Play in the Dirt Again: First of Its Kind Kids Playscape in NC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Work is in progress this week on an innovative approach to outdoor education for North Carolina children. The Charlotte Nature Museum is the site of the first of a series of planned natural play areas with a mission to expose children to outdoor activities, as well as educate their parents on how to turn their own backyards into places of fun for their kids.
The Charlotte Natural Playscape, expected to be finished by spring, is a result of a joint effort from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Scotts Miracle-Gro, a maker of fertilizers and other gardening supplies.
Allen Cooper, coordinator for the National Play and Learning Areas project at NWF, explains the importance of outdoor play for children.
"There are a lot of benefits from doing things that we took for granted in our childhood. We're just looking for ways that we could make it easy for children to spend time in nature the way we used to."
Cooper says playing outside offers numerous health benefits to children and their parents.
"Being outside in nature, playing in nature, increases physical activity. It increases creative, cooperative and imaginative play."
A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that the average American child age eight to 18 today spends almost eight hours a day using entertainment media, while that average child spends half as much time outside as 20 years ago, according to a study by the University of Michigan.
There are other such natural play areas planned around the country, but details are yet to be released.