Remember running around outside in the summer, heart pounding, sweat running down your brow, hair soaking wet still from your play in the sprinklers, and that excited grin on your face from laughing with your friends? Those are the memories that make us who we are. Experiences like that are what the youth of today’s society lack. Researchers are calling this the “Nature Deficit Disorder,” suggesting that there is a direct link between behavioral issues and not spending enough time outside. The fact of the matter is, our youth is missing this important piece of their childhood!
“Now I see the secret of making the best persons, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” Walt Whitman
Outdoor Play at School
Research has shown that kids who are involved in outside activities regularly have less behavioral/social issues than those who do not. The average attention span is 45- 60 minutes….for an adult. Yet our schools expect our youth to be focused for many hours at a time. Other countries have a better handle on understanding the importance of outdoor play. Nordic countries schools take 15 minute recesses after every 45 minutes of instruction. This has improved their test scores dramatically compared to the United States.
“For every hour that passed after a break, student performance worsened–average test score deteriorated by 0.9 per cent of a standard deviation.”
Malene Sommer Christiansen, Recess Improves Student Performance
Vitamin D, Depression, and Sunshine Remedies
Twenty percent of teens and young adults ages 15-24 experience depression and suicidal thoughts, while only 10% report spending time outside. How are those two linked, you may ask?! Well let me tell you! The sun provides our bodies with vitamin D. Studies have shown that a decrease in vitamin D levels in the blood are linked with depression! Taking vitamin D pills as a treatment for depression has shown positive results in many studies. My question for you, is why take pills when you can remedy it by playing outside?!
This Month’s Action Step:
My challenge to all parent/guardians is to get your kids outside! Involve them in Youth Odyssey! (Although I may be biased! :P) But involve them in something outdoors. Try implementing family walks before the sun goes down. Go out and play basketball or soccer! Whatever your fancy, just get your kids outside!
One Last Tip!
What do I do if they fight me on participating? Try your best to pick an activity your child will enjoy. If they are extremely stubborn, start small. Ask them to join you on a walk or help you garden something. Baby step them into outdoor activity. It will not only benefit your youth, but also you!