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Does your child have Nature Deficit Disorder?

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By Lola Olvera, ENC Communications Intern

Your child may have walked out of his annual check-up at the doctor’s in fine health but he may be unknowingly suffering from a malady of the metaphorical kind: nature-deficit disorder.

According to Richard Louv, the author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” and the man who coined the term, most of us are not getting our recommended daily dose of the outdoors. Being nature-deficit means that, thanks to our immersion in the digital world, we have lost a vital connection with nature.

A nature deficit can have negative consequence on ourselves and our environment. According to the Children & Nature Network, “…nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world.”

Losing sight of the plants and animals that live beside us in our community is only the first step to losing sight of larger, worldwide problems, such as species extinction and global warming.

Luckily, there’s a simple-and perhaps glaringly obvious-cure for nature-deficit disorder: nature.

A conscious effort to re-immerse ourselves in nature is necessary to remain well-informed, mobilized citizens. Start early if possible-get your kids hooked on interacting with the outdoors by taking them to parks, hikes, and nature camps, such as the ENC’s annual Summer Nature Camp.

 “Programs that infuse education with direct experience, especially in nature, have the greatest impact,” says Louv.

Beginning in June and continuing with weekly sessions through August, our nature day camp, which is celebrating it’s 40th year, gives children the freedom to explore, play and learn from nature, teaching them to be informed, curious and independent. Activities range from hikes, games, crafts and scientific workshops.

Don’t let this generation of children be the last ones in the woods! Let them be the ones that save them.

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