Saturday (5/21) is Kids to Park Day, a national day of outdoor play. Research shows playing outdoors can improve children’s physical and mental health.
The health benefits of playing outside are many, according to pediatrician Dr. Danette Glassy. She says children are more active, have less obesity, and better motor development. “There’s a whole lot less myopia for kids who play outside, that’s that nearsightedness, than kids who play inside or look at screens a lot. There’s all these mental and emotional health things, less anger and aggression, better learning outcomes for kids who are playing outside more,” Dr. Glassy says.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds families that they don’t need to travel far. You can enjoy nature in the backyard or at the playground. “Children who spent more time outdoors or engaging with nature are more proponents of the natural world and better stewards of our world,” Dr. Glassy says.
Recently, group of second graders from Virginia got to call the great outdoors their classroom for a day. They made some new animal friends on a farm and got plenty of activity, all while breathing in nature.
The outdoor classroom is part of a program from the National Park Trust, which organizes Kids to Parks Day each year on the third Saturday of May. “Just get outside, get outdoors, and have fun with your family,” says Billy Schrack, the director of youth programs at the NPT.
Asked what she liked most about being outside, seven-year-old Muna Nassib says, “I like to go and play.” For eight-year-old Susie Hunter, she likes “that the air is so fresh.”
To learn more about Kids to Parks Day, and find nearby events, visit kidstoparks.org.
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