Monday, February 1, 2010

For the Sake of Green Space

We didn't have the money to take long rode trips to amusement parks and family resorts, so the nearby park became an integral part of my growing up. One particular summer, my Dad created what we called Camp Bullock. Every day that summer my Dad took us to Franklin Park. Some days it was just sandwiches and a cooler full of iced tea. Other days it was a full scale cookout with some of our cousins. No matter who was there, we managed to use our imaginations.

In that park were the foundational remains of Ralph Waldo Emerson's house. We didn't know we were standing in the ruins of an intellectual great. What we did know is that we were standing in a castle. I, as the youngest girl, was the beautiful and rebellious princess. And despite the coaxing of my sister, the queen, I refused to marry the Prince of Spain.

These were the silly games of a childhood, but they illustrate the inherent importance of exposing our youth to green space. The complaint among nutritionists is about obesity in children, and while it is important to change our kids' diets it is also important to add physical fitness into one's lifestyle. Parents should be able to facilitate regular physical activity for their children.

"Go play," my father often instructed almost soon as the sun came out. His job was pretty low maintenance. My parents bought sports equipment and groceries, mother prepared our food, and my father drove us all. After we set up at our table, my father would sit under a tree and read a book or write a sermon while the six of us continued on pretending the park was some uncharted wilderness. Once you provide for outdoor time, children will make fun out of nothing, even if they are initially blinded by complaints.

Protect our green space in the interest of protecting our youth. Help them develop a relationship and appreciation for the outdoors and you will be defending their health and enriching their development.

-Karen Bullock

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