Thursday, October 20, 2005

Editorial: Opening their eyes

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (Oct 20, 2005): The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust is to be commended for developing ways to get young students outdoors and exploring the environment all around them. And the fourth-grade teachers at Pond Cove School should be applauded for taking advantage of such an interesting and fun program.

We all remember what it was like to learn about biology by looking at pictures in books and having speakers come into the classroom. And we all remember, too, how that world came alive when we first ventured outdoors with a knowledgeable person and began to really look at all that is there.

A group of Cape students – many of whom, no doubt, had already begun to explore the outdoors – are getting a very special treat, exploring land trust property in their hometown through the seasons, as we learn on Page 1.

In a time when schools and teachers are constantly pressured by governments and parents to cram more information into students’ minds, in preparation for regurgitation on multiple-choice exams taken in uncomfortable chairs in rooms blanketed in fluorescent light, an outdoor excursion to look, touch, smell, hear – and maybe even taste – Mother Nature is an increasingly rare opportunity.

As a society – not just during school hours – we need to do more to get students out of houses and classrooms and engaged in the world around all of us, whether in the context of nature, civic action or other endeavors.

We hear constantly – and we report on here in the pages of the Current from time to time – that Americans in general and children in particular are less fit and more overweight than ever before.

Getting kids outdoors, moving around, is one way many experts see to combat this dangerous and unhealthy trend. It’s not just the distance from the television, which benefits the body, but also the involvement with other people in experiences beyond the self, which expand the mind.

The land trust lesson, that if kids spend time outside, physically exploring nature, they can learn amazing things and have a lot of fun, will pay off for years – far beyond the last game of kickball or floor hockey.

Keep yours open, too

No doubt you’ve seen the posters and heard the pleas on TV and in print, but keep your eyes open for any sign of Lynn Moran, the 24-year-old Windham native who disappeared 10 days ago now after spending the day and evening in Portland.

One person said Moran was on Anthoine Street in South Portland at around 11 p.m. Oct. 10 – near the police station, of all places. Police and Moran’s family need the help of all of us.

South Portland police have said they turned up no leads in a city-wide search Tuesday, but residents should still be on the lookout.

Many of us remember the all-too-similar disappearance of Amy St. Laurent in 2001, and the tragic end to the search for her. But we also remember that the man who killed St. Laurent was brought to justice and is now behind bars.

We hope and pray Moran is safe and well, and we hope that her family will not have to wait weeks, as St. Laurent’s did, worrying, hoping and, worst of all, not knowing.

Information from anyone who was out and about in Portland and South Portland late on Oct. 10 will be useful in the search for Moran.

If you even think you might have seen her, please call Portland police at 874-8575.

Jeff Inglis, editor