Sunday, April 2
Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park, IL
Children spend less and less time playing and learning in the outdoors, but a new award-winning documentary, NaturePlay, argues that schools and communities can help children reclaim the freedom and wonder of unstructured time in nature. The documentary will be screened on April 2 at Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, IL through a partnership between Heller Nature Center and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. The screening will be immediately followed by a panel discussion with local education experts who are working to bring nature play back into our schools and communities. Guests will also be invited to enjoy a tour of Heller Nature Center's own nature play space, Wander Woods. The entire event is free and open to the community.
National surveys conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicate that the average 8-to-18-year-old spends an average of 7.5 hours on electronic devices every day. At the same time, the amount of time children spend on outdoor activities has halved over the period of just one generation, according to a University of Michigan analysis. And in our schools, recess has been on the decline. A Center for Education Policy study found that a fifth of schools decreased recess in the 2000s, by an average of 50 minutes per week.
Filmed in Scandinavian countries and the U.S., NaturePlay provides a window into how a connection to nature plays a key role in childhood growth and development. The documentary features interviews with educators, parents, researchers, and other advocates for making the outdoors a part of childhood again. It runs 52 minutes.The screening will be followed by a moderated conversation on what is and can be done in our communities to provide children with regular opportunities to experience the benefits of access to nature.
- Naomi D. Hershiser, Dean of Environmental Programs at Prairie Crossing Charter School
- Jessica Reyes, Naturalist at the Park District of Highland Park's Heller Nature Center
- Liza Sullivan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Early Childhood.
The discussion will be facilitated by Emilian Geczi, Director of the Natural Start Alliance, a project of the North American Association for Environmental Education.
At Heller Nature Center, 2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park, IL
Phone: 847.433.6901. FREE. Registration is recommended. Register below or call 224.633.2426.