The White House has sent out a request for information on how to fight childhood obesity. Below was the comment I submitted.
I am writing to support the inclusion of NATURE and ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION in Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. I am a 26-year-old environmental educator and work with K-12 outdoors from Detroit. I have found that reconnecting children with nature “revitalizes” children in ways that mandated indoor physical activity can’t. Childhood today consists of structured, indoor, sedentary activities – we need to “reverse” the trend and get them playing outside again! (The average child spends only ONE HOUR per week outside, according to the NWF’S Kevin Coyle — did you know that? No wonder why obesity reigns!)
Bringing children outdoors — into local nature — has the added benefits of making children stewards of their local environments. How can children grow to care about the environment if they are spending most of their time indoors away from nature? What are you grooming them for instead?
Bringing children outdoors can also reveal to children the cycles of nature and how food is grown, and give them a better awareness of what their body (and their planet) needs to be happy and healthy.
What about gym class? Gym class by itself won’t work… most adults had gym class as youths, and yet 30-40% are overweight or obese today. We need something more – something to reverse trends of indoor, sedentary lifestyles. I believe that “nature” must be a major part of the solution.
I support the development of school gardens, green schoolyards, field courses, and initiatives like “No Child Left Inside”. The benefits of spending time in nature are endless – and are based in research. The “Greening” of education MUST happen in order to bring happiness and health back to our children!
I look forward to seeing NATURE as part of the solution!
[My real name]