The National Wildlife Federation has set a three-year goal of moving 10 million kids outdoors at home, school, parks and anywhere there is green space.
The non-profit said it was targeting the cause because a host of campaigns have failed to move the needle since Richard Louv published his seminal book, “Last Child in the Woods,” in 2012. That book, which argued that declining outdoor play was contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, launched a national movement to reintroduce American children to the joys of playing outdoors.
To achieve the 10 Million Kids Outdoors goal, National Wildlife Federation will seek to educate and inspire parents, schools, park and recreation departments to foster outdoor play and learning. It will engage all these influencers in a discussion of how after- school commitments from homework to extracurricular activities, shorter or nonexistent recess during the school day, lack of access to outdoor play spaces and parental safety concerns about unsupervised outdoor play have led to kids spending an alarming amount of time indoors.
“This outdoor time excludes time spent in organized sports, which while beneficial, doesn’t give kids the same benefits as free play in green spaces,” NWF said in a release. “Research shows that spending time outside helps kids grow lean and strong, boosts mood, improves school performance and creates a stronger tie to the natural world.”
NWF will also continue to advocate for local, state and federal policies that connect youth and families with the natural world, including the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act sponsored by by U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO).