FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 20, 2011
Contact: Jacqueline Ostfeld; 202-821-8877; Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity joins steering committee of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids
Washington, DC– The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) today announced that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity has joined the fast-growing partnership to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors. With the addition of one of the strongest voices for children’s health to OAK’s steering committee, the alliance will advance one of its key goals to strengthen the connections between health and wellbeing and time spent outdoors.
“To reverse the childhood obesity epidemic we must make sure that all families have access to affordable, nutritious food and safe places in which to be physically active. We look forward to working with OAK to promote physical activity opportunities for children – especially those most in need. Policies and programs that reintroduce our children to the benefits of outdoor play are a critical component to ensuring they are physically active.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity Director, Joseph Thompson, MD, MPH.
Today’s children and youth are growing up indoors. Advances in technology, changing family structures, increased urbanization, fear of strangers and poorly planned development all contribute to what author Richard Louv calls Nature Deficit Disorder in his best-seller, “Last Child in the Woods.” Recent reports have found that kids and teens are spending more than seven hours every day “plugged in” to electronic media. At the same time, the rates of overweight and obesity have reached alarming levels in the real world.
Emerging research demonstrates that time spent outdoors in nature provides myriad benefits for the health and wellbeing of children and youth. From increases in physical fitness to reductions in stress and the symptoms of attention deficit disorders to improved vision, time outdoors in nature is one important way to improve the health of children and youth.
In collaboration with researchers, advocates and other partners at the local, state and national level, the RWJF Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity identifies and promotes the most promising strategies to prevent childhood obesity through policy and changes in the community environment. The Center places special emphasis on reaching children most affected by the epidemic and its health consequences, including those living in low income neighborhoods, communities of color, and geographically isolated areas.
Statement of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity brings a key advocate for the health of our children into the alliance. Over the last few decades, the amount of time children spent outdoors in nature has diminished. In these hard economic times, the natural world provides an inexpensive and often close to home way for kids to get physically active through play and recreation. Together we will work to advance opportunities for children and youth to improve their own health through time spent in the outdoors.”
The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (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. Launched by Sierra Club, YMCA of the USA, REI, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, Outdoor Foundation, Children & Nature Network and the National Recreation and Park Association in June 2010, OAK’s membership continues to expand.
For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org