Today in Health & Wellness

It's a Green Play

"Encouraging Children to Play Outdoors"
By: Patricia AlbisIt's a Green Play

Urban communities give lesser opportunities for kids to play outdoors. So true for my nephew who is often left playing inside the house with his gadgets. “No, he’s not going to be naughty, he will just be a kid,” the words I use for my sister to allow him to play outside. It worries her since the kid often gets rashes and insect bites all over his body after playing. He is allergic to dust and when exposed, he easily gets skin irritations.

I was attacked by red ants while playing hide-and-seek under the mango tree back then. It was frightening. My body turned red and swell, a lot… and it was very itchy. But hey, I still love the outdoors and I believe kids should not be deprived of their childhood. Play is important and here’s why:

Promotes creativity: My nephew loves running and tagging and building things from twigs, leaves, balls, and toys. It can be messy but at least not inside the house. Adults can also be creative outdoors by conquering a hike or a campout.

Improves vision: Outdoors have some protective factor against myopia or nearsightedness according to Optometry & Vision Science. When outside, children could see much further.

Increases attention span: A research published in the American Journal of Public Health stated that natural setting has an impact on children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Kids should not be restricted from playing outside the house just to keep them safe. Precautions may be done to ensure safety, like:

  • Never leave a child outside alone.
  • Teach them to ask for help when a toy rolls into the street.
  • To reduce injuries from falls, surround the play area with sand, gravel and/or rubber mats
  • Keep away from tall grasses.
  • Cover trash cans as well as sandboxes when not in use, animals might litter on them.
  • Remove stagnant water.
  • A mixture of water, sugar, and borax may keep ants and other insects away from the yard.
  • Provide shades like trees, tents, etc.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to prevent sunburn and reapplying is essential.

Still, we don’t know when nature, stings and bites and rashes alike will strike. Insects and critters are found outdoors (and sometimes indoors). When your kid receives an insect bite, here’s what to do:

  • Wash affected the area with mild soap and water. Put an ice pack over it for 10 minutes.
  • Elevate if the sting is on the arm or leg.
  • Consult a doctor if the child has been bitten near the mouth or the swelling gets larger, redder or oozing – sign of infection.
  • Consult a doctor for pain relievers and antihistamines.
  • Call for emergency if the child has sudden hives, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting or had serious allergic reaction before
  • Keeping topical lotions with calamine is useful, not only can it relieve kids’ minor skin irritations such as scrapes, cuts, and sunburn, but also it can soothe itches from insect bites.

The International Play Association provides a forum to protect, preserve and promote the child’s right to play as fundamental human rights. As well, the United Nations promotes every child’s right to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to age. Boss, may I also invoke my right to play?

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