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NWF Green Hour

Commentary on what parents should know about and can do to counteract common "nature deficit disorders" in our TV-watching, video game-playing children including encouraging a daily "Green Hour" of outside play and learning. A program of the National Wildlife Federation

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Turn Off the Computer and Play

NWF Happinin' Habitat friend and partner, the celebrated ZOOM PBS series, encourages children to get away from the computer and play together. Some of this encouragement is for indoor games and some for getting outside. No matter. The main point is for kids to havev fun together rather than be locked in an isolated "computer trance." Check out ZOOM's site for an inspiring list of fun games for kids. It is also agreat reminder of how easy it is for kids to get together and have fun. Photo from PBS ZOOM

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Outdoor time vs. 'Sick School Syndrome '

We would all love to think of our kids' time in school as healthy. After all, children spend thousands of hours in classrooms, gyms, lunch rooms, labs and study halls. Recently, however, scientific information on what children are actually exposed to in school argues for increased outdoor time. "Sick school syndrome" is described by health professionals as a non-specific illness in children evidenced by them feeling poorly on school days and better on weekends. The syndrome is due to environmental factors including allergens, poor indoor air quality, pesticides, paints, cleaners and solvents and lack of oxygen. The Healthy Schools Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaning up our schools but they also need some "greening up." School children need more time outdoors exercising in clean fresh air. Read more!


Common Sense Outdoor Safety

Rules to use

The perception that the outdoors is less safe for kids than staying indoors is now deeply entrenched in the America psyche. It is steadily reinforced and even perpetuated by heavy media coverage of childhood abductions, kids falling into holes, drownings and more. Indeed, no one should ever suggest that outdoor play is completely risk free. There are just too many bumps and scrapes and twisted ankles in the memory of most adults to buy that. But staying indoors has considerable risks too because so many sexual predators frequent the Web (which kids also frequent). There are many common sense rules for how kids can be safer outdoors. For parents and caregivers who want children to have safe green hours here is a useful website and review. Check it out!


Environmental Outdoor Games

For older children

There are many things that children can do outdoors. Healthy outdoor experiences can range from running through the backyard to particpating in a summer camp or outward bound journey. Environmental outdoor games are an interesting option for older children. Here is a web site that offers some fun and interesting opportunities for groups such as scouting organizations and classes. Check it out!


An Epidemic Emerges

More "Green" Time Please !

A recent New York Times article examines how diabetes is becoming one of America'smost serious, yet subtle, epidemics. Public health experts, including those from the Centers from Disease Control, are now estimating that one out of every three children born in America will have diabetes during his or her lifetime. Part of the need is for improved diet but, more than anything else, the answer seems to be exercise. The article also notes how urban environments can discourage exercise and suggests more time walking and more time spent using amenities such as nature trails. Read More!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Standards for an Active Community

A role for government in increasing Green Hours

In Michigan there are standards, guidelines and programs of financial aid to help communites become more "active." It isn't actually the community that becomes active but the people who live in it. More acurately, the role of the community and its leaders is to provide trails, open spaces, exercise programs and educational programs that will encourage residents to get out and move around. Read More!


Green Hours are Commercial-free Hours

Child psychologists would like to restrict TV advertising to kids.

All things in moderation. That is what we need to think of when we look at how much time kids spend indoors watching TV or on computers as compared to time playing outdoors in green, natural spaces. But the advertising industry is not at all moderate when it comes to kids. There is at least $12 billion in annual advertising aimed right at your child's eyeballs each year. In fact, the average child now sees 40,000 commericals a year. It has gotten so bad that the American Psychological Association recommends that advertsing to youngsters be restricted. That is because children, under eight years of age, cannot easily distinguish the truth from overstatements and falsehoods. That makes them uniquely susceptable to commercial persuasion.

The most predominant products advertised to children are sugared cereals, candy, sodas and snack foods. What children really need is time away from television and computer pop-up screens and to get outdoors in green spaces with fresh air and exercise. Read more!

Monday, January 02, 2006


Five Great Adventures for Kids

The far and near of it is a website offering all kinds of advice to caretakers of children. One of my favorites is their article on five great outdoor activities for kids. The emphasis is on simple family-oriented activities parents can do with kids right around the home. They include a"Bug Safari," "Blooming Names," "Butterfly Feeder," and more. The main point is that when we think of outdoor time, some of the most fun things can be right under our nose, ot at least under that blade of grass. Check it out!

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