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Mother Nature’s Child: Growing Outdoors In The Media Age

Airs Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: A woman and child take a closer look at a piece of fruit from a tree in the film "Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors In The Media Age."

"Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors In The Media Age" explores nature's powerful role in children's health and development through the experience of toddlers, children in middle childhood and adolescents.

A young boy plays outdoors by a creek in the film "Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors In The Media Age."
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Above: A young boy plays outdoors by a creek in the film "Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors In The Media Age."

The film marks a moment in time when a living generation can still recall childhoods of free play outdoors; this will not be true for most children growing up today. The effects of "nature deficit disorder" are now being noted across the country in epidemics of child obesity, attention disorders and depression.

The film asks the questions: Why do children need unstructured time outside? What is the place of risk-taking in healthy child development? How is play a form of learning? Why are teachers resistant to taking students outside? How can city kids connect with nature? What does it mean to educate the 'whole' child?

Visually rich, inflected with humor and the unexpected, the film is stirring intense discussion among parents, teachers and health professions nationwide.

The film was shot from the wilds of Vermont to Washington, D.C. and sought the voices of many adult experts including Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods"; Brother Yusuf Burgess who works with inner city teens in Albany, N.Y.; David Sobel, author of "Children’s Special Places" and "Childhood and Nature" and leader in the field of place-based education; Yale professor Stephen Kellert, PhD.; Nancy Bell, director of The Conservation Fund in Vt./N.H.; Misha Golfman, Director of Kroka Expeditions in Marlow, N.H.; Vermont teacher Rob Hanson, who regularly incorporates outdoor nature connection in his sixth grade public school curriculum; Jon Young, California tracker and author of "Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature," Pearline Tyson of the Parks & People Foundation and the founders of the Holistic Life Foundation in Baltimore, Md.; and Amy Beam, founder of Beyond the Walls in Washington, D.C.

Video

Trailer: Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors In The Media Age

Above: Today nature deficit disorder threatens the health and well-being of our children. "Mother Nature's Child" addresses this threat and explores the benefits of time in nature.