Group works to cure ‘nature deficit disorder’

09/03/2012 7:07
Group works to cure ‘nature deficit disorder’

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above 

An-i-mal identification lesson 1# – This is a cow. Cows are not dangerous! Cows make milk, butter, cheese and ice cream, Supermarkets do not make milk, butter, cheese and ice cream. Ergo cows are good, supermarkets… meh!
‘Splashing in a puddle. Stomping through a stream. Climbing a tree … just some of the simple pleasures of childhood — but not everyone’s childhood.
More and more children are growing up with little or no connection to the outdoors. And a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 18-year-olds spend more than seven hours a day using entertainment media including television, computers and video games. “The bottom line is that all of these advances in media technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more time with media,” said Victoria Rideout, Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of the study. “It’s more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it’s having on their kids’ lives.”

The negative health implications of a sedentary childhood are numerous…..
 Obesity puts children at risk for a lifetime of health problems including diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Overweight children also have an increased risk of developing asthma and other respiratory problems.

Studies have also found that ….children have insufficient Vitamin D levels, which can put children at an increased risk for osteoporosis and rickets. As little as 10-15 minutes of sunlight exposure twice a week, however, is all that’s needed to produce the necessary amount of Vitamin D.

Studies have shown (that) outdoor play can provide relief from some ADHD symptoms. Studies have also shown that interaction with nature can help children who are stressed or have anxiety issues.

An American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report touts the “protective assets and increased resilience developed through free play.”

Nature play isn’t intended to add to the chaos (of family life)but help reduce it. Five Rivers Metro Parks naturalist Doug Horvath suggests ……..“The backyard is a perfect place to start,” Horvath said. “Go on a backyard safari, look at shadows, look for bugs. Put a log in your backyard and watch what happens underneath there after a while.” Creating a tiny fantasy home is something families can do in their own backyard with rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers, pine cones or anything else they find……“It can provide an opportunity for families to be creative, work together and provide a tactile experience,”. 

Horvath acknowledges that some parents aren’t comfortable themselves with nature but he insists they need not feel pressure. “Kids have a billion questions and parents worry that they won’t have the answers, but what a child really needs is someone to share in the adventure,” he said.

…..Susan Balter has been a preschool teacher for more than two decades and she has seen the effects of nature deficit disorder firsthand.  “I’m seeing too many kids spending too much time in front of the computer,” Balter said. “Kids don’t know what to do outside or how to explore. And there are physical differences you can see, they are heavier, less coordinated and have low muscle tone.”

Tess Michaels