Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 Arbor Month celebration encourages nature play

A decline in nature play has prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to put this year’s Arbor Month (May) focus on encouraging kids to climb trees and play with nature in their back yards and within the community.

The 2014 state Arbor Month celebration on Sat., May 17, from 9 a.m. to noon at Oak Hill Park in St. Louis Park, will give families a chance to play with nature, while watching some of the best tree climbers in the state compete at the Minnesota Tree Climbing Championship.

Schedule of events
-- 9 a.m. -- Ceremony with state dignitaries.
-- 9:30 a.m. -- Ceremonial tree planting.
--10 a.m. -- Musical performance by Kidtime with Rachel.
--10 a.m.–noon -- Nature play activities, exhibits and presentations.
-- 8 a.m.–5 p.m. -- Minnesota State Tree Climbing Championships.

According to the Children & Nature Network and the Commission on Education and Communication, 88 percent of children reported using a computer almost every day, while only 11 percent of children reported visiting a local park or natural area almost every day. In some cases, the use of electronic media has disconnected children and their parents from nature.

Nature play is easy, affordable and safe. Frequent, unstructured play in diverse natural settings promotes overall physical and emotional health, cognitive development, creativity, physical ability and coordination, the Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood reports. It also reduces stress and forms the foundation for responsible environmental behavior.

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