Did you know that Leave No Child Inside — Greater Cincinnati has a speakers bureau for presentations to community organizations? If you are interested in a program about the importance of time spent in nature to the physical, mental and emotional health of all children, click here to contact us.
For Parents and Mentors
The new edition of Leave No Child Inside--Greater Cincinnati's Grow Outside Guide to Outdoor Play is available on-line. In addition to the original articles on The Child Friendly Backyard, Fun Ideas for Kids and Zip To It listing of parks and greenspaces, the latest edition also includes a section on Nature for All Abilities and an expanded list of resources for parents.
Denny McFadden is a retired teacher whose dream was to introduce urban youth to the great outdoors. “For many years while teaching in the Cincinnati Public School district, I facilitated annual team building canoe trips for students and fellow teachers. During those outdoor adventures, I witnessed a number of amazing things happen among our students and staff. Lots of kids and adults who had never paddled a canoe struggled mightily. Some became increasingly frustrated and discouraged as they tried to keep their boats upright and pointed downstream. Eventually, however, the skills of each and every paddler improved, and as we progressed downstream, the more capable and confident everyone became. By the trip’s end, they had conquered their fear of the unknown. As the students and staff exited the river at our designated take-out, their expressions and exclamations said it all. They had grown as individuals and as a group – in so many ways!!!”
Denny witnessed first-hand the multiple ways in which outdoor activities in nature benefitted his students, and wanted to give low income, disadvantaged teens living in urban area the opportunity to experience hiking, biking, paddling and other activities. He also recognized that these activities can help build leadership skills. So, after his retirement, Denny launched a pilot Outdoor Adventure Club program at three area high schools: Withrow, West High and Woodward. In addition to taking part in outdoor adventures during the school year, Club members will be engaged throughout the summer as volunteers for local outdoor recreational events like Paddlefest, as paid interns working outdoors in city and county parks, and as facilitators for their schools’ Summer Bridge outdoor enrichment programs. Thanks to support from Activities Beyond the Classroom, GEARUP, GRAD Cincinnati, Green Umbrella, FamiliesFORWARD and the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, the pilot launched earlier this year at its capacity of 45 students.
Thank you, Denny, for your vision and for being on the “front line” in the movement to reconnect children with nature!
Great news!!!! Now you can see all of Greater Cincinnati’s outdoor events and programs on one convenient website. MeetMeOutdoors.com allows you to search for outdoor fun by activity and date. The site, sponsored by Green Umbrella, features not only upcoming special events, but also on-going programs in our region. It also contains a map of area destinations and retailers that supply outdoor gear. What a great resource for families throughout our region! Take a look and Meet Me Outdoors!
Leave No Child Inside – Greater Cincinnati was founded in order to educate the community that time spent in nature is essential to the physical, mental and emotional health of all children. Because obesity is one of the most pressing issues facing the health community today (26% of children between the ages of 2-5 are overweight or obese, and that number leaps to 33% in school age children), it’s easy to lose sight of other issues related to the relatively recent disappearance of unstructured play in nature.
With the near extinction of that experience, we are seeing unprecedented levels of stress-related illnesses in children. In a recent post, pediatrician Larry Rosen, MD calls on all of us to do what we can to restore nature free-play to the childhood experience. In another post, Mary Brown, MD discusses the negative academic and health impacts of stress on the developing brain and why the American Academy of Pediatrics is looking to nature play as a way to prevent or lessen “the lifelong effects of a stressful childhood, including depression, obesity, behavior problems, drug use and risk-taking behavior.”
This is a problem we can fix!
Some of the solutions are easy, some are not, but we can all play a part in reconnecting children with nature. We encourage each and every one of you to stay informed and help spread the word about this important issue. If you’d like to get involved more formally, please contact us.
Research shows that spending time in nature makes kids happier, healthier and smarter. Reading is probably the single most important skill for achievement in school and success in life. So, why not combine the two?
The Children & Nature Network’s Where Nature Meets Story is a place for parents and educators to find fun, outdoor activities for kids with a coordinated recommended reading list for toddlers to young adults.
Explore a wide range of activity themes, including “A Fort of One’s Own: Making Hide-outs” and “Of Fairies, Gnomes and Hobbits: Imagined Worlds in Nature”. Check it out and start your child down the path to a happier, healthier and smarter life.
Spring is here and that means families will be on the look-out for fun things to do in Greater Cincinnati. For activities at area parks, nature centers and other outdoor venues, including your own home, check out these on-line resources:
Green Umbrella: A calendar of regional programs and events from hiking to green energy symposiums. Stay tuned for the introduction of Green Umbrella’s special outdoor activity site, MeetMeOutdoors.com, coming soon!
Grow Outside Guide to Outdoor Play: Includes activities to do at home or in your neighborhood, like how to create a Child Friendly Backyard and Fun for All Seasons ideas for kids.
Looking for family fun this winter? Green Umbrella will be expanding its website to include a Meet Me Outdoors calendar of events and programs in our region. But, while that is getting underway, you can see a list of some of the activities going on in December, February and March here. We can’t wait for the new Meet Me Outdoors calendar!
In response to the growing body of evidence presented in Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, there is wide-spread recognition that children benefit in a variety of ways from unstructured play in a natural setting – not just physically, but also in terms of cognitive development, mental health and social development. This awareness has led to the development of Nature Playscapes, intended to allow groups of children to experience the natural world, as it has been experienced by generations before them, in a safe, public setting. In Cincinnati, we have what is perhaps the foremost example in the country of a Nature Playscape at the Cincinnati Nature Center. Here, children are allowed to play “with nature”, not just “in nature”, resulting in joyful exploration, discovery, creative play and social interaction. As a result, children tend to spend more time in physical activity while learning valuable skills in the process. Leave No Child Inside, through our community outreach efforts, is working to raise awareness of these spaces, encouraging schools and child care centers throughout our region to incorporate them into their facilities. You can help us spread the word! Learn more about the benefits of Nature Playscapes and make your own child’s school or care center aware of them. A video produced by our counterparts in Central Ohio explains clearly the advantages of natural play:
GIVING TREE TO SUPPORT OUTDOOR PROGRAMS AT LOCAL SCHOOLS
This holiday season, participate in REI’s Giving Tree Project to help underserved children become happier, healthier and smarter by experiencing the wonder of nature. Your gift of new or gentlyused items will help students from the following Cincinnati Public Schools: Roberts Academy, The Academy of World Languages and Pleasant Ridge Montessori. Pick up a flier at the store to see the “wish list” of items, which includes items like binoculars for birdwatching and rain ponchos.
LET LOCAL SCHOOLS DO YOUR GIFT WRAPPING
You can also save time while supporting the schools by having your gifts wrapped (ANY gift, not just those purchased at REI). Students, parents and community supporters from the school will be at the store to wrap your gifts for a voluntary donation which will be used to support outdoor activities at the schools. And, for every gift the schools wrap, you will receive a chance to win a $50 gift certificate from REI!
Looking for ideas on how to continue your family’s active, outdoor lifestyle throughout the winter? Greater Cincinnati abounds in opportunities to enjoy the outdoors all year around. Join us on Wednesday, November 28 at the new REI Store in Rookwood Commons as Jonathan Swiger, Family Program Coordinator for the Cincinnati Nature Center, shares ideas for winter fun, including full moon hikes, maple sugaring, ice hikes and winter tracking, as well as activities to enjoy in your own backyard! Children are encouraged to attend. You must register to attend, as space is limited. Hope to see you there!