Wednesday, June 19, 2019


“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.”
                                                                                     --John Muir

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The other night my Uber driver brought me from the Louisville airport to my mother’s home about 10 PM.  As we pulled into Mom’s long driveway, I was instantly mesmerized.  Tiny white flashes popped all around us. Memories of summers spent at my grandparents’ nearby farm flashed before me as I realized I was seeing dozens of fireflies. 

Summertime in the Midwest is a magical time when kids are outside until darkness falls and the fireflies come out to play.  I believe that fireflies are a call to the child in all of us to play outside and engage with nature on our own terms. 

Spending time in nature for regular doses of Vitamin N plays a key role in our mental health.  Whether it is taking a walk in the woods, sitting outside at night watching the stars, the moon, and fireflies, or building sandcastles at the beach, time outside has the power to calm the everyday anxieties that have unfortunately become a part of modern life.

Getting kids outside and helping them to connect with nature is a big part of the mission of Growing Healthy Kids.  Recently, as part of a healthy eating program for children living at a homeless family shelter, we took kids to the beach and taught them Qi Gong relaxation and breathing lessons.  At the beginning of each class we repeated the lessons with the hope that by engaging kids at high risk for obesity and poor eating habits, our Vitamin N interventions will have a lifelong positive effect on these kids. 

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Teaching kids about the value of time spent in nature, whether quietly observing or actively engaging, is a lesson that can help everyone to live healthy, balanced lives. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids