A new research study conducted by Danish researchers will investigate how technology and social media impact children’s and young people’s experiences of the natural world. The study is part of a five-year project “Natural Technology” which runs from 2018 to 2022.Through anthropological and cognitive studies, the researchers will document how children implement technology in their outdoor activities. The researchers will also examine how often and how long children are outside, their activities, experiences in nature, motivation, and preferences, as well as identify how technology can be used to encourage more children to get outside and enjoy nature.

When It Comes to Walking in a Park or Down a City Street, a Study Finds Not All Exercise Is Created Equal

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 10:18am
A recent study published in the journal “The Lancelet” suggests that a walk in nature is more beneficial to human health than a walk on a busy city street. For the study, a team of researchers in England found that participants who walked in a city park showed increased beneficial effects regarding the function of their arteries from walking. Those who strolled down the busy street, though, had weakened effects. The study’s authors point to the harmful effects of air pollution — including high amounts of air particulates — caused mainly by constant vehicular activity.

Idaho Gets Nation’s First International Dark Sky Reserve

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 10:14am

A 1,400-square-mile swath of central Idaho, in the Sawtooth National Forest, has been designated the nation’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The area is so free from light pollution that “interstellar dust clouds can be seen in the Milky Way.”  In 2001, an Italian astronomer estimated that two-thirds of U.S. residents can no longer see the Milky Way with the naked eye. In response, some Western cities and national parks have modified their light usage.

GOCO Awards $14 Million to Nine Communities to Get Kids Playing Outside

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 8:33am
Great Outdoors Colorado awarded more than $14 million to help get kids outside in nine Colorado communities. The awards are part of the Inspire Initiative, which funnels lottery money and partner funds into parks, trails and programs that get kids and families outside. The efforts are expected to serve more than 43,000 kids and create almost 1,000 youth and community jobs.

As Modern Life Retreats From Nature, Science Documents Its Healing Powers

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 8:30am
As society grows increasingly disconnected from the outdoors, efforts to document the science behind the benefits of nature continue to grow. Most recently is author Florence Williams’ recent survey of scientific findings that embracing nature makes us happier, healthier and more creative.

Being ‘OUT’ in the Outdoors

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 8:25am
Nationwide, the National Park Service (NPS) is striving to welcome a new and increasingly diverse audience. A recent retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning individuals at Yellowstone National Park is one program looking to improve diversity among parks visitors.

UK Housing Body Calls for Focus on Children’s Play

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 9:34am
The UK’s National House Building Council (NHBC) Foundation has published a new report on the importance of housing design features taking account of children’s need to play outside, close to their homes. The report highlights the importance of outdoor play, as it enriches the lives of children, improving their health and wellbeing. However, the authors note, too often play remains an afterthought in the planning process.

Thousands Petition Dictionary Over Nature Words

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 9:32am
A petition calling for the Oxford Junior Dictionary to reinstate words related to the natural world has received more than 50,000 signatures. The petition says words like acorn, bluebell, cygnet, heron, and pasture have been absent from the publication for a decade. It said it was an "alarming" step to take when species are facing extinction and "more and more children" are suffering from obesity. The petition follows the removal of the words in 2007.

Teen Inmates Locked Indoors for Months

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 9:20am
An alarming new investigation finds that the most vulnerable youth, who are most in need of healing, were not allowed to go outdoors for months, sometimes up to a year, at a time at a Dallas County correctional center for boys. One boy said he was locked up for nearly 10 months and wasn't let outside for exercise once.

Fewer Fee-Free National Park Days in 2018

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 2:07pm
Fee-free National Park days planned for 2018 have been reduced significantly from previous years. The National Park Service released the list of the dates when park visitors can get into national park sites free in the upcoming year, reducing the number of days from 10 in 2017 to 4 in 2018. The four dates include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the First Day of National Park Week, National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day.

Blindness Epidemic Inevitable Unless Children Play Outside More

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 2:04pm
Dutch ophthalmologist Caroline Klaver warns against a rise of cases of myopia among young people. Myopia, or short-sightedness, is the biggest cause of blindness later in life. Klaver warns that spending long times indoors reading or behind a screen increases the risk and that it is important to ensure children are outside for two hours a day.

Kid-friendly Urban Design Makes Cities Better for All

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 1:57pm
Urban planning that emphasizes children's needs could have long-term positive effects on cities, according to a new research report by international consulting firm Arup. The report entitled "Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods" argues that designing for children can be a central theme of a larger progressive urban agenda. The report suggests that a child-friendly lens can help leaders, planners, and designers envision a better city for everyone, one that offers a wealth of social benefits.

New London Plan Aims for More Play and Mobility for Children

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 9:00am
The mayor of London released a draft of the new London Plan, a long-term spatial development strategy for the UK capital. The plan includes a revised policy which aims to increase opportunities for play and informal recreation for children, enable children and young people to be independently mobile and make public realm developments more playable.

No Child Left Inside Providing Grants To Get Children Outdoors

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 8:56am
Washington State is accepting applications for the No Child Left Inside grant program. The program, which is funded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and is administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, aims to give at-risk children outdoor experiences through outdoor recreation and education programs including science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) programs and environmental, agricultural or other natural resource-based education programs. The State expects to award about $1.5 million in grants for programs for youth in Washington State.

Philly Reveals Proposed Sites for Citywide Rebuild Initiative

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 8:52am
Maps detailing proposed project sites for Philadelphia's Rebuild program were released this week. Rebuild is a seven-year program which aims to revitalize shared public spaces, empower and engage communities and promote economic opportunity through diversity and inclusion. The program involves a multimillion-dollar investment to renovate parks, libraries and recreation centers across the city with the first round of investments prioritizing neighborhoods with high needs and areas where revitalization may have a stabilizing effect.

Prince William Tells of Alarm at Effect of Social Media on Young Children

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 8:42am
Speaking at a children’s media summit in Manchester, U.K., the Duke of Cambridge expressed alarm at the potential impact of social media on young children. Prince William stressed the importance of protecting family time and teaching kids about actual connections rather than virtual connections during this time in which childhood has been transformed by technology.