UM-Dearborn to host screening of Michigan Television documentary that examines the environmental factors impacting the lack of unstructured, outdoor play for children

July 24, 2009

DEARBORN / July 24, 2009---Environmental factors like urban sprawl are contributing to the disappearance of play and nature from the daily lives of children, according to a new documentary produced by Michigan Television.

A public screening and discussion about the film “Where Do the Children Play?” will take place at 2:30 p.m. on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus on Monday Aug. 3.

The hour-long documentary, written and directed by Christopher Cook, examines an issue of growing concern among pediatricians, mental health experts, educators and environmentalists: more and more children are growing up today with little or no opportunity for unstructured play, especially outdoors.

The screening, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Room 1400 of the campus’s Social Sciences Building and is offered in partnership with U.S. Alliance for Childhood as part of an environmental education course taught by Gail Luera, associate professor of science education and associate dean of UM-Dearborn’s School of Education.

"The film demonstrates dramatically what most of adults know, that children today live very scheduled lives and are not often given the opportunity to explore their community or solve problems together without an adult,” said Luera.  “Not having time to ‘play,’ which one expert in the film calls the 'work’ of childhood, is now known to cause many different physical, social and psychological problems. The film leaves the viewer with an increased awareness of the importance of unscheduled time in natural environments for children."

“Where Do the Children Play?” is the winner of the 2008 Eugene International Film Festival’s Best Film in Social Issues/Family Values.   

In addition, UM-Dearborn’s Vice Chancellor for Government Relations Edward Bagale will give a talk prior to the film about, a video project designed to celebrate environmental work in Michigan, educate people about what they can do to help the environment and inspire them to take action.  Bagale’s presentation, which is open to the public, will begin at 1:30 p.m. Room 1400 of the campus’s Social Sciences Building.

For more information, contact Luera at 313-593-5098 or



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