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Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation introduces its first Nature Explorer Zone at Reedy Creek Nature Center in Reedy Creek Nature Preserve. The Nature Explorer Zone is an outdoor adventure space designed to enhance nature play and exploration, while reconnecting children with the beauty and wonder of nature.
Our new Nature Explorer Zone was designed by a focus group of area children, stakeholders/partners, staff, and outside consultants including Dimension Educational Research Foundation; an affiliate of the Arbor Day Foundation. Robin Moore; nature play advocate and author also served as program consultant for this project. The site features nine interactive areas intended to encourage outdoor play, creativity, and unstructured learning. Some of these areas include: music and movement, climbing and crawling, children's gardens, and "messy materials." The Nature Explorer Zone also includes a "Bird's Eye View" tree house for loads of interactive play, art nooks, and a sand hut.
The Importance of Nature Exploration The goal of the Nature Explorer Zone is to reconnect children with nature by creating positive bonds between them and the natural environment. Recent studies have shown that children today have become disconnected from nature and spend less time outdoors. In a 2000 study of children ages six through eight, researchers Hoffert and Sandberg found that between the years 1981 and 1997, the amount of time spent outside had decreased by 4 hours per week.
The effect of this decrease in unstructured outdoor play has recently been coined "nature-deficit disorder" by author and child advocate Richard Louv. According to his research, nature-deficit disorder plays a role in childhood obesity, a fear and dislike of nature, and increased use in behavior-regulating medication.
Join us in our pledge and show your support Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation believes outdoor nature play is essential to a child's development— intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically. By providing a safe place for nature play and exploration we hope to help facilitate learning during critical childhood development periods. Research shows that connecting children to nature during these critical periods improves creativity, strengthens problem-solving, and supports emotional and intellectual development. Show your support and join us in our pledge to have "No Child Left Inside".