Earth Day – Nature Deficit Disorder (Why We Need to Grow Up in Nature)

Via on Apr 22, 2010

children playing under sprinkler Bill A flickr

When I was 9-years-old, my parents moved our family from the San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles suburbs) to a very rural area in southern Oregon. It was a move from the world of strip malls to a place where cows out-numbered people. The little town of Williams had one country store, one gas station/garage, one school, a post-office in a one-room shack, an occasional restaurant, and three churches.

At first it was total culture shock. But as I made new friends and integrated into the very small school, I learned to build forts in the woods, how to catch and clean fish, which berries were edible and which were not, and that poison oak is really nasty.

At the time I had no idea how lucky I was and what a great thing my parents had done for our family. I did not grow up playing video games or watching television. We played in the woods, we fished, we floated on inner-tubes in the creeks and ponds, and we caught bull frogs.

The only rule when we were young was be home by sunset.

So many kids now have never had the experience of nature, have never known a time or place where they could play – no rules, no structure – in nature and experience that freedom.

Richard Louv ( Children and Nature Network) has identified what happens when kids grow up in a concrete, urban world – nature-deficit disorder. His book Last Child in the Woods has created a movement around healing the disconnection between children and nature.

All in the Mind, the outstanding Australian radio show, spoke with him last week. Louv was in Australia for the Melbourne Conversations event, Healthy Parks=Healthy People?, in which he and two other authorities discussed the benefits of being in nature for human health and well-being (all moderated by Natasha Mitchell of All in the Mind).

These videos present a great argument for why we need natural places, and why our children need to experience nature in order to grow up as healthy human beings (and, I would add, why we need experiences of nature as adults, as well).

In this Melbourne Conversations event, Healthy Parks=Healthy People?, three world authorities discuss the benefits of contact with nature for human health and well-being.

Acclaimed author Richard Louv has identified a phenomenon: nature-deficit disorder. His book Last Child in the Woods galvanized an international movement around the disconnection between children and nature; Steve Coleman leads Washington DC’s 16-year-old alliance of public/private parks partnerships, which manages restoration, stewardship, and programming of their parks across the city; and Mardie Townsend is involved, in collaboration with Parks Victoria and other partner organizations, in investigating the benefits of contact with nature for human health and well-being. The session is chaired by Natasha Mitchell (journalist and presenter, ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind).

Presented by the City of Melbourne in collaboration with People & Parks Foundation and Sport and Recreation Victoria, Department of Planning and Community Development to coincide with the Healthy Parks Healthy People Congress.

BMW Edge, Melbourne, April 2010

Part One:
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Part Two:
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Part Three:
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About Alex Myles

Alex Myles is qualified as a Yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Teacher of Tibetan Meditation, Dragon Magic and a Spiritual coach to name just a few. Alex has no intention to teach others on a formal basis for many years to come, instead, she is collecting qualifications along with life’s lessons. One day, when the time is right, Alex will set up a quaint studio, in a quirky crooked building where she will breathe and appreciate the slowness of those days as life is just way too busy right now! Reading and writing has always been one of Alex’s passions. Alex likes to consider herself as a free spirit rather than a commitment-phobe. Trying to live as aligned to a Buddhist lifestyle as is possible in this day and age, she just does not believe in "owning" anything or anyone. Based on the theory that we ‘cannot lose someone that was not ours to lose’ she flails through life finding joy and magic in the most unexpected places. Mother to a 21 year old daughter and three adorable pups, she appreciates that some of the best moments in life are the 6am forest walks watching the dogs run, play and interact with one another and with nature. Connect with her on Facebook and check out her blog, Love and Madness. 

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