Archive for the ‘Children & Nature’ Category

Children in Crisis; 2/3rds Failing Fitness Tests!

What do you mean exercise? Where's the Food!

Two years ago Texas became the first state to mandate annual fitness testing. More than two-thirds of Texas school children flunked the state’s physical fitness test this year. A state analysis last year found that schools with better fitness results also had higher academic performance and fewer discipline problems.

Think about this! This is appalling! What is our nation doing to its children? When I was in school we had 1 hour of physical education every day, which we called “phys ed”. We, the girls, did not like it because it messed up our hair, we got sweaty, had to shower (which messed up our hair, again) and always wished for it to occur 6th period, the last period of the day. It was REQUIRED. It was not an elective. I had to take it from grade three through grade 12. My hair was always a mess by fourth period because I always seemed to have “phys ed” during one of the first 3 periods of the day.

I have already stated the case in a previous post about computers, TV, video games, cell phones, etc., and their dramatic impact on children and their physical experience with the outdoors, nature, and play. But, please forgive me; every time I read something like this I become angry at the lack of common sense and compassion regarding our nation’s children and their health. I read nearly every day about the amazing government waste of our monetary resources that go to politicians, their donors, defense contractors with their cost overruns, teacher unions who spend thousands on lobbying politicians for political favors, etc.

None of these people care about our children. They care about their bank accounts and power. It is all about Power and Money! (You see it really does raise the hackles within me!) By the way, many politicians, teachers, contractors, and those in government or corporate power send their children to private schools where they have the best education with the best physical plant facilities, and lots of private lessons, whose teachers are not tenured. The rest of the population send their children to dilapidated, deteriorating, school buildings, with cafeterias stocking coke and snack machines for money, using tattered books and sub standard classrooms, staffed with teachers protected by tenure even when they molest children.

I thought our high property taxes paid for the public school system? Who wants to bet that your taxes are used in other places and not your schools? Maybe some of your money funds the nearly bankrupted retirement accounts of public government employees? Even President Obama will not send his daughters to the public school system of Washington, DC, the nation’s capital! He wants them to get a good education so they can go to the top flight universities in our country. You know what, I wouldn’t send my sons to those schools either.

If any of these people of power really cared they would be pouring our resources (your property tax money) and their focus into our children and their future, who are the future of the United States of America. We have become a nation of greed and disregard. Our children are the victims. Just look around you in your malls, grocery stores, churches, and neighborhoods. The world is passing us by and we are sacrificing what many other countries will not sacrifice, the children.

Now read what it takes to pass a physical fitness test in Texas if your child is 12 years of age:

To be considered physically fit a 12-year-old boy is expected to:

• Complete one-mile run in no more than 10 minutes, 30 seconds
• Have a body fat percentage of 25 or less
• Perform 18 curl-ups (tests abdominal strength)
• Perform nine trunk lifts (tests trunk strength)
• Perform 10 push-ups (tests upper-body strength)
• Sit with one knee bent and one leg straightened against a box, then reach fingers within 8   inches of the box (tests flexibility)

A 12-year-old girl must:

• Complete a 1-mile run in no more than 12 minutes
• Have a body fat percentage of 32 or less
• Perform 18 curl-ups
• Perform nine trunk lifts
• Perform seven push-ups
• Sit with one knee bent and one leg straightened against a box, then reach fingers within 10 inches of the box

Can you imagine what children will look like in the next 5 years if we do not place an emphasis on nutrition in our school cafeterias, physical fitness in our school programs, and outdoor programs that take children back to nature and the woods? No skin off my nose. My sons were raised in the woods, ate from our garden, and are strong, healthy, educated, and successful. I appeal to the parents of the millions of small ones, who need their parents to speak for them, to rise up, and demand what is rightfully theirs. You do pay the property tax money which goes to all the governments, local, state and federal. Why are we quiet as they take our treasure and split it up amongst themselves? Why is there no public outcry in defense of our small children?

I cannot be the only one who thinks about this?

Some Random Observations – Danny & The Raccoons

June 11, 2010 1 comment

I know I have been bending your ear lately about the benefits of exposing small children and large children to nature, parks, and the woods. I have been saying how important it is to allow them to roam freely in nature so they may discover the exhilaration of discovery and the freedom of self expression. Thank you for your patience as I have expounded upon these important issues.

Now I want to share with you a story about Danny and the Raccoons. I am an interior designer in the day. This is my real job as writing does not allow me to earn a living. I was hired to renovate a home in the Smoky Mountains and I sent my Maryland crew down to do the demolition and construction. I met them down there one week into the job. We stayed in the home as it was large enough for all of us to have our privacy. There is a balcony on the second floor level off the pool room and their bedrooms. There is a large Mulberry tree growing next to the balcony and it is in full bloom and filled with berries, which drop to the ground and on to the deck. The berries are great food for the birds and other wildlife.

Danny is about 50ish, can’t tell for sure. He was born and raised in Baltimore. He has lived a hard life and has sad eyes. I like him because he has a soft heart. His life has been anchored to the concrete on the streets of Baltimore. He has not known nature with its glorious spaces, peace, serenity, and adventures. He is a city boy, who never fished, hunted, or hiked through the woods.

The second night I was there he was smoking on the balcony and he heard noise in the Mulberry tree. He looked up, and looking down at him were four raccoons. They were in the tall branches munching on the berries. He froze and watched for their entire meal. They kept their eyes on him while they ate. The next morning he told me how he couldn’t believe the raccoons were so close and so unafraid of him.

The next night he took his Oreo cookies up on the deck. Sure enough, the raccoons showed up again. Danny put a cookie on the hand rail, stepped back, and waited. The largest raccoon came down out of the tree and onto the handrail to investigate the smell he caught of the cookie. He looked at Danny, who was a safe distance, picked up the cookie with his 2 paws and ate it quietly in front of him. All was at peace on the deck that night.

Danny from Baltimore was beside himself with joy the next morning. This was his first experience with a wild animal. He could talk of nothing else as we worked the next day. The next night and every night after that, until we left one week later, he would disappear up to the deck and feed his Oreo cookies to the raccoons. They came closer, but not too close, and he communed with them. He would talk about it the next day telling us all the details. This was an experience he would take back to the streets of Baltimore. He was genuinely excited and touched.

Before we left he took the remaining Oreo cookies up to the handrail on the deck and spread them out so the raccoons would have something to eat that night as he drove home to Baltimore.

50ish Danny would never be the same. He had experienced the phenomenon of the natural world. His hard leather face softened a bit. We said goodbye as I left for the airport. I thanked him for the good job he did and he asked me when he could come back to Tennessee again to work on another job with me.

Nature softens and preserves human hearts, no matter the age.

Looking at Me

Where's my Oreo?

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