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Natural Awakenings New York City

Green Amidst the Gray

Green CityWritten by Ayla Lorelei

Growing up in New York City, everyone had their own story to tell. A childhood in the Big Apple is never boring, and being at the forefront of cultural diversity, there are plenty of things to learn in the city that kids can’t find anywhere else. On the other end of the spectrum, however, there are plenty that kids growing up in New York can miss out on. With the apartment complexes and big businesses all around, towering skyscrapers, and old, industrial buildings, New York can be a veritable urban jungle, and when you live in a bustling city like this, it’s easy to lose touch with nature.

We’re living in an increasingly digital and technological world, and some parents find themselves asking, “Is it really that important to get kids in touch with nature?” As Richard Louv tells Scholastic’s Parent & Child, encouraging outdoor play actually has great benefits, such as helping kids to focus. "When a child is out in nature, all the senses get activated," he says. "He is immersed in something bigger than himself, rather than focusing narrowly on one thing, such as a computer screen. He's seeing, hearing, touching, even tasting. Out in nature, a child's brain has the chance to rejuvenate, so the next time he has to focus and pay attention, perhaps in school, he'll do better."

Of course, it may seem like a difficult task, to get your children in touch with nature in a place as known for its industrialization as New York City. Luckily, there are over 1,700 parks scattered across the Big Apple, from the renowned Central Park to the Atrium at the Ford Foundation, there is plenty to explore for kids and their parents alike, and considering that many of these park remain secret, parents may even find themselves enjoying exploring as well.

The most important thing to remember about taking your kids out to experience nature, however, is to make sure they enjoy it. At an age when kids are more likely to enjoy sitting down and playing a video game, building a healthy relationship with nature is important. Don’t let them develop an attitude where they see taking time out to visit a park as a chore. Make sure they’re comfortable, and that you make the trip enjoyable for them. The first step is to prepare for the trip well – dress them in a comfortable outfit of their favorite walking or running shoes, a nice, soft shirt, and breathable denim shorts, and help them prepare their pack-up. Prepare their favorite snacks for the trip, and even bring their favorite activity books so you can have a picnic in the park.

Although we’re rapidly pushing towards modernization, and it’s hard not to be swept by the tide of digital and technological learning, it’s important to strike a balance between this and a healthy relationship with nature. By exploring the many green spaces amidst the New York grays, you can help your kids appreciate nature, and learn to love everything New York has to offer.