Back to School? Get Back Outside!
Making Time for Outdoor Activity
Riding a bike, skipping, rollerblading, playing at the park, participating in sports, or even just hanging out and enjoying nature are all outdoor activities that are essential for keeping youth active and healthy. But this does not seem to be the case in Canada. A recent survey conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation finds that 70 percent of today’s youth (aged 13 20 years old) don’t spend any more than one hour a day outside. This is an enormous problem. Between homework, chores, and work, respondents say that they simply don’t have the time to go outside. And when the Internet and social media are thrown into the mix of activities, the difference between the amount of screen time young people are getting and the amount of time spent outside is huge.
Leanne Clarke from the David Suzuki Foundation says the survey “… shows that as a society we don’t put a priority on spending time outside.” She continues, “if parents and the school system are putting a greater emphasis on indoor tasks and activities, this will translate into how young people spend their time and where.” But it is not just up to the youth. Educators and parents can play a role in getting younger teens to spend time outside. When parents enroll kids in extracurricular sports or structured outdoor programs at a young age, they are more likely to spend time outside well into their teens.
It is imperative that educators and parents encourage youth across the country spend more time outdoors. Those who spend time in nature often have improved memory, problem solving, and creativity—and they’re physically healthier too. That is why the David Suzuki Foundation has created the Back to School? Get Back Outside challenge. Once signed up, participants receive four fun outdoor Family Challenge activities that can be completed each week. The intent is to encourage families, parents and youth alike, to get outside and connect with nature.
About the Author: TEACH is the largest national education publication in Canada. We support good teachers and teaching and believe in innovation in education.