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Go Ask Mom

Parents urged to take their kids outside

Posted September 19, 2010

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, 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.

And of course, you can always check our park and playground reviews, along with our city, county parks and playground and state parks resource pages if you're looking for some new places to explore.

Where do you like to go?


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  • abswitala Sep 21, 2010

    It is so interesting that I see my kids playing outside more than I ever did! I was a severe asthmatic who needed to be in the air conditioning in the summer, couldn't jump in leaves (allergies) and got respiratory infections in the winter. It gives me great joy to see my kids play outside. I just wish the heat wasn't so severe this year so they could play outside more.

  • persimmonkilgore Sep 20, 2010

    I read "last child in the woods" and I totally agree with the author. One of the things that children are deprived of in our society is the opportunity to be bored. I'm not joking. Allow children to learn how to entertain themselves. Support and extend the childlike curiosity that is a human being's birthright. Team sports and dance class are often good learning experiences, but those kinds of activities should not be the only physical outlets for children.

  • Twittyfan Sep 20, 2010

    I can honestly say my little girl would live outside if I would let her. Depending on the season I give her an allergy pill but that doesn't stop her at all. Outdoors is good for anyone any age. I have to open my blinds all over my house everyday to let the sun in or it just doesn't feel right. I think I am the only house in my neighborhood that does this everyone else is in the house and no blinds open...

  • finesse187 Sep 20, 2010

    I totally agree that kids don't spend as much time outside as their parents once did. I remember being a kid and after doing homework staying outside until my mom called us in for dinner or until it got dark. Kids need the chance to be outdoors to explore and run free!!