Green Peace!

Posted by on Jun 17, 2012 in Parenting | 0 comments

Green Peace!

As I ran in central park today, getting my fix of green grass, trees and fresh air (well sort of) I wondered about how much growing up in an urban environment affects our children. Here’s the thing  -  I never imagined for one minute that my children would be growing up in New York City.  I still struggle with being in such an urban environment myself.

I was raised in the rolling hills of Gloucestershire, England.  Where cows wonder freely and the grass grows high and wild in the summer.  I spent my early years roaming around the woods and common carefree in a pack with my friends. When my family would take day trips to London, as much as I loved the museums, restaurants, shops and hussle and bussle, I was horrified by the greyness of it all.  And London is pretty green!  However, in my teenage years paradise became a frustration, I wanted to be surrounded by my friends and action.  The countryside suddenly was torturously boring and I would be constantly looking for ways to get myself to the bright lights, not always the safest ways either…

So as more of my friend’s move out of the city to the leafy suburbs I continue to wonder what the impact is on those children, like my own, who spend the majority of their lives in the city?  We can all think of some of the pros and cons but what is research telling us about the affect of not having nature in our lives and how can we help our children obtain some balance?

Last Child in the Woods:  Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv discusses the growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children’s lives and the rise of obesity, attention disorders and depression. The book and website are full of inspirational ideas for reconnecting with the natural world. In the back of the book there are 100 ideas for kids and families, only many of the suggestions assume you live in the suburbs and not totally urban Manhattan!

Here’s what we like to do:

I stick the boys on bikes or scooters and run over to Randall’s island where the grass is tall and you can escape the city noise.  We go up past Carl Schurz park on 86th street and Eastend  Avenue and across the bridge.

South of France

Talking of Carl Schurz they have a wonderful volunteer program for adults and children to help garden in the park.  Peter and Charlie love it!

Pets are great but cats and dogs are not an option with all the allergies my boys have.  Beta fish are virtually indestructible and quite affectionate! They are also easy to leave when we go to Europe.

We just got around to planting some herbs and flowers.  It’s amazing how looking after some plants has a calming effect and Charlie is so proud of his flowers.

For years I have called my brother the Lorax as he is such a tree hugger who works for the New York Parks Department. Well the correct term is an arborist! He often takes us on a tree walk in Central Park, which has many free walking tours and volunteer programs.

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