by Wendy Gabriel
Bethe Almeras is an award-winning author, web producer, and eLearning designer. A gifted speaker and trainer, Bethe prides herself on being a kid at heart and sharing the benefits of play with others.
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?
For me, being greener starts with getting outside and actually enjoying this beautiful planet of ours. I worry that in today’s society, people are so focused on saving the planet that they forget to appreciate its beauty and teach children to know the Earth before we ask them to save it.
Naturally, I do things like recycle, buy less, and take public transit. Living in downtown DC is a great way to go green. Limited square footage keeps any desire to buy “stuff” in check, and living a block from the Metro is a dream.
What kind of advice would you give parents to encourage them to get their children (and themselves) outdoors?
Start early and make it a habit before you introduce TV and video games. Limit screen-time, including TV, video games, and computer. Trade some of their structured activities for free time. Appeal to kids’ natural interests (e.g. sports: try hiking or canoeing, science: try gardening or rock collecting). Model outdoor time behavior yourself and focus on fun!
For adults, realize the physical, emotional, and mental health benefits of play and time in nature for kids and adults alike. Make the time to unplug and go outside and play, and notice how good you feel.
In an interview you did for Robin Shreeves, I read that you started The Grass Stain Guru because you are so passionate about the issues of unstructured play, connecting people with nature, and education reform. How does your blog address these issues?
Yes, all three of those topics really boil down to one thing for me: restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process. I write about all of these issues on my blog, and bring attention to the need for play and nature as part of a healthy, happy lifestyle — and for kids, an important aspect of proper development and learning readiness. I believe strongly that kids should be kids, and a huge part of that is time for unplugged, unstructured play.
What is your favorite way to play outdoors?
It sounds simple, but a nice walk on my own. No MP3 player or agenda — just the sights and sounds of nature to keep my thoughts company. And if I can wade in a creek, I’m in heaven.
Read more in the Four Questions series:
Four Questions with Adam Shake
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part I
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part II
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part III
Four Questions with Lisa Mills Sutherland
Four Questions with Melissa Kushi
Four Questions with Dr. Marti Erickson
Four Questions with Linda McNair
Four Questions with Beth Terry
Four Questions with Ryan North
Four Questions with Leslie Quigley
Four Questions with Janelle Sorensen