This Summer, Gain 100 Hours of Quality Time #100HoursUnplugged

July 7, 2017 Andrew Pence

#100HoursUnplugged Roanoke Family CampingWhat would you do with 100 hours? 

The #100HoursUnplugged challenge is simple. Organized by O.A.R.S., the challenge encourages families to spend at least 100 hours outdoors, where they are completely untethered from technology. 100 hours is just over four days, making this challenge achievable in just two weekends, a four-day mini vacay, every Saturday in July… whatever works best for your schedule. Ready to sign up? All you need to do is post about the #100HoursUnplugged on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, pick a spot to hang out in nature, and leave the screens behind. 

Why Do #100HoursUnplugged?

1. Improve your Family’s physical health

It’s no secret that children and teens spend more time in front of screens than any generation before them. With the widespread availability of technology, it’s hardly surprising. These days, we rely on technology to survive. Concerning statistics indicate that American youth are spending an average of six to nine hours per day consuming electronic media compared to just four to seven minutes of unstructured outdoor play. But what if we could break that addiction? 

When faced with boredom, children and parents consider technology to be a quick fix. Unfortunately, spending less time playing outdoors and engaging in athletic activities could have harrowing health implications. Between 1980 and 2010, obesity in six to 11-year-olds increased from 7% to 18%. As of 2016, more than one-third of American youth and adolescents are clinically obese. Obesity is a precursor for many life-threatening medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. These diseases are deadly and expensive. According to the CDC, the United States spends $147 billion treating obesity-related conditions annually.

On the flip side, outdoor play can have major positive health impacts. Studies suggest that children who spend a lot of time outdoors have longer attention spans than children who watch a lot of television or play video games. By increasing time spent playing outdoors, children can benefit from healthier bodies, lowered risk of obesity-related diseases, and increased stamina and energy. Increased Vitamin D intake from the sun could help prevent bone disease, diabetes, and other ailments while also helping to improve the child’s mood. Research also shows that by spending time outdoors, children can improve their vision while boosting immunity.

By committing to spending 100 hours outdoors this summer, you’re setting a positive example for your child and helping them develop healthy habits. 

Family outside

2. Encourage emotional well-being

Aside from the numerous physical benefits associated with healthy outdoor lifestyles, research points to many mental and emotional perks as well. Did you know that the act of being alone in front of a video game, Netflix, or Instagram for hours at a time could actually stunt your child’s social skill development? Plus, a sedentary indoor lifestyle poses a higher risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. By 2000, nearly one in eight children were prescribed Ritalin for ADHD. 

Thankfully, there is hope! Studies have demonstrated that being outdoors not only lowers the risk of developing ADHD symptoms, but is also correlated with better emotional development, lower levels of stress, and an increased awareness of the importance of community. One study even showed that students enrolled in schools with environmental education programs scored higher on standardized tests while also demonstrating stronger critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills. 

environmental education roanoke
3. Help Protect the Earth

Aside from the health of the child, getting them outside can help support the health of the planet. Studies show that children who do not spend time out in nature are less likely to be interested in environmental conservation. The very future of state and national parks, natural resources, endangered species, and even our fresh air and water sources are at risk if future generations are apathetic toward protecting the environment. 

By reconnecting our youth to the natural world today, we’re helping to build a legacy of conservation to protect the Earth for generations to come. Taking your child outside lets them learn about the importance and beauty of nature, as well as how their actions, such as littering, can negatively impact our ecosystem. Spending more time outdoors as a family gives your child the chance to fall in love with nature. This trait can be passed through generations while helping to build a sustainable future.

So what will you do with your 100 hours? 

We have some ideas to get you started. In Roanoke, we have a HUGE assortment of outdoor activities for kids, adults, and families to enjoy this summer. Here are some of our favorites: 

  • Have a picnic in a local park: Roanoke is home to 70 beautiful public parks, plazas, and Greenways. Some of the most popular parks for picnics include Mill Mountain Park, which has overlooks that peer over the city, Countryside Park, Wasena Park, Eureka Park, Lakewood Park, Smith Park, and even Elmwood Park in downtown Roanoke!
  • Explore a local trail: Roanoke Parks and Recreation nearly 100 miles of natural surface and paved trails for walking, running, biking, horseback riding and hiking in the City of Roanoke alone. We’re also fortunate to have many local famous hikes within a short drive from downtown Roanoke, including McAfee’s Knob on the Appalachian Trail. One way rack up 100 hours is to join our popular Roanoke 7 Summits hiking challenge, during which we hike seven local peaks in seven weeks! 
  • Visit Carvins Cove12,000 acres of lush forests, a 630-acre reservoir for fishing and boating, and 60 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails… Carvins Cove is a haven for outdoor recreation in Southwest Virginia. 
  • Walk a Greenway: Roanoke’s Greenways offer many miles of scenic paths for outdoor recreation. Dappled with public shelters, restrooms, bike fix stations, water fountains, fitness equipment, and playgrounds, Roanoke’s Greenways are the perfect place to walk the dog, enjoy a bike ride by the river, or take a stroll with your little ones. 
  • Hit the pool: We have two outdoor public pools at Washington Park and Fallon Park that are open until Labor Day! 
  • Volunteer Trail Work: Hard, but rewarding work! Come help other outdoor enthusiasts maintain existing trails and even help build new ones! Trail work days typically take place on the trails in Mill Mountain Park or at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve and participants must be over the age of 18 or 14+ if accompanied by an adult. All you need are sturdy shoes, water, work gloves, and energy!
  • Athletics and Wellness: Roanoke offers numerous recreational athletic leagues for youths this summer and fall, including Football and Cheerleading, Outdoor Soccer, and more!
  • Summer Activities: View our calendar for numerous fun and entertaining events that are happening over the summer! 
  • Other ideas: 
    • Nature walks
    • Bird watching
    • Swimming in a lake or a river
    • Stargazing
    • Finding salamanders and crayfish
    • Berry picking
    • Watching clouds/sunsets
    • Reading in a hammock
    • Going to a show at Elmwood Park
    • Exploring Mill Mountain Zoo and the Discovery Center  

While it may seem impossible to fully escape from technology, you can establish a healthy balance for your family that incorporates unplugged quality time in nature. 

Are you in? Tag us with the hashtag #PlayRoanoke and #100HoursUnplugged! 

Post contributed by: Andrew Pence, Communications Intern, City of Roanoke Dept. of Parks and Recreation

The post This Summer, Gain 100 Hours of Quality Time #100HoursUnplugged appeared first on Roanoke Parks and Recreation.

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