A “green schoolyard” might boost the health of children in your community, researchers report.
“Green schoolyards can include outdoor classrooms, traditional play equipment, native and vegetable gardens, trails, trees and more,” said Dr. Stephen Pont medical director of the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity.
He and his colleagues found that green schoolyards provide benefits in areas such as heart health, weight control, ADHD and stress relief.
“Also, these schoolyards can be open for the surrounding community to use when schools are closed which benefits everyone,” added Pont.
For their report, Pont’s team summarized the findings of prior published studies on the potential benefits of green schoolyards.
“We should all be champions for kids and families getting more Vitamin N,” he urged, referring to nature.
Connecting Kids and Nature
Richard Louv is another advocate for outdoor time in childhood.
“Too many children have no access to quality school grounds. In many neighborhoods, the standard play space is a barren asphalt playground or a concrete slab surrounded by chain link fence. This is a completely unsuitable environment for children’s play,” said Louv, co-founder of the Minneapolis-based Children & Nature Network.
The group has collaborated with the National League of Cities and helped these five cities implement green schoolyards: Austin, Texas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; San Francisco, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; and Madison, Wis.
“So many physicians and health professionals choose to spend their free time in nature, but we often forget that nature can be a powerful health intervention for our patients, both for the prevention and improvement of many medical conditions,” Pont said.