Nature Deficit Disorder

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder is a 2005 book by author Richard Louv that documents decreased exposure of children to nature in American society and how this “nature-deficit disorder” harms children and society. The book examines research and concludes that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. The author also suggests solutions to the problems he describes. (taken from Wikipedia) I read this book a few years ago. As I grew up next to the mountains I found it to be enjoyable reading, but it really enlightened me to the lives of city dwellers. For example, some urban poor never ever get to see anything but cement. I remember once upon a time in the eighties, my sister lived on Cape Cod with some family members’ and when she returned, she said she’d met a guy there from New York City who couldn’t tolerate the open spaces and went kind of crazy. I guess I didn’t know what that meant since New York City was a far off place from the high mountain desert, nor did I really care, but it struck me as a little weird. Well, when I first discovered Wall Street and to me it really looked like a big wall, I started to feel my own version of “nature deficit disorder.” I have been to NYC a few times as a tourist, but I don’t know how people can stand it there long term; to be a wealthy person there with only balcony and a tree is not good enough for me. I’m not picking on New York City though. I believe the book referred to inner city Los Angeles at least once and it enlightened me on the wealth and luck of a person born near the natural spaces. Unfortunately, people are not visiting nature and exploring like in times of past. The computer has lured a generation of people, but the virtual world can’t compare. However, some cannot help it due to the urban circumstances of their birth. The book Seedfolks by: Paul Fleishman is also a really inspiring short story about the benefits of community and nature even in seemingly modest circumstances. If you live in an urban place and don’t have much money, save your money, get a bus ticket, and ride it to the prettiest place bus fare can buy. If you are lucky enough to live in beautiful surroundings, take advantage of it. If you can, take your child or the child of the single mom who needs a break, away from the computer or tv for a few hours with you.

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