Monday, July 7, 2008

Playing outside in the garden

There is a fairly new initiative here in California that many local governments are adopting, its called the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights. Essentially its a positive counter-movement to a growing trend among children and adolescents, more sedentary lifestyles, an increasing percentage of overweight and obese children, and an alarming rise in Type 2 Diabetes among kids.

The California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights statement is simple, turn off the TV and play outdoors. Beautifully simple and a return to a healthier form of play. The Bill of Rights suggests ten basic ways to exercise a child's outdoor rights:

1. Discover California's Past
2. Splash in the water
3. Play in a safe place
4. Camp under the stars
5. Explore nature
6. Learn to swim
7. Play on a team
8. Follow a trail
9. Catch a fish
10. Celebrate their heritage

These are all good tenets to get kids outside and enjoy the great, outside world, subject only to the limits of their imagination.

I offer one amendment though, like #5 (Explore nature), that all gardners can appreciate - bring your kids (or a young relative) outside with you when you garden. Let them get their hands dirty as they plant their first seed, deadhead the roses or harvest the vegetable garden. Not only does gardening entail physical activity, it teaches patience, an appreciation for nature and all its beauty, and introduces them to a dying skill, becoming a green thumb, a knack for working with plants to help them grow and flourish.

The California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights is a positive effort to get kids outside. Gardening is just one aspect of this, but an important skill that helps kids keep healthy bodies and minds, as well as a skill that is hard to come by and can only come about from the care and time we take as adults to teach children gardening as a skill.



Photos credit: Flickr - Robin Horrigan