While many of this week’s One Day, One Dog activities will find Wingate University students in the great outdoors, two service projects – a lake-trail cleanup and a playground facelift – could be considered targeted moves in the fight against Nature Deficit Disorder.
A phrase coined by “Last Child in the Woods” author Richard Louv, NDD is not a medical diagnosis but more of a way to describe what he calls “the human costs of alienation from nature: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, a rising rate of myopia, child and adult obesity, Vitamin D deficiency, and other maladies.”
Organizers of the projects don’t guarantee they will cure every ailment, but considering a recent EPA study that found Americans spending about 90 percent of their time indoors, they do suggest that the chores will be a worthy change of pace.
“Since everyone is all about technology now, I’m hoping they’ll just go outside and enjoy themselves for a little bit,” says Biology Club president Elizabeth Rubsam, a junior from Thomasville who is leading the trail cleanup. She anticipates that students will be picking up mostly aluminum cans and small trash, though they are also likely to find tangled fishing lines and hooks, since the one-mile trail surrounds the campus lake.
Debra Davis, assistant biology professor, says prior trail cleanups have yielded everything from tires to a refrigerator. Students involved in last year’s One Day, One Dog trail venture cut back small trees and limbs and cleared underbrush to widen the pathways. This year, the focus is on removing what litterbugs have left behind to beautify the space for future human trail-users and to keep it safe for wildlife.
“It bothers me thinking that some small animal would get hurt on something that wouldn’t have been a problem if it had been thrown away,” Rubsam says. She urges fellow students to sign up for the cleanup and wear comfortable shoes when they hit the trail on Thursday morning.
“People can come and go, but the materials they need will be at the pavilion area. They can meet there and start walking,” she says. “The event is not just cleaning up the environment but also about enjoying yourself and spending time outside.”
The campus lake is accessible from Zeb Goodman Road off the east end of East Wilson Street.
Also on Thursday, another group of students will be busy on the west side of campus doing cleanup and light construction work behind Wingate Baptist Daycare, giving its playground “a little TLC,” according to assistant religion professor Catherine Wright.
Teresa Meadows is director of the facility, which serves 77 students ages birth to 12. She says in addition to cleaning up the playground lawn, students will be transporting sand and building some outdoor shelving units so that toys now stored in a shed can be made more accessible to children during every recess.
“We are also in the process of installing some more equipment out there,” Meadows says. The ultimate goal is to make the playground more user-friendly and give students more time outdoors.
Meadows says that University students should show up ready to dig and build and that the church will have construction supplies on hand.
Both volunteer efforts will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday. They are among more than a dozen service projects scheduled to take place that day as the University challenges students, employees, alumni and supporters to “Give, Serve and Celebrate” during One Day, One Dog. To find out more about the annual event, visit onedayonedog.org.
April 9, 2018