There are SO MANY reasons that we need parks. But the health and future wellbeing of children is chief among them. Lately there has been a small flood of articles and studies showing why being outdoors is so vital for kids. These studies are not just showing that exercise done outdoors is better for kids than indoors (though any is better than none!), but also that when a child is connected with nature that child’s performance in math, reading and science also improves. And there is no better place to get outside, exercise and connect with nature than in a park.
The current generation of children is less physically fit, less able to concentrate and less able to relate to others than any previous generation. As a result, they are less prepared to be effective in the classroom. One strong step in the right direction is to get them outside and into nature – specifically parks.
Science is increasingly demonstrating that by not getting outdoors, kids are missing out on a key component in the development of their creativity and their emotional health. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that children as young as five experience significant reductions in the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (a major stumbling block to educational attainment) when they engage with nature. Other studies have shown that children who play in natural settings – such as parks – are more cooperative than those who play only on flat turf or asphalt playgrounds. Research has also found that daily exposure to natural settings increases a child’s ability to focus – thereby enhancing cognitive abilities.
Time and again – for over a century now – strong parks have been shown to be a key part of strong communities. The Proximate Principle has shown that healthy, well-used parks lead to higher property values, stronger schools and more community-minded neighbors.
We continually post great information about how our parks contribute to both our communities’ health and our physical health and well being so check back often!