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Balanced and Barefoot Lecture: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children

January 17—6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Angela Hanscom will present a lecture on her recent book, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children. Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens. But more and more, studies show that children need “rough and tumble” outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Disturbingly, a lack of movement has been shown to lead to a number of health and cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness at school recess break. So, how can you ensure your child is fully engaging their body, mind, and all of their senses?

Using the same philosophy that lies at the heart of her popular TimberNook program—that nature is the ultimate sensory experience, and that psychological and physical health improves for children when they spend time outside on a regular basis—author Angela Hanscom offers several strategies to help your child thrive, even if you live in an urban environment. Today it is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, or spinning in circles just for fun. We’ve taken away merry-go-rounds, shortened the length of swings, and done away with teeter-totters to keep children safe. Children have fewer opportunities for unstructured outdoor play than ever before, and recess times at school are shrinking due to demanding educational environments. With this lecture, you’ll discover little things you can do anytime, anywhere to help your kids achieve the movement they need to be happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Thursday, January 17, 6pm (snow date: Thursday March 14 at 6pm)
Friday, January 18, 1:30pm (snow date: Friday, March 15, 1:30pm)
*This lecture will be offered twice, once during the day and once in the evening.
Please register here.

About Angela Hanscom
I’m a pediatric occupational therapist that has taken a unique path in life. Typically occupational therapists are found in buildings (i.e., schools, hospitals, or clinics) and treat children with attention, balance, sensory, and motor issues. I still help these children, only I use giant mud puddles, rope swings that reach new heights, fallen trees, and the woods as my medium of choice for treatment and prevention for that matter.

Before I became a writer, I started a developmental nature program in my backyard as an experiment. What started as just an idea, quickly grew into what is now an internationally recognized brand, TimberNook, in just a few short years. Now we can be found throughout the United States and New Zealand. It is through hours of observing children at these camps where the idea for Balanced & Barefoot was born.

I live in New Hampshire in an antique cape nestled in the woods with my adored husband and three children. My favorite activities are downhill skiing, reading by the fire, boating, traveling, and taking walks through the woods with my family. My faith and my family are at the core of everything I do. Without them, there would be no book or TimberNook. My hope is that this book will provide valuable insight into the sensory and motor needs of children for years to come.


January 17
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Hitchcock Center for the Environment


Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
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Hitchcock Center for the Environment