Health & wellbeing

Less screen time and more green time

Help us reconnect children to the great outdoors.

Published on April 4, 2024

Two children walking in green space

By Rebecca Clarke, Integrated Marketing Lead, Evergreen


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood and how much I appreciate all the time that I got to spend outdoors. Roaming the neighbourhood on my bike, creating chalk art on sidewalks, making mud pies in the dirt and building forts out of tree branches. It has made me realize that my love for nature started when I was a kid.  


It’s sad to think that children aren’t spending as much time outside as we once did. According to a Government of Canada report, Canadian youth in grades 6 – 12 are averaging a screen time 7.8 hours a day. More than three and a half times the recommended daily limit of two hours per day.  


Over the past few decades, researchers have noticed a shift in the way children spend their free time. Where kids used to spend hours playing outdoors in local parks and climbing trees, they’re now playing video games and watching television.  


Yet at the same time, we know that time spent in nature and being active outdoors is extremely beneficial to children’s health and wellbeing. It helps to improve sleep and social skills, manage stress and anxiety and boost mood. Time spent in nature also helps kids build a strong connection to and lifelong appreciation for our natural environment.  


Kids don’t want to spend every waking moment hunched over a screen, even if they give us that impression sometimes. According to a National Trust survey, three-quarters of children aged seven to 14 want to spend more time in nature. They just don’t have the opportunities that we once did due to increasing safety issues, lack of access to green space and fewer opportunities for unsupervised play in our cities.    


Two young people play outdoors


We need to find ways to get kids to spend more time in nature. We need to improve access to green spaces with natural elements like boulders and logs to encourage unstructured nature play. We need to incorporate free nature-based programming into our public spaces. We need to transform school grounds into nature-rich play and learning environments.  


At Evergreen, we’re reconnecting children to nature by creating great public places. One of the best examples of our work is the Climate Ready Schools program, which has built on our 30-year legacy of transforming school grounds across Canada. We take traditional concrete school grounds, patchy grass fields and old swing sets and turn them into multi-use, natural outdoor play and learning environments. We even get kids involved in the design process — they tell us how to make their school grounds fun!  


Parents shouldn’t have to pay crazy tuition fees to be able to send their kids to a school with high-quality, green spaces for them to play in. Every child deserves access to nature.  


Help us turn school grounds from grey to green. We’d like you to consider becoming a monthly donor to support our work in transforming these spaces across Canada. Your reoccurring donations allow us to take learnings from the Irma Coulson Public School pilot and create more school grounds just like it across the country!  


Donate today to help us bring grey cities to life so that future generations can spend as much time outdoors as we once did.  

Our newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest from our teams as we transform public spaces across Canada — as well as what’s going on in our public places.