In front of an audience of thousands at the NRPA Congress and Exposition in Anaheim today, Ranger Rick led a group of kids onstage through a virtual exploration of the natural world, pointing out constellations in the night sky and gazing at the tops of trees in a forest.
National Wildlife Federation wants to ensure that 10 million new kids experience more than a simulated version of nature, and is launching a 10 Million Kids Outdoors Campaign to transform screen time into green time for America's children. NRPA President and CEO, Barbara Tulipane announced her organization's partnership with NWF in helping to achieve this goal at the conference opening session this morning.
"We know that when children spend time outdoors they are more active and their overall well-being improves," said Tulipane. "Our nation's parks and recreation areas are not just a solution for better health, but are the answer to inspiring a healthier generation of youth who appreciate and care for our open space lands and who will engage in environmental stewardship that will benefit our future."
National Wildlife Federation is committed to working with park and recreation departments so that children can get the outdoor time they need," says Larry Schweiger, NWF President and CEO. "There's a reason they call it the Great Outdoors, and we're going to make sure kids know why. This work is too important to lose another generation before we tackle the problem."
Research shows children are spending long hours indoors using electronic media yet they spend only mere minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play. This is affecting the health and well-being of children and is quickly causing a generation of kids who are becoming less healthy and who are disconnected from the natural world around them.
The 10 Million Kids Outdoors goal encourages kids to get outdoors and explore, play, and learn for 90 minutes per week. This outdoor time excludes time spent outdoors in organized sports, which while beneficial, does not provide children the same benefits as outdoor play in green spaces. By increasing outdoor time to 90 minutes per week, NRPA and NWF believe it will contribute to a significant increase in children's connection to nature due in part to more time spent outdoors.
NRPA is calling on all park and recreation professionals and agencies to pledge their support for the 10 Million Kids Outdoors goal by signing up online to participate in the effort. NRPA and NWF are also calling on other child-serving organizations and all parents to join in this effort by committing to getting their kids to spend more time each week in outdoor activities.
To help achieve the 10 Million Kids Outdoors goal NRPA, with the support of NWF, will bolster park and recreation departments' capabilities to connect children to nature and help them increase awareness of the benefits of connecting children to nature through local parks by providing a suite of resources and materials specifically for parks and recreation to utilize in this effort.
For more information about the 10 Million Kids Outdoors goal, or to participate, visit www.nwf.org/10Million/nrpa.