‘Leave no child inside’

 In Environment

Last Child in the Woods cover, courtesy of Richard Louv

After Richard Louv, chairman of the Children & Nature Network, published Last Child in the Woods in 2005, several organizations requested that he speak and write articles on the compelling topic of “Nature-Deficit Disorder,” which led to national media attention. I first heard Louv speak to a packed conference hall at the 2006 Bay Area Open Space Council conference in San Francisco. Since then, a movement to reconnect children to nature has been gaining momentum from environmentalists and youth development organizations to mental health care advocates.

In a recent article on the subject published in Orion magazine called Leave No Child Inside, Louv writes about the campaigns to reconnect children to nature, sometimes called “Leave No Child Inside,” forming across the country. “The activity has attracted a diverse assortment of people who might otherwise never work together,” writes Louv.

Before Louv’s book, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted an evaluation in 2004 to measure the impacts of week-long residential outdoor education programs for at-risk sixth graders in California as called for by California Assembly Bill (AB) 1330, Chapter 663.

They found that children who attended outdoor school significantly raised their science scores by 27 percent, retained new science knowledge for six to ten weeks, showed gains in cooperation and conflict resolution and other positive social gains. More than half of the students in the study were English learners and first-timers to a nature setting.

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