A Nature Shortage

2 10 2012

Are children out of touch with nature? Are they mentally, socially, and physically hindered by their lack of outdoor experiences?

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, will answer these questions with a definitive, “YES!” He coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” which describes how todays children and adolescents are completely disconnected with nature and the potential ramifications of such a disconnect.

A common alternative to outdoor play, kids are spending more and more time playing video games or other electronic devices

No one can deny that with the growth of technology such as the computer and internet, video games and television, staying indoors has become easy, entertaining and in some ways, natural. Parents even feel that their kids are not necessarily safe out-of-doors and so encourage their children to find ways to play inside. Furthermore, in some areas, finding an untouched “natural” environment is next to impossible. But are the problems that can come from too much indoor play worth keeping kids in the easier, “safer” environment?

Effects of Nature Deficit Disorder:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • obesity
  • attention problems
  • health problems (asthma, cardiovascular issues, etc.)

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) has been linked to a deficiency in outdoor exposure with several treatments suggesting that kids need to spend time outside. Some studies conclude that getting to use all of the senses in a natural, peaceful environment can be very helpful in reducing ADD symptoms.

toddler picking blackberries

Getting outside gives kids a chance to use all their senses

toddler eating blackberries

Munching on freshly picked berries is just one of the many activities that young kids love.

Being outside not only helps kids to avoid the problems mentioned above but it can truly help children grow into healthy, responsible, and intelligent adults.

Benefits to interacting outside with nature:

  • better overall health, lower blood pressure, reduced stress
  • decrease in aggressive tendencies
  • better immune system
  • higher sense of self-worth
  • improved attention span
  • more responsible when it comes to environmental interaction (littering, sustainability)

How do we make a change?

Louv suggests that parents don’t try to force their kids outside but rather foster a love for nature through their own habits. Encourage children to join you in your walk about the park or takes your kids fishing or on a hike. Give kids the freedom to explore, even if it’s simply the discovery of bugs when turning over a large rock. You won’t be sorry you got outside a bit yourself and your kids will thank you in the years to come. Join the Children and Nature Network to join thousands of others in the effort to connect kids to nature.

Grand Teton National Park

There is a beautiful world outside waiting to be explored. (Grand Teton National Park, WY)

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Could Canadians make America better?

25 09 2012

Let’s be honest. As Canadians, we are generally a happy group (in fact a new study ranks us second-happiest people in the world!). We are happy to laugh at ourselves and to laugh at others. We aren’t known for patriotism, military, or media but we don’t really mind all that much. We’re usually pretty content with who we are. Don’t get me wrong, we can get pretty fired up over things…and I don’t just mean hockey.

I find that one of the biggest topics of passionate discussion up here in the north is…the politics of our southern neighbours. Ask any Canadian about current political news in Canada and they will likely give you a blank stare but ask them about their views of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney and most citizens can give you an earful.

the “Canada Party” proposes to take over the American government and fix all their problems. Credit: http://thetyee.ca/ArtsAndCulture/2012/09/21/Canada-Party/

Why is this? Perhaps it is simply because our government issues are so tragically uninteresting whereas the scandal and inadequacies of the United States are so much more fun to expound upon. In our country it’s just the same old, same old – but in America! There is always some new bit of juicy news.

I think if any one of us would take a few steps back we would realize that we are being completely ridiculous. I constantly hear people rant and rave over their perceptions of American politics; we read biased news articles bashing this politician or another; our bored minds eagerly lap up the humorous criticisms portrayed in clever America-slamming comics or YouTube videos but what do we really know? And why do we care anyways?

I’m beginning to wonder if we “care” simply because it doesn’t cost us anything. Perhaps the root of all the raving is actually laziness. We investigate and probe into the depths of American problems all the while completely ignoring the state of our own country. We remain uneducated on the issues facing our country and its government all the while proposing “obvious” solutions to save our friends across the border.

Come on Canada. Wake up. Put some energy into things you can actually DO rather than just talk about. No matter how great all your opinions are regarding the upcoming US elections, you still can’t vote in them.