Westfield students combat Nature Deficit Disorder

Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) is the detrimental condition caused by not getting outdoors.

Photo Courtesy: THE WESTFIELD NEWS

WESTFIELD, Mass. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS) – Students participating in “Edventure,” the South Middle School summer camp program have been looking into the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder and what they can do to combat it. According to a website created by the students at http://westfieldgetsoutside.weebly.com/, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) is the detrimental condition caused by not getting outdoors.

7th grade science teacher, Kate Palmer, who created the Edventure camp along with Bridges teacher Neil Barnet, emphasized that

South Middle School Edventure staff included (l-r) Emily Doucette, Jackie Ayr, Steve Dowd, Luke Baillargeon, Matt Preye. and co-leaders Neil Barnet and Kate Palmer. (Photo by Amy Porter)
South Middle School Edventure staff included (l-r) Emily Doucette, Jackie Ayr, Steve Dowd, Luke Baillargeon, Matt Preye. and co-leaders Neil Barnet and Kate Palmer. (Photo by Amy Porter)

the entire program was student driven. Different groups of students took on different challenges of the problem.

Seventh-grader Emily Schieppe’s group looked at the benefits of going outside, among them improved vision, less stress, a better attitude, increased fitness, weight loss, higher grades and reduced bone problems.

Benedicta Okyere, Victoria Shepard and Griffin Wheelock designed a brochure on the city’s parks, which highlighted what they have to offer. (Photo by Amy Porter)
Benedicta Okyere, Victoria Shepard and Griffin Wheelock designed a brochure on the city’s parks, which highlighted what they have to offer. (Photo by Amy Porter)

“There was a lot more than I thought,” Schieppe said.

Emma D’Allesandro also studied the negative impacts of NDD, which she said included depression, attention disorder, stress, low grades in school, and childhood obesity.

To combat the problem, Melody Latchaw figured out lots of places to go in Westfield, which included three water parks at Sadie Knox playground, Chapman playground and the Westfield Municipal playground.
Besides studying, the students went hiking, down to the river, kayaking and fishing. Among their catches were pumpkinseed fish and a flashlight, which they said surprised them.

Another group comprised of Benedicta Okyere, Victoria Shepard and Griffin Wheelock made up a brochure of all the locations in Westfield where you can go to combat NDD, and highlighted what they had to offer. These included Stanley Park, Amelia Park and the Bike Path. They also visited all the parks.

The Geocachers group, made up of Sean Reed, Anthony Lombardo and Evaston Niyogushima went around the city and planted geocaches in every park. Geocaching is a treasure hunt using gps to find treasures left by other geocachers.

(L-R) Emma D’Allesandro, Katelynn Pellegrini, Arianna Granger, Emily Schieppe and Melody Latchaw studied the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder and ways to combat the problem. (Photo by Amy Porter)
(L-R) Emma D’Allesandro, Katelynn Pellegrini, Arianna Granger, Emily Schieppe and Melody Latchaw studied the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder and ways to combat the problem. (Photo by Amy Porter)

The group made sure to leave their treasures in interesting locations. At

Sean Reed, Anthony Lombardo and Evaston Niygushima formed The Geocachers, hiding treasures in the city’s parks. (Photo by Amy Porter)
Sean Reed, Anthony Lombardo and Evaston Niygushima formed The Geocachers, hiding treasures in the city’s parks. (Photo by Amy Porter)

Sadie Knox, they planted their treasure where there was a beautiful view, and in Chapman down by the river. While on the Bike Trail, they saw a rabbit and a blue heron on the same day.

Another project included a student-made video of the Edventure camp.

The work of some of the students will continue after the camp ends on Thursday.

Mairi Tumavicus, Tim Nacewicz, Nate Whalen, Tucker Carey and Noah Gardner formed the Westfield Intramurals group. They will be holding games at the school for students ages 12 to 18 on Tuesdays and Thursdays in August.

Palmer said the students made all of the necessary phone calls to get permission to use the fields behind the school for the intramural sports.

“It was quite a learning process,” she said.

Westfield Intramurals will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. starting on August 9. On August 11, they will play flag football (no cleats please), on August 16 and 19, kickball, and on August 23 and 25, wiffleball. The intramurals are free, and everyone is welcome.

The goal is to get teens outside and playing sports with no pressure.

“We also have a group of students that are creating a “Nature Society” that will meet during the year as an extra-curricular activity.

(L-R) Mairi Tumavicus, Tim Nacewicz, Nate Whalen, Tucker Carey and Noah Gardner formed the Westfield Intramurals group as their summer camp project, which will be offering intramural sports games on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. beginning on August 9 at the school. (Photo by Amy Porter)
(L-R) Mairi Tumavicus, Tim Nacewicz, Nate Whalen, Tucker Carey and Noah Gardner formed the Westfield Intramurals group as their summer camp project, which will be offering intramural sports games on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. beginning on August 9 at the school. (Photo by Amy Porter)

On Monday the 8th, one of our students will be presenting to the Westfield Youth Commission about our findings and the opportunities that we have created for the students,” Palmer said.

The Edventure camp averaged 35-40 students in attendance, with some fluctuations due to competing activities and family vacations. South Middle School teachers who participated, besides Palmer and Barnet, included Emily Doucette, Jackie Ayr, Steve Dowd, Luke Baillargeon, and Matt Preye.

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