Childhood has changed

Kids today build internet sites instead of constructing forts in the woods. Music piped into earphones has replaced listening for the sounds of bird calls and frog croaks. Cell phones and emails are more efficient than two cups on a string or flashlight signals. Childhood has changed.

Unstructured play outside – child-centered, exploratory, imaginative play – is important for wholesome, balanced development of cognitive, emotional, social, and physical aptitude. Research has demonstrated that outdoor play helps children manage stress and become resilient. Natural spaces stimulate children’s limitless imaginations and foster creativity and children who connect with nature may be more inventive and better problem solvers due to the hands-on learning that the outdoors provides.

Young people who grow up spending time in nature are also more likely to be strong advocates for the environment when they reach voting age. This is important to ensure that the land, water and wildlife legacy we as a nation have spent the last 200 years working to conserve continues to benefit future generations.

As kids have settled in to a sedentary lifestyle, their physical, mental and emotional health has suffered:

* The percentage of obese youths has tripled in the last decade.
* A child is 6 times more likely to play a video game on a typical day than to ride a bike, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the CDC.
* Almost 50% of 4- to 6-year olds have TVS in their bedrooms.  And after age 8, “screen time” – TV plus computers and other electronic media – soared to 6.5 hours a day, on average.

Source: The Children & Nature Network

The NJSACC Annual Afterschool Conference “Outdoors in the Garden State“  is addressing the issue of “Nature Deficit Disorder”. When you select your workshops, keep the above focus in mind.
Childhood has changed-what is your role as an afterschool professional ?

At the Friday  afternoon Reception , NJSACC will be launching our campaign – Celebrate Afterschool: Outdoors in The Garden State.

This  campaign is to promote more and better afterschool and to link it with children’s experience outdoors. This celebration will bring afterschool programs outside and connect them with their communities through meaningful and fun programs and activities-from planting gardens to designing playgrounds.There will be opportunities for local afterschool programs, community leaders, parents, schools, environmental groups and others to build new partnerships on behalf of children.

So when you register please stay for the Friday  reception.Check off the Reception box on the registration form.
There will be giveaways, great food and music to help us launch: Celebrate Afterschool: Outdoors in the Garden State

We have over 250 folks registered so far! Register for the conference ASAP!


Any questions regarding the conference contact Jessica Heiberg at NJSACC’s office @ 908.789.0259 .

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