RELEASE: American Heart Association joins steering committee of Outdoors Alliance for Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 5, 2012

Contact: Jacqueline Ostfeld; 202-548-6584; Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org; Retha Sherrod; (202) 785-7929; retha.sherrod@heart.org

American Heart Association joins steering committee of Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC–  OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids) today announced that the American Heart Association has joined the growing partnership advocate for connecting 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.

“Inactivity, a key factor in the rising rates of diabetes and childhood obesity, is putting our kids at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems in early adulthood,” said Robert DiBianco, M.D., American Heart Association spokesperson and cardiologist. “That’s why we support the efforts of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids to increase opportunities for families to be physically active in outdoor settings and to improve their overall health and well being.”

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.

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s number one and number four killers. It teams with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The association also recognizes the importance of making physical activity a life-long habit for children and time spent outdoors in nature can help children reach their physical activity goals while having fun.

Statement of OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids)

“The American Heart Association brings a strong 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.”

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About OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors, advocating to expand opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than forty national organizations, including Sierra Club, the YMCA of the USA, REI, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, Outdoor Foundation, Children & Nature Network, National Recreation and Park Association, National Association of State Park Directors, Active Network, The North Face and the American Heart Association to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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