May 2012  |  Celebrating Children, Nature & Community

In This Issue
Rhode Island LISC May Day Anniversary Event
How children lost the right to roam in four generations
LISC's Natural Playgrounds Initiative
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On a Rainy Day in May, nearly 150 Rhode Island Leaders attended LISC's Children, Nature & Community Forum


Springtime has come and kids need a constructive outlet for all their pent up energy. Not to mention a great project that will keep them busy all summer long. The answer- a child, friendly garden! By planting a few easy to grow and maintain plants, kids will learn about nature, hard work, and patience. Five great plants to grow with kids are: Morning Glories, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Potatoes and Pumpkins! 


The Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Fund (RICCFF) is an innovative public- private partnership dedicated to expanding access to quality child care and early education in low-income communities throughout Rhode Island. Launched in 2001, the RICCFF provides the capital and technical expertise that child care centers need to improve the quality and capacity of their physical space. The Fund can provide a combination of training, technical assistance and flexible, affordable financing for a wide range of projects including minor renovations or construction of a new, state-of-the-art child care facility. Click the logo to learn more about what the RICCFF can offer your program.

We encourage you to follow the progress of the Natural Playgrounds Initiative on the RI LISC website We are seeking funding, donated goods, and volunteers to make the initiative a success - if you are interested in being involved in any of these ways contact Cindy Rhode Island LISC extends its thanks to the Roger Williams Park Zoo staff who worked collaboratively with LISC every step of the way to be sure the event was a success. The day's events concluded with an overview of the zoo's new Big Backyard project, opening this summer. Learn more here.






Rhode Island LISC May Day
Anniversary Event


Thank you to the nearly 150 leaders from across Rhode Island who joined us on Tuesday, May 1st for a fantastic May Day event at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Even the wind and rain did not stop the enthusiastic group from showing up for a morning filled with inspirational ideas. One of the most exciting pieces was the diversity of the crowd, representing such a wide array of organizations and coming from such varied fields. It is fair to say that all left with new ideas for ways to encourage greater creativity in our work with young children.


Several participants have asked for copies of the presentation and for additional information on David Sobel's work. You can access information on David's publications, view his speaking calendar and find his contact information through Antioch University by clicking here.


Event photos have been posted to our Facebook Page, we invite you to view them here.

How children lost the right to roam in four generations


One of the most startling studies quoted during Sobel's presentation described how a child's "home range" has shrunk over the past four generations. The study is described in this article by David Derbyshire:


When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere.

It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favorite fishing haunt without adult supervision. Fast forward to 2007 and Mr. Thomas's eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys none of that freedom. He is driven the few minutes to school, is taken by car to a safe place to ride his bike and can roam no more than 300 yards from home. Even if he wanted to play outdoors, none of his friends strays from their home or garden unsupervised.


The contrast between Edward and George's childhoods is highlighted in a report which warns that the mental health of 21st-century children is at risk because they are missing out on the exposure to the natural world enjoyed by past generations. Read more here.

LISC's Natural Playgrounds Initiative


At the May event Rhode Island LISC announced the winners in the 2012 Model Natural Playgrounds Initiative being funded through its Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Fund. The initiative piggy-backs on the concepts discussed during the May 1st forum. The RICCFF has selected five early learning centers from across the state to serve as model sites for the development of natural outdoor playscapes, places of wonder for young children that look and feel entirely different than traditional playgrounds which are largely made up of manufactured equipment and toys. These playgrounds will integrate natural elements such as children's gardens, water features, tree stumps for climbing, places to dig in the dirt, and elements designed to encourage children to express creativity and explore. The centers; Children's Workshop of Pawtucket, East Bay Community Action Head Start in Riverside, Sunshine Child Development Center in North Kingstown, Westbay Community Action Children's Center in Warwick and Woonsocket Head Start were selected from a very highly competitive pool of applicants based on their on-going commitment to serving a diverse group of children and families, their demonstrated commitment to quality improvement and their dedication to creating outdoor spaces that can serve as learning laboratories for others in the state. LISC, in collaboration with the Roger Williams Park Zoo, surprised the winners with an additional gift of a free Wild Beginnings program which includes a field trip to the zoo along with an educational program.