The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) wants you to "Get Wild, Child!" during National Wildlife Week, March 15-21. This designated week is part of NWF's Be Out There campaign, a call to action for families and communities to connect with the outdoors. The goal is to ward off the effects of a new health hazard that is impacting the well-being of our children (as well as many adults)- too much time spent indoors.
According to a study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation in January 2010, American children ages 8-18 years spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day engaged in electronic media. In other words, the average American child devotes 53 hours per week to this type of entertainment - more than a full work week for many adults. Furthermore, NWF states that our nation's children are only spending 4-7 minutes outside per day.
Children who spend more time outdoors compared to their "indoor junkie" counterparts have stronger bones; leaner, fitter bodies; better eyesight; less depression; fewer behavioral problems in school and at home; greater attention spans; enhanced creativity; and, better academic performance. Similar benefits are enjoyed by adults who spend great amounts of time outside.
Celebrate National Wildlife Week by doing what is simply natural, physically explore the outdoors. NWF recommends the following activities for families and friends to connect with nature:
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt: Make a list of objects commonly seen outside and then hit the trails of your local park or take a walk around your neighborhood and take note of the natural world around you. Check off each item on your list as you discover it on your walk.
- Hike with your 5 senses: You have heard of mindful eating, well this is mindful walking - listen for the birds, smell the hint of new Spring growth, taste a raindrop falling from the sky, see the squirrels frolicking, and feel the gentle breeze against your skin - use your senses to increase your awareness of the natural world around you.
- Build a fort: Sometimes there is nothing better than an outdoor getaway - a temporary hideout from life's demands - to ease the mind and body. Have fun with your children as you search for sturdy sticks, vines, leaves, etc., to build your own piece of natural solitude.
- Go for a moon walk: Experience a nighttime adventure with family and friends during the next full moon (March 30). Head outdoors and enjoy the sight of the night sky. Listen for the sounds of nighttime wildlife, such as the hooting of owls. Don't want to wait for the full moon? Go for a flashlight walk instead.
In honor of National Wildlife Week, take a little time to experience the outdoor world. But don't stop there, make a commitment to devote time each week unplugged from the indoor world and connected to the natural world.
Labels: Be Out There, Get Wild Child, Kaiser Family Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Week