Despite the clear benefits of nature experiences, children in the United States today spend much less time in nature than previous generations. That’s because Americans face more barriers – from safety concerns to limited access to the outdoors – that prevent them from involving their children in nature activities.
Children who enjoy meaningful nature experiences are more likely to prefer spending time outdoors, show concern about environmental issues, and express interest in studying the environment. However, research shows that children must develop a respect and care for nature during their early years, or they risk never developing these interests.
School systems cannot provide the answer. Today’s students spend 87% of their time at school indoors, and more than 40% of U.S. schools no longer provide time for recess. In fact, today’s children spend more than 7 hours a day in front of media devices – television, computers, video games, and smart phones – and just 30 minutes per week on outdoor activities.
The good news is that getting kids out into nature is incredibly easy. You don’t need expensive outdoor equipment or access to acres of wilderness. Kids can experience nature almost anywhere – from a neighborhood park to your own backyard. And activities can be really simple – flip over a log to investigate what’s living under it, watch bees and butterflies flit among flowers, or listen to bird songs. All you need is a commitment to taking the kids in your life outside and into nature.
Take the pledge now and join over 40,000 members of the Izaak Walton League in committing to teaching the children in your life that nature is a friendly, safe environment to play in and explore.