Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ever consider swapping Screen Time for Wild Time ?

"To the making of many books Documentary Films there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh"
 Eccl 12:12

Project Wild Thing
A few nights ago my wife and I watched a documentary film called, "Project Wild Thing",  whose creator, David Bond, is intent on getting more kids off Computers and embrace more of the Natural World. Over the past two decades there has been a plethora of the usual protest-activist films created by various people with motives to create a cause for change. I actually enjoy some of these, although many of their intended message often get's lost as a result of the celebrity of the maker. The message behind many of these documentaries is to ask viewers, "What are you doing about Global Warming? Deforestation ? Fracking for Natural Gas ? Democracy in the Middle east?  Bee Colony Collapse Disorder ? Nuclear energy? Gun control? Repression in ? Russia? Burma?" In reality, what the majority of people are doing about the world's problems seems to be more about watching documentaries on them or clinking "Like" on a Facebook page about the problem. This gives most people the illusion that they are doing something, while at the same time doing nothing in the real world effort department. But pause here and ask yourself, do protest documentary films ever really change anything ? And who actually watches them ? 

Photo: Amanda Gahler

From left, Elliott Hill, Evelyn Hill, naturalist Becky McConnell and Sophia Kottke try out some pond dipping at Westwood Hills. When is the last time you saw kids trying to catch something out of curiosity and for the fun of it ?

Around the same time my wife and I watched that documentary, the next day [Dec 29th] there was an article which came out titled, "Visiting a Park could save your Life, scientists say". Actually, people shouldn't need a scientist to tell them to do something that should come to a person naturally. Unfortunately other sectors of science have created modern artificial forms of an environment telling us it is for our own good. Interesting, science fighting against other science. Scientists today do tell folks many things that have possible benefits, but most people ignore them anyway.
"City dwellers should visit parks more often and take advantage of this free and easy way to boost their physical and mental health, environmental scientists have urged."

image Bristol green
I seriously don't want to go too deeply into that article, so you can read it for yourself later. Mainly I really found the "Project Wild Thing", by David Bond more beneficial than anything I have seen in a while. Of course his organization wants global participation if possible and that is up to each individual. I'm not pushing that. What I would encourage people to do is watch the video and realize what the Industrial World's advertised lifestyle is doing to people and to their children and make a real huge effort to personally make changes in their lifestyle and for the benefit of their children. This type of thing should be taught in Schools, but it won't. Industrial countries main focus is always about Career and personal economic status. As David Bond pointed out, the world's advertising is powerful and mostly dumbs people down making them lazy. What was fascinating about the beginning of the video was David Bond having a tough time getting his kids dressed while they were kicking and screaming that they didn't want to go outside. His daughter loves watching TV all day. His son wants to do nothing but play video games and loves playing with guns. In one seen he takes a young boy out for a walk in the city neighbourhood and is shown that area's wild grassy strips which are mostly loaded with Dog poop. That is the lifestyle choices and environment most kids in large modern industrial cities  are accustom to. Below here is the film trailer of the actual documentary and below this I have added the link to the full 1:19.33 minutes of the entire documentary film if you would like to bookmark it for later. Oddly enough, David Bond just posted it a month ago on YouTube and it's only got 109 views thus far. Again, I'm not promoting his cause, just that parents need to watch this documentary and evaluate how they personally are raising their kids and ponder growth stunting influences what you are exposing them to.

Project Wild Thing 2013 (Full Documentary 1:19.33 minutes)
Update: March 18, 2015 - Nature: The Myopia Boom
An epidemic of myopia is flooding many of Asia's health care institutions. The cause could depend on what side of the front door you tend to prefer spending most of your time. By their very nature, all children need to exercise their eyes by seeing a variety of objects, close up and far distant, outside in bright sunlight. That’s the take-home lesson from the latest news feature in Nature, “The myopia boom.”
"This threat has prompted a rise in research to try to understand the causes of the disorder — and scientists are beginning to find answers. They are challenging old ideas that myopia is the domain of the bookish child and are instead coalescing around a new notion: that spending too long indoors is placing children at risk. “We’re really trying to give this message now that children need to spend more time outside,” says Kathryn Rose, head of orthoptics at the University of Technology, Sydney. 
image: China/Corbis
Ever notice how it seems that a good majority of Asian youth wear glasses more than other cultures ? Well, there may be a scientific reason for that. The southern city of Guangzhou has long held the largest eye hospital in China. But about five years ago, it became clear that the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center needed to expand. More and more children are arriving with the blurry distance vision caused by myopia, and with so many needing eye tests and glasses, the hospital was bursting at the seams. So the center began adding new testing rooms to make more space, by relocating some of its doctors and researchers to a local shopping mall. East Asia has been gripped by an unprecedented rise in myopia, also known as short-sightedness. Sixty years ago, 10–20% of the Chinese population was short-sighted. Today, up to 90% of teenagers and young adults are. In Seoul, an extreme 96.5% of 19-year-old men are short-sighted.

The statistics on large populations make it clear:, there is something about outdoor living which substantially reduces the risk of near-sightedness. There was a graph in this article in Nature that shows myopia skyrocketing (20% to 80%) in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore between 1940 and 2010, corresponding to less outdoor activity. The problem is so obvious enough that that leaders in Singapore designed a poster for children, decorated with happy youngsters playing outside. Wow, what a surprise. Well, no, not really.

Many of you reading here will remember the cartoon character of the 1950's. Mr. Magoo who was a wealthy, stubborn old man who gets into a series of comical situations as a result of his own version of extreme Myopia or nearsightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit he even has a problem. Of course Mr Magoo was an elderly retiree and probably beyond help, but this is not the case with young people. So apparently from this study, this problem is treatable and reversible by simply getting some regular healthy outdoor activity which as pointed out above by David Bond in his "Project Wild Thing documentary. So how does outdoor vision help ? Evidently bright light as experienced on a sunny day in the park, playing sports on a field, or taking a hike out in Nature appears to help considerably. This picture below is of Biologist Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute teaching young children about the local native Chaparral Plant Community often misunderstood by millions of adult Californians who have lived in and around this environment all their natural lives. Nature Deficit Disorder is a very common ailment among most Californian Adults, but it's treatable at any age. Same with Myopia, believe it or not it is reversible. But you need to get off your back side and get outdoors

Image: Chaparral Institute

Chaparral Institute: Why Children and Nature ?
Important Child Nature Educational Links to Bookmark
Project Wild Thing 2013 Video
Nature: "The Myopia Boom" - Short-sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions. Some scientists think they have found a reason why
'Purpose in life' a boon to your health, study shows
 Having a sense of purpose may add years to your life, study finds
Sense of meaning and purpose in life linked to longer lifespan

One thing scientific studies like these cannot find in their research work is which purpose is the better purpose. Human beings actually need a sense of real purpose. In this modern world, if your purpose is to blow up enemies with remote-controlled car bombs, to become involved with angry riots & protests in the streets, or to cheat your way to riches, it doesn’t matter if you get a prostate or breast exam and avoid the hospital sooner. It’s the exact same vanity to feel happy pursuing a worthless career, like many of the advertised modern materialistic lifestyles being promoted today. While many in the Asian world are known for their academic prowess as students, clearly there is more to life for young people than pursuing a high paying career for the benefit of providing many countless material goods for your immediate and extended family. A good purpose will always involve the truth and love with family and friends enjoying Nature as it was originally intended to be. 

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