The Health Connection
Today’s children spend just 1% of their time outdoors (National Institutes of Health). Unlike a generation ago, children today have little exposure to the systems that sustain life—rarely taking the opportunity to experience the joy of spending time in nature.
Children who participate in outdoor programs- like those offered at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center – have been shown to reap physical, emotional and cognitive benefits from their experience. Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Association of Ophthalmology, and the American Public Health Association has shown the benefits of time spent outdoors:
- A reduction of stress and mental illnesses including depression, ADD and ADHD.
- A greater ability to concentrate in school and become better problem solvers.
- Decreased social isolation and a greater ability to share and work with others
- Increased academic performance by up to 27%, particularly low income students
- Increased cooperation, self-discipline, confidence and self-awareness
- Improved school attendance and performance on college entrance exams
- Improved immune systems & cardiovascular health and lowered obesity
- Increased performance on standardized tests
- Improved classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies
- Greater respect for themselves, for others and for the environment.
The Pew Charitable Trust’s 1998 report: Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context (EIC), showed that children who participate in nature-based education programs had better performance on standardized tests in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, reduced discipline and classroom problems, and increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning.
Nature & Health in the News
There are countless studies establishing the connection between children’s time spent outdoors and their physical and emotional health. In the last year alone, the issue has begun to take center stage in news media as well. Here is a sampling of recent Nature & Health News from around the web – new links are added often; check back soon!
- National Public Radio – July 2014 – To Make Children Healthier, A Doctor Prescribes A Trip To The Park
- The Washington Post – October 2014 – 10 ways to get your kids out in nature, and why it matters
- Huffington Post – September 2014 – Climate Change Threatens The Newest Prescription For Children: Time Outdoors
- Channel 3 News, Madison – October 2014 – Study: Children spend 14 minutes outside each day
Aldo Leopold Nature Center: Connecting Children to Nature
We engage, educate and empower visitors by instilling admiration and respect for the environment, and by fostering a sense of hope for the future as we move into a rapidly changing environment and ever challenging world.
Serving the region, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center hosts more than 45,000 school children, families and teachers annually. ALNC offers more than 70 hands-on, outdoor environmental education programs that connect children to nature. Through these programs, children reap innumerable physical, cognitive and emotional benefits while learning to be good stewards of our natural world.
ALNC operates two innovative nature center campuses year-round in Monona and Black Earth and uses both facilities for hands-on environmental education programming including public programs, pre-school programs, summer camps, school field trips, after school programs, scout and home-school programs, special events, teacher training workshops and interactive exhibits. Through these programs, ALNC fosters admiration and respect for nature, and encourages sustainability and stewardship of the land.