“…children, since they are an inalienable part of nature, not only have the right to a healthy environment, but also to connection with nature and to the gifts of nature for their physical and psychological health and ability to learn and create.” – The World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2012
Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life. It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.
This has been a beautiful January. The weather today isn’t supposed to get above 26 degrees, which is cold for the Deep South, but it is sunny outside. The little bit of icy snow we got crunches under my feet as I walk and see the ice that has formed on the branches of the bare trees. It is quiet, and not many are even on the roads. I love this peaceful time.
Which brings me to my vitality wish for this week: to gather in the sunshine and glorious natural beauty of the landscape and get outside. I do this frequently, but I always try to keep it at the top of my priority list. Whether it is just a little walk in my neighborhood or to our nearby park or a hike up a mountain, or kayaking in the lake , or star-watching, I try to enjoy each and every season.
I love my children to be outside as well, and find this especially important for older teens. Getting outside helps “re-set” their minds and bodies for the things that are trying to accomplish; it shows teens the value of fun that is not tied into electronic devices or screens; it provides spectacular moments of awe and wonder. It revitalizes the soul.
The benefits of nature are immense. There is a wonderful book called “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life,” by Richard Louv. Louv, of course, was a pioneer in recognizing the benefits of nature for children as detailed in his book, “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” In the introduction to the book “Vitamin N, ” Louv details some of the best benefits of immersion in nature: reduction of the symptoms of AD/HD; helps buffer anxiety and depression; helps prevent or reduce obesity and mypoia; boosts the immune system; may improve social bonding and reduce social violence; stimulates learning and creativity; even helps to raise standardized test scores. You can see the myriad of benefits at the Children and Nature Network’s research links.
This year, I invite you to hold steady in getting yourself and your children outside, preferably daily, and also weekly for excursions in your local, state, and national parks. Enjoy, and savor the wonder of our beautiful world.