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Green schoolyards 'can benefit schoolchildren physically and mentally'

20/09/2017 Joanna

Giving children access to high-quality green school grounds can deliver a range of benefits for their physical and mental health.

This is according to a new study from the US presented at the recent American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition, which indicated that refurbishing outdoor play areas on school premises can offer numerous advantages when it comes to children's wellbeing.

Summarising the findings of existing peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the benefits of green schoolyards, it was found that providing access to safe, natural areas can help to enhance academic outcomes, beneficial play, physical activity and mental health.

Specifically, it was indicated that heart health, weight management, stress levels and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were all improved by the presence of green schoolyards, with a number of cities in the US having already moved to implement such projects on the basis of this evidence.

Dr Stephen Pont, assistant professor of paediatrics at the UT-Austin Dell Medical School, said: "Green schoolyards can include outdoor classrooms, native gardens, storm water capture, traditional play equipment, vegetable gardens, trails, trees and more. And outside of school time, these schoolyards can be open for the surrounding community to use, benefitting everyone."

Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, added that too many children lack access to high-quality school grounds, with many areas providing only a "barren asphalt playground or a concrete slab surrounded by chain link fence - a completely unsuitable environment for children's play".

As such, the report called for more schools to invest in green schoolyards in order to make sure more students have a chance to experience a healthy outdoor environment as part of their daily lives.

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