Teachers, industry professionals, and families are invited to discover new ways to connect children to nature during the seventh annual Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside Summit, held on Saturday, March 10, at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. 3rd St.
The Summit kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with introductions before attendees break into various workshops such as:
- Growing up Wild: Learn how facilitate meaningful experiences that connect children ages 3 through 7 with their natural surroundings. Each participant will receive a guidebook provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Approved Credit.
- Family Café: Parents join in a discussion focused on “Challenges and Opportunities to Spending Time Outside in Nature.” Parents may bring their children to this parent-focused talk.
- Green Schoolyard Workshop: Learn more about design and networking resources to create natural spaces that successfully connect children to nature.
- Book Club and Hike: Discuss How to Raise a Wild Childby Scott Sampson, a book that encourages outdoor connections and play as a part of a healthy childhood. Free books are available before the Summit by calling (937) 433-5155 x 228. After the discussion, Hike it Baby will lead a causal stroll around the library grounds.
The afternoon will include ample opportunity to network and explore the Summit’s expo, in addition to award presentations, a keynote and more:
- OUTstanding Teacher Awards: Awarded annually, the OUTstanding Teacher Awards are given to teachers who provide their students with unique opportunities to connect with nature.
- “Building Brains Through Outdoor Play:” Dr. John. Duby, a professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine and vice president for Academic Affairs and Community Health at Dayton Children’s Hospital, will highlight the benefits of outdoor play related to healthy brain development during this keynote speech.
- Connect to Nature Award Presentations: Sites that have been certified by Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside will be recognized for providing nature-based outdoor experiences for children.
- Youth Panel Discussion: Five Rivers MetroParks educator, Allison Zimmerman, will moderate a discussion on youth perspectives, leadership and actions required to spread awareness of the benefits of children being outside.
“Children who spend time outdoors are often happier, healthier and smarter,” said Doug Horvath, Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside board member. “The Summit fosters that message while empowering those invested in childhood development with the tools they need to facilitate these important experiences.”
Five Rivers MetroParks, Dayton Children’s and the Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside Collaborative (MVLNCI), a chapter of the statewide Leave No Child Inside initiative, are presenting the Summit.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, children who spend time in nature have increased fitness levels, score higher on standardized tests and have lower stress levels than children who spend their time indoors. However, the average American child spends as little as 30 minutes of unstructured time playing outside each day and more than seven hours in front of a screen. The result is an effect dubbed “nature deficit disorder” by Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network.