The sound of a banging screen door has been traded in for the silence of a computer or video screen by many kids as they choose staying inside for leisure. The words “Go outside and play,” is heard less and less by youngsters. Resulting in obesity, lack of connection with nature, and unstructured down time, today’s kids are missing out on what was once a routine aspect of childhood.
The is a significant week, for lack of a better term, for “play activism”, a movement to return outside play to children. Starting last Sunday are Play Days, sponsored by KaBoom!, a national advocacy group, asking families to take part in free, fun-for-all family activities that celebrate outdoor play.
With hundreds of events held in communities throughout the U.S. , people have come together in support of this cause, even in some cases adding a service twist, like taking part in an improvement project. You have just 2 more days to get involved in yur area, so go to the website to see what’s offered, and start gearing up for next year’s activities. Even after this campaign ends, it’s a great time to get involved with their other campaigns of putting the “play back in the backyard.”
KaBoom! does an admirable job of building areas such as bike parks, and playspaces, and creating various initiatives that provide opportunities to bring communities and families together.
Another weeklong event, Take A Child Outside Week, overlaps, which started on September 24, running through September 30.
This program is an outgrowth of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and is held in conjunction with other partner organizations all over the nation. Like Play Days, this is a week dedicated to participating in local activities that focus on the outdoors, and not games like soccer or football.
An interesting example might be to start a nature journal with your kids, as they draw and write about their observations in the natural world around them. There’s no hard and fadt rules; just have fun and SEE.
Or what about just going outside with a blanket, and really noticing the night sky–the infinite number of stars and constellations? Being on the inside takes away this simple sense of wonder at the vastness of the universe, and our onnectiveness to it.
Another related source of green for families, is Green Hour, part of the National Wildlife Federation that’s an excllent source of ideas, and resources about unstructed play and an interaction with the world of nature.
This quote from Richard Louv, author of the acclaimed book, Last Child In the Woods, is quite fitting in shifting our thinkgin about kids and nature:
“Nature— the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful— offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot. Nature presents the young with something so much greater than they are; [ed.] it offers an environment where they can easily contemplate infinity and eternity.”
Get outside and KEEP playing!