Why Redeem Your Ground? Your Kids.
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.”
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Been thinking a lot lately about encouraging kids to play outside. After Redeeming roughly 75% or our backyard space just over a year ago. The last piece was left as is, as it was over a creek and untouched since the house was built in the late 70s. A really weird lot line has us owning a piece of land that is roughy an 1/8th of an acre that is bordered by two tiny creeks. With very little expense this area has been transformed into an outdoor playground for the kids. I was very intentional to leave the land with tons of potential – just paths to get around and a few select spaces cleared for hanging out. I only cleared it out enough to allow kids to run around and have the freedom to build and explore. As long as we can convince the six year-old to stop drinking out of the creek we should be on the way to a great summer of outdoor fun. I am eager to see what they think of and how they ultimately use this space.
Yes, yes, yes…perfect…exactly right! Watch your kids’ bodies, minds, and souls expand because of this space you’re providing them right outside their door. Awesome! Thanks for sharing, D.
Thinking of the line in here about arranging rocks in random order: last weekend Sophia collected a bucket of rocks from the yard. Grandparents and parents were “invited” to a class on rocks in which we were to observe and comment on their shape, color, and texture. While the “teacher” redirected as necessary. The rocks then spent all week in her preschool classroom. Thanks for making our yard a place Sophia wants to be. Rocks and all.
Thanks Marsha…yes, this is awesome! I can just imagine Soph “redirecting as necessary”…hilarious. We’ve had many similar lessons taught by our girls. One of the awesome things about this is that Sophia, as young as she is, is recognizing the differences in shapes and sizes and textures of things…to the point of wanting to make sure her “students” do too. To so many kids…a rock is a rock is a rock. Thanks for sharing M.! Take care, D.
Good article. What you write about has been identified and coined as “Nature Deficit Disorder”. In an age of diagnosies of every kind, I cringe a little at the addition of another. But I believe this will be validated as a very real issue. Our children must grow up with an understanding of our natural world in order to coexist within it as well as preserve it.
Thanks Bill. Yes, I agree…I’m not real big on the whole putting labels on things either…for a host of reasons. But like it seems is the case with you too, I certainly don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water after reading “Last Child in the Woods”. There were some great truths in it that have become even more apparent since it was published. Thanks for reading this post and for offering your perspective…so appreciate it. Take care, D.
Hi Doug and Family!
Your Louv quotes are welcome reminders of why we share this passion for ‘kicking the kids outside”. Yesterday, knowing that the impending rain was arriving today, I yelled “…gather ye rosebuds while ye may” at my kids as I shooed them out; fast forward about 3 hours and there was a nice neat collection of rosebuds on my patio.
Thanks Holly…for not only your comment…but for reminding me of my copy of “Last Child in the Woods” that was collecting dust on my shelf! Awesome read…especially for those of us who recognize the importance of being outside…all the learning and growth – on so many levels, that take place there! Thanks again…and now I’m off to gather some eggs and to perhaps gather some rosebuds of my own off our Lady Banks – which is about to explode! Take care, D.