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Children in Nature – Make It Happen For Their Health

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A child in the oak savannah prairie in Illinois.

My 12 year old daughter and I are driving on an angling back road through Forest Preserves filled with Oak Savannah Prairie near Chicago, Illinois. Leaves drift down in suicide falls hitting our front car window with abandon as we drive over hill and dale enjoying the sunny fall vistas.

Suddenly, I swerve the car off the road into an abandoned prairie. There are trees and fall flowering aster and butterfly in the field. When I turn off the car my daughter says, “We’re just stopping here? In middle of no where?”

“Yep.” I answer.

“What are we going to do?” She frowns.

I smile and jump out of the car. We walk the field taking pictures, breathing fresh air, playing with butterflies and LIVING (see above photo). It was perfect and wonderful. It was exercise. It was joy. It was sunshine. It was health.

We laughed together and held hands staring at a giant oak tree and contemplating the complexity of life and the awesomeness of that tall tree growing in a field of green (see below photo).

Every child needs to experience the touch of nature as much as possible. According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, our children face health crisis issues every day and by getting children out into the environment we are preventing serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes and connecting children to nature.

Take your children into nature in your neighborhood and make a difference in their lives. Without a doubt it will be worth every moment shared together.

Oak tree in a field of green on a crisp fall day.

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  1. My local Master Gardener runs a demonstration vegetable garden at the botanical garden. We are amazed at the number of children who come thru, never having seen food growing before! They live in areas where they don’t play outdoors, and their diet and energy reflects the lack of nature in their lives.
    Contrast that with my nephew, whose parents take him out into the woods regularly, to hike and explore. At four, he knows more about animal and plant life than most kids three times his age. I have seen him quietly lie down face to face with bunnies in the garden. He talks to the animals; he knows how to protect plants from being trampled on. And he will eat raw okra and tomatoes fresh out of the garden.
    Parents have to make it a priority to get their kids out into nature. Sunshine and fresh air are healthy, yes, but the spiritual aspect of nature is so vital and replenishing. I tell people that my garden is my therapist and my church, but it would not be so had I not been exposed to the healing energies of earth as a child.

  2. Shawna I live and operate a nursery in rural North Carolina. Even in our rural area kids do not get out anymore invthe nature around them. Families no longer get out to work in the yard and the garden together. You can tell there is not an intetest in being outside. Fall is a greqt time to plant. In years past we were very busy selling trees and shrubs until very cold weather. Fall is a forgotten time to work in the yard here now except for a few.

  3. I appreciate all the work you do to promote green living, gardening and landscaping. We are vendors with our plants at may local farmers markets andvevents. Young people that we encounter even in rural NC do not have ay hands on experience working in the dirt. You can tell by looking at them they never have. Obesity is a real problem. No guidance from parets or schols to get children outside or involved in nature

  4. I am so glad I came across this. My daehgtur has been doing a project at school about composting and making better use of resources. I will pass on these links about how to make a rain garden. Helping reduce the toxins that get into water supplies is great. Anything that can reduce the toxins in our environment has to help our overall health and who better to learn about that than our children.

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