Children and Planned Residential Developments – A Vision For a New Generation

By: Don Hannig

Remember the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child”? If you take a moment to think on it, this saying simply means that the immediate family are not the only people responsible for the upbringing of a child. Growth during childhood and development involves a certain measure of community life, joint values, and the provision of solid adult role models across the board. The burgeoning movement of Planned Residential Developments (PRDs) can provide our children with safe and healthy access to the out of doors – and to the entire “village.”

Days of Yore

In previous generations, it was usually safe for kids to run around in mixed age groups without a ton of parental oversight and control. But as found in many cities and suburbs of today, when neighborhoods cease to function as cooperative units, the healthy outdoor activities of children suffer immeasurably. But studies show that children NEED to learn how toplay together and how to negotiate their own relationships – without the constant supervision and interference of parents. But what happens when safety issues prevent this from happening? Our kids end up staying indoors. And it’s just not healthy.

Green Exercise

The term “green exercise” has been recently coined to describe the type of play that gets children outside in a natural environment – such as many of the beautiful areas in our Pocono Mountains, as well as parks and recreation areas. Planned Residential Developments incorporate this concept into their design process, providing green spaces, community recreation areas, and the conservation of natural topography into their structure. It is proven that play out of doors in a natural environment offers far more benefits than indoor gym time. Time spent playing in nature improves overall health, cognitive function, and can even reduce the symptoms of obesity and Attention Deficit Disorder. (Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., 2008)

Planned Residential Developments

So how do we build communities in the future that will connect children with nature? Planned Residential Developments, such as Keswick Pointe in the Pocono Mountains, may provide a concrete answer. The goal of a PRD is to incorporate the following into a thoughtful and cohesive design:

• Leave some open space and native habitat in place

• Employ “green building” and design principles

• Incorporate natural topography throughout the community

• Layout safe, quiet streets to promote healthy play without stress for parents

• A communal recreation area including play grounds, sport courts, and picnic pavilions

• Sheltered bus stops

Changing Times

Support of outdoor play in a natural environment is gaining momentum– state and regional campaigns sometimes tagged as “No Child Left Inside” are springing up all over the country. But even as children and teenagers are becoming more aware of global threats to the environment as a whole, their dependency on cell phones and other forms of digital media is growing while intimacy with nature is waning. Steps need to be taken much closer to home to rectify the alarming trends.

We find the answer in our communities – safe neighborhoods constructed with true natural elements, solid core values, and an access to our natural world!

To find out more about the benefits of energy efficiency and green building please call Keswick Point, the region’s newest PRD, at 570-646-4646, email us at info@keswickpointe.com or visit our website at keswickpointe.com.

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