Connect with Nature: Celebrate Universal Children’s Day

Did you know that November 20th is Universal Children’s Day? The United Nations first proclaimed this day in 1954 to promote child welfare across the world. There are few better ways to celebrate than helping a child connect with nature!In his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv reported a startling decrease in the amount of direct exposure that many of today’s children have to nature. In a recent study, 73% of parents reported that their children spend their after-school hours watching TV, reading or playing video or computer games, rather than enjoying outdoor play or physical activity. The same study found that children are spending an average of six hours per day in front of a computer or television screen outside of school hours.

The effects of this problem – dubbed “nature-deficit disorder” by Louv – are troubling. A growing number of studies are demonstrating a link between this lack of interaction with nature and problems like childhood obesity and attention-deficit disorder. Luckily, help can be as close as your own backyard. Doctors are reporting that spending as little as 20 minutes per day in an urban park, community or personal garden, can have a positive impact on our physical and emotional heath.

This Sunday, celebrate Universal Children’s Day by spending a little extra time outdoors. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of fun nature activities for families or join a presentation by a nature club or young naturalist club near you.

Photo by Brenda Foubert