For a variety of reasons - from busy schedules to concerns about safety and strangers - kids aren't spending as much time outside for creative, free play as we did when we were kids.
That's what Richard Louv says in his book "Last Child in the Woods," which identifies the health and educational benefits of outdoor experiences and addresses the problems. The book sparked a lot of discussion and a national initiative, started right here in Raleigh, aimed at reconnecting kids with the outdoors.
The fourth annual Take a Child Outside Week runs Sept. 24 to Sept. 30 and is led by the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.
"We hope that it gives parents the motivation and ‘permission’ they need to just let their kids go outside and play —climbing trees, exploring streams, building forts or making doll houses out of tree stumps," says Liz Baird, director of education at the museum and creator of the program, in a press release.
On www.takeachildoutside.org, adults can make a promise to take a child outside during the week. After the outing, they can post a description of where they went and what they did. They can also create a dot on a national map identifying the outdoor area they explored, and they can read about other people’s adventures. Last year more than 12,000 children went outside and recorded their activities on the site.
You'll also find a list of possible activities. And several park systems in the area are holding some special events to make it easier for all of us.
Here are some of them. I'll add more as I hear about them.
- From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 30, the natural sciences museum's Prairie Ridge Ecostation in west Raleigh will hold free guided walks every 30 minutes. The last walk starts at 5:30 p.m. All ages are welcome (but kids 15 and under must be with an adult). No registration required. Visitors will explore a variety of habitats, including a piedmont prairie, woodlands, a lowland forest and a pond. I attend this event a couple of years ago and my daughter and I had a ball. And check back here on Go Ask Mom for more on the ecostation on Friday.
- Wake County parks systems will offer a variety of programs during the week. Click here for details. The programs are free, but registration is required.
- Raleigh parks also will offer programs across the system. Fees vary. Registration required four days before the event (which is coming up for programs that are scheduled for Friday). Click here for details.
Where do you like to go?