Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nature Deficit Disorder

"Nature deficit disorder" is not a medical diagnosis. It' my term for describing what I believe are the human costs of alienation from nature." This is what Richard Louv says in an interview in the Natural Awakenings magazine. Reporter Linda Sechrist asks him nine questions which he answers in reference to his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder." I'd love to write out the whole interview because even this short article reminds me of the importance of being outside, out from under the ceilings and away from the TV's. Here's a few statement he makes in the interview that might motivate you to spend more time outside with your grandchildren.
  • We know nature play encourages more creative play. Children in natural play areas are far more likely to invent their own games than children playing on the typical flat asphalt or turf park. Research shows that nature experiences build cognitive skills.
  • Being in nature builds a sense of empathy and connection. Children who do not venture outside and bond will be ill prepared to bond with community. Their lives will increasingly be about what occurs inside their homes or future workplaces, and about themselves. Young people raised under virtual protective house arrest are missing out on a larger world of possibilities and wonder.
  • When experts at conferences discuss today's dramatic increases in childhood obesity, attention difficulties and depression, the countering benefits of direct childhood experience in nature should at least be mentioned as part of the solution.
  • Baby Boomers, entering or in the grandparenting stage, can play a pivotal role in turning around the current situation. They remember a time when it was normal for kids to play in nature. Boomers are a cause oriented generation. Teaching children about the importance of their relationship to nature could be their greatest cause yet. If they don't meet the challenge, who will?

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