There is a growing consensus that children need appreciable contact with nature to promote and maintain their physical and mental health. Time spent in nature can “significantly reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, reduce stress among highly stressed children, and boost their cognitive functioning. For inner city youth, even a view of green settings enhances peace, self-control, and self-discipline.” However, children are now spending a great deal of time indoors where electronic immersion, indoor confinement and structured activities have become a social norm. A study conducted at the University of Maryland found a 50% decline from 1997 to 2002 in the proportion of children ages 9-12 who spent significant time engaged in outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, gardening or playing at the beach.
Multi-day outdoor environmental education has been shown to increase positive environmental behaviors at home and school and to raise science test scores by 27%, while also resulting in long- term improvements in students’ self esteem, behavior in class, problem solving, and leadership skills.
Unfortunately, many students and/or schools cannot afford to pay for these programs. Disadvantaged students miss out on a myriad of important educational and developmental experiences. This lack of exposure means that low-income, inner-city children often tend to lack an expansive context for building their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
PaperSeed helped make outdoor education a reality by providing necessary sleeping accommodation for the children of Vida Verde.
The Sioux-style teepees we use are very authentic, and are “living artifacts” that make it possible for the students to experience what a nomadic culture experienced hundreds of years ago.
-Vida Verde, in their own words