Annual Report 2002 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

22 Linking nature with children's attention capabilities

Nancy M. Wells, Design and Environmental Analysis, found that children who live in space surrounded by nature have increased attention capabilities. Wells compared the cognitive functioning of children before and after a move from poor-quality housing to better-quality housing with more green spaces—nature in view from rooms or natural yard settings—while accounting for the effects of improved housing. The study showed that the natural environment plays a significant role, more than previously recognized, in the well-being of children within a housing environment. Interventions such as preserving trees, planting new ones, and maintaining grassy areas have a major impact on children's welfare. The finding may encourage legislators and policymakers to promote housing improvements for families with low and moderate incomes.

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