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Do Children have an Inherent Right to Play Outdoors?

When I was a child, growing up in the 1960’s, we spent literally hours each day outside, immersed in nature. As soon as we came home from school, we changed out of our school clothes and into our play clothes. We were required to change because our parents knew that when we played outside, we would be coming home dirty. It was expected that children preferred to play outdoors and even on the rare occasion that we resisted, my mom would practically push us outdoors, saying “It’s too nice outside for you kids to be indoors”. Although, in truth, we played outdoors no matter what the weather and I have many fond memories of running outside in our yard in the rain or bundling up in winter clothing and playing outside for hours. No one questioned a child’ right to play outdoors.

In fact, most people born prior to 1970 had a similar experience growing up and can recall long hours outdoors while the adults had no idea where we were or how high we were climbing. Our parents trusted us. When and why did we become a culture that places no priority on children playing outdoors?

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