Inspire your kids to enjoy your yard while de-stressing in turbulent times
The green space in our yards and neighborhoods is more important now than ever, says the TurfMutt Foundation which directs the TurfMutt environmental education and stewardship program. With millions sheltering at home due to COVID-19 and adults teleworking and kids doing online instruction, everyone needs the re-charge found in nature. Thankfully for many, that’s just outside their backdoors.
“The natural, proven benefits of green space give everyone – adults, kids and pets - a break from being cooped up inside,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Foundation and guardian of the TurfMutt spokesdog, Mulligan. “Mutt Mulligan” was rescued last fall during Lucky’s Mutt Madness event, an annual adoption event sponsored by the TurfMutt Foundation, GIE+EXPO and the Kentucky Human Society.
The TurfMutt Foundation offers free, online activities and lesson plans, e-books and gamesdesigned for students in grades K-8 with the help of educational leader, Scholastic. The materials are designed to teach kids about the value of the outdoors, the benefits of being in nature, and to inspire them to get outside – all of which can be done at home and in the backyard.
“Our TurfMutt curriculum was chosen by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Global Learning Lab, as well as by Scholastic, as at-home resources to keep kids occupied and learning during the self-quarantining many families are engaged in,” says Kiser. “Our program inspires kids to not only learn about the value of our green spaces, but to care for them too, while learning valuable science lessons.”
The free, standards-aligned STEM youth curriculum that families can do at home, right in their back yards can be accessed at http://www.scholastic.com/turfmutt/
Kiser adds, “Now is the perfect time for parents to point kids to TurfMutt lessons and ebooks at TurfMutt.com. They can stay busy while mom and dad are working, and then everyone can get out in the backyard for some time together, such as getting their feet in the grass (if it’s warm enough), listening to the birds, identifying plants and preparing for the budding spring season. Or even do a science lesson with the kids.”
Science has proven being an “outsider” is one of the best things we can do for our health and well-being. In fact, studies prove that spending time in our green spaces reduces stress, improves memory, boosts heart health, and offers a host of other benefits for our minds and bodies.
Numerous studies have found that people who spend more time outside with their families and pets exposed to living landscapes are happier, healthier and smarter. Researchers have studied the impact of nature on human well-being for years, but recent studies have found a more direct correlation between human health, particularly related to stress, and the importance of people’s access to nature and managed landscapes. See the TurfMutt Foundation’s fact book of third-party resources and statistics on these topics.
“We all need the stress relief that nature can provide right now,” said Kiser. “Let the natural, proven benefits of green space in your yard give you a break.”
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat is featured in the 2017-2019 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information at www.TurfMutt.com.
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