Author of Last Child in the Woods; Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Admission: $5 (includes parking for advance tickets)
Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” speaks about the transformation in the relationship between children and nature, how society is teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature. That unintended message is delivered in schools, families, even organizations devoted to the outdoors, and codified into legal and regulatory structures of our communities.
He also describes the exciting, new body of scientific evidence demonstrating just how important direct contact with the outdoors is to healthy child development, touching on such health issues as ADHD, child obesity, stress, creativity and cognitive functioning.
To stimulate a “Leave No Child Inside” movement, he offers practical suggestions for action by parents, grandparents, government agencies, conservationists, urban planners, educators and others concerned about the future of childhood and the earth itself.
This event is sponsored by a diverse group of Bay Area organizations involved with child development, education, and community involvement.
* Hooked on Nature, Palo Alto
* Waldorf School of the Peninsula, Los Altos
* Rudolf Steiner College, Fair Oaks and Los Altos
* California FIRST 5, Santa Clara County
Information about the Sponsors
Hooked On Nature
Hooked on Nature (HON) is a nonprofit organization committed to raising awareness that contact with nature enhances the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of children and the communities they live in. HON provides workshops and resource materials for all those who wish to help children and young people develop a deeper relationship with nature, each other and all that is.
Waldorf School of the Peninsula
The Waldorf School of the Peninsula, established in 1984, is an independent elementary school located in Los Altos with an early childhood program and grades one through eight. Waldorf education places importance on the development of the individual child as essential for a healthy society. Year by year the curriculum expands with the maturing child, matching themes that mirror the child’s inner development, skills, knowledge and modes of expression.
Rudolf Steiner College
The programs offered by Rudolf Steiner College arise out of the work of Rudolf Steiner whose innovative ideas and discoveries have inspired a whole spectrum of practical activities world-wide in the arts, agriculture, care of the handicapped, medicine, architecture, and economics as well as education.
The Los Altos Waldorf Teacher Education Program of Rudolf Steiner awakens independent thinking and healthy judgment about the deeper issues of human life, schools powers of perception, enriches artistic faculties, develops social sensitivity, and strengthens capacities for practical life.
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County
The FIRST 5 Association of California works to improve the lives of California's youngest children. It has a comprehensive and integrated system of information and services promoting early childhood development from prenatal to age 5, as well as to support the needs of parent of young children.
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County supports the healthy development of children through age five and enriches the lives of families and communities. Initiatives supported by FIRST 5 focus on children's health and early education, as well as strengthening networks within the community.
ABOUT Richard Louv
Richard Louv is a futurist and journalist focused on family, nature and community. The author of seven books, his most recent title, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder" (Algonquin, Spring, 2005) has received widespread attention from education and nature organizations and the world media. It was chosen as a Top Science Book of 2005 by Discover magazine, and as an alternative selection of both the Discovery Channel Book Club and the Behavioral Science Book Club.
Louv’s other books include "Fly-Fishing for Sharks: An Angler's Journey Across America" (Simon & Schuster), "Childhood's Future" (Anchor), "The Web of Life: Weaving the Values that Sustain Us” (Conari), “FatherLove” (Pocket), “101 Things You Can Do For Our Children’s Future” (Anchor), and "America II" (Houghton Mifflin).
He is an advisor to the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World award program and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, and a Visiting Scholar at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. A partner in The Frameworks Institute and a member of the Citistates Group, an association of urban observers, Louv helped found Connect for Kids, the largest child advocacy site on the World Wide Web. He is also a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Orion, and other newspapers and magazines. Louv also served as a columnist and editorial advisory board member for Parents magazine, as well as a commentator on Monitor Radio.
Louv has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, CBS The Morning Show, Good Morning America, Today, Bill Moyers' Listening to America, NPR Morning Edition, NPR Fresh Air, NPR Talk of the Nation, PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and many other national and regional programs. The United Nations commissioned his monograph on fatherhood for the U.N. Year of the Child, and he has spoken before the National Policy Council in the White House. He speaks frequently around the country. He is married to Kathy Frederick Louv and is the father of two young men, Jason, 24 and Matthew, 18.
A Summary of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”
Today, kids are well aware of the global threats to the environment, but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature on a day-to-day basis, is fading. A fifth-grader in a San Diego classroom put it succinctly: “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
I believe our society is teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature. That unintended message is delivered schools, families, even organizations devoted to the outdoors, and codified into the legal and regulatory structures of many of our communities effectively banning much of the kind of play that we enjoyed as children. Our institutions, urban/suburban design, and cultural attitudes unconsciously associate nature with doom, while disassociating the outdoors from joy and solitude. Well-meaning public-school systems, media and parents are scaring children straight out of the woods and fields.
Many parents are aware of the change, and they sense its importance. When asked, they cite a number of everyday reasons why their children spend less time in nature than they themselves did, including disappearing access to natural areas, competition from television and computers, dangerous traffic, more homework and other time pressures. Most of all, parents cite fear of stranger-danger, as round-the-clock news coverage conditions them to believe in an epidemic of child-snatchings, despite evidence that the number has been falling for years. As a result, children’s worlds, limitless in cyberspace, are shrinking in reality.
As the nature deficit grows, new studies demonstrate just how important direct contact with the outdoors is to healthy human development. Most of the new evidence that connects nature to well-being and restoration has focused on adults, but during the past decade, scientists have begun to study the impact of nearby nature on child development. Environmental psychologists reported in 2003 that that nature in or around the home, or simply a room with a view of a natural landscape, helped protect the psychological well-being of the children.
Researchers have found that children with disabilities gain enhanced body image and positive behavior changes through direct interaction with nature. Studies of outdoor-education programs geared toward troubled youth — especially those diagnosed with mental-health problems — show a clear therapeutic value. Some of the most intriguing studies are being done by the Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, where researchers have discovered that children as young as five showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of Attention-Deficit Disorder when they engaged with nature. Could nature therapy be a new option for ADD treatment?
Meanwhile, the California-based State Education and Environmental Roundtable, a national effort to study environment-based education, who that schools that use outdoor classrooms, among other techniques, produce student gains in social studies, science, language arts and math; improved standardized test scores and grade-point averages; and enhanced skills in problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making. In addition, evidence suggests that time in natural surroundings stimulates children’s creativity.
People who care about children and the future of the environment need to know about such research, but for the most part, they do not. Today we see dramatic increases in childhood obesity, attention difficulties and depression. When these issues are discussed at the conference table or the kitchen table, direct childhood experience in nature is seldom mentioned. Yet, the growing nature deficit experienced by today’s children, and potentially for generations go come, may be the most important common denominator.
I am not suggesting that we bring back the free-range childhood of the 1950s. Those days are over. But, with a deeper understanding of the importance of nature play to healthy child development, and to their sense of connection to the world, we can create safe zones for nature exploration. We can preserve the open space in our cities, and even design and build new kinds of communities, using the principles of green urbanism. We can weave nature therapy into our health-care system, nature experiences into our classrooms. In education, we can build a No Child Left Inside movement.
And we can challenge environmental organizations to take this issue seriously. For if the disconnection between children and nature continues, who will become the future stewards of the earth and who will swing on birches?
The Beginning of a Movement
Media coverage of “Last Child in the Woods” has been substantial, including segments on “CBS Evening News,” “NBC Nightly News” and NPR’s “Morning Edition,” as well as favorable coverage in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, hundreds of regional newspapers -- even the London Times.
Since the book’s publication in May 2005, author Richard Louv has received thousands of e-mail messages and letters; they speak volumes about the latent hunger in our culture for a reconnection with nature. The science reporting alone has offered solace for some parents. As one mother wrote, “Now I know why I’m doing what I’m doing, and why it’s right.”
For others readers, the book has become a tool for change. Many parents, educators and college students (members of the first denatured generation) have reported that they intend to help reverse the nature-deficit trend. A sampling of other actions: Environmental organizations have taken the book’s message to heart. For example, the National Wildlife Federation, with 4 million members, has been increasingly concerned about the relationship between children and nature. Kevin Coyle, NWF Vice President for Education, reports that “Last Child” is “having a profound impact on how NWF is framing its long-range planning.”
NWF is now launching major programs to get kids directly involved in the outdoors, including “The Green Hour,” a national campaign to persuade parents to encourage their children to spend one hour a day in nature whether that nature is found in a forest or as close as the back yard. The Sierra Club, among other environmental organizations, is also expanding its commitment to connecting kids to nature. Camp Fire USA, Central Ohio Council, inspired in part by “Last Child in the Woods” plans to build a marketing campaign around the slogan: “Vision 20/10 Reuniting Children and Nature Bringing 10,000 kids into the woods by 2010.” The nature-deficit issue is gaining support among policy makers across party lines, and even unites ranchers and environmentalists in a common goal. Prior to a January 2006 speech by Louv in New Mexico to a group that brought cattlemen and environmentalists together under one roof the Albuquerque Tribune reported: “Louv has also been encouraged by the ‘across-the-board’ interest in turning the nature-deficit tide. ‘I've realized, no matter where someone stands on the political or religious spectrum, they all want to tell me about the tree house they had when they were young,” he says. Citing Louv’s New Mexico speech, the Tribune threw its editorial support behind a legislative bill proposing funds for a pilot program called the New Mexico Outdoor Classroom. The bill, a joint effort by the State Parks Department and the State Education Department, calls for training and resources for teachers and park staff, transportation to get children to the parks and service learning projects for children similar to Youth Conservation Corps projects.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Conservation Training Center is planning a September, 2006 international conference on reconnecting children with nature.
The business world has responded, too: The Outdoor Industry Association knows nature-deficit disorder threatens its members' economic future, and has endorsed the book; and committed itself to design communities to offer new ways for young residents to Newland Communities, the nation's largest privately owned residential developer, has publicly engage with nature.
“I am not suggesting that we bring back the free-range childhood of the 1950s,” Louv says. “Those days are over. But we can create safe zones for nature exploration, given our deeper understanding of the importance of nature play to healthy child development.
“We can preserve the remaining open space in our cities, and even design and build new kinds of communities along the principles of green urbanism. We can weave nature experiences into our classrooms, and nature therapy into our health-care system - and, as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, we can spend more time in nature with children.
“Here's the bonus,” he adds. “When we give our children the gift of nature, we gain all the same benefits they do the stress reduction, the longer attention span, the renewed sense of wonder.”
"The simplest, most profound, and most helpful of any book I have read on the personal and historical situation of our children and ourselves as we move on into the 21st century." — Thomas Berry, author of "The Dream of the Earth"
"Our children are part of a truly vast experiment — the first generations to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world... Richard Louv provides insight on what it's doing to our children, and savvy advice about how to bring it to an end and restore the age-old relationship between people and the rest of the planet."— Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature."
“One of the most thought-provoking, well written books I’ve read in recent memory. It rivals Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.’” — The Cincinnati Enquirer
“Parents, educators, therapists and city officials can benefit from taking seriously Louv’s call for a ‘nature-child reunion.’” —Scientific American. A top science book of 2005 — Discover Magazine
"Startling..." — Outside magazine
“‘Last Child in the Woods,’ is raising debate and tough questions nationwide." Parade Magazine
“Occasionally, someone takes a step back, looks at our fast-paced, technological world and reveals something profound. Such is the case with Richard Louv…” — The Albuquerque Tribune
"Important and original...." — The Christian Science Monitor
"Louv's case for outdoor play is a convincing one, and the possibility of a drug-free 'nature' cure for many modern ills is too tantalizing to ignore." — Audubon magazine, Editor's Choice
"There is no better time to read 'Last Child in the Woods'" — Wall Street Journal
"With this scholarly yet practical book, Louv offers solutions today for a healthier, greener tomorrow." — The Washington Post
"The book is an inch-thick caution against raising the fully automated child." — The New York Times
"Hopefully all readers of this important wake-up call will get involved and foster nature-child reunions as soon as possible." — Spirituality & Health
"...affecting...has the force of a polemic, but none of the badgering quality; it's delivered with the casual feel of an afternoon hike." — Austin Statesman-American
"...one of the best books I've read in years." — Fort Collins Coloradoan
"Frankly, after filling page after page of my reviewer's copy with critical notes, I found myself seeing the last chapter through blurry eyes and wondering, as I reached for the Kleenex, how I could sign on to Richard Louv's team." — The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Engrossing....thrilling to read..." — St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Official Website: http://www.waldorfpeninsula.org/calendar/event_pages/richard_louv.html
Added by molivier on September 21, 2006