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Showing Kids the Wild Side of Life

Every afternoon around 4, Sarah Rice and her toddler Finley have “outdoor happy hour.” They might noodle around a bit in the backyard, playing in the kiddie pool or collecting pecans. Or they might hang out in the front yard, chatting with passers­by and taking note of any planes that pass overhead.

It’s an important part of the day for both of them. Rice enjoys sharing her love of nature, which was sparked by spending much of her childhood in Bulverde playing outdoors, with her son.

“A connection to nature is key to my sense of well­being,” she said. “So I think it makes a huge difference for me and my son in terms of our level of sanity. We need that time outdoors.”

Making outdoor time a priority is one way that parents can offset the nature deficit, a term coined by author Richard Louv in his 2005 best­ seller “Last Child in the Woods.” The phrase describes the disconnect between children growing up in the high­tech age and the natural world. He cited studies indicating that the lack of time spent engaging with nature has helped feed the rise in obesity, depression and attention disorders in contemporary youngsters. The book helped spark a grass­roots movement aimed at getting children outside. One of the hubs for that effort in the Lone Star State is Texas Children in Nature, a network that works to raise awareness of the importance of engaging with the outdoors.

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