Summer is here and the weather is great! Now is the time to take it outside! Here’s some advice from the folks at Let’s Go 5-2-1-0! about why it is so good for you and your kids to get outside, along with some ideas on what to do.

With so much technology, it can be hard to pull ourselves away from indoor attractions like computers, TVs and video games. As a result, we miss out on the exciting and beautiful world of nature that is right outside our door. Spending time in nature alone and with our families has positive outcomes for everyone.

Did you know that experts have found that kids who have greater contact with nature are happier, healthier, smarter, more creative, more optimistic, more focused, and more self-confident? Families also have stronger bonds and get along better if they participate in activities outside. Getting outside can even help prevent diabetes, behavioral disorders and depression. So, no matter how tempting staying inside may be, making time for nature is really important!

Tips to get kids involved:

· Make a list of nature activities that your kids want to do and then use those activities as rewards.

· Encourage kids to go outside with you while you do yard work.

· Help kids plant a garden that they can take care of.

· Check out books on local animals, like birds, and help your kids pick them out.

· Get other friends and families involved in your nature outings — the more the merrier!

Here are some fun, family-friendly outdoor activities you can try:

· Go apple or berry picking.

· Follow animal tracks.

· Go sledding (in a few months).

· Sleep in the backyard.

· Go fishing.

· Jump in puddles.

· Go stargazing and pick out your favorite constellations.

· Plant a vegetable garden.

· Go for a hike or nature walk.

· Collect seashells on the beach.

Resources:

Children and Nature Network — www.childrenandnature.org

Let’s Go 5-2-1-0! — www.letsgo.org

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands — www.parksandland.com

Healthy Maine Walks — www.healthymainewalks.org

For more information on Let’s Go! Knox County, contact Adrienne Gallant, program coordinator, at 596-8951 or agallant@penbayhealthcare.org.

Donna Ames, RN, coordinates Zing! — a program of Pen Bay Healthcare and its community partners designed to encourage children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits. Online: pbmc.org/zing.

Pen Bay Healthcare is a not-for-profit family of services which includes Pen Bay Medical Center, the leading regional referral hospital in Midcoast Maine, as well as Pen Bay Physicians & Associates, Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, Quarry Hill Retirement Community and the Knox Center for Long Term Care. Through these organizations, and with a staff of more than 100 outstanding physicians and more than 1,500 health care professionals, we are able to provide the people of Midcoast Maine with a continuum of both routine and specialty patient-centered medical services. Pen Bay Healthcare is a member of the MaineHealth system. For more information, please visit penbayhealthcare.org.