New Film Highlights Overloaded Stressed-Out Kids

A new documentary film being embraced by parents and teachers alike may explain why we have a generation of kids so totally disconnected from nature. Race to Nowhere, being shown in hundreds of theaters, schools and to organizations nationwide highlights how kids are being pushed too far to become Super kids, creating unhealthy, disengaged, unprepared, stressed-out and often depressed youth.

No wonder kids don’t spend much time in green spaces. Between the intense demands academically and well-intentioned efforts to provide extra-curricular activities to enrich our kid’s lives we are creating a generation of robo-students according to filmmaker Vicki Abeles.

Abeles, a mother of three and former Wall Street attorney, was awakened to this crisis as her 12-year old daughter was being treated for stress-related illness. She saw personally how the pressures were overwhelming not only to her own kids, but to children everywhere.  Sadly, while spending some time surrounding by nature might actually help alleviate that stress, it just doesn’t fit into the schedule.

"We are creating a generation of robo-students"

Race to Nowhere is being acclaimed as the only film that “gets it”, showing what is actually happening to our kids as a result of a culture obsessed with over-achievement. Sadly, taking time to just hang out, preferably in a tree, is seen as frivolous and non-productive by many parents.  What’s ironic is that if kids could spend more time outdoors, it would actually reduce the stress put upon them in other aspects of their life.

A Wake-Up Call to Parents

NWF’s Whole Child report shows how unstructured outdoor play nurtures a child’s body, mind and spirit. It makes them healthier and happier and can even improve their performance in the classroom. Time spent outside can have a dramatic impact on children’s attentiveness and school preparedness including a reduction in ADHD, a problem that has significantly increased over the last several decades. Children who get outside score higher on a wide range of tests of their academic ability and performance.

Sheila Franklin, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity says “Wouldn’t it be great if schools were designed next to wooded areas so they could be used for educational purposes?”

All parents should seek out opportunities to see Race to Nowhere when it comes to their area of the country.  It’s a wake-up call that challenges current assumptions on how to best raise healthy, bright, and well-balanced kids.  After you see the movie, you’ll want to get involved in helping change the culture that has seriously over-taxed our kids. It opens up a new perspective which hopefully will encourage parents to open the back door more often instead of constantly saying “go to your room and study.”

Published: March 9, 2011