Getting Kids Back Outside—NWF Tackles the Problem
Our announcement of NWF’s 10 Million Kids Outdoors goal reminds me of a journey that dramatizes the serious nature of the problem we face.
On a flight from Washington D.C. to San Francisco I found sitting in the window seat next to me a rather obese 10 year old boy. As soon as our plane was over ten thousand feet, the boy broke out his Game Boy and settled in for a long and intense session. After a couple of hours of this, our pilot came on the intercom and said, “Folks, off to our left is one of the best views you will ever see of the Grand Canyon.” I watched the boy and noticed how his eyes never left the Game Boy, not even for a second. I was saddened that this child had no apparent interest in the wonders of nature below. It occurred to me then that I was witnessing firsthand an important phenomenon that was having a profound impact on our children’s future and the very future of nature itself.Kids, like the one on my flight, need to touch the earth and be surrounded by a world of green. They need to be outside more for their own well-being and the future well-being of the earth. Gone are the days when the majority of kids spent hours at a time in the full flush of nature, in unstructured play exploring the hidden wonders under every rock and around every tree. Gone, too, are the days when kids slept under a blanket of stars.
While we can’t bring those days back, we can move the pendulum back toward the middle. NWF is committed to helping parents, policy makers, educators and child-serving organizations so that children can get the outdoor time they need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. My parents taught me why it’s called the Great Outdoors, I will teach my grandchildren, and NWF is going to make sure lots more kids know why too.
Our efforts will be focused on giving parents the knowledge and tools they need to make outdoor time a daily habit. We’ll work with schools to restore recess and incorporate outdoor learning into their curriculum. Other child-serving institutions like parks and recreation departments will be encouraged to foster outdoor play. Policy makers will wake up to the problem and recognize the integral role outdoor time plays in the health and well-being of our nation’s kids.
Learn more about NWF’s Ten Million Kids Outdoors goal and how you can help make it a reality at NWF.org/10millionkids. Looking for ways to get kids outdoors? NWF’s Be Out There website is full of ideas. Join the movement and take the Be Out There pledge. By helping NWF reach its goal, we can help ensure a nation of happier, healthier kids.