Children and the Outdoors NWF Unveils Comprehensive State Policy Solutions Guide

Essential elements to connect America’s indoor generation to nature by supporting healthy living, environmental education, and greener, more active communities

03-01-2009 // Amanda Cooke

The National Wildlife Federation announces the release of a comprehensive Children and the Outdoors State Policy Solutions Guide. The guide reviews leading state policy initiatives and provides policymakers with model solutions to the growing disconnect between children and the natural world.

Over the past two decades, the time children spend outside has fallen by 50 percent, and the rate of adolescent obesity has tripled. Reconnecting children with nature is a solution to many of the developmental, health-related and educational problems faced by children today.

"Today's kids need to experience nature. It's good for their health and well-being and it's good for the future of the planet. Policymakers can use these policy tools to help the next generation experience those four little words that defined the childhood of many adult Americans, but that kids rarely hear today—'go outside and play,'" said Kevin Coyle, Vice President for Education and Training at National Wildlife Federation.

The Children and the Outdoors State Policy Solutions Guide contains model resolutions, executive orders, and legislation that will aid efforts to reconnect children and families with nature. Solutions to the problems associated with an indoor generation must include providing youth with structured and unstructured opportunities for outdoor play, recreation, and learning.

NWF’s campaign to develop an effective response to this problem will mobilize policy across multiple fields, including the areas of public health, education, parks and recreation, and city planning. This new guide identifies the country’s current, most effective state-level policy responses, and provides ways to connect children with nature through initiatives that focus on:

  • Public health: Many departments of health have obesity prevention programs and nature play is a recognized strategy for preventing childhood obesity;
  • Parks and wildlife: State parks and wildlife departments can provide conservation education programming, natural play areas for children, and learning laboratories for school groups;
  • Public Education: America’s schools can benefit from the proven educational and developmental benefits of student contact with nature.

The State Policy Solutions Guide is a part of NWF’s Be Out There campaign, designed to get children outdoors and connecting with nature. The campaign works with parents to help them get their inside kids to go outside and enjoy the wonders of nature, while working with policymakers to change educational guidelines to include more environmental education and outside time at school.

Related Resources
  • Supporting Document
    Children and the Outdoors State Policy Solutions Guide (pdf)

    The State Policy Solutions Guide is a part of NWF’s Be Out There campaign, designed to get children outdoors and connecting with nature.

  • Be Out There Summit
    The summit will highlight leading state and federal policy solutions to the problem of children’s diminishing contact with nature. Join us in Houston, TX at the JW Marriott Houston Hotel on April 10, 2010. More details >>

Allen Cooper, Education Campaign Manager, 512-610-7769,
Amanda Cooke, Communications Department, 202-797-6662,

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