Guest Post: Rich Louv on Leave No Child Inside

Richlouv_headshot Sometimes, giving a name to a dream helps bring that dream to life. In April 2006, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., I called for a nationwide “Leave No Child Inside” movement.  Today, a little more than a year after the Press Club event, public awareness may have reached a tipping point.

As many are aware, one of the many challenges children face today is a soaring obesity rate, just one of many symptoms resulting from the sedentary indoor lifestyle of too many children.  In contrast, children who play outdoors in nature regularly are not only healthier but are happier, more cooperative and learn more effectively.  Aware of this, environmental educators, conservationists, and others have worked, often heroically for decades, to introduce more children to nature — usually with inadequate support from policy-makers.

But a number of recent trends — including the unexpected national media attention given Last Child in the Woods and “nature-deficit disorder” — have brought the concerns of these veteran advocates before a broader audience. The World Future Society now ranks nature-deficit disorder as the fifth-most-important trend (on a list of 10) that will shape 2007 and the years to come. In November 2007, USA Today reported in a page-one story: “A back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors is burgeoning nationwide.”

Two years after the first publication of Last Child in the Woods, the issue is garnering more media attention than ever. We now have a movement, and again, much credit should go to those who have worked for years to make something like this happen. As the movement continues to grow, so too will public consciousness — and action.  The Children & Nature Network has identified and networked over 35 urban regions in the United States and Canada that have launched or are planning to launch campaigns, which some of them call Leave No Child Inside, or variations on that phrase.

We are now ready to embark on a new phase in the movement.  In my role as Director on the Boards of ecoAmerica and Children & Nature Network, I am working with the talented teams of these two organizations to launch an exciting initiative to reach every parent and caregiver in the country to ensure that they have the information and tools they need to connect their children with nature.

Details are still in the works but it will be big, innovative, and compelling.  We envision bringing together even more partners across public, private and non-profit sectors to elevate awareness, generate excitement and propel action to address the needs of our children.  Across our nation over the past two years I have met people, young and old, ready to rediscover a sense of wonder, to be inspired by the regenerative power of nature, to believe again that we can make a new world.

I look forward to your joining us to make this happen.

Thanks,

Rich Louv, ecoAmerica Board Member

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