A Day In Nature For A Healthier Childhood
“Leave No Child Inside” Campaign Urges Children To Play Outdoors; Reap Benefits
LISLE, IL (June 12, 2007) – For children, nature is necessary.
Children who play outside tap into nature’s enormous gifts and are far more likely to maintain physical and emotional health, and develop all five senses fully, according to numerous experts. When such children become adults, they are also more inclined to take care of the environment. Sadly, however, many of today’s youngsters avoid the outdoors, spending time on the computer or with video games or television instead.
To spur families to spend time in a nature setting – especially so that children can explore the outdoors, reap the benefits of nature play, grow and flourish as they should – The Morton Arboretum Children’s Garden is presenting special activities on June 16 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. In addition to the unstructured play among the garden’s trees, other plants and waterways, there will be cicada crafts, sack races, water painting, parachute play, and a “celebrity” youth author. The event is part of “Leave No Child Inside,” a Chicago Wilderness campaign to reconnect kids with nature.
“Parents can do their children a great service by providing time to play outdoors. The skills these children develop and exercise are essential to their healthy growth and development, and transfer to skills they will use as adults,” says Katherine Johnson, Arboretum Children’s Garden Manager.
Nature discovery can be tremendously inspiring, says Downers Grove South High School graduate Kathy Brown. Brown ought to know. During her senior year in high school, she wrote and illustrated the “Children’s Garden Activity Book” to guide kids in nature exploration at the Arboretum Children’s Garden. The project earned Brown a coveted Gold Award from her Girl Scout Troop, 1135. Brown will be on hand June 16 to autograph copies of her book (2,000 books will be handed out at no charge), and talk with young people about the benefits of nature.
Brown, who says she was a “tomboy” as a child, says that unstructured play time is crucial – and enjoyable.
“The more freedom that children have, the more they use their imagination. They’re not bound by strict rules to do what they’re told, there’s an opportunity to do something on their own,” Brown explains.
“An open area opens a kid’s mind – it’s so expansive. There’s only so much imagination you can use inside where there are four walls, there’s nothing random about it. But once you go outside, trees sprout out randomly, there are animals and insects. It’s all slightly crazy,” Brown says.
Her 24 page book invites kids to draw the animals they see in Wonder Pond, go on a scavenger hunt, and simply stop, sit quietly with eyes closed, and listen to the sounds of nature. There are also instructions on making a bird-feeder at home. BP America Inc. provided funding to print Brown’s book.
The young author came out of her book-writing experience with a suggestion for other youngsters who might wonder what they’re supposed to do outdoors.
“I would say get a group of your friends together and go outside and see what happens. You might play sports, or something else. Someone will know what to do. Friends make it a lot easier.”
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of 4,057 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or sunset, whichever is earlier, Central Time. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and 9:30 to 4 p.m. (CST). Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630-968-0074 to learn more.