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Children Outdoors-An Endangered Species?
Nebraska City, Nebraska, USA-- "Children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make them top of any conservationist's list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom... Researchers are convinced of the depth of the connection between children's well-being and the environment, claiming that contact with nature may be as important to children as good nutrition and adequate sleep." (From Edward Gill's "If You Go Down to the Woods," October, 2005 Ecologist.)
More and more research is showing that children need connections with the natural world as a regular part of their healthy growth and development, and are adversely affected if these connections do not take place often enough. Problems such as childhood obesity, biophobia (fear of the outdoors), and increased reliance on behavior-regulating medications are all being associated with children's disconnection with nature. Early connections with nature are also decisive in helping children grow into adults who care about environmental stewardship.
In response to these concerns, early childhood educators, representatives of environmental organizations, community planners and environmental designers from 25 nations will gather at the Working Forum on Nature Education for Young Children: Connecting the World's Children with Nature. The Forum will be held at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City, Nebraska USA, October 16-19, 2006.
This Working Forum is a project of the World Forum Foundation in partnership with the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation; Arbor Day Foundation; and Child Education Center, Caltech/JPL Community. The mission of the Forum will be to effect changes that make developmentally appropriate nature education a sustaining and enriching part of the daily lives of the world's children--through dialogue, and by building an advocacy agenda through the Nature Action Collaborative for Children.
The Working Forum will be a highly participatory event, with presenters from throughout the world and interactive discussions by all Forum participants. Topics addressed will include How Can Nature Education Serve as a Force for Positive Change? What is Developmentally Appropriate Nature Education for Young Children? How Can Early Childhood Educators and Environmental Organizations Work Together? How Can We Create Outdoor Classrooms that Work for Children? How Can Community Planning Support Nature Education for Young Children? How Can We Support Teachers and Parents in Providing Positive Nature Experiences for Young Children? The Forum will combine group discussions in Lied Lodge & Conference Center, tours of a demonstration Nature Explore Classroom, musical presentations by Paul Winter, and a nature-based performance created by young children.
Information about the World Forum on Nature Education for Young Children can be found at www.worldforumfoundation.org.