Author: Amelia Joselow, CCC Director of Outreach, Green Program gardening teacher
Fingers crossed, it really is spring out there. No sudden frosts and snow, no more scraping ice off the car windshield. With warmer weather comes the possibility of more outdoor time, but for some it is hard to come out of that couch/computer/TV hibernation. And sadly, the gravitational pull of the couch doesn’t change just because the weather does. It can be hard to get out and get active even if we know it is good for us. But what if it wasn’t just good for us? What if we really needed it?
Adults need to stay active to keep our bodies healthy and our minds clear , but children need it for even more reasons. Children grow rapidly in their first years of life, and their brains grow to 80% of their adult weight by only age four. Physical activity and good nutrition allows muscles and bones, as well as all body cells (including that growing brain!) to grow healthy and strong. But what else?
Physical development is certainly important, but psychological development plays an equal role in how we “grow up.” Who we are, who our children grow up to be, is mostly determined by how we think, how we feel, how we participate in the world. And how about the world of gardening? A 2010 study commissioned by the UK's Royal Horticultural Society in London surveyed 1300 school teachers and investigated 10 schools in urban and rural parts of England.
“They found that involving children in school gardening boosted their learning and development in many areas, such as increasing:
The report also found that children involved in school gardening developed the ability to work, communicate with people from all ages and backgrounds, and had a responsible approach to life so they could achieve goals and play a positive role in society.”
-Catharine Paddock PhD, School Gardening Boosts Children's Well-being And Development, Study
That's a bit more than exercise, right? We can see that gardening, as hands-on experience working with peers and adults helps children develop in a number of much-needed ways. Gardening doesn’t just teach kids about vegetables, it helps them grow into intelligent, kind, positive people- can you think of a greater need?
Here at the Cambridge Community Center we have nearly 500 square feet of raised bed organic growing space where the children grow plants and grow up. The CCC Green Program, which includes our youth gardening program (during summer program, after school), goes beyond teaching the children- it creates a space for personal growth and community growth, which we believe leads to a positive effect on the world. We plant the seeds, we tend to the gardens, and we see great things grow from it.