The TurfMutt Foundation, Submitted
The TurfMutt Foundation encourages outdoor learning, stewardship of our green spaces, and care for all living landscapes. Visit www.turfmuttblog.com for outdoor activity ideas. Here’s some of its resources.
Creative Writing: TurfMutt’s digital storybooks might inspire your child to create their own story, and TurfMutt has an online story creator to help! Your child simply adds their name, selects their age range, and off they go. There’s no chance for writer’s block with TurfMutt’s story idea spinner, which suggests imaginative topics at the click of a button. With countless combination options, your child can create multiple tales. There is even a drawing screen so your student can add illustrations.
Outdoor-Themed Activity Sheets for Kids in Grades K-8: The TurfMutt activity sheets are where the screen time ends. The hands-on TurfMutt activities are based on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles and prompt kids to go outside to learn about the green space around them.
Digital Storybooks: TurfMutt offers tales for kids to enjoy, including “Saving the Planet, One Yard at a Time.”
Climate Quest Game: TurfMutt’s Climate Quest game is at the head of the class. The interactive video game challenges children to answer questions correctly to help TurfMutt and his sidekicks the Outdoor Powers move through the climate regions on an interactive map of the United States.
Educational Videos: When it’s time to wind down for the day, sometimes there is nothing better than a video. TurfMutt has several educational short movies that cover topics about living landscapes. They teach children how to help their families be good environmental stewards of the green space around them.
While adults are home teleworking, and kids are at home participating in online educational instruction (we hope), it’s even more important during these challenging times to take a moment to get out into the family yard. The TurfMutt Foundation reminds families that nature starts right outside your back door. Let the proven benefits green space give us a break from being cooped up inside. Listen to the birds. Watch the trees. Curl your toes in the grass. Work outside planting and preparing for the budding spring, or even mow the lawn.
“Numerous studies have found that people who spend more time outside with their families and pets exposed to living landscapes are happier, healthier and smarter. It’s great to know being outside is good for you,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO, of the TurfMutt Foundation.
Researchers have studied the impact of nature on human well-being for years, but recent studies have found a more direct correlation between human health, particularly related to stress, and the importance of people’s access to nature and managed landscapes.
Getting dirty is actually good for you. Soil is the new Prozac, according to Dr. Christopher Lowry, a neuroscientist at the University of Bristol in England. Mycobacterium vaccae in soil mirrors the effect on neurons that Prozac provides. The bacterium stimulates serotonin production, which explains why people who spend time gardening, doing yard work, and have direct contact with soil feel more relaxed and happier.
Living near living landscapes can improve your mental health. Researchers in England found that people moving to greener areas experienced an immediate improvement in mental health that was sustained for at least three years after they moved. The study also showed that people relocating to a more developed area suffered a drop in mental health. Greening of vacant urban areas in Philadelphia reduced feelings of depression by 41.5% and reduced poor mental health by 62.8% for those living near the vacant lots, according to a study by a research team.
Green spaces can make you healthier too. People who live within a half mile of green space were found to have a lower incidence of fifteen diseases by Dutch researchers — including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and migraines. A 2015 study found that people living on streets with more trees had a boost in heart and metabolic health. Studies show that tasks conducted under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result. Spending time in gardens, for instance, can improve memory performance and attention span by 20 percent.
Living landscapes make you smarter. Children gain attention and working memory benefits when they are exposed to greenery, says a study led by Payam Dadvand of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona. In addition, exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children.
This applies to adults as well. Research has also shown that being around plants helps you concentrate better at home and at work. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair in International Floriculture believes that spending time in gardens can improve attention span and memory performance by as much as 20 percent.
A National Institutes of Health study found that adults demonstrate significant cognitive gains after going on a nature walk. In addition, a Stanford University study found that walking in nature, rather than a concrete-oriented, urban environment, resulted in decreased anxiety, rumination, and negative affect, and produced cognitive benefits, such as increased working memory performance.
Living landscapes help you heal faster. Multiple studies have discovered that plants in hospital recovery rooms or views of aesthetically-pleasing gardens help patients heal up to one day faster than those who are in more sterile or austere environments.
Physicians are now prescribing time outdoors for some patients, according to recent reports. Park Rx America is a nonprofit with a mission to encourage physicians to prescribe doses of nature.
All of these benefits reinforce the importance of maintaining our green spaces. Trees, shrubs, grass, and flowering plants are integral to human health. Not only do they provide a place for kids and pets to play, they directly contribute to our mental and physical well-being.