Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Child Left Inside

"One night, a nine-year-old woke me up. She had to go to the bathroom. We stepped outside the tent and she looked up. She gasped and grabbed my leg. She had never seen the stars before. That night, I saw the power of nature on a child. She was a changed person. From that moment on, she saw everything, the camouflaged lizard that everyone else skipped by. She used her senses. She was awake."

This story, from Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv, was shared by a woman as she described an experience from her first counseling job in which she took children with AIDS to the mountains who had never been out of their urban neighborhoods.

Richard Louv is the recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal. He is credited with sparking the No Child Left Inside movement, which is growing in momentum. The book includes cutting-edge studies that point to direct exposure to nature as essential for a child's healthy physical and emotional development. It cites a growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children's lives to the rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression. His message has galvanized an international back-to-nature campaign. The book also includes 35 Discussion Points for book groups, classrooms and communities, as well as 100 Actions We Can Take - for parents, schools, businesses and governments.

Educators and parents will find wonderful examples of place-based education programs with evidence demonstrating that these programs not only are highly motivational for students, they increase parent and community involvement, increase student learning and result in incredible increases in standardized test scores.

It contains wonderful resources for environmental education programs as well as wonderful activities for parents and their children!

See Richard Louv's article, No Child Left Inside.

Two educators who work with 21st Century Schools have made major contributions to education in their communities by creating environmental, place-based education programs and implementing a schools sustainability plan.

Matt Schlein founded the Willowell Foundation and runs the Walden Project in Vermont (see video).

Ian Smith, as the Executive Director for Youth and Children's Services for Tameside Metropolitan Borough schools in Manchester, England, has organized and implemented a district-wide (100 schools) intensive sustainability program! All 100 schools joined our Global Johnny Appleseed Project this year! (Be sure to view the PPT here.) These two educators will be presenting our newest workshop, Green Education.

Other resources:

The Edible Schoolyard and a video of one of the projects featured at the George Lucas Education Foundation web site.
The Center for Ecoliteracy
Orion Magazine
Photo by Kate Anderson

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