Today’s guest blogger, Bethe Almeras, is the Senior Manger for Family Programs for the National Wildlife Federation. She is the Campaign Manager for Green Hour®, which urges parents to give their kids a “Green Hour” every day, a time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world.
Green Hour: Taking Back Childhood One Kid at a Time
by Bethe Almeras
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, educator, or aunt, you have no doubt noticed the change in the American childhood. Neighborhoods are quiet — backyards, sidewalks, and parks are virtually empty. Scraped knees and elbows have been replaced by expanding waistbands and repetitive motion injuries. Free time has been replaced by structure, and a typical kid’s schedule is something to rival that of a Fortune 500 CEO’s.
The National Wildlife Federation and its website, Green Hour, is concerned with getting kids outside again. We want kids to have time to be kids. Real kids. Kids who run, laugh, jump, fall down, and figure out the world around them and their place in it. Kids who know the joy of the feeling of grass under their feet or the sense of wonder inspired by hiking a new trail or wading in a creek. Kids who have the time and encouragement to make these discoveries.
Simply put, what we want is childhood back. Not the overstressed, overscheduled, fast-tracked, plugged-in version that passes for childhood today. It will take all of us to do this. We need to make choices as parents to reduce our screen time and that of our children, and to make time for things that matter — eating dinner together, taking walks, planting a garden and the thousand other real-world activities that should be the cornerstone of childhood and adulthood alike. It’s not enough to get the time back. We have to be willing to put the time to good use.