To officially begin CNU21, Salt Lake City’s Mayor, Ralph Becker, welcomed all of the Congress attendees. Most had travelled quite a long way, and he encouraged attendees to explore his fair city while here.
Richard Louv, author, was the most impassioned speaker. Best known for his book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder,” he described how we’ve disconnected family, nature, and community. Here’s some of my favorite quotes from his speech:
“What are we doing to our kids?” in reference to the average child’s sedentary lifestyle.
“Sitting is the new smoking,” in reference to their similar health effects.
“I believe cities can become engines of biodiversity.”
“Conservation is no longer enough. Now, we must create nature.”
Louv discussed how both children and adults have been "programmed" to fear the unknown, and thus, nature. He said that through this fear, parents schedule their children’s time too much. He encouraged regular unstructured play outdoors for children, and outside exercise rather than indoor gym exercise for adults.
He told the audience that preschoolers are now the fastest growing market for antidepressants. One in five boys in the U.S. are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Louv pushed that we’ve bought into the misconception that we can experience anything through a screen as a society.
He explained how “Family Nature Clubs” through the Children and Nature Network have grown immensely. The simple task of these clubs is to meet up with other families at a park and allow children to play freely in greenspace. It could also be a hike or bike ride- so long as the families are outside together.
Did you have a sort of "Huckleberry Finn" childhood? Do you want that for your children or something different?
Credits: Photo and references linked to sources. Photo taken by Aascot Holt.