Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration to support environmental issues and in 1990 it became a global event. Earth Day is currently the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by over a billion people in 192 countries. This year Earth Day also marks the first anniversary of the signing of the Paris Accord on Climate Change.
To build a world that values the environment and supports sustainable communities, we must have educated citizens. Education is the foundation for progress. The goal of this year’s Earth Day campaign is to ensure that every student around the world becomes an environmental and climate literate citizen by Earth Day 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. To this end, April 22 has been designated the start of Climate Education Week, which will run through April 29, 2017. Educators are encouraged to incorporate climate and environmental curriculum into their lesson plans for that week.
On April 22, many rallies and marches are planned in cities around the world to highlight the importance of science education in today’s society as well as lectures stressing how science serves everyone.
It is Canada’s 150th birthday this year and across the country our great outdoors are being highlighting. The Canadian theme “EarthPLAY for Earth Day 2017: Connect to your Nature!” goes hand in hand with that initiative.
Remember when you were a kid? Did you climb trees, build forts, ride your bike, get your hands dirty and play outside with your friends? (Without adult supervision or interference, as long as you made it home for supper!) This type of play is rapidly disappearing from our world. Most kids today spend less than an hour a day outside, being driven by their parents between indoor activities. Kids who don’t get outside to be stimulated by their environment have no motivation to protect it. How can you miss what you have never experienced?
The objective of EarthPLAY is to make self-directed outdoor play a natural part the day-to-day lives of children, to highlight the importance of freely chosen outdoor play as a vital determinant of health and social wellbeing, to strengthen kids’ connection to nature and deepen their respect for the earth.
Adventure playgrounds give kids an opportunity to be creative, to be co-operative, to work with their peers towards a common goal, and just have fun and get dirty. (It is also a great opportunity to recycle many of the items that would otherwise just go to a landfill.) The more time children spend playing in nature, the more likely they are to become motivated to protect it. Letting kids experience the outdoors with all their senses will lead to a respect and awe for their environment which can be achieved no other way and will last them a lifetime.
This Earth Day let’s all get outside and play!!