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NatureGrounds Conservation

NatureGrounds: Offering rich outdoor education during playtime 

Research reveals a strong relationship between daily exposure to nature and healthy mental and physical development. The problem – children and families aren't getting enough of it.

Author Richard Louv first coined the term "Nature-Deficit Disorder" in his book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”, where he describes the risks of being disconnected from nature. Some of the potential human costs are listed as: attention difficulties, obesity, lowered use of the senses and a weakened ecological literacy of the natural world. Thankfully, this can be reversed. 

Conservation Authorities play a pivotal role in environmental education by offering a place where people can explore the wonders of nature while learning about important environmental issues affecting our world today. Knowing that today’s youth represent the future in environmental decision-making, these nature centres continue to drum up fun ways to give children a greater understanding of nature. 

Boost children's love for the outdoors with Pathways for Play

In today’s world, most children live in urban cities far from nature. As lot sizes continue to shrink – backyard green space becomes sparse. For some kids, a trip to their local conservation authority can be the first time they develop a greater understanding and appreciation for nature. 

While trails still exist in the suburbs, country and even in the city, only a small portion of children are making use of them. Numerous studies state that being in nature greatly improves physical and mental health, but how do we get children interested?

PlayCore, whose mission is to advance play through research, programs and partnerships, believes the best way for children to connect with their natural environment is to combine learning with play. PlayCore has teamed up with the Natural Learning Initiative to offer Pathways for Play: Best Practices Guidelines to integrate play - critical for children's health - into walkable, bikeable, shared use community pathway networks infused with "play pockets”.

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Pathways for Play: Innovative way to bring play into nature

There’s nothing like getting outdoors for a refreshing walk in nature to de-stress and improve your health, both physically and mentally. When communities offer natural environments such as parks, trails and other green spaces, people are more likely to walk and be physically active.

According to Active Healthy Kids Canada, the amount of children enjoying the benefits of walking is on the decline. When it comes to walking to school, studies found that while 58 per cent of parents walked to school when they were young, only 28 per cent of their children do so today.

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Reconnect kids to nature by blending play equipment with landscape 

Think back to some of your fondest childhood memories involving nature play. Do you remember your excitement and laughter as you built your first tree house, splashed in the creek, dug dirt holes and swung on branches? 

PlayCore, whose mission is to advance play through research, programs and partnerships, recognizes the multiple positive impacts that unstructured nature play has had on children generation by generation.

Increasingly packed schedules, the allure of electronic plugged-in play and a lack of unregulated green space are threatening the future of nature play. Thankfully, PlayCore has stepped in with a solution with NatureGrounds: Creating & Retrofitting Play Environments: Best Practice Guidelines.

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Respected play authorities pen 'Words On Play' to raise awareness on value of play

Albert Einstein once said, “play is the highest form of research.”

It seems the great physicist/philosopher was correct. Research shows that the simple act of playing offers numerous benefits for children, families and communities alike. Children are at their highest level of development when they are playing; making play an essential part of their growth and overall happiness.

Knowing how critical play is for healthy physical, social, emotional and intellectual development, PlayCore, whose mission is to advance play through research, programs and partnerships, is promoting the value of play through the Words On Play Guidebook.

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Does your playground meet the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design?

“Beyond disability, there are abilities; beyond accessibility, there is inclusion.” - Keith Christensen, Faculty Fellow at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Studies show that youth with physical disabilities have a 4.5 times higher rate of physical inactivity compared to their peers. This statistic, combined with the U.S. Department of Education’s findings that 85 out of 1,000 children between the ages of 3 and 21 are living with one of the following disabilities: Physical, sensory, multiple disabilities, chronic health impairment, social/emotional, communication, cognitive; goes to show the importance of providing inclusive play.

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Continuing education is important for designers, planners, and education professionals to remain abreast of current research, national initiatives, and to keep up with current advancements in the industry. PlayCore is pleased to be an approved CEU provider of International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) - the only standard-setting organization approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for continuing education and training, and ASLA–Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES).

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As leaders in play, we strive to share resources, expertise, and program best practices to like minded professionals. Our comprehensive Outreach Education Program can provide free customized educational seminars on a variety of topics surrounding play and recreation. Designed to be flexible in order to meet the individualized needs of our audiences, we invite you to experience these educational sessions and to maximize the many resources we have available. Our goal is to offer informative, innovative, and fun learning opportunities, while increasing your awareness about the value of play and current trends in the industry.

 

Our education session topics and presentations are developed to ensure that every event is meaningful to the audience. Our library of offerings can be tailored to meet specific group needs, time allotments, and audience interests. Training topics include:

- Grant Funding
- Inclusive Play
- Maintenance
- NatureGrounds
- Play & Learning
- Play On!
- Playful Pathways
- Supervision
- Urban Play
- Value of Play
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Playful pathways that cater to children and families offer many benefits. They promote health, the value of play, and the need to be inclusive of all people. In addition, they support engagement with nature, environmental learning, walkable and bikeable community connectivity, and growth of social capital. As populations increase and urban development continues, pathways will play a critical role as community assets, and designing them with children and families in mind is an important priority.

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