There are many benefits of getting outside and into one of our TN State Parks. Beauty, fresh air and exercise are just a few. There are so many more benefits though, especially for kids that can’t easily access the outdoors. Children need play, creativity, and real world experiences in nature to reap rewards like::
- Confidence building through less structured play
- Stress and anxiety reduction, leading to increased focus
- Exercise for a healthy mind and body. Movement in the outdoors promotes a healthy circulatory system, muscle and bone building and coordination.
- Increased creativity and imagination
- It teaches responsibility through the “leave no trace” philosophy
- Helps them think analytically.
We recently worked with Water Walkers to send dozens of elementary and middle school aged children to TN State Parks. Prior to going, they talked to the students about human impact on ecosystems, and why they don’t see the same animals in their neighborhoods as they do at the parks. The children loved seeing the animals and were able to catch a glimpse of some they had never seen before like turtles, deer, and Great Blue Heron. Following one of the trips, they did an activity where they circled up to create an ecosystem web using yarn to connect everyone, representing various living and non-living things within a habitat. Reflecting on the web they created by throwing the ball of yarn to one another, participants made strong connections between things like litter and its effects on soil, trees, and birds. These real world experiences and connections helped them come to some really important conclusions like how they will treat the environment. They said they weren’t’ going to litter, use a reusable water bottle, avoid single-use plastics,” and pledged not to feed wild animals.”
We need our youth to be the next and best stewards of our TN State Parks and natural areas. Without experiences like the students from Water Walkers had, we are at jeopardy for ensuring conservation. There are many barriers for these kids to get to a park and have a real experience in nature. We are working to eliminate those barriers through targeted funding to support transportation, immersive experiences. You can help by providing a donation. It only takes $10 to send a child on one of these field trips. We all deserve the benefits of being in one of our TN State Parks, don’t we?