“Children need to have opportunities to play and they also need to have access to nature as they grow up and develop.”
American kids today spend an average of four to seven minutes a day playing outside. That is over 50 percent less time than their parents did. This is a concern given the growing body of research that says the outdoors benefit a child physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively and help to create the next generation of environmental stewards.
Jeff Dillon, the Nature Play Project Coordinator for the City of Boulder says nature play is based on an understanding of how important nature is to both children and adults to have a healthy lifestyle. “Children need to have opportunities to play and they also need to have access to nature as they grow up and develop.” Dillon who is the former Interim Director for Parks and Recreation for Boulder, says that the city has been looking at creating nature play parks for the past 4 years.
A nature playground allows kids to have opportunities to have hands on experience with nature, e.g. a butterfly garden or a place to dig and grow plants.
Voter approved funding will allow the city to develop nature play areas in the civic area along Boulder creek with construction starting in 2016. The community is invited to weigh in on ideas for nature playgrounds during two different events happening in Boulder on June 10th and June 11th.
Richard Louv spoke with Maeve Conran:
The nature play movement has emerged in the aftermath of the best-selling book by Richard Louv “Last Child in the Woods” which first coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder.” Recent research shows that 80% of Denver schoolchildren have never been to the mountains. In addition to Boulder, other communities will be home to some new nature play areas due to funding from Great Outdoors Colorado. This week GOCO launched their new Inspire Initiative, a five-year $25 million grant funded strategy “aimed at inspiring Coloradans, particularly kids, to appreciate, enjoy and take care of our great outdoors.” The Initiative will pilot in up to five communities in the first year. Up to ten additional communities will be added in the second and third years for a total of 15 communities.