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Children are spending less time outdoors than ever before in human history. The term “Nature-Deficit Disorder,” coined by Richard Louv in 2005, describes the human costs of alienation from nature. The Children & Nature Network is home to an expanding body of scientific evidence which suggests that “nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity,” and to a devaluing of independent play. Nonetheless, we believe that society’s nature-deficit disorder can be reversed.”
Our mission is to build environmental leaders to drive climate solutions, and we know that time engaged in outdoor activities influences a feeling of connection to nature and leads to environmental stewardship. Research shows that children’s daily contact with nature supports: