The Importance of Outdoors
As a pediatrician, I am passionate about the health benefits of a childhood spent in nature. These benefits are many—increased curiosity, attention, school performance, and pro-social behaviors as well as lower risk to develop obesity, ADD/HD, anxiety and depression. Children who are connected to nature are more willing to protect nature and wildlife as adults.
There can be many barriers for parents and caregivers to give children the gift of time in nature. They may also lack understanding of these benefits and may not know where to start.
My colleagues and I from BestStart Washington founded the Project Nature initiative to help break down these barriers. Project Nature is a multifaceted program and resource to introduce very young children and their families to tools for nature play and information at a very young age—right in the doctor’s office. These resources will reach beyond a “nature prescription” by creating a bridge to nature and nature activities.
This initial intervention by pediatricians is supported by our website, which provides outdoor places and activities finders to help connect children and families to Washington parks, attractions, experiences and organizations. We are also creating social media campaigns to share the evidence-based information we’ve developed along with the places and activities that can help bring children to nature and keep them coming back.
We hope you’ll visit our Project Nature website often and will follow us on social media. You’ll find a community of parents and health care providers who want to help provide pathways for children and families to get outdoors to play and learn.
Dr. Glassy is a co-founder and Board member of BestStart Washington and past president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also part of the wonderful team of pediatricians at Mercer Island Pediatrics.