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Open AccessArticle

More than a Pretty Place: Assessing the Impact of Environmental Education on Children’s Knowledge and Attitudes about Outdoor Play in Nature

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Division of Epidemiology, Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
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Urban Ecology Center, 1500 East Park Place, Milwaukee, WI 53211, USA
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Center for Urban Initiatives and Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Engelmann Hall, B59, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA
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Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, 1155 North Mayfair Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
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Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Wisconsin Tosa Center, 1155 Mayfair Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
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Division of Biostatistics, Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
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Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc., 301 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 400B, Milwaukee, WI 53203, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(2), 2054-2070; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120202054
Received: 16 December 2014 / Accepted: 5 February 2015 / Published: 12 February 2015
Our work assessed the influence of an urban environmental education program on children’s attitudes toward outdoor play, as well as knowledge of neighborhood features that can facilitate this type of activity. The project team engaged 6 schools near the newest Urban Ecology Center location in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, through a community-academic partnership entitled More Than a Pretty Place. Intervention classrooms participated in programming over the 2012–2013 academic year and pre and post surveys were implemented in classrooms. Data were analyzed using multilevel regression models. The intervention group reported reduced fears of outdoor play in nature and increased frequency of visits to the Urban Ecology Center. The proportion of students who acknowledged knowing of a place to play outside in nature increased significantly in both groups. Our findings indicate an important role for environmental education in addressing fears that may dissuade children from engaging in outdoor play in natural areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban environmental education; children’s outdoor play; barriers to nature; fear; ATOP scales urban environmental education; children’s outdoor play; barriers to nature; fear; ATOP scales
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Beyer, K.M.M.; Heller, E.F.; Bizub, J.M.; Kistner, A.J.; Szabo, A.; Shawgo, E.E.; Zetts, C.J. More than a Pretty Place: Assessing the Impact of Environmental Education on Children’s Knowledge and Attitudes about Outdoor Play in Nature. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 2054-2070.

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