U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launches Let's Go Outside!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held a landmark meeting with the health care industry to discuss the health of our nation's children and opportunities to get kids involved in outside activities. More than 100 health professionals and land mangers met at the "Let's Go Outside for Health" – Health Professionals' Roundup Meeting in Arlington, Virginia on February 29 to help the Service develop strategies to create enjoyable and meaningful experiences for Americans in the outdoors, improving their health and well-being and leading to life-long connections to the environment. This issue is important because connecting families and children with nature will help to ensure the future conservation of the natural world.
In 2007, Service Director Hall announced six top priorities for the Service to follow in the coming years. One of these top priorities is to connect people with nature in an effort to ensure the future of conservation. With a land base encompassing more than 97 million acres in the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Service is an excellent resource to provide outdoor experiences combining the values of natural resource conservation, environmental quality and human health. The motto for the Service's initiative is Let's Go Outside!
"There may be no greater legacy that the Service can leave for future generations," said Hall. "By providing support and encouragement for parents, educators and children to spend time outdoors, we are joining the nationwide movement to invite families to turn off their digital music and video games and spend some quality family time outside."
The Let's Go Outside! initiative stems from a summit with Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder." Information shows the American people, especially children, are spending less time involved in outdoor recreational activities than any previous generation. Nature is important to children's development - intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically; and research indicates as children's connection to and time spent with nature has diminished, childhood ailments and medical problems have vastly increased. Even the simple activity of playing outside helps children develop better motor skills, physical fitness and general health, and can create a life-long appreciation of the for healthy, outdoor activities and the environment.
The Service already provides many public use opportunities. However, working with others, the Service will refocus current programs or design new programs to increase opportunities for all Americans, especially children, to forge a connection with nature. These include programs activities such as hunting, fishing, observing and photographing wildlife, or simply exploring and discovering nature on refuges or creating schoolyard habitats to bring nature to children.
For more information on the Let's Go Outside! campaign and for ideas on how to connect with nature, please visit the Service's website at http://www.fws.gov/children/.