Friday, 30 March 2012

It’s Official: National Trust Report Says Children Should Get Outside the Box

Britain’s National Trust is the UK’s largest membership organisation, and looks after historic houses, gardens, mills, coastline, forests, farmland, moorland, islands, castles, nature reserves, villages and pubs. It has just published a report showing “a long-term and dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors,” and calls for urgent action to bridge this growing gap before its too late. The report, Natural Childhood, charts years of academic research and a steady stream of surveys which highlight how a generation of children is finally losing touch with the natural world, and outlines a clear need to tackle the rise of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, a term coined by the US based writer Richard Louv. This describe a growing dislocation between children and nature. The evidence shows that kids are spending less and less time in the outdoors, and traffic is cited as one of the major problems. “Car use remains at historically high levels. If things do not change, the danger from traffic will remain a primary reason why children do not play outdoors. This is a fundamental barrier to be overcome if we are to reinstate our children’s ‘right to roam’: both on the streets where they live, and in the wider natural environment.” (page 13). The covering press release says, “Organisations that have an interest in this area, whether working in our towns and cities or in the countryside, have to connect what they are doing and commit to a long-term approach that really makes a difference.” Rather than leave it to “organisations,” surely the first step is for parents to get their kids outside the box by breaking the habit of driving them all over the place - especially to and from school?

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