Armleder Scavenger Hunt
Mill Creek Water Testing
Programs that get kids moving safely through neighborhoods are integral to healthy communities and assist in connecting kids to nearby nature. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national program designed to assess conditions and facilitate in improving them so students are able to safely walk and bike to school. The program engages community partners in the process. Here in Cincinnati, we are fortunate that Cincinnati Public Schools has a district-wide SRTS initiative which not only gets kids moving, but also reduces transportation costs and improves neighborhoods in the process. In an effort to engage more students to participate in the program, community partners are offering periodic field trips and activities as an incentive. In celebration of October’s National Walk to School Day, Leave No Child Inside connected the CPS Safe Routes to School project to Hamilton County Parks and the Mill Creek Restoration Project, both of whom hosted field trips for seven CPS schools. At Mill Creek, elementary school students learned from Walnut Hills High School students, who were doing water quality testing at the site. They also had an opportunity to explore the new Greenway Trail and gardens. At Hamilton County’s Armeleder Park, students enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities, including a nature scavenger hunt, bird watching and bicycle safety classes. Leave No Child Inside is proud to support CPS in its Safe Routes to School Program and grateful for partners like Hamiliton County Parks and Mill Creek Restoration Project. Both proved that learning can be fun, as evidenced by the students’ smiling faces!
Since the publication of Last Child in the Woods in 2005, countries around the world have acknowledged that children are increasingly disconnected from nature. In September of this year, more than 10,000 people representing the governments of 150 nations and more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations met in Jeju, South Korea for the World Congress of the International Union for the Conservancy of Nature (IUCN). Attendees voted unanimously to adopt a Resolution that children have a human right to experience the natural world. Read more…
Over 120 Free Outdoor Activities
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One year after founding the Children & Nature Network, Richard Louv challenged Grassroots Leaders with this request: “No platitudes – we need action!”. We are proud that Leave No Child Inside – Greater Cincinnati responded to that call, as evidenced by the wide range of activities summarized in our Annual Reports. Now we would like to challenge you to take action to reconnect Greater Cincinnati’s children with nature!
One thing we have learned in the course of our work is that in order to re-introduce nature into the daily lives of children, adults need to “walk the talk”. Adults not only control a child’s ability to access nature, we are role models. Are you setting an example for your child, your grandchild, your niece or nephew, your students or your neighbors?
Are you “walking the talk”? If you answered “yes”, thank you for being a leader in the work of moving us toward a happier, healthier future! If you answered “no”, here is a “no platitudes” challenge for you: Make a commitment to try one outdoor activity this month. Choose something that you think you will really enjoy – something fun for your whole family, or if your kids are gone, for you and your friends – then pick a day and just do it. Green Umbrella wants to make this easy for you. As part of their Meet Me Outdoors campaign, Great Outdoor Weekend (September 22-23) will give Greater Cincinnatians the chance to sample over 120 activities, all of which are free and open to the public. Visit the website, check out your options and make a commitment to go! We hope you’ll be inspired to make outdoor activity a regular part of your life. Take the “no platitudes” challenge – Meet Us Outdoors at Great Outdoor Weekend!
Throughout our community, organizations like Leave No Child Inside, Green Umbrella, We Thrive!, Go Vibrant! and Closing the Health Gap are working in a variety of ways to engage Cincinnatians in a healthy and FUN lifestyle. A growing number of you are responding to the call, literally moving our community toward better health. Nowhere was this more evident than at June’s Paddlefest event, where the Kid’s Outdoor Adventure Expo engaged 5,000 children in outdoor activities, thousands of Greater Cincinnatians paddled on the Ohio River and more joined the fun by cycling, walking and running alongside on our riverfront trails. More recently, the City of Cincinnati’s new Let’s Move! Campaign kicked off on August 25 with families of all ethnicities joining together to zumba, salsa, yoga, walk and discover our beautiful, new Smale Riverfront Park.
LNCIgc sees the beginning of a community-wide paradigm shift as thousands of you are taking action, having realized that outdoor activities are not just healthy, they can be really fun, many are free, and that there are lots of fringe benefits like stress relief and family bonding. We’d like to say a BIG THANK YOU to organizations like those listed above who are our community’s cheerleaders for a happier, healthier lifestyle, as well as to those of you who have made a commitment to being active outdoors. Together, we can make Greater Cincinnati a place that nurtures children with a happier, healthier outdoor lifestyle.
Mill Creek Greenway Trail
Mill Creek Restoration Project just dedicated the Mill Creek Greenway Trail, a 1.5 mile trail located on Spring Grove Avenue with the trailhead next to the Old Timber Inn. The creation of this trail was a learning experience for many area students who helped in its construction. It includes gardens, public art and exercise stations. It’s especially nice to see new trails happening on the west side of town. The dedication on June 19 triggered conversation about extending the trail even further – we’ll look forward to seeing that happen! Learn more about the Mill Creek Restoration Project and the greenway trail here.
Armleder Park Trail Connection
This trail opened with a dedication ceremony on June 14 and connects the Otto Armleder Park (which includes a great dog park, by the way), with the Lunken airport bike trail. The connection gives you 8 miles of trail to walk or bike – great for the whole family. An interesting piece of information – the Armleder Park was determined to have more birds than any other park in our area, so take the binoculars when you go and ask the kids how many species they can spot. Learn more about the new trail here.
With the release of the 2011 Grassroots Leadership Survey, the Children & Nature Network provides us with evidence that our work and that of grassroots initiatives across the country is having an impact. Results from the survey were analyzed and reported by an independent evaluator as a follow-up to a 2009 baseline survey designed to measure changes in children and nature activities. Among the findings:
- The total number of participants reached in 2011 by activities of the 72 grassroots initiatives responding was between 2.7 and 4.25 million. This is a significant increase over 2009, when the number was between 900,000 and 1,500,000 from 68 initiatives reporting.
- Between 1,000 and 3,000 new nature and place-based opportunities have been established in the areas served by responding grassroots initiatives, for a 50% increase over the 2009 numbers. These include community gardens, school gardens, trail projects, play areas and neighborhood parks.
- The 2011 data indicates a considerable increase in the number of underserved youth being reached through the activities of the grassroots initiatives. Particularly exciting is the increase in “nearby nature” opportunities for underserved children. Examples include school gardens/habitat projects (reaching 1.6 million underserved youth in 2011 versus 401,500 in 2009), community gardens (reaching 1.2 million underserved youth in 2011 versus 176,600 in 2009) and natural play areas, which increased by at least 2.5 times in two years.
Here in Greater Cincinnati, we were able to identify more than 40 school gardens and natural play areas built since our founding in 2006, and we believe there are more yet to be counted. We continue working to inventory those spaces so we can track progress. Thanks to all of our collaborative members, teachers, school resource coordinators and child care centers who are making it possible for children to experience nature where they live, learn and play.
It’s long been known that biodiversity is essential to the health of our environment. The Leave No Child Inside movement is also working toward the health of communities by increasing the diversity of the people who experience nature in their daily lives. Locally, we have focused on enabling children of all races and ethnicities to experience nature on a daily basis in their own neighborhoods by encouraging and facilitating school gardens and natural playscapes. In the coming year, we will expand our local focus on diversity in tandem with the Children & Nature Network, which is taking a leadership role in discussions about increasing diversity in nature. The Huffington Post recently did a three-part series on this topic. Click the links to read Article I, Article II and Article III. An inspiring example of an effort to increase diversity in nature is the Outdoor Afro website, a blog spot “where black people and nature meet”. Outdoor Afro was founded by Rue Mapp, a young woman who has enjoyed camping, mountaineering and rock climbing all of her life, but was “troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities.”
Have you wondered what the television ads for Green Umbrella are all about? Green Umbrella is an exciting new collaborative working to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the region around Cincinnati by maximizing the collective impact of individuals and organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability. Leave No Child Inside – Greater Cincinnati is proud to participate in the Outdoor Recreation and Nature Awareness Team of Green Umbrella. The ORNA team brings together facility managers, marketing directors and nature educators to develop strategies to get more people to become aware and take advantage of the many outdoor recreational and nature education opportunities available in the region around Cincinnati. Please visit the Green Umbrella website for more information, including a long-awaited calendar of events. Please keep your eye on this calendar as momentum builds and the site expands.