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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET connection to animals you meet through a screen. As Louv points out, “Such information is not a substitute for direct contact with nature” (2005, 23). When children work in a garden, they observe closely the bees and butterflies that gather nectar from the flowers. They hold the ladybug they find resting on a leaf and examine with a magnifying glass the spider that has spun a web between the vines. On their hands and knees, they count the ants and study them as they carry food back and forth to their anthills. Children discover that snails like to hide under the stones where it is damp and that the bunnies are coming into the garden to eat the lettuce. Nature is real. They touch it, draw it, photograph it, and study it over a period of time. The story is their own story and not the story someone else has photographed, edited, and told to them. And because it is their own, it is woven into the fabric of their lives and becomes part of who they are. Adults who care deeply about the environment cite two factors that have contributed to their love of nature: time spent playing in nature as a child and an adult who fostered love and respect for nature (Sobel 1996). An adult who introduces a child to gardening—who takes the time to slow down and be with the child as she digs in the soil, who sits inside the sunflower house, who shares joy in the dance of the honeybee—that adult can be the person who helps the child discover the joy and wonder of nature. Physical, Social, and Emotional Development The health of America’s children is at risk. For the first time in history, chil- dren face a future where they may face life spans shorter than those of their parents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2007 parents reported that 9.5 percent of children between four and seventeen years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD, an increase of 21.8 percent from 2003 (2010). Obesity has grown at an alarming rate, and children are less physi- cally active. Richard Louv (2011) argues in his book The Nature Principle that nature has transformative powers and that vitamin N (for nature) is an essen- tial element in enhancing physical and mental health. Research validates the important connection of nature to children’s healthy physical and emotional development. Nancy M. Wells and Gary W. Evans (2003) found that children who spend time in natural environments are more physically active and experience psychological benefits, including reduced stress. Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances E. Kuo (2011) found that children playing in greener environments had reduced symptoms of ADHD. Studies have shown that heart rate and blood pressure are lowered just by being in a garden (Cleveland Botanical Garden 2014). Even living plants in classrooms have been shown to have a positive effect on children’s behavior, emotions, and health. Being near nature creates what Louv calls the mind/body/nature 4  •  Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL