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.

connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors