The San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative has initiated the NatureRx pilot project to impact children’s health via nature experiences. Pediatric health providers give “nature” prescriptions for kids and families to go outside in a natural setting for unstructured play or family walks.
Playing in nature can positively impact children’s health and well-being. Nature is the ideal playscape for the climbing, running, pondering and wondering that are essential for healthy child development. Research indicates that unstructured outdoor activities improve children’s health by increasing physical activity, improving their motor skills, reducing stress, and lessening attention disorder behaviors. Children and families that connect with nature increase their mental and physical wellness and gain a sense of life balance.
We envision that outdoor play will be part of every child’s daily life, and that families will increase the time they spend outdoors in nature together. Pediatric health providers will give NatureRx prescriptions for outdoor play, encourage families to spend more time being active in nature, and refer families to Prescription Trails and other nature places.
- The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder. This latest book by Children & Nature Network founder Richard Lou includes a chapter called “Vitamin N”, on the health benefits of nature (http://richardlouv.com/books/).
- Review of health benefits of children’s experiences in nature, CNN_HealthBenefitsResearch_45p_2012
- National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF)’s Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity aims to prevent serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes related to indoor sedentary lifestyles and connects children and their families to nature to promote good health, enjoyment, and environmental stewardship. https://www.neefusa.org/resource/rx-outdoor-activity.
- In 2010, a Community Asset Inventory was completed by the San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative to describe local opportunities to increase nature activities as part of children’s health services. Promising sectors are pediatric health, childhood obesity, and overall public health. Pediatricians and other health professionals already emphasize physical activity for children, and that can be expanded to spending time in nature.