Category Archives: Media Releases

RELEASE: CELEBRATION OF THE MILITARY CHILD OUTDOORS

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kristina Ortez de Jones, Sierra Club, 505-206-9629 Kristina.ortez@sierraclub.org

CELEBRATION OF THE MILITARY CHILD OUTDOORS

Hundreds of military children gather to kick off Month of the Military Child

March 31, 2012 – TRIANGLE, VA – April 1st marks the start of the Month of the Military Child. The Sierra ClubArmed Services YMCABlue Star FamiliesNational Military Family AssociationOutdoors Alliance for Kids and the National Park Service are kicking off this month with an outdoor celebration for hundreds of military children and their families at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia. Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, will speak about the importance of connecting military children with the outdoors.

“Military children serve too, and we’ve found that connecting these children with the outdoors allows them to not only have fun, but gives them and their families a sense of resiliency,” said Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Military Families and Veterans Representative.  “The outdoors heals.”

The outdoors allows children to “unplug” and connect with other military children. Military families and veterans have found that time in the outdoors helps them reconnect with families and friends, and regain positive aspects of their military experience.

“The Celebration of the Military Child Outside event will strengthen family bonding and give our military families healthy tools to help make military life easier. We are proud to partner with the Sierra Club and other non-profits on this great event and year-round,” said CEO Mike Landers of the Armed Services YMCA.

Children of deployed military families are twice as likely as those from nonmilitary families to report elevated anxiety and experience significantly higher rates of behavior problems than their peers.

“Our military children face many challenges right now,” said Mark Smith, Executive Director of Blue Star Families. “Between moves, school, and deployments, military kids really need a chance to get outside, play, and explore. That’s why we’re excited to join these military-serving organizations to celebrate military children outdoors.”

Hundreds of children with active-duty parents will get to enjoy a day of hiking, learn how to cast a fly rod and pitch tents. These types of outdoor experiences give children an opportunity to relax and reconnect with each other.

“The National Military Family Association has long shared the belief in the healing powers of the outdoors.  After more than 10 years at war, events like this that bring families together outside to make new memories are so important,” Joyce Raezer, National Military Family Association Executive Director.

Children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day connected to electronic media, and less time getting outside.

“Kids aren’t getting too many opportunities to just be kids these days,” says Jacqueline Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Sierra Club National Youth Representative. “OAK is proud to stand with military children and their families to celebrate their service and give kids an opportunity to decompress from the daily stresses they face by getting their hands dirty and enjoying some quality family time in the great outdoors.”

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About the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors: Mission Outdoors is Sierra Club’s initiative to provide access to outdoor experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds.  Through direct programming, advocacy and education, Mission Outdoors aims to give all Americans a meaningful outdoor experience. Read more at http://www.sierraclub.org/missionoutdoors

About the Armed Services YMCA: The Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit organization designed to make military life easier. We provide support services to military service members and their families all over the world, with a particular focus on junior-enlisted men and women — the individuals on the front lines of defending our nation. At its 14 dedicated branches, the ASYMCA offers essential programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, deployment support, emergency support, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals, among many others.  Visit http://www.asymca.org for more information.

About Blue Star Families: Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. Read more at http://bluestarfam.org

About the National Military Family Association: Military families serve our country with pride, honor, and quiet dedication. The National Military Family Association is the leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening and protecting the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen. We provide families of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA with information, work to get them the benefits they deserve, and offer programs that improve their lives. Our more than 40 years of service and accomplishments have made us a trusted resource for military families and the Nation’s leaders. To learn more, visit http://www.MilitaryFamily.org.

About National Park Service’s Prince William Forest Park: Prince William Forest Park is an oasis of natural beauty and human history located only 35 miles south of Washington, DC. 37 miles of hiking trails and 21 miles of bicycle-accessible roads and trails traverse this 15,000 acre piedmont forest. Beneath its canopy lies evidence of human history reaching back to 8,000 B.C. http://www.nps.gov/prwi/index.htm.

About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. OAK believes 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 across the nation. Find out more on our website: http://www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org.

RELEASE: Healthy Kids Outdoors Act Supports Strategies to Connect Kids with Nature

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Contact: Max Greenberg, National Wildlife Federation, greenbergm@nwf.org or 703-438-6018

 

Healthy Kids Outdoors Act Supports Strategies to Connect Kids with Nature 

Congressman Ron Kind (WI) and Senator Mark Udall (CO) Introduce Legislation to Bolster Outdoor Recreation,
Address Childhood Obesity and Strengthen the Economy 

WASHINGTON, DC (November 3, 2011) — Congressman Ron Kind (WI) and Senator Mark Udall (CO) introduced the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act today to support state, local and federal strategies to connect youth and families with the natural world, improve children’s health and support future economic growth and conservation efforts.

This legislation will help get Americans active outdoors through natural play; outdoor recreation such as camping, hiking, hunting and fishing; public health initiatives; outdoor learning environments; service learning and other initiatives.

“Children today are spending less time outdoors than any other generation in history,” said Rep. Kind. “To tackle alarming childhood obesity rates and encourage healthy lifestyles, we must encourage our kids to get active, especially outdoors. I am committed to providing access and opportunities for our families to get active in nature and will continue to treasure every chance I get to take advantage of Wisconsin’s abundant natural resources with my two young boys.”

“I introduced the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, along with my House colleague Rep. Ron Kind, to help Americans, especially kids, connect with healthy, active, outdoor activities,” said Sen. Udall, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s National Parks Subcommittee and co-chairman of the bipartisan Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus. “Connecting with the outdoors is an excellent way to promote good physical and mental health and bolster America’s conservation legacy. It also supports our vibrant outdoor economy, which is especially important in Colorado and to our rural mountain communities.”

Today’s children are spending less time in nature than their parents or grandparents. At the same time, one in three American kids is overweight or obese; more than half of all children in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D; instances of attention deficit disorders are on the rise; and stress, anxiety and depression rates among youth are increasing.

The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act would provide incentives to states to develop cross-cutting, five-year strategies to get children and families active in the great outdoors. It would also direct the president to involve federal agencies and national partners to create a similar plan at the national level and support research further documenting the health, conservation and other benefits of active time spent outdoors in the natural world.

“The nature of childhood has changed, and there isn’t much nature in it,” said Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO. “National Wildlife Federation commends Congressman Ron Kind and Senator Mark Udall for introducing legislation that will strengthen the economy by getting Americans moving through recreation and active outdoor play.”

The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act has the support of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), a national strategic partnership of non-profit organizations and corporations from the conservation, health and outdoor recreation sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with nature.

“Providing access to the outdoors is at the heart of our business. We believe in the virtuous cycle–the simple concept based on the idea that if you get people outdoors, they will love that experience. The more they come back, the more they grow to care about protecting our natural playgrounds and living healthy active lives,” said Todd Spaletto, president of The North Face. “We’re excited about our partnership with OAK and support policy solutions like the Health Kids Outdoors Act as it means more opportunities to get people outdoors.”

“At a time when more than one in three children in the US are overweight, we applaud Congressman Ron Kind and Senator Mark Udall for successfully introducing the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act,” said Dave Alberga, CEO at Active Network. “We look forward to continuing our support in getting kids active and participating in outdoor activities.”

“Through our Mission Outdoors programs, we have witnessed shy children grow into leaders from the confidence they gain after hiking up a mountain. We have seen military kids get a much needed break from the daily stress they face when one of their parents deploys by spending a week outdoors at summer camp,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “But, fewer kids are spending time outdoors and many don’t have the opportunity to get outdoors. Rep. Kind and Sen. Udall’s bill could help reverse this trend, improve our kids’ health and open up a new world for them.”

Americans are paying a steep price for less time spent outdoors. Obesity not only decreases the quality of life for many Americans – it is straining our nation’s economy through steep increases in healthcare costs. In addition, local and state economies have suffered as the drop in outdoor recreation has translated into less revenue for outdoor retailers, local tourist destinations or “gateway communities,” and state fish and wildlife agencies.

The conditions are right for making lasting changes in the ways youth and families relate to nature. The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act will support the goals of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and the First Lady’s effort to address childhood obesity through Let’s Move!

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About 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. The alliance was 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. Since then, OAK’s steering committee has grown to include the National Association of State Park Directors, The North Face and Active Network. OAK’s membership continues to expand and now includes 35 nonprofit organizations and corporations. Learn more at www.OutdoorsAllianceForKids.org.

RELEASE: OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS LAUNCHES “GET YOUR NATURE ON!” FACEBOOK APPLICATION

6/13/2011

Contact: Kendra Barkoff (DOI) 202-208-6416

View Original Release from the US Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, seventy-five local DC students from Thurgood Marshall High School were invited to play on what may be considered the nation’s most well-known backyard, the White House South Lawn. As part of the First Lady’s Summer South Lawn Series and in celebration of the Let’s Move Outside! (LMO) one year anniversary, the South Lawn provided exciting opportunities for the students to engage in healthy, outdoor recreation. Activities included a rock climbing wall, camping demonstration, kayak clinic, mountain biking, frisbee, and a fly fishing station.

Launched in June 2010, Let’s Move Outside! is the outdoor activity component of the First Lady’sLet’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity in a generation. Led by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers – which together, manage over one-fifth of the nation’s landmass – Let’s Move Outside! is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and aims to connect children and families to the outdoors through healthy recreation on public lands and waters.

“It’s great to see so many young people finding entertainment and adventure in the great outdoors,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With one year of Let’s Move Outside! under our belt, we look forward to establishing new ways to engage our youth, expand opportunities for outdoor recreation, and build on partnerships to support these efforts.”

One example of a national organization finding new ways to connect kids to outdoors experiences is the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). To commemorate the LMO! one year anniversary, OAK launched a new Facebook application to inspire and encourage young people to get outside, and be active. The new “Get Your Nature On” Facebook application will provide inspiration, encouragement and resources to young people who commit to getting active in the outdoors this year.

“By using social media to inspire, inform, and connect young people to nature, OAK addresses some of the key challenges raised by the thousands of young people who participated in the America’s Great Outdoors listening sessions,” added Salazar. “I am proud of our work with groups like OAK who have committed to implementing the recommendations in the report by making the health of our nation’s youth and public lands a priority.”

Based on recommendations from the America’s Great Outdoors Youth Report to create infrastructure, access, programming, service opportunities and inspiration to help the next generation of America’s youth engage in healthy, outdoor recreation, members of OAK have made commitments in key areas. Examples include:

  • YMCA, National Military Family Association and Sierra Club. Free camp access for 7,000 military kids and families in over 35 states.
  • International Mountain Biking Association. Pledging to host 300 free clinics and get 30,00 kids mountain biking this year.
  • The North Face. Hosting 7 regional events engaging hundreds of kids and families in guided hikes and activities in state parks across the country and distributing 70,000 free entrance passes and Activity Guides with tips on where to go and what to do to State Parks.
  • Outdoor Nation. Engaging thousands of youth through five regional summits with the goal of mobilizing youth around recreation and connecting to the outdoors.
  • National Wildlife Federation. Launching a new and improved version of its online park and outdoor activity-finder program, NatureFind. NatureFind is a one-stop, online source for free information and directions to 10,000 of the best outdoor places in America.

The Outdoor Alliance for Kids is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The alliance was 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. Since then, OAK’s steering committee has grown to include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, the National Association of State Park Directors, The North Face and Active Network. OAK’s membership continues to expand.

To learn more about Let’s Move Outside! and to find outdoor places near you, please visit http://www.letsmove.gov/lets-move-outside or www.recreation.gov.

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RELEASE: The North Face joins steering committee of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 13, 2011

Contact:
Jacqueline Ostfeld; 202-548-6584; Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org
Jessica B. Lange; 510-618-2734; Jessica_b_Lange@vfc.com

The North Face joins steering committee of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC– The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) today announced that the North Face has joined the fast-growing national partnership to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors. With the addition of one of the outdoor industry’s leaders in providing equipment and funding opportunities for youth to experience nature to OAK’s steering committee, the alliance will work to advance opportunities for children, youth and families to experience the outdoors.

“At The North Face we believe that consistent and frequent exposure to the outdoors in the formative years of a young person’s life is not only great for their physical health, but is vital in developing character, confidence, a sense of adventure and respect for the environment into their adulthood,” said Brook Shinsky, outdoor participation & community development manager for The North Face. “We’re excited about our partnership with OAK and the opportunity to get even more people outdoors.”

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 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. Spending significant time in the out-of-doors during childhood has also been shown to contribute to positive attitudes about the environment in adulthood.

The North Face is dedicated to encouraging an active healthy lifestyle and a stronger connection with the outdoors for greater support and protection of our natural landscapes. In addition to partnerships with organizations like OAK, The North Face also provides tools for connecting to nature through PlanetExplore.com, and awards more than $250,000 to non-profit organizations dedicated to getting kids outdoors through the Explore Fund.

Statement of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

“The North Face brings a leader from the outdoor industry 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 wellbeing through time spent in the outdoors.”

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About OAK: 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. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, National Association of State Park Directors and The North Face are the most recent to join OAK’s Steering Committee.

For more information: http://www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Reconnects Children, Youth and Families with Nature

February 16, 2011

IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Mary Burnette, National Wildlife Federation, Burnette@nwf.org, 703-438-6097

America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Reconnects Children, Youth and Families with Nature 

White House Report Highlights Health, Economic, Conservation and Social Benefits of Outdoor Recreation and Unstructured Outdoor Play

WASHINGTON (February 16, 2011) — The Outdoors Alliance for Kids commends President Barack Obama for highlighting the importance of reconnecting children, youth and families with nature in the America’s Great Outdoors report released today.

More than 100,000 Americans provided input into this report, both online and in person at more than 50 general and youth listening sessions across the country last summer and fall. Their collective messages are reflected in the report.

The report recommends increasing Department of the Interior investments in the Youth in the Great Outdoors initiative to employ, educate and engage young people from all backgrounds. This includes supporting the “Trail to Every Classroom” professional development program for teachers, partnering with communities to improve recreational opportunities and investing in urban parks to provide outdoor opportunities where most Americans live.

The report shines a spotlight on key barriers to Americans spending more time outdoors, including lack of access, safety, and transportation issues, especially for youth from disadvantaged communities. It also highlights key benefits like the 6.5 million jobs created every year from outdoor activities as well as the health benefits of spending active time outdoors.

“To reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in this country, we must make sure that all children have access to safe outdoor places where they can be physically active—especially children who live in low income neighborhoods, communities of color, and children who live in geographically isolated areas. To safeguard the future of our kids and the health of our nation we must reclaim our surroundings and the enjoyment they can provide. Programs and policies in America’s Great Outdoors call for just this,” said Joe Thompson, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity.

“Increasing the number of safe and accessible green spaces is critical to reconnecting families with nature, especially those in low-income communities who already face numerous health challenges,” said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the YMCA of the USA. “The report acknowledges the need to provide community-based green spaces that are safe and accessible.”

The conditions are right for making lasting changes in the ways children, youth and families relate to nature. In June 2010, first lady Michelle Obama unveiled Let’s Move Outside!, which expands upon the first lady’s initiative to solve childhood obesity within a generation by providing resources for families to get active in nature.

In November 2010, Congressman Ron Kind (D – WI) introduced the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act to support federal, state and local strategies that connect children with the natural world. In addition to helping reduce the incidence of obesity, outdoor play can reduce nearsightedness, vitamin D deficiency, stress, and the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorders in children.

“By making outdoor time a national priority, we are taking a much-needed step – out the door – to healthier, happier kids,” said Larry Schweiger, President of the National Wildlife Federation. “The nature of childhood has changed, and there’s not much nature in it. This report provides a blueprint for reversing this alarming trend.”

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids will work with the Administration and the Congress to implement the recommendations of the America’s Great Outdoors report.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): 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. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being of current and future generations, the health of our planet, communities and the economy depend on humans having a personal, direct and lifelong relationship with nature and the outdoors.

OAK’s steering committee brings together the Children & Nature NetworkIzaak Walton League of AmericaNational Association of State Park DirectorsNational Recreation and Park AssociationNational Wildlife FederationThe Outdoor FoundationREIRobert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood ObesitySierra Club, and the YMCA of the USA, collectively representing more than 30 million members and supporters, to address the growing divide between children and families and the natural world.

Learn more at www.OutdoorsAllianceForKids.org.

RELEASE: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity joins steering committee of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

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.”

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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

RELEASE: Moving Outdoors in Nature Act Will Support Strategies to Connect Kids with Nature

IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Communications Contact: 
Amanda Cooke, National Wildlife Federation, cookea@nwf.org or 703-438-6041

Moving Outdoors in Nature Act Will Support Strategies to Connect Kids with Nature

Congressman Ron Kind (D – WI) Introduces Bill to Bolster Federal, State and Local Recreation and Health Initiatives

WASHINGTON (November 18, 2010) — Congressman Ron Kind (D – WI) today introduced the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act (MONA) in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The bill supports federal, state and local strategies that connect children with the natural world.

Thanks to the leadership of Congressman Kind, MONA will help get America’s kids healthy and active by connecting children, youth and families with nature through natural play areas, outdoor recreation programs, public health initiatives, outdoor learning environments, service learning and other initiatives.

The legislation will achieve these goals by:

  • Directing the president 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.

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) supports passage of MONA, a bill that will help to address the childhood obesity epidemic and shape a new conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century.

Comprehensive policy solutions like MONA are critical as today’s children are spending less time outdoors in nature than any generation in history. At the same time, one in three American kids is overweight or obese; more than half of all children in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D; instances of attention deficit disorders are on the rise; and stress, anxiety and depression rates among youth are increasing.

The conditions are right for making lasting changes in the ways children, youth and families relate to nature.  In June 2010, first lady Michelle Obama unveiled Let’s Move Outside!, which expands upon the first lady’s initiative 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 importance of reconnecting children and families to recreation, conservation and the outdoors was a consistent theme in many sessions.

As part of AGO, federal public lands, health, environmental, and other agencies will submit a report to President Barack Obama by the end of the year that makes recommendations for a 21st century conservation strategy.  Today’s introduction of the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act will complement the administration’s initiative and could provide the framework for developing a broad-based strategy to reconnect children and their families to the outdoors.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): 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. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being of current and future generations, the health of our planet, communities and the economy depend on humans having a personal, direct and lifelong relationship with nature and the outdoors.

OAK’s steering committee brings together the YMCA of the USAREISierra ClubNational Wildlife FederationIzaak Walton League of AmericaThe Outdoor FoundationNational Recreation and Park Association and the Children & Nature Network, collectively representing more than 30 million members and supporters, to address the growing divide between children and families and the natural world.

Learn more at www.OutdoorsAllianceForKids.org.

 

RELEASE: Coalition Established to Connect Children and Families with the Great Outdoors

For Immediate Release:
June 1, 2010

Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698 

Outdoors Alliance for Kids 
Coalition Established to Connect Children and Families with the Great Outdoors
First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign introduces outdoors component as organizations unite

Las Vegas, NV—As First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the Let’s Move OUTSIDE initiative today in Las Vegas, expanding her campaign to solve childhood obesity, a broad coalition representing the business and non-profit communities announced a national strategic partnership called the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). OAK brings together the YMCA of the USA, REI, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, The Outdoor Foundation, National Recreation and Park Association and the Children & Nature Network, collectively representing over 30 million members, to address the growing divide between children and families and the natural world.

Today’s children are spending less time outdoors in nature than any generation in history. At the same time, one in three American kids is overweight or obese; more than half of all children in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D; prescriptions for ADHD medications are on the rise; and stress, anxiety and depression rates among youth are increasing. Studies suggest that spending time outdoors in green spaces can improve the mental and physical health of children. OAK member organizations are united by the belief that the well-being of current and future generations, and the health of our planet and communities depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors.

OAK issued the following statement:

“The conditions are right for making lasting changes in the ways children, youth and families relate to nature. Already this spring, the Obama Administration and Congress have taken critical steps to reverse the trend towards indoor sedentary lifestyles with the announcement of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and the inclusion of the Moving Outdoors in Nature component of the Healthy CHOICES Act introduced by Congressman Ron Kind.”

“Today’s launch of the Let’s Move Outside initiative highlights the important role our public lands, and all green spaces large and small, play in the development of healthy kids, healthy families and healthy communities. It is time to band together to ensure these and additional initiatives achieve their purpose and get kids off the couch and into nature.”

OAK (www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org) is calling for local, state and national legislative and administrative policies and initiatives to reconnect children, youth and families with the natural world outdoors. Specifically, OAK is working to:
• Strengthen the connections between health and wellbeing and time spent outdoors by encouraging a robust Let’s Move Outside initiative (www.letsmove.gov) and the passage of the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act recently introduced by Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin as part of the Healthy CHOICES Act
• Strengthen the connections between land conservation and time spent outdoors by participating in the national dialogue around America’s Great Outdoors (www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors)
• Empower youth leaders to advance the movement to connect children and families with the outdoors by supporting events and initiatives that prepare diverse youth for leadership roles, like Outdoor Nation (www.outdoornation.org) and the Natural Leaders Network (www.naturalleaders.org)
• Promote resources and events that help children, youth and families reconnect with the great outdoors. Resources can be found on the OAK website (www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org).

Upcoming events include:

About Children & Nature Network: The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature. The network provides a critical link between researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being. For more information, visitwww.childrenandnature.org.

About the Izaak Walton League of America: One of the earliest conservation organizations in the United States, the Izaak Walton League was formed in 1922 to save outdoor America for future generations. With a grassroots network of nearly 270 local chapters nationwide, the League takes a common-sense approach toward protecting our country’s natural heritage and improving outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. For more information, visit www.iwla.org.

About National Recreation and Park Association: The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of roughly 21,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.  For more information, visit www.nrpa.org.

About National Wildlife Federation: The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization. We work with more than 4 million members, partners and supporters in communities across the country to protect and restore wildlife habitat, confront global warming and connect people with nature. For more information, visit www.nwf.org.

About The Outdoor Foundation: Outdoor Foundation’s vision is to be a driving force behind a massive increase in active outdoor recreation in America. We are an inclusive organization made up of, and supported by, broad-based coalitions and partnerships that share the common interest of promoting healthy outdoor lifestyles. We provide an inspirational bridge to the outdoors for a diverse range of individuals and organizations. We are a transparent, fiscally responsible organization that is adequately funded to achieve our Core Purpose. We serve as a credible source of information for our stakeholders, partners and policy-makers. For more information, visit www.outdoorfoundation.org.

About REI: REI is a national outdoor retailer dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions. The company offers a wide range of in-store classes, presentations and events across the nation to serve as a resource to outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities and interests. REI’s Family Adventure Program, a free program highlighting fun activities and local hikes and bike rides, helps families explore the outdoors together. For more information, visit www.rei.com

About the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is America’s oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About YMCA of the USA: The nation’s 2,687 YMCAs serve 21 million people each year, including more than 9 million children under the age of 18. YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on their collective strength as one of America’s largest not-for-profit community service organizations. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening, and health and well-being for all, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America’s communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit www.ymca.netto find your local YMCA.