Thursday, 17 September 2015

More green spaces at schools 'beneficial in the mental development of children'

Generally speaking, more greenery is good for you:
Futures Forum: "Green spaces in town and cities create immediate and long lasting improvements in people's wellbeing."

Recent research shows that it is particularly good for children:

Green Spaces Can Boost Mental Development Of Schoolchildren

Children’s overall working memory (short-term memory) improved by 23 percent when there was more green spaces surrounding them.
By Julie Sabino julie.s@hngn.com | Jun 15, 2015 12:50 AM EDT
Exposure to green space improves the cognitive performance of children. (Photo : Google Commons)
A new study suggests that putting more green spaces at schools is beneficial in the mental development of children.
Earlier studies found that green spaces help improve the well-being of city dwellers, keep one from being sad, increase birth weight, improve the symptoms of ADHD and deliver lasting mental health benefits. Now, a new study led by Dr. Payam Dadvand from the Center for Research and Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain, found that green spaces within and around schools can boost the mental development, particularly the short-term memory, of schoolchildren. The study, published in the June 15 issue ofProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to observe this kind of impact.
The researchers studied 2,593 kids, between the ages of 7 and 10, in 36 schools in Spain. The team changed the degree of greenness in their school areas, and assessed the participants' mental development every three months to see if it was affected.
After a year of follow-ups, the researchers observed that the schoolchildren's overall working memory (short-term memory) improved by 23 percent, while their superior working memory (ability to update memories and information) was enhanced by 15 percent. The children's inattentiveness decreased by 19 percent, according to the Guardian.
"Natural environments, including green spaces, provide children with unique opportunities such as inciting engagement, risk-taking, discovery, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states (including sense of wonder) and enhancing psychological restoration," wrote the authors of the study. "Our findings suggest a beneficial impact of green space exposure on cognitive development, with part of this effect resulting from buffering against such urban environmental pollutants."
The researchers recommend changes to the school's environment, like adding more green spaces, planting trees and using less concrete.
"The results fit with previous findings that views of nature help children and adults lower stress and perform mental tasks better," said Sally Augustin, a psychologist in La Grange Park, Ill., to the Washington Post. She was not part of the study.
Green Spaces Can Boost Mental Development Of Schoolchildren : News : Headlines & Global News
Study finds that exposure to green spaces improves the cognitive abilities of children - Science - News - The Independent

See also:
Why green space matters for health and wellbeing | News | Sustainable Procurement | Action Sustainability
Greenery promotes mental development in primary children / RHS Campaign for School Gardening

The Friends of the Byes has spent a lot of time working with children and schools:
Futures Forum: Friends of the Byes: spring projects
Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project

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