New U.S. legislation aims to improve kids’ physical, mental, social health

Healthy Kids Outdoors Act aims to reconnect kids with nature

By Daddyhood Staff
Posted on May 22, 2014 - 9:48am

WASHINGTON (Daddyhood.net)  

cute little child joke outdoor with dadU.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) are sponsoring legislation aimed at connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors.

The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act would support state, local and federal strategies to reconnect Americans with nature, improve children’s health and support future economic growth and conservation efforts.

“Coloradans know our mountains, parks, and open spaces are essential to our special way of life. But as study after study shows childhood obesity rates are increasing, we must do more to connect our kids with opportunities for outdoor adventure,” Sen. Udall said. “The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act supports local initiatives across the United States to ensure our kids everywhere have access to outdoor recreational opportunities and they can reap the numerous benefits of an active lifestyle.”

This legislation will encourage kids and families to be active outdoors through unstructured play; outdoor recreation such as camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing; public health initiatives; outdoor learning centers; service learning; and other programs.

“Young people today spend less time engaged in outdoor activity than any other generation in history, which takes a serious physical and mental toll on them at a critical time in their development,” said U.S. Rep. Kind. “This bill provides tools for our state and local leaders to find new opportunities to promote active, healthy outdoor lifestyles to our kids. And by starting early in life, young people are more likely to care for their health and their natural surroundings as adults who will then pass those values on to future generations.”

Studies indicate that outdoor play increases fitness levels and improves physical, mental, and social health and well-being. The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act would provide incentives for states to develop dynamic five-year strategies to reconnect children and families to the great outdoors. The act would also compel the President to involve federal agencies and national partners to create a similar plan at the national level and support further research documenting the health, conservation, and other benefits of active time spent outdoors in the natural world.

“Our nation’s kids are out of shape, tuned out, and stressed out, because they’re missing something essential to their health and development – a connection to the natural world,” said Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training for National Wildlife Federation. “We applaud Congressman Kind and Senator Mark Udall for introducing legislation to reverse this trend by getting kids and families outside on a regular basis.”

“By supporting strategies that will result in more kids spending more time outside, the Healthy Kids Outdoor Act promotes the health and development of our nation’s children,” said YMCA of the USA president and CEO Neil Nicoll. “Outdoor play improves children’s physical, social, and emotional health. It engages their senses, develops curiosity and creativity, reduces stress, and fosters a lifelong sense of connection to and concern for the environment. The Y is excited to work with Congressman Kind and Senator Udall on this important effort to enrich the health and well-being of children across the country.”

“As the father of three young children, I know just how important it is for them to get outdoors and connect with nature,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “I also know that nature is not in everyone’s backyard, which is why Sierra Club supports the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act to make the outdoors more accessible to kids and families everywhere.”

“A life-long passion for conservation, hunting and fishing, and active outdoor recreation begins at a young age,” said Scott Kovarovics, executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America. “The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act will help children and families to get outside and experience the natural world around them.”

Daddyhood Staff

Compiled by the staff of Daddyhood and Daddyhood.net.