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Outdoor Activities for Kids and How to Get Active on Earth Day

Coronavirus has changed how we live and interact with the world around us. It caused spending more time indoors and less time exploring the outdoors for many people, especially young people, who may have missed out on opportunities to play and explore during the pandemic. In fact, in 2005, Richard Louv wrote the book: Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. This non-medical diagnosis describes the human costs of alienation from nature, and in 2020 this phrase made even more sense when everyone was quarantining. This article will explore the concept of outdoor activities for kids on Earth Day.

In the last 30 years, disconnecting from nature has become increasingly easy. Due to advances in technology, people can now work, shop, and socialize without leaving their homes. In addition, kids are able to entertain themselves indoors with video games, streaming services, and social media. Poor urban planning has also disconnected children from nature by making access to green spaces more difficult. Increasing street traffic can make it dangerous or simply unpleasant for families to walk or bike outdoors. In cities can be challenging to find parks or other natural areas that are safe and enjoyable to visit because of insecurity and pollution.

The Health Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Kids

When I think about my childhood, I realize that the outdoors was among the deepest, most passionate joy I experienced. I remember playing hide and seek in the park, learning to swim in a river, picking fruit from the trees, and running on the streets with my cousins. And even now, as an adult, I still feel a sense of joy and wonder when surrounded by nature. However, according to a recent study, the average child spends less than an hour a day outside. This is concerning because the outdoors give children unique opportunities to develop many physical and mental health benefits.

Kid Outdoors

The type of play environment children are exposed to has a significant impact on kids’ development. As mentioned in our article “Creative Thinking: Inspiring Kids at Boys and Girls Club of Spokane”, children learn best through play. Outdoor play spaces offer a unique set of opportunities for exploration and discovery. Children have more freedom to move around and make noise, which can help to spark their imaginations. They also often have more places to hide and explore, encouraging them to be more curious and engaged. Furthermore, outdoor activities promote creativity by interacting meaningfully with their surroundings, activating all the senses, and making kids move more to help them be more focused and healthy.

Earth Day Increases Kids’ Passion for Nature

Every year we celebrate Earth Day as a reminder to protect and nurture the planet we inhabit. In celebration of this day, it is important to understand that children who play more outdoors develop a passion for nature and a sense to protect the environment. They learn about the connection of all living things and the importance of taking care of our planet. As they grow older, these children are more likely to protect the Earth. The more they learn why the planet needs care, the more they’ll be able to provide it. Whether kids want to save panthers in forests, be climate fighters, plant a tree or use less plastic to protect oceans, we can be their guides and help them to become their best planet-protecting selves.

The Unequal Distribution of Nature

While nature is thought of as a “great equalizer” that provides free, universal, and accessible services to all humans, in reality, American society distributes the benefits of nature unequally by race, income, and age.

The coronavirus pandemic has starkly highlighted the unequal distribution of outdoor spaces in the United States. In low-income communities, families have too few safe, close-to-home parks and coastlines where they can get outside. This lack of safe, close-to-home outdoor spaces can have a big impact on physical and mental health, especially for children. In a time when social distancing is crucial, it is more important than ever to ensure that all families have access to quality outdoor spaces.

Bridging The Gap To Outdoor Activities For Marginalized Kids

In response to this problem, two of the Believe in Me 2022 grant recipients have been working to reduce inequalities and increase access for kids to get outdoors. Camp Fire Inland Northwest’s and Girls Scouts of Eastern Washington and Idaho‘s efforts include programs that increase the access for low-income families to get their kids outdoors, to discover who they are, and advocate for the planet. 

On one hand, Camp Fire Inland Northwest’s Thrive{ology} program integrates a social-emotional learning curriculum with outdoor education where youth can attend a week of Camp Fire summer camp at no cost to their families. On the other hand, Girls Scouts of Eastern Washington and Idaho with their Go Getters outreach program offers their Girl Scout experience, free of charge, to children in Title 1 schools, low-income rural communities, and community centers.

Three Ways You Can Get Active on Earth Day

The big recommendation for this Earth Day is to get out and do as many outdoor activities for kids as you can. If for some reason you aren’t able to get outdoors and explore, we’d like to share 10 Nature Activities that can be done indoors or close to your house. The second recommendation is to promote the love and awareness of nature with the kids in your life. Does your child know which one is the biggest rodent in the world? Have you kids ever seen a picture of an axolotl? There are so many outdoor activities for kids that help them get active on Earth Day! The third and last suggestion is to encourage your child’s curiosity for healthy development. 

Bridging the gap to outdoor activities for marginalized kids wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donors. With your help, we can grant amazing institutions that support and enhance kids’ development in our communities.  Thank you for helping kids get active on Earth Day and every day!

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