Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take Me Outside

We were thrilled to be a part of Colin's journey. Colin spent a day in Red Deer giving talks at Annie L. Gaetz elementary, G.W. Smith elementary and West Park Middle schools. He also did a tour of the Nature Centre and had lunch with a couple of the interpreters.

Here at the Nature Centre we have been dedicated to sharing the outdoors with children, for 25 years. With all the new initiatives in preschool and kindergarten outdoor-classes, it is worth noting that the Nature Centre's Nature Nursery program has been an outdoor program for nearly 20 years. Our kids spend 1/2 of their time, each day, exploring the Sanctuary's forests, fields and ponds. In May, June and September, when the weather is a little more forgiving, Nature Nursery is an entirely outdoor program.

Kids need to be outside. There is a growing mountain of evidence to support the idea that the 53-hours/week of screen time that North American kids are getting (outside of school hours) is doing more harm than good. We're seeing increased rates of childhood obesity, increased rates of ADD/ADHD and a increase in the psychological distance between people and nature. Our own research - conducted by Jim Roberston as part of his Masters thesis - indicates that kids who are exposed to early nature-based education develop into more environmentally-aware citizens. They exhibit more empathy for nature and for natural environments.

So to Colin: Congratulations. We are inspired by your run and I am personally, proud to call you my friend. To the nature-educators around the world: Keep doing what you do. The children of today and the natural environments of the future are depending on you.

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