Okay…I’ll admit it…it’s been a tough couple of days. A few things that I had hoped would come together didn’t…and a few things I didn’t want to happen did. Launching a new business, particularly in an industry you didn’t build your 20+ year career on, is challenging to say the least…frustrating at times, and sometimes pretty lonely. It’s just been one of those weeks. Fortunately I do have a very healthy dose of passion and a strong call to do this Redeem Your Ground thing…and that certainly has helped keep some wind in my sails.
But what really helped me turn the corner today was thinking about all the kids…mine, my friends’, and my clients’…who have been able to get outside more and simply be kids after we’ve done a bit of ground redeeming at home. There’s really nothing more rewarding to me than to see a pile of muddy boots at the back door, or finding a pile of sticks and rocks arranged in some random pattern after a day of collecting and exploring, or hearing the back door open and shut as the kids run back and forth to bring more and more “supplies” or fruit they have “foraged” outside to some encampment they’ve built…or getting a text from a client thanking me for the new view from their kitchen window where they can watch their kids running through the sprinklers or digging in the dirt. That’s life. That’s good. That makes it all so worth it!
Unfortunately there is so much competing with all this good honest outdoor play these days: our shrunken margins; all our attempts to organize the heck out of kids’ multiple activities…leaving us and them with no unstructured time to rest, recoup, think, consider; and not to mention all the screens and devices and games that are so overstimulating…with very little to show for it at the end of the day. Okay…I know…I’ve jumped up on my high soap-box! Sorry…um…not really. (Did I say I have a healthy dose of passion behind all of this?!)
Anyway, I guess you could say that I’m on a bit of a crusade to help kids, their friends, their neighbors and their families get outside and connect in a real-face-to-face-kinda-way…in beautiful, intentional, and very personal spaces. So I’ll continue to do what I can…here on this blog…and with my design efforts – one family at a time…for as long as I can. That’s why I’m trying to redeem some ground.
I hope you’ll join me. Will you?
As further motivation to get you to redeem your ground, I’ll leave you with two things: 1. some pics of a few more of the kids whose families I’ve worked with…who may have a few more bug bites and skinned knees, but are smiling bigger smiles and learning more about themselves and the world around them after our ground redemption efforts; and 2. some quotes & stats that further drive home the importance of all of this (all from a book I posted about earlier, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”, by Richard Louv).
- “…baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – may constitute the last generation of Americans to share an intimate, familial attachment to the land and water.”
- “Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood.”
- “…we can definitely say that the best predictor of preschool children’s physical activity is simply being outdoors…and that an indoor, sedentary childhood is linked to mental-health problems.”
- “From 1997-2003, there was a decline of 50% in the proportion of children nine to twelve who spent time in such outside activities as hiking, walking, fishing, beach play, and gardening, according to a study by Sandra Hofferth at the University of Maryland.”
- “71 percent of today’s mothers said they recalled playing outdoors every day as children, but only 26 percent of them said their kids play outdoors daily.”
- “A widening circle of researchers believes that the loss of natural habitat, or the disconnection from nature even when it is available, has enormous implications for human health and child development. They say the quality of exposure to natural effects our health at an almost cellular level.”
- “…the World Health Organization warns that the sedentary lifestyle is…a global public health problem; inactivity is seen as a major risk factor in non-communicable diseases, which cause 60 percent of global deaths and 47 percent of the burden of disease.”
- “The CDC found that the amount of TV that children watch directly correlates with measures of their body fat. In the United states, children ages six to eleven spend about thirty hours a week looking at a TV or computer monitor.” [Note, this book was published in 2008…so I’d imagine that this stat is even higher today.]
- “Little is known about the impact of new technologies on children’s emotional health, but we do know something about the implications for adults. In 1998, a controversial Carnegie Mellon University Study found that people who spend even a few hours on the Internet each week suffer higher levels of depression and loneliness than people who use the [Internet] infrequently.”
- Ironically…“The obesity epidemic coincides with the greatest increase in organized children’s sports in history.”
- “The physical exercise and emotional stretching that children enjoy in unorganized play is more varied and less time-bound than is found in organized sports. Playtime – especially unstructured, imaginative exploratory play – is increasingly recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development.”
- “Children need nature for the healthy development of their senses, and, therefore, for learning and creativity. This need is revealed in two ways: by an examination of what happens to the senses of the young when they lose connection with nature, and by witnessing the sensory magic that occurs when young people – even those beyond childhood – are exposed to even the smallest direct experience of a natural setting.”