Get kids outdoors...it's good for them!
It seems like every day, I see another article discussing all of the positive benefits of getting kids outdoors.
I recently came across one from the Toronto Star, talking about how one school was seeing striking results, especially with autistic kids. (You can read the article here). Pretty neat stuff! But isn't it a shame that folks are having to find things like this out? Wouldn't it be great if something like this were never thought of?
I know when I was a kid, no one would have ever thought this type of thing would be a problem. But the world has changed.
When folks ask me about our efforts to get kids outdoors, they wonder why kids today are different. I don't think they are. The world they are growing up in is different. Their world is much different than the world I grew up in. It's not their fault that they don't have the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as previous generations did. And it's up to us to make sure they get that opportunity.
Rather than having schools cutting back on recess time for kids, they need to make special efforts to give kids a chance to connect with nature during their day at school. The folks at the Blaylock Public School are certainly seeing the benefits. But these efforts can only go so far.
Schools aren't going to be able to give kids a connection to nature like they would get if they were out of the city/town environment, playing in a field or wading in a stream. Or going hunting and fishing.
And if kids benefit so much from the limited exposure they receive in a program like the one discussed in the article, you would expect to see even greater benefit if they actually got out into the outdoors!
We took a bunch of kids on a youth turkey hunt a couple of years ago. Dan Bell and the folks at Bell Wildlife Specialties have been hosting a Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors youth turkey hunt since we first began with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters in '02. As we were loading up and getting ready to drive to Dan's place, a mother dropping off a young lady to hunt mentioned that she had forgot her mediciation. When I asked what it was for, and she said ADHD, I told her we would wait for her to go get it.
I was more than a bit concerned about how well this young lady would do, sitting in a blind, having to be silent and sit still. Especially after hearing about the ride to Dan's place, where she had been a constant blur of fidgeting and talking for the entire 2 hour drive.
The next morning, the young lady was quiet and still the entire time in the blind. After lunch, she was quiet and still for the entire afternoon hunt as well. The volunteers and guides were all very surprised at the change that came over this young lady while on the hunt. Especially those who had endured the ride the previous day! I had read about this happening...but seeing it first hand really drove home the point.
There is more data coming out every day, expounding on the health benefits for kids when they spend time outdoors.
It's up to you and me to make sure they get that time.
Take a kid hunting! Take a kid fishing! Take a kid outdoors!