A recent study highlighted the fact that our children just aren’t getting outside to play. The research shows that girls are 16% less likely than their male playmates to enjoy the fresh air. Boys are more likely to suffer from asthma in childhood, but yet they are still the ones who statistically want to play outside until there is no more light to play by and the fireflies are blinking. As our children enter preschool and elementary school ages, the odds of them getting out to play continues to decrease due to indoor interests and spending hours upon hours doing homework.
Personally, I feel guilty if I don’t get my two and a half year old son outside every day. He’s healthy, and he’s more than excited about being active. So it just seems natural that we would go outside and run around. It’s a good summer day if I have to rinse him off outside before we can come into take a bath before bed.
My little girl is a different story. She’s tiny and spent almost the entire winter sick. In my mommy brain, she’s too delicate and I don’t want anything to happen to her.
Did you read what I just wrote? Me. The person who has been fighting for clean air for her children and her friends’ children, has become one of those mothers who unconsciously is fearful about sending her daughter outside. Granted, she’s not quite a year old, but in my head, I need to protect her from the air she breathes. She’s just so fragile. While I’m not worried about dirt, I am thinking of all the potential toxins out there. There’s the school at the end of the block. The buses idle starting at 2:50 pm every school day and remain outside the school for at least half an hour. Nothing like a dose of carbon emissions to top our play time in the sandbox!
Tonight when I put my little girl to bed, she was wheezing from congestion that started this morning. When I get up first thing tomorrow morning, I will be checking the air quality before I make a decision on whether we will go outside. She’s too small to tell me if she feels worse when the pollen counts are high or the weather is changing…and I don’t want her to struggle any more than she already does when she’s sick. I don’t want to tell her she can’t go outside and play for any other reason than it’s just too cold or too rainy. I want my little girl to stay out of the statistic that girls don’t get to play outside as much. For us, the only way to ensure that is to keep her healthy. But, how am I supposed to do that in a state that doesn’t have standards for bus emissions? How am I supposed to do that when Ohio’s rate of mercury pollution in the air is so high? If you add in my concerns about the off-gassing during hydraulic fracturing, it’s almost enough to bring the kids inside, close the doors to the outside world and shut out the air that isn’t as clean as I’d like.
Children need to go out and play. Boys and girls should want to go outside and play. Don’t let your child become a statistic. Join us in the fight to ensure clean air is a game of tag this summer!