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Natural Awakenings Boston

The NWF Be Out There Campaign’s ‘Green Hour’ Goal

Aug 03, 2015 03:17PM

The National Wildlife Federation, with its 50-year history of encouraging children to play and learn outdoors, has established a public education campaign called Be Out There. It aims to make sure that within the next five to 10 years, every child gets a daily “Green Hour”— 60 minutes (no matter how it is configured)— of exposure to active outdoor play and nature.

A Green Hour is time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world. In 2007, the National Wildlife Federation developed, an online resource providing parents the inspiration and tools to make the outdoors a part of daily life. Green Hours can take place in a garden, a backyard, the park down the street, or any place that provides safe and accessible green spaces where children can learn and play. Scientific research shows that kids are happier and healthier when outdoor time is more in balance with indoor time.

We should not expect our schools to do the whole job of providing for a child’s outdoor time needs, but they can surely contribute to the daily Green Hour goal. In so doing they will reap some educational benefits that extend beyond the improved health and wellbeing of the students into the academic realm. Using the outdoors and outdoor educational programs effectively will help shape high-performance learners out of otherwise average or even apathetic pupils. And, as a major side benefit, standardized test scores in science math, reading and social studies will improve.

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