Have we got the cure for that!
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from Nature Deficit Disorder, rocked the parenting world with his notion that outdoor play is becoming extinct and we as parents are to blame.
His theory is that children nowadays are so overprotected and sedentary they have developed what he calls Nature Deficit Disorder, a condition that renders children devoid of outdoor play, disconnected from nature and completely unaware that their very future – and ours as a species – is at risk.
The answer, espouses Louv, is simple.
Get up off the couch, put away the video games, close down the computer and get outside.
Green is the new black
“Imagine a world in which all children grow up with a deep understanding of the world around them,” writes Louv. “Where obesity is reduced through nature play. Where anti-depressants and pharmaceuticals are prescribed less and nature prescribed more. Where children experience the joy of being in nature before they learn of its loss. Where they can lie in the grass on a hillside for hours and watch clouds become the faces of the future. Where every child and every adult has the human right to a connection with the natural world and shares the responsibility to care for it.”
Easier said than done, at least nowadays
Many parents would be mortified to learn that their kids are inactive more than seven hours a day yet recent research by Participaction shows exactly that.
- Canadian kids aged 3-4 spend 5.8 hours a day being sedentary, those aged 5-11 spend 7.6 hours and those aged 12-17 spend 9.3 hours.
- The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that Canadian kids aged 5 – 17, accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day. Only 5% of 5- to 17-year olds are meeting the recommendations.
- The proportion of Canadian kids who play outside after school dropped 14% over the last decade.
- Only 6% of Canadian kids take the recommended 12,000 steps per day.
- 40% of kids (aged 5-17 years) meet the guidelines at least 3 days per week; but to achieve health benefits, these kids need to get 60 minutes every day of the week.
Impossible to fix? Not at your favourite park
This summer, make a pledge to take your kids to your favourite provincial park, for a few hours, the whole day or an overnight camping trip. Ontario Parks has a Learn to Camp program for newbies and almost everything is provided. You can even Learn to Fish, too.
With adult obesity and related diseases on the rise, we adults could use some outdoor play, too. Think about the benefits for all of us!
Ten reasons to spend time with nature at Ontario Parks
- Get out and enjoy the great outdoors
- Enjoy an affordable vacation
- Spend time with your family
- Relax and enjoy a change of pace
- Hang out with your friends
- Get away from the city
- It’s fun to explore a park!
- Try something different
- Stay active and healthy by taking part in outdoor activities
- Camping under the stars is one of 12 activities in the Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter
Ontario Parks is a veritable playground for walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking and playing and there’s no time like the present to start having fun.
Just ask 13-year-old Anthony whose family has been camping for entire summers at Nagagamisis Provincial Park for generations. He and his friends love the freedom of playing at the park all summer long, knowing they can play safely and that their parents and friends are within earshot if something goes wrong.
“I love to ride my bike, go swimming, hang out with my friends, go for hikes,” says Anthony. “It’s so quiet here and there’s no pollution. It’s just completely different here. With the lake and the woods and my bike I don’t miss not having the Internet or video games. It’s just really fun to hang out with my friends here.”
Visit www.OntarioParks.com to find your nearest park and get out into the fresh air now. Reservations are open for spring and summer 2015.