Why Low-Income Children Desperately Need to Get Outside

Outdoor play in the winter offers so many benefits for the health and development of children, and this is even more so for low income children, who desperately need to get outside.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of warm clothing, many low-income children will find themselves stuck inside in front of a screen during the colder months of the year, missing out on everything that winter has to offer.

Every game of freeze tag played, or snowman built, offers a child a chance at greater long-term health and happiness. Bundling up and getting outside gives children who have so little the opportunity for one of the few advantages life can offer them.

Seeing the Outdoors Through a New View

skate outsideAfter a a summer full of green and sun, experiencing the world through a new view can stimulate creativity.  Fallen leaves, crispy brown grass, snow and ice are new experiences. This alternate view enables them to imagine the outdoors differently and to be creative and play in different ways. There are many new discoveries that can be made when playing outdoors in winter. Did you know, bubbles blown outdoors in cold weather tend to last longer? Tweet This

Increases in Exercise and Using Different Muscles

snowball winter outsideThe winter months can provide children with new outdoor challenges. It offers the chance to movie their bodies in different ways. Stomping through the snow, sledding or walking walking up a snowy hill is active play. Winter play engages the large muscles. This large-muscle use, and the increase in physical activity, can support children’s gross motor development and overall health. As many low-income children may lack the resources to be part of regular organized sports, the muscle development through outdoor play becomes even more important.

Getting Fresh Air and Avoiding Bacteria

boywinteroutsideMany people tend to associate the colder weather with colds and illnesses such as the flu. Usually, increased exposure to an indoor environment, where bacteria and virus live, causes more illness than the cold weather itself. Adults and children who spend long periods of time in a closed off, poorly ventilated home without exposure to fresh air, can easily pass germs to each other. As long as a child is properly dressed for winter, being outdoors can be healthy, furthering the need to get outside.

New Challenges and Opportunities for Problem-Solving

snowmanwinteroutsideMessy weather can provide a fun environment for a child, offering new materials and opportunities for play and problem solving.  What can a child do with a puddle of ice and a thin branch? What would happen if the child used that branch to knock snow off of a tree or poke some holes in the snow?  Engagement with outdoor environments in the winter provokes new problem-solving skills. The ever-changing landscape of winter can provide children with unique and fun the challenges that make for a normal happy childhood.

Vitamin D Exposure

SunwinteroutsideChildren from low-income families may be more likely to suffer from vitamin deficiency, due to lack of healthy food. One way to combat this, is to offer Vitamin D through a natural source: the sunlight. When a child stays indoors during the winter months, they are not only missing out on play but also on this essential nutrient. Children get Vitamin D through sun exposure making it a real need for children to get outside. This is true even in winter. Vitamin D affects bone growth, the immune system and regulates mood.

Thank you to Caileigh Flannigan and Fix.com for donating this insightful article.

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