From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
-- The Ohio DNR has joined with a grassroots organization of Ohioans concerned about children's declining participation in outdoor activities and the subsequent impacts. The team is championing programs that will help families to overcome 'nature-deficit disorder' and jumpstart healthy outdoor lifestyles.
In his book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," author Richard Louv calls the cumulative effect of withdrawing nature from children's experiences, nature deficit disorder. Outdoor activity and play are part of a healthy lifestyle, but research shows that children's participation in outdoor activities is on the decline. In fact, there has been an 11 percent decline in participation in outdoor activities among youth age 6 to 17, with the sharpest declines among those age 6 to 12.
ODNR and the Leave No Child Inside Collaborative in central Ohio and Cincinnati have programs that can help parents and educators unplug children and rewire them for outdoor fun.
ODNR's free Explore the Outdoors program provides Ohio parents, educators and youth leaders with an easy guide to lead Ohio's young people into the outdoors. Ohio public school teachers who educate children in grades 1-5 have received Explore the Outdoors activity guides for their students. The program also provides an interactive online resource that families and teachers can use to find exciting outdoor activities and events.
The program's engaging activity guide recommends a variety of fun outdoor activities, including Spot a Bird, Hike a Trail or Camp Under the Stars. All of the activities in the book can be accomplished at state parks, forests, preserves and wildlife areas throughout Ohio. Families can also complete some of the activities at local parks, green spaces or even at home.
Explore the Outdoors participants can find special activity completion codes posted at welcome centers and kiosks in participating ODNR and partner facilities statewide. Children who enter at least two codes on the Explore the Outdoors web site, www.exploretheoutdoorsohio.com, will receive a printable certificate signed by Gov. Ted Strickland. Participants can also get entered for other prizes, including a GreenBird birdhouse and a state park camping excursion.
ODNR also encourages Ohioans to make long-lasting family memories by taking part in the Leave No Child Inside Family Nature Club campaign. Family Nature Clubs are formed by people with an interest in connecting children with nature. Each one is unique; some meet weekly at the same park for walks and others coordinate for focused nature study. The Family Nature Clubs help parents and children to enjoy free or inexpensive outdoor activities and make it easy to coordinate plans using online resources, including those available under the Parents Resources section of the Explore the Outdoors web site.
ODNR invites nature clubs to meet at state recreation facilities. Naturalist programs at state parks and natural areas are free learning opportunities for families.
The Explore the Outdoors web site provides activity guides for free download and a listing of special Explore the Outdoors events. Parents and teachers can contact 614-784-PLAY (7529) or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information or to request activity guides and program resources.