Chair of Children and Nature network speaks on benefits of outdoor activity for children
Rolling cornfields, winding creeks, lush forests and green hills were all examples of necessary natural experiences that speaker Richard Louv said new generations of America’s youth are missing in their lives on Wednesday night.
In a presentation on his recent book publishing, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” Louv spoke on the technological and societal implications that are limiting the “wonder” children need for education, physical and mental health, and the future for preserving nature.
Louv is the chair of the Children and Nature Network as well as a San Diego Tribune and Parents Magazine columnist. In his presentation, Louv said, “Young kids today can tell you just about anything about the Amazon Rainforest. Often, they can’t tell the last time they just went out to the woods to watch the leaves.”
The growing dissociation children in newer generations are having with nature is related to having less access to free and open lands and the presence of electronics like video games and television, Louv said. He also said that parents today tend to fear tragedy and as a result limit children’s freedom in nature. Children today, he said, are on “virtual house arrest.”
“One community outlawed sidewalk chalk,” Louv said, “because they said it led to cocaine.”
Louv talked about the problems or lack of freedoms children now have, but he also talked on the discouraging impact many children feel about natural issues such as global warming.
“The message the kids get is very clear,” Louv said. “The boogie man lives in the woods, the future is in electronics and playing outdoors is illegal.”
In order to spark a new attitude towards informing children on the environment and nature, Louv also presented the positive change more exposure to nature may have on children. He said nature has a positive impact on children’s creativity and physical activity and may help combat disorders such as attention deficit disorder.
At the end of his presentation, Louv called nature a “doorway issue.”
“We disagree on almost everything,” he said, referring to people in general. “It doesn’t matter about the politics or religion. With nature, it’s something primal; it brings people who don’t agree on things through the same door and maybe even to the same table.”
Film student senior Alex King enjoyed Louv’s presentation.
“He had a great message,” King said. “People want to see hope. That’s the most important thing with nature – it’s essential.”
More information on Louv’s book and the issues of exposing children to nature for education in the future can be found at www.cnaturenet.org.