VALPARAISO, Ind., June 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Looking to promote healthy development, well-being and positive attitudes for your kids? One solution may be the natural world around us.
Studies show that children who spend time in nature improve both mentally and emotionally, and that children who take part in school gardening projects improve in scientific learning more than those who do not.
The Nature Conservancy wants kids to spend more time in the great outdoors. To do that, the Conservancy is offering a piece of land in the Children of Indiana Nature Park to every K-12 student in the state.
The Children of Indiana Nature Park was created by a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Cope Environmental Center, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Education.
Each K-12 child in Indiana can claim their very own personal "Nature IN-Deed," with a geographic coordinate to a unique spot in the Children of Indiana Nature Park in Centerville, about 70 miles east of Indianapolis, near Richmond. Children can download their deed and visit their land virtually on the website www.ilovemyland.org.
"Nature helps our children learn, grow, and thrive," said Melissa Moran of The Nature Conservancy. "Nature can also make a difference in the classroom. Kids who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests." Moran, citing studies from Landscape and Urban Planning, said that exposure to nature during school hours is associated with positive student performance.
Moran added, "the Children of Indiana Nature Park can serve as a springboard, inviting kids to reconnect to nature and start exploring our natural world."
Children unable to visit the Park in person can still enjoy nature near them. The Bicentennial Nature Center Network, a network of 20 nature centers around Indiana, offers children and families opportunities to learn more about nature in their local communities. Every Hoosier child lives within an hour's drive from a participating nature center.
Last month, 6,000 Valparaiso Community Schools students were given the gift of nature, making them all landowners.
Valparaiso Superintendent Dr. Rick Frataccia learned about the Park last year and wanted to make sure all his district's students received a deed. Since the Park opened last July, about 16,800 deeds have been claimed.
"The possibility for each of my 6,200 students to know that they owned a piece of Indiana which they received during Indiana's Bicentennial year was paramount," Dr. Frataccia said. "Clearly, learning to live with nature as opposed to overwhelming nature will significantly, in my opinion, be of greater benefit for the generations which follow my generation. Clean air, clean water and clean landscape are blessings of nature that future generations deserve and that our current generation owes to the future."
"We are blessed in northwest Indiana to have nature areas for our kids to visit and learn to appreciate," Dr. Frataccia said. "We have the lakeshore and natural geologic formations from the glacial age such as drumlin, terminal moraines as well as significant areas of wetlands. By owning a piece of Indiana, it is my hope that our kids will manifest greater oversight and care of nature than has been typically manifested."
Students agreed and cheered at the news.
"It's an amazing idea," said Angela Coulopoulos, 11, a fifth-grader at Cooks Corners Elementary. "I like nature and I want to take care of it. Maybe this will help so people will take care of it more."
For more information about the Children of Indiana Nature Park or to help a student claim an IN-Deed, visit ilovemyland.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, Conservancy staff create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. The Conservancy is tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, the organization uses a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org/indiana
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SOURCE The Nature Conservancy