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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lucky to live in Rural America

Last Saturday I attended a gardener's symposium on Natural Landscapes put on by Extension Service.  The keynote speaker was Andrea Faber Taylor.  Her presentation was on the positive effect that green space has on the health of children and adults.  Her research shows that being able to interact with nature is critical to all of us.  She says we need to frequently restore our attention spans.  She has looked at how do we restore ourselves from mental fatigue.  Directed attention is needed  for daily activities.  Giving attention to things like watching fire, televsion, an wildlife are involuntary attention getters.  

Her research shows that nature can foster attention restoration. She presented information on the "Theory of loose parts."   She said that nature provides loose parts fostering creative play, self discipline,  concentration, impulse control, and delay of gratification.   Access to adults is important in controling symtoms of  ADHD.   Even a little bit of grass makes a difference.  If there are a few trees or some grass, children are twice as likeley to benfit from being outdoors.  Children who play outdoors are more creative. ADHD affects about 9.5% of children.  It is less severe when green space is available.  The improvements carry over to post activities.  ADHD is less severe even when the family income factor is taken out of the equation.  A walk I the park is better than a walk in the neighborhood or downtown.  For some children, when fishing - symptoms are hardly noticeable. she says that greenspace is a necessity for healthy development.  Even a little grass and a few trees makes a difference. Fear keeps some indoors.  We need to figure out how to increase time in Nature.

Her information seems to be kind of intuitive.  When we send our kids outdoors to play we are actually improving both their mental and physical capabilities.  Living on farms and in rural communities, we take nature and green space for granted.  We are lucky to live in such an environment.  

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