Children & Nature Network Applauds Groundbreaking New Initiative to Connect Every Child in America to Nature and Increase Diversity of our Public Lands through the Antiquities Act
Chicago, IL—President Obama announced the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which will ensure every fourth grader across the United States has the opportunity to visit a National Park or other public lands. This is a significant effort that addresses Nature-Deficit Disorder, a term coined by Children & Nature Network Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus Richard Louv to describe the sharp decline in time spent in nature by children across the globe over the past 30 years.
In his groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Louv documented the steep decline in children spending time outdoors in natural settings over the past 30 years. Children today spend as many as 8 hours per day sedentary and indoors and only minutes playing outside in nature. The Children & Nature Network was formed nearly 10 years ago to galvanize communities and fuel a worldwide grassroots movement to create a future in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives.
“The President’s announcement and new initiative may well be a turning point,” says Louv. “The initiative will help support the people who have worked so hard, many of them for decades, to connect children to nature. It will encourage new actions by local government, education, religious organizations, the health care professions, and, crucially, by our business communities. But the greatest change must happen beyond government, in the daily decisions that all of us, as individuals and members of families, take in our daily lives. Ultimately, only we can make sure that every child receives the gifts of the natural world.”
Fran Mainella, Former Director of the National Park Service and member of the Children & Nature Network Board of Directors, also applauds this effort. “The need to connect children to nature and outdoor play is critically important to their health and well-being, and to the future of our public lands. This is an effort that truly benefits all Americans,” says Mainella.
For many children, spending time outdoors isn’t always easy or safe. Park deserts, a lack of transportation, stranger danger, screen time and overscheduled families are all factors that contribute to an increasingly indoor and sedentary American lifestyle. Lack of physical activity is a factor in the rising rates of childhood type II diabetes, poor cardiovascular health, and obesity. The President’s initiative is an important step to breaking down some of these barriers and ensuring that kids across America have the opportunity to visit one of our national treasures.
“Today President Obama also designated three Historic Sites, including the Pullman National Historic Site in Chicago. We applaud the President for using the Antiquities Act to improve the diversity of our parks and public lands,” says Children & Nature Network Executive Director Sarah Milligan-Toffler.
“Today’s announcement from President Obama represents a pivotal moment in the engagement of young and diverse communities in the great outdoors, ” says Juan Martinez, Director of Leadership Development at the Children and Nature Network. “Our nation’s diversity should be reflected in our parks and public lands, both in the people who choose to visit them and the sites we protect. President Obama, Interior Secretary Jewell and National Park Service Director Jarvis have taken a great leap forward by increasing access for every young American, and protecting three incredibly special places.”
About the Children & Nature Network: After the publication of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder in 2006, author Richard Louv and others co-founded the Children & Nature Network (C&NN), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to fuel the worldwide grassroots movement to reconnect children with nature. C&NN invests in local grassroots leaders, inspiring and supporting them to take action to create a future in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives. In 2014, C&NN provided support to 369 grassroots campaigns that collectively connected 3.75 million children to nature experiences in 48 states & 12 nations. 211 Family Nature Clubs engaged more than 35,000 youth & families worldwide. For more information: www.childrenandnature.org.