Nature Deficit Disorder spawns Leave No Child Inside movement

kids playOur 3-year-old daughter has a very special life. I say that because the facts show that children who play outdoors have healthier, happier lives, and we apply that truth to her lifestyle. Our daughter knows what the rain feels like on her face. She knows how a caterpillar tickles as it crawls on her hand. She knows that trees have roots which go deep into the soil, and that lawns have thistles which can get stuck into little bare feet. She has watched birds in flight and has marveled at their joyous sounds. She plays with sticks and rocks, grass and sand, mud and worms.

Not all children are as lucky as our little girl. Many children don't have adequate opportunities to physically experience the world of nature they live in. However, there's a movement, which began gaining momentum around 2005, which aims at reconnecting children with the fundamentals of a natural world which their parents and grandparents knew so well.

The Leave No Child Inside movement is gaining new exposure, revelation and respect. It recognizes the fact that we are natural beings, and that we all need to remain mentally and physically connected to our natural world. Author Richard Louv, provided national exposure to the concept with his immensely popular book, Last Child in the Woods. It was he who originated the term: Nature Deficit Disorder.

You might be tempted to ask how a blog post about outdoor kids fits into a financial website. My explanation is simple. Kids who play outdoors as often as possible tend to be healthier. Common sense will tell you that healthier kids cost less to maintain. Outdoor kids also tend to use less electricity, and spend less time raiding the refrigerator. Research indicates that outdoor kids experience other physical and social advantages as well.

An excellent special report which was prepared by USA Today, reveals the emerging collection of knowledge which is pointing towards the necessity of sending kids outside to play. Martha Erickson, Ph.D., a children's mental health expert and senior fellow and professor at the University of Minnesota, states in the report:: "Although we don't yet have a wealth of rigorous, controlled studies that allow us to make a definitive statement about cause and effect, we do have a variety of studies that collectively point to an association between outdoor play and an array of good outcomes for kids,"

I myself didn't need scientific reports to figure out that time outside of the house is good for kids. I certainly can guess that children playing outdoors must use a lot less electricity than kids playing on game consoles and personal computers. We try to give our daughter outdoor playtime every day to keep her active and to broaden her horizons. Besides, I've always enjoyed playing in the sandbox myself, and using my daughter as cover is a great way for me to get away with that!

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