The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 4, 2013

Shots from the Hip: Prescribing children a healthy dose of mud

More and more research shows importance of outdoors play

It was all a matter of perspective.

To the six young children, the muddy, clay-bottomed stream that wound through a number of campsites at the Central Pennsylvania Wesleyan Campground offered an opportunity to play. To stretch their imaginations and then put their plans into action, building a small dam and exploring for crayfish and other critters during the excavation process.

To a few of the people passing by, the scene was one of horror. The six kids were coated in various shades of brown. Their clothes were caked with clay, their hair matted with mud. These children were a mess. How could their parents allow such a thing?

To the parents, who were watching from a distance, careful not to intrude in this period of unstructured outdoor play and exploration, the whole picture was one of beauty.

These children were working together with a common vision — engaged in a period of exploration that easily was worth the multiple loads of laundry and clogged shower drains that came afterward.

Many consider this the age of information. We’ve replaced large libraries of clunky encyclopedias with one-click solutions via a Google search browser. Everyone, it seems, has a Smartphone attached to one hand, ready at a moment’s notice to tackle the next major dilemma with the push of a button.

But one issue doesn’t seem to have an easy answer. Why are kids struggling more than ever with diagnoses such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and a whole slew of other behavioral acronyms?

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis has a solution. In various radio and television public service announcements, she pitches the importance of family mealtime, giving listeners an easy recipe for the common meatloaf.

Psychiatrists can fix the issue with a simple combination of a prescription pad and a pen.

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