Bill to Connect Kids to Nature Introduced
Congressman Ron Kind (D–WI) introduced the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 18. The bill supports federal, state, and local plans thathelp connect children with the natural world.
The Moving Outdoors in Nature Act aims to help get America’s kids healthy and active by bolstering support for more natural play areas, outdoor recreation programs, public health initiatives, outdoor learning environments, service learning, and other initiatives.
“National Wildlife Federation commends Congressman Kind for introducing this legislation that will help combat obesity and improve overall health in the United States. Once passed, the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act can get Americans moving and engaged in recreation and active outdoor play,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, NWF’s Director of Education Advocacy.
The Moving Outdoors in Nature Act (H.R. 6426) will achieve its goals by:
- Directing President Obama to develop a federal strategy to connect children, youth, and families with the outdoors;
- Encouraging states to develop similar state-based strategies that incorporate public health, parks and recreation, transportation, and other initiatives at the local level; and
- Supporting research documenting the health, conservation, and other benefits of active time spent outdoors in the natural world.
In June 2010, first lady Michelle Obama unveiled Let’s Move Outside!, which expands upon the first lady’s campaign to solve childhood obesity within a generation by providing resources for families to get active in nature.
In addition, the Obama administration recently completed more than two dozen listening sessions nationwide as part of the president’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative.
The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) supports the passage of this new bill. OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with the common interest in expanding the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors.
Purpose: MONA will improve our children’s health, support economic growth and strengthen the future of conservation in America by reconnecting our children, youth and families with the natural world through innovative state strategies that connect communities with green spaces, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, and engage the health community in educating parents and caregivers.
Supporting Organizations: The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, Outdoor Foundation, REI, Sierra Club, and the YMCA of the USA
Lead Sponsor: Representative Ron Kind (D-WI)
Legislative Content: The Moving Outdoors in Nature Act of 2010:
- Provides incentives to states to develop 5-year state strategies to connect children, youth and families with the natural world. State strategies are developed by agencies and partners in public health, parks and recreation, transportation, and other sectors to create innovative solutions and fund initiatives at the local level;
- Directs the President to develop a similar strategy at the federal level by bringing together federal agencies and national partners to create a national action plan; and
- Supports research documenting the health, conservation, and other benefits of active time spent outdoors in the natural world.
Reconnecting with Nature to Strengthen America
- Our children’s lives are out of balance. Children today spend less time outdoors than any generation in human history, devoting just four to seven minutes a day on average in unstructured outdoor play while spending an average of seven and a half hours every day in front of electronic media.
- Our children’s health is declining. Obesity and attention deficit disorders are on the rise in America, especially among children. Obesity is the cause of many major health issues, decreasing the quality of life for Americans and straining our nation’s economy. Attention deficit disorders are impacting America’s competitiveness and readiness to learn in the classroom.
- Our economy is struggling. In addition to the negative economic impact of childhood obesity, the outdoor retail industry, many local tourist destinations or “gateway communities,” and state fish and wildlife agencies rely on revenue generated when Americans spend time outdoors.
- Our conservation legacy is at risk. Those who do not spend time in nature are less likely to protect it, leaving the future of conservation, our nation’s immense natural resources and America’s hunting and angling legacy at risk.
- Our military readiness is declining. Nearly one in four applicants to the military is rejected for being overweight or obese – it's the most common reason for medical disqualification.