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Facts >> Nature Is Good for Kids

Source: Hooked on Nature, www.hookedonnature.org.

Climbing trees is good for kids. Swimming in a lake is good for kids. Collecting leaves and shells and rocks is good for kids. Seeing deer and bears and foxes while on camping trips is good for kids. Squirming with delight as a banana slug crawls over their hand, and then running to gross out their parents with slime-hand-that's really good for kids.

We know this. We've always known this. We take our kids to the park when they're only a few months old, lay them down in the grass. We smother them in sunblock and go to the beach.

We unplug the television and extol the joys of fresh air, despite the rolled eyes and thumbs itching for the video game controller. We play catch with our kids in the backyard, build them soccer goals out of stray pieces of lumber, spend whole weekends hammering together go-carts on the driveway. We watch them run and jump and holler, we watch their skin darken in the sun, we watch them get taller and stronger, and we can see easily that they belong under a clear blue sky.

But while nature is undeniably beneficial to kids, the extent and specific nature of these benefits are often not fully understood. We figure, if they're outside, they're getting exercise, and they're not glued to the TV or computer screen, which can seem like reason enough. But there's more to it than that.

There's an increasing amount of evidence supporting the contention that attaching kids early and well to nature is effective prevention in all areas. The natural world serves as a restorative environment, outside experiences calming a person both physically and mentally, replacing substance abuse and violence as strategies to deal with stress. With nature as part of a daily routine, kids stay in better health, and when nature is brought into the classroom as environmentally based education, students perform better and more enthusiastically.

Coping Skills
Coping skills come from the recognition of the restorative powers of natural settings. There have been numerous studies proving that being outside, even just being within sight of the outside, is appreciably calming and lowers stress. A kid who understands this, whether on a subconscious level or not, is more likely to take a walk when angry or confused, rather than turning to mood-altering substances, violence, or any of the bad way-finding that is so heartbreakingly prevalent among our young. With the embrace of nature taking the place of substance abuse, the interwoven epidemics of crime and addiction in this country could sharply decline.

Hoping Skills
Hoping skills, on the other hand, encompass the optimism that arises from seeing "what appears to be the impossible become the possible," as Congressman Cummings put it. Close and continual contact with the ever-renewing, ever-growing, and ever-profound natural world instills in children a sense of unparalleled wonder and potential, which is readily applicable to all aspects of their lives.

Imagine a generation of kids growing up in this country with a deep and abiding love of nature. Now imagine this same generation becoming engineers, city planners, scientists, legislators and leaders. A new kind of possibility emerges, in the potential every child.

Though there are countless different ways to try and keep kids on the right path, a key underlying factor in all prevention strategies has been expressed perfectly by California State Assemblyman Joe Simitian: "It's not enough to tell kids to just say no. We have to give them something they can say yes to."

By saying yes to nature, kids find their place in the universe. They gain the sense that they are unique as individuals, and simultaneously the awareness that they are a part of a whole, that they belong in this world and to this world.

With these as their core beliefs, tucked deep in their hearts, kids won't see the world as a scary place, they won't see themselves as weak or vulnerable, and their actions will reflect this kind of self-confidence.

It's a simple idea. It's one of those things we've always known.

Giving teens a relationship with nature can help them grow into optimistic, well adjusted, caring adults. Research shows that contact with the natural world has restorative powers, renewing us physically and mentally.

 

Comment from Friends of Coyote Hills

Friends of Coyote Hills believes the best use of the lands in front of Coyote Hills is to preserve it as a buffer between the park and the nearby developed neighborhoods, with no development west of Ardenwood Blvd. This land is at high risk of liquefaction in an earthquake (Note: Fremont experienced a 5.7 magnitude earthquake on October 30, 2007), contains wetlands and natural waterways, and is situated in a floodplain.

The proposed 520-housing unit (only 266 units are allowed in current General Plan) Patterson Ranch development and the 276 housing units being built on the Tupelo lot across from Coyote Hills (sold by the Patterson family for $63 million) would create even more traffic congestion—about 3.2 million car trips generated per year in Ardenwood/Forest Park (already the most dense neighborhood in Fremont) and throughout Fremont. The cars’ air and water pollution and noise all would negatively affect the wildlife inhabiting Coyote Hills.

Since nature is beneficial for children and teens, we should preserve Coyote Hills for future generations. The regional park was cited by the National Geographic Society as one of several excellent locations for bird-watching in the greater San Francisco area.    

Source: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/destinations/San_Francisco/San_Francisco_Area_Bird_watching.html#tour

To watch this video, click on link and turn on speakers: The movement to get kids back into nature. Source: ‘Go outside and play’ Getting kids back to nature, by Suzanne Bohan, Fremont Argus online, November 5, 2007.

 

 

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