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Running Free in Germany's Outdoor Schools

One early morning this past February, before the frost melted or the sun fully rose, 20 small children gathered in a scabby municipal park in Pankow, the northernmost borough of Berlin. The sky was gray and the ground was gray, but the children’s cheeks were bright and so were their moods. They ran in circles, shrieked with delight and spent a great deal of time rolling around atop frozen soil as traffic whizzed by just meters away. Their parents, shivering and anxious to get on with the day, paid them little mind. They smiled absent-mindedly and took sips of coffee from environmentally friendly stainless steel to-go cups.

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