The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

The Importance of Outdoor for Children

“Research suggests that exposure to the natural world – including nearby nature in cities – helps improve human health, well-being, and intellectual capacity in ways that science is only recently beginning to understand.” Richard Louv, Blog, February 28, 2012 http://richardlouv.com/blog/2012/02

George is a little boy full of energy and curiosity. He does Tae Kwon Do and loves to run. He also struggles in school with learning, paying attention and behavior. Last summer, his mother wanted George to have new experiences and he wanted to go to The Kalamazoo Nature Center because he had been there with school. So we helped them with registration.

At The Nature Center, George got to run and play. He explored the woods and swam in the lake at Marken Glen Park. He met friends, rolled in the mud, found bugs and studied rocks. He was engaged with his day camp group and loved the counselors. This was one of the best experiences of his young life.

Following camp, Dawn, George’s mother called us to thank us for helping him go to The Nature Center. She was quite emotional as she told us that this was one of the few times her son really felt successful and part of a group. He had not had any behavior problems at camp, but more importantly the whole week he was at camp he had not gotten in trouble at home either.

This happened before our staff all read Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods. When we read the book, the first child we thought of was George. The outdoors was so important to him. In nature, George was able to be himself and not stressed about having to sit still and pay attention all the time. He was really able to learn because of the freedom to be in the world as his full inquisitive and energetic self.

George is going back to the Nature Center this summer – and he can’t wait!

Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. – Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment—but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. Excerpt from The Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, 2008.

George is third from the left in the front. Photo releases are signed for The Nature Center.

George at KNC

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