Welcome to the daily challenge #Outside2020! This is a daily challenge to get outside in an urban setting. While these activities are centered around the current situation, the global COVID-19 pandemic, they are timeless ways to interact with nature.

What is the challenge?

This is a daily photo challenge on Instagram. Each day we post a simple way to get outside (currently these are social distancing friendly!) and how we’ve completed the daily task. These challenges range from reading outside to watching the sunrise, or making a nature sculpture. Use the #outside2020 to connect with fellow participants and tag @the.project.outside to share your post with us!

Check us out on Instagram at @the.project.outside to get started!

Why join the challenge?

A recent article from the Child Mind Institute explains, “the average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors,” yet at least “7 hours a day in front of a screen.” Students are facing more academic pressure than ever, reflected in the high expectations placed on students to go to college, participate in countless extracurricular activities, keep good grades, and have a social life. The pressure is too much, and it is reflected in the increase of time on screens. Simply put, students are working more than ever and are not taking time to slow down and experience the outdoors. As the American Psychological Association explains, “Children age 8 to 17 say they worry about doing well in school, getting into good colleges, and their family’s finances.” Spending time outside is one of the most effective ways to release stress, and without this time outside, no wonder stress levels are skyrocketing uncontrollably.

Beyond this, technology is increasingly available. A recent survey from the Erikson Institute noted that an “overwhelming 85 percent of parents allow their children under age 6 to use technology at home,” the New York Times reports. Children fill their free time with technology rather than playing outside. Today, for many students, playing outside is a punishment, whereas several decades ago, being forced to play inside was the punishment. This does not bode well for children.

While a challenge to get outside might seem unrelated, the current COVID-19 situation is the necessary pause to create new habits and awareness around complex issues. Now is the time to encourage families to connect with nature and slow down, forming habits they can carry back into normal life. These daily challenges are social-distancing friendly activities to get everyone, children and adults alike, away from screens and into the fresh air.

What can you do?

  • Join the challenge! Tag photos outside with the hashtag #outside2020
  • Spread awareness. Check out our reading list for books on the subject.
  • Start with five minutes a day outside. Start small!
  • Become part of the larger movement of outdoor activists. Learn more here.

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