FUEL FOR THE SOUL
UNTO U CH ED TH E BOUN DA RY GETT I NG BACK
A LO O K I N TO T H E I M P O R TA N C E O F N AT U R E
photo by Grzegorz Mleczek
How Does Nature Impact Our Well-Being?
An Interview with Pahvan Sudhek
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
hen I first started the stark transition from a rural area of Wisconsin to a big city, the differences in care for nature shocked me. I constantly saw trash blowing around in the wind, people dropping garbage out their car windows, and dumpsters that were meant for garbage filled with recyclables. Our environment is changing, and it seemed as if no one was doing anything to stop it. While this may be the initial impression given by big cities, the longer I lived here, the more environmental programs I became aware of. There are groups that are specifically dedicated to educating children and adults about the importance of the environment, like the Urban Ecology Center. I believe it’s so important to raise a generation that cares about the Earth, because if they don’t, what are we going to have left? Nowadays, it’s trendy to be environmentally friendly, but how many people practice what they preach? Sure, you buy “all green” paper towel, but then proceed to throw your soda cans in the trash. It’s important to
take the time to get outside and enjoy the environment. MIAD Bridge: Fuel for the Soul explores the importance of nature in multiple aspects. Fuel for the Soul discusses both the psychological and physiological benefits of interacting with the environment. It’s good for the mind, soul, heart, and body. In addition, it’s good for the Earth. When people are interacting with the world outside of their house, they view the environment as more important. This results in people who care about the environment, and in turn they are figuring out what they can do to help it. I hope this issue encourages you to separate yourself from a digital screen and to get outside. It’s important to interact with the Earth and your community, because if you don’t, it won’t be the same world you once remembered.
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OUTDOORS & WELL BEING
H O W D O E S N AT U R E I M PA C T O U R WELL-BEING? &
photo by Jordan Sanchez
C E N T E R F O R S P I R I T U A L I T Y C H A R L S T O N M E A D O W S
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell. Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.
In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort. This is nicely demonstrated in a now classic study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery; half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall. According to the physician who conducted the study, Robert Ulrich, the patients with the view of trees tolerated pain better, appeared to nurses to have fewer negative effects, and spent less time in a hospital. More recent studies have shown similar results with scenes from nature and plants in hospital rooms.
One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on general wellbeing. In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality. Furthermore, time in nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention. Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks. In another interesting area, Andrea Taylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in nature increases their attention span later.
N AT U R E HEALS, SOOTHES & RESTORES
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UNTOUCHED ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD
WORDS BY DESIRAE ADAMS photo by Patrick Fore
THE MISSION S
chlitz Audubon Nature Center is a unique urban area of green just 15 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee.â&#x20AC;? The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) is a 185-acre stretch of untouched land along the shore of Lake Michigan. Escape from the world of concrete to hike six miles of trails, walk along the beach, and enjoy the spectacular view from their 60-foot observation tower. Schlitz fulfills its mission through various nature education activities held at their location on Brown Deer Road. They have many trails to hike on as well as a beautifully set-up building that harvests learning. Their main purpose is to connect the community with nature to not only educate about the beauty and serenity of nature and why itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to take care of the environment and the animals that thrive there. They spark an interest in nature and invite others to join in and help take care of the land and natural species. Problems such as littering, killing off natural species of wildlife, and controlling invasive wildlife species, are addressed by Schlitz workers every day as well as many volunteers that help out.
THE N AT U R A L W O R L D Some problems that may stand in the way of fulfilling their mission is the constant flow of customers, growing residential communities, the need for volunteers, and various environmental issues (pollution and habitats being ruined by individuals.) Despite these issues they face, Schlitz performs beautifully at keeping everyone informed about the wildlife around them and why it’s important to take care of nature. Everyone who works there is more than willing to educate volunteers and are passionate about what they do to preserve nature.
“Their main purpose is to connect the community with nature to not only educate about the beauty and serenity of nature and why it’s important to take care of the environment” While serving at Schlitz, there were many memorable moments. One good memory of my service was while I was volunteering as the Preschool Aid and the children were all outside listening to birds and looking at the wildlife; they could identify which birds were singing and they could identify the species of plants they were looking at. This was very powerful because these children are between the ages of 3 and 5, and they were better educated about the wildlife than even I was. They really show an interest towards taking care of the land and wanting to improve the wildlife that’s being taken over by residential areas; they also were very concerned with how people treat nature. There was one child that became very upset when he thought the trees were being hurt,
this shows how connected the children become to the outdoors while attending the Preschool at Schlitz. Although the good moments greatly outnumber the bad, there were a few frustrating times. One example is a day we walked the children down to the beach of lake Michigan. The children refused to listen or cooperate; they were running around, being crazy and naughty towards each other and the teachers. Through working with the kids, I learned to be more patient and understanding with them. I also learned that by listening to them and treating them like a peer, that they actually were more cooperative. Since the children were not my own, it wouldn’t be right to scold them; that’s not my place anyways, as a volunteer, so I had to find other ways of getting their attention and explaining “good” and “bad” behaviors and why they are so.
nature and in become respon of the
Under-education about wildlife and caring for the environment; People disrespecting natural environments by littering, defacing, and the lack of natural environments within residential areas. (Also seen within run-down areas of Milwaukee)
COURSE OF ACTION Create an outreach program within schools (or an outside program that could work within other areas of the community) that would raise the community’s knowledge and understanding of the environment/ wildlife and why it’s important to take care of nature. Knowledge would be the first step; people need to be informed about why natural environments are important
FUEL FOR THE SOUL
and for them to gain respect for the outdoors. The second step would be to take action within the community; citizens would take part in cleaning up natural areas and run-down places within their neighborhood. Then there could be time to improve upon the natural areas (planting trees and shrubs or other plants) to make a natural home for wildlife living in the area as well as creating a natural landscape for citizens to enjoy. People of all ages could participate, since the environment is important to everyone and they should all be knowledgeable on the subject. The community would also be encouraged to take action by planting within their own areas of residence, such as gardens. Members would receive seeds and small plants to either add to their garden or to start their own garden
cts people with nspires them to nsible stewards natural world.” if they don’t have one. Communities would also be encouraged to use public transportation or carpool to cut down on pollution to the environment.
GOAL By taking this action, individuals would gain an appreciation for natural areas and would better care for their communities and the world. Run-down areas would be cleaned up and beautified, hopefully resulting in less defiling and crime (often seen in run-down areas of a community). By adding natural environments to the community, it would raise public areas and give the people a place to come together. The citizens would be brought together to take part and share a common interest. It would be a “win-win” for both the community at large and nature.
“People need to be informed about why natural environments are important.” F U E L F O R T H E S O U L | 10
Q & A INTERVIEW
WHO SHOULD VA LU E N AT U R E ? W I T H
Explain why you think nature should/ should not be valued?
Who should be involved in valuing nature in your country? Who should not be involved? Valuation is a human institution, and “who values”, or who is the agent of valuation, is a vital question. From a human rights perspectives, it is those who are closest and most dependent on those ecosystems whose valuation matters most. However, provincial
S U D H E K
and national governments may argue otherwise from an economic or governance perspective. So it is for society at large to decide whose valuation counts. We can only be certain that all these valuations will be different.
How do you think different stakeholders including governments, companies, and indigenous peoples will value nature? e.g. are certain stakeholders more likely to use monetary or non-monetary values?
To make a successful business case to protect nature do you think a monetary value has to be placed on nature? Would a non-monetary value be as effective?
Humans conserve what they value. However, human society today has become so mesmerized with the supremacy of markets, falsely projected by some as the answer to everything, that it often assumes that only prices (market values) represent value. This is of course not true, because markets only trade and price private claims, whereas the public services that nature delivers have no prices – and indeed they should not. But policy–makers respond primarily to economic arguments. And the economic invisibility of nature is a root cause of the problem of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Valuing nature’s services, making them economically visible, is an important part of the solution.
P A H V A N
Different agents value nature’s services differently, and using different forms of valuation.
The “business case” for nature is the business case for Enterprise Earth. It is about public goods, public wealth. But private capital only pursues private profits, not public wealth, and that is why we must be very careful how we design and deliver solutions to the problems caused by the economic invisibility of nature.
photo by Mikael Kristonsen
I N T E R V I E W
H U M A N S
C O N S E R V E
W H A T
T H E Y
V A L U E
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ities are comprised of more than just buildings and people. The most “livable” cities – and some of the world’s most famous cities – are as known for their open space as they are for their culture. Hyde Park in London, Central Park in New York, the Bukit Timah Nature Preserve in Singapore, Phoenix Park in Dublin... all are attractions in their own right for inhabitants and visitors alike. Open space in urban environments provides many advantages: formal and informal sport and recreation, preservation of natural environments, provision of green space and even urban storm water management. Thus green space must be a key consideration in urban planning if the health of a city and its people are both considered important. A new, broader view of parks has also recently been emerging. This new view focuses on how policy makers, practitioners, and the public can begin to think about parks as valuable contributors to larger urban policy objectives, such as job opportunities, youth development, public health, and community building. As the world’s cities continue to grow, continuing to value green space in cities is vital: but is also a challenge, particularly in developing nations where there is pressure for space, resources and development.
FUEL FOR THE SOUL
W H AT I S U R B A N P L A N N I N G ?
Urban planning is a relatively new profession that has arisen from concerns for health and maintaining wellbeing through averting diseases and illnesses associated with overcrowding, poor sanitation, and exposure to environmental pollution. The way cities and neighborhoods are designed affects whether or not it is easy for people to walk, cycle, participate in active recreation, use public transport, and interact with neighbors and their community. It is believed that urban planning decisions have a key role to play in combatting growing levels of obesity and helping prevent lifestyle-related diseases through facilitating physical activity and positive mental health. In 2007, for the first time in the history of humanity, more than half the world’s population was living in cities. Urban populations are expected to increase by 1.5 billion over the next 20 years, while the number of “mega cities” will double. By 2015 the UN predicts that there will be 358 “million cities” with one million or more people and 27 “mega-cities” of ten million or more. Much of this growth will happen in developing countries. There is a growing body of research showing a connection
between human health and wellbeing and the design and structure of towns, cities and regions. Research in this emerging field is now being undertaken by several sectors including medical, health promotion, recreational studies, urban studies and planning and transport planning research. There are numerous health benefits associated with access to public open space and parks. Access to vegetated areas such as parks, open spaces, and playgrounds has been associated with better perceived general health, reduced stress levels, reduced depression and more. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is a major public health risk. In Australia, nearly half of all Australians do not meet even the 30 minute daily physical activity recommendations. One study found that people who use public open spaces are three times more likely to achieve recommended levels of physical activity than those who do not use the spaces. Users and potential users prefer nearby, attractive, and larger parks and open spaces (Wolf, 2008).Thus, improving access to public open space has the potential to increase levels of physical activity, and to have
C R E AT I N G S U S TA I N A B L E C I T I E S There is a growing interest in defining a trajectory for water/ climate transition based on a shared vision of what our future relationships with water could look like. Whether these visions are articulated as ‘sustainable’, ‘integrated’, ‘sensitive’ or all three, the focus is the future roles of water in the lives of citizens and in the economy and how those roles fit in the shape of urban development. The term ‘water sensitive cities’ (WSC’s) has emerged as a useful way to encapsulate the still somewhat fuzzy concepts of an ideal relationship between people, governance, built environment, infrastructure, living ecosystems, resource use (e.g.. energy) and water. It potentially serves a practical purpose – allowing people to share and compare their understanding about emerging water strategies in a way that can help to orient and integrate disparate efforts to deal with challenges. The explicit focus on an urban context is due to cities housing most of the world’s people and being the origin of significant impacts on the natural environment.
“A network of parks and open spaces that include protected
natural lands, ecological reserves, wetlands, and other green areas is critical to providing healthy habitats for humans, wildlife and plants in these densely built places. Natural landscapes are vital to preserving regional ecosystems amid growing cities.” mental health benefits and reduce healthcare and other costs. Urban parks also contribute environmental benefits. A network of parks and open spaces that include protected natural lands, ecological reserves, wetlands, and other green areas is critical to providing healthy habitats for humans, wildlife and plants in these densely built places. Natural landscapes are vital to preserving regional ecosystems amid growing cities.
Parks also help create human and energy efficient cities that can help slow global warming. Linear parks and open spaces make compact living attractive and viable. Trail networks link individual parks, making them easier to bike and walk. Old rail lines can be transformed into greenways, and gardens planted on rooftops maximize limited space and curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Every tree helps fight global warming by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and help cool cities. In the US, an evaluation of the largest 85 cities in the country (population of 57.2 million) found the health savings from parks was an estimated $3.08 billion. The environmental savings are significant as well. Trees and vegetation in urban parks offer lower cost, natural solutions for addressing storm water runoff and air pollution. One major city, Philadelphia, experienced $16 million in annual public cost savings as a result of storm water management and air pollution reduction, according to a 2008 report by the Trust for Public Land Center for City Park Excellence.
Furthermore, cities are the predominant source of technical and social innovation – performing an important role as drivers or leaders of wider change. Another factor is the growing focus on a local or regional food economy. The movement for local and regional food – alongside demand for ethical and sustainable food production practices – is growing rapidly, both in Australia and around the world. In North America, Japan, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, it has grown so rapidly that it is possible to speak of a still young but maturing ‘creative food economy’.In many regions, this has been the most dynamic and innovative sector of the food economy for the past two decades, ‘comprised mainly of specialty, local, ethnic and organic food-processing firms that are thriving in response to consumers’ demands for high-quality, local, fresh, ethnic and fusion cuisine’. Demand for local and regional foods is especially strong, driven in part by the ‘dissociation between traditional large firms and the local consumer base’, itself a consequence of a globalized food system that seems to produce ‘food from nowhere’. In this context, cities that encompass or are close to agricultural resources – and related green space – are important.
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organizations Content by VISITMilwaukee: visitmilwaukee.org/green/sustainability
urban ecology center The Urban Ecology Center fosters ecological understanding as inspiration for change, neighborhood by neighborhood.
growing power Will Allen, recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, founded this famous urban agriculture center.
I N D U S T R I A L I Z AT I O N
th e b o u n d a r y b etw e e n c ity a n d n at u r e
schlitz audubon Schlitz Audubon Nature Center connects people with nature and inspires them to become responsible stewards of the natural world.
walnut way A showcase initiative to bring urban agriculture to an inner city neighborhood.
victory garden A grass-roots nonprofit organization that empowers communities to grow food, reintegrating human and food ecology and advancing a resilient food culture. Image provided by Suxu-Pixabay
FUEL FOR THE SOUL
D E AT H I N A N AT U R A L A R E A
crossing the boundary D E V E L O P I N G N AT I O N S According to the UN population surveys, India is likely to have 700 million rural poor moving to cities by 2050. With 45,000 plant and nearly 90,000 animal species, India is considered one of the world’s most mega-diverse countries. Experts suggest continued growth in its urban population could lead to enormous loss of biodiversity. Yet, the country has yet to demonstrate serious planning efforts to address the impact of increased urbanization on the environment. China, Indonesia, and South Africa – three additional mega diverse developing countries – are also confronted with a similar situation, where urban planners haven’t incorporated environmental concerns in development. This isn’t the case in all developing nations. Brazil, home to more than 56,000 plant species, has taken the lead in setting new trends in urban planning. Its “green city” Curitiba has
demonstrated that urban planning can be environmentally friendly. Curitiba’s population of 1.8 million consumes 23 per cent less fuel per capita than the Brazilian national average. The city has 16 parks, 14 forests, and over 1,000 green public areas shared by its residents.
BE YOND PARK PLANNING Gil Penalosa, long-time advocate for more active cities and director of Canadian organization 8-80 Cities says: “Successful public places around the world are successful not just because of the design but also because of the management. That’s not just cutting the grass and picking up the garbage. The bigger part of management is how to involve the community in the parks. We need to think of parks more as outdoor community centers where we need to invest in uses and activities so they can fulfill their potential. When we improve parks, we’re really improving quality of life.”
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PA R K O V E R L O O K
SILVER SPRING DR.
1 HAMPTON AVE.
VETERANS PARK CATHEDRAL SQUARE PARK
MITCHELL PARK DOMES
POPULAR PA R K S M K E 01 02
E S TA B R O O K PA R K
Estabrook Park features multiple activities such as skateboarding, volleyball, softball, disc golfing, soccer, hiking, and a dog exercise area. The Estabrook Beer Garden also ranks amongst the top 10 beer gardens in the nation.
Bradford Beach is a popular go-to spot for summer in Milwaukee. The beach features beach volleyball, a swimming area, and two snack/liquor bars.
V E T ERA N ’ S PA RK
Veteran’s Park is a great place for walking and biking, as it is right off the Oak Leaf Trail. It also hosts an annual kite fest, where kite fanatics from all over the city and beyond come to fly their kites. In addition, it’s a popular fishing and relaxing spot.
C AT H ED R A L S Q UA R E PA R K Cathedral Square Park is in the heart of downtown and is home to Milwaukee’s most popular weekly music get together, Jazz in the Park. Every Thursday, multiple jazz musicians and vendors come together for a free community event.
M I TC H ELL PA RK D O M ES
The incredible diversity of plant life you will encounter reminds us all of the Earth’s unique diversity of plant and animal species so very vital to our own survival. (Milwaukee County Parks) The Domes feature a series of plant life for you to encounter firsthand.
H U M B O LDT PA RK
Humboldt Park lies in the heart of Bayview. It hosts a weekly summer concert series “Chill on the Hill”, but it offers much more than that. It is a great fishing, walking, and sledding spot. The beer garden is well known in addition to Estabrook’s.
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G E T T I N G B AC K
TO THE GREAT OUTDOORS Written by Amy Novotney // Illustrated by Michelle Sevilla
artha Erickson, PhD, always believed that her frequent nature outings with her children, and her encouragement of their independent play and exploration outdoors, helped them mature into well-rounded adults. These days, she’s getting confirmation of that fact. “As many young people were spending increasing amounts of time watching television or playing video games, my kids were much more likely to head off on their bikes, canoe down the creek that flows through our city or rally some friends to create an outdoor adventure,” she says. “Now, as young adults, they are fit, creative, adventurous and striving to protect the environment.” Increasing evidence demonstrates the many benefits of nature on children’s psychological and physical well-being, including reduced stress, greater physical health, more creativity and improved concentration. “The basic finding seems to be yes, nature does seem to be really good for kids,” says Frances Kuo, PhD, founder of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Beyond the health and cognitive benefits children may gain from free and unstructured play outdoors, nature also provides them with a sense of wonder and a deeper understanding of our responsibility to take care of the Earth, says Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit-Disorder” (Algonquin Books, 2005). Yet increasingly, nature is the last place you’ll find children, research shows.
FUEL FOR THE SOUL |
Many factors have come together to push children indoors, he says, including land development and more people living in cities, additional demands on children’s time such as more homework and structured activities video games and the Internet, and parental fear, particularly of strangers. In today’s society of indoor children, personal connections with nature seem hard to come by, which threatens to lessen future generations’ concerns about the environment, Louv says. “Last time I checked, it was pretty tough to have a sense of wonder when you’re playing Grand Theft Auto,” Louv says. “If we’re raising a generation of children under protective house arrest, where does that lead us in terms of our connection to the natural world?” As experts in child development and learning, psychologists are helping children reconnect with nature by conducting research, incorporating the outdoors into clinical interventions and educating parents, says Erickson, a director of early childhood mental health training programs at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
FUEL FOR THE SOUL
“People often listen to what psychologists have to say when it comes to kids’ learning and development,” she says.
“We really need to work as advocates and in our practices to think about the potential of nature to improve the health and well-being of children.” Psychologists have actively studied the role nature plays in children’s mental health since the early 1980s, when Harvard University biologist Edward O. Wilson, PhD, introduced his theory of “biophilia,” which argues that humans have an innate affinity for the natural world. Now, a host of studies are showing just how essential outdoor activities are for the developing mind.
“If we’re raising a generation of children under protective house arrest, where does that lead us in terms of our connection to the natural world” 26 |
FUEL FOR THE SOUL
One of the most influential longitudinal studies, led by Cornell University environmental psychologist Nancy M. Wells, PhD, found that children who experienced the biggest increase in green space near their home after moving improved their cognitive functioning more than those who moved to areas with fewer natural resources nearby (Environment and Behavior (Vol. 32, No. 6). Similarly, in a study of 337 school-age children in rural upstate New York, Wells found that the presence of nearby nature bolsters a child’s resilience against stress and adversity, particularly among those children who experience a high level of stress (Environment and Behavior, Vol. 35, No. 3). But while such studies support the notion that nature is good for children, psychologists may need to act fast to get children back outside. A study by University of Maryland sociologist Sandra Hofferth, PhD, shows that between 1997 and 2003, the amount of time children ages 9 to 12 spent participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping and gardening declined by 50 percent.
GREEN IS GOOD What are children doing instead? Playing video games,
watching TV and spending time on the computer, Hofferth found. Such activities are, of course, linked with the rise in childhood obesity. A 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that one-third of children and teens, ages 2 to 19, were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. By 2010, about half of school-age children in North and South America will be overweight or obese, predicts an article in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. Without building a connection to the natural world when they’re young, it seems unlikely that children will possess much of an affiliation with Mother Earth as adults, says Wells. In fact, a 2006 study-led by Wells and published in Children, Youth and Environments (Vol. 16, No. 1)-suggests that childhood participation with nature may set individuals on a trajectory toward adult environmentalism.
“This study shows that there really may be a connection between kids’ experiences in nature and their later life attitudes and behaviors” Erickson agrees. “It’s a principle of human nature that you care for what you know and what you love,” says Erickson. “Learning about climate change just by studying it on the Internet or reading about it in books is one thing, but to come to know and love the natural world firsthand from an early age just gives you a different kind of motive [for preserving it].” Practitioners can use this research as strong evidence for incorporating nature into their client interventions, says Erickson. “Making time to get outside to play, run and explore could be a really important part of a treatment plan,” she says. Psychologists can also encourage school administrators to get children outside during the school day, by working with their state psychological associations to develop briefing papers for local school boards, contacting local news media to encourage coverage of the benefits of nature to children or leading volunteer efforts to plant gardens at a local schools, Erickson recommends. Creative exploration and firsthand experience discovering nature appear to be the best ways for children to learn about a host of subjects-particularly science- according to research, Erickson says.
More recess time and greener playgrounds might also enable children to learn more effectively, and improve a child’s ability to concentrate in the classroom, says Kuo. In a study published in the September 2004 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 94, No. 9), Kuo and her colleague, Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, found that green outdoor activities reduced ADHD symptoms significantly more than activities in built outdoor and indoor settings. “If we had kids moving around and burning off energy, I think we would have much less difficulty with kids having trouble paying attention in the classroom,” Erickson says. Wells says research by psychologists and others may help determine whether there may be a “critical period” for children’s exposure to the natural environment, and if so, when that might be. Perhaps most importantly, psychologists are among those helping to educate the public-particularly parents-on the importance of getting children outside. In April, Erickson will help kick off a statewide children and nature awareness campaign in Minnesota, which will include television and radio coverage and public events-such as moonlight walks at a Minneapolis-area nature center-focused on specific steps parents and other caregivers can take to help renew children’s interest in the natural world. Similar public outreach initiatives are also underway in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California, among others, according to the Children and Nature Network (www.cnaturenet.org) a national organization which Louv and Erickson help lead-dedicated to reconnecting children with nature. Often, parents aren’t aware of nature’s benefits to their children, or aren’t sure how to tear their children away from the computer or television screen, says Meg Houlihan, PhD, a private practitioner in Charlotte, N.C., who speaks locally to parents and teachers about overcoming barriers to getting kids outside. She emphasizes gradual change: taking children out on the front lawn for an hour, for example. “It’s important to give the message to parents that it doesn’t have to be a huge trip to Yellowstone to be nature,” says Houlihan. apa.org
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ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD OF CONCRETE
photo by Nathan Walker