National Get Outdoors Day: June 14May 29, 2008
Dispatch story shows example of positive effect of natureJune 9, 2008
COLUMBUS, OH ‘“ The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and many of its recreational partners are challenging the state’s young people to turn off their computers, televisions and PlayStations and Explore the Outdoors this summer.
The challenge is aimed at reuniting children, especially those in elementary school, with the natural world in order to improve their physical and emotional health and make them better environmental stewards in the future.
We want this campaign to ignite interest in the outdoors and help children experience the benefits of being connected with nature, said ODNR Director Sean D. Logan. These activities will help them grow into healthy adults with an appreciation and love of their natural surroundings.
National studies show the average elementary-age child spends more than six hours a day playing video games, watching television and operating computers. In Ohio, a 2007 study showed 34.3 percent of the state’s third graders were either obese or overweight. Sedentary activities and weight gain have long-term developmental and social impacts on children. However, additional studies document that children who are in touch with their natural world are healthier, perform better in school and have better self-images.
Alum Creek State Park in Delaware County was the site of an Explore the Outdoors kickoff today with First Lady Frances Strickland on hand for the festivities. A wildflower hike, fishing demonstration, sand treasure hunt, kite flying, disc golf and canoeing were among the youth-oriented activities.
Earlier in the day, Governor Ted Strickland and a group of celebrity sports figures also led a group of 11 youths on the first annual Governor’s Turkey Hunt in Muskingum and Coshocton counties.
The cornerstone of the Explore the Outdoors challenge is a 34-page, full-color guide that lists 10 outdoor activities such as Catch A Fish, Camp Under The Stars, Spot A Bird, etc. Children are encouraged to complete eight of the10 activities by September 1. Explore the Outdoors posters, featuring correlating codes, are now on display at welcome centers and kiosks in ODNR and partner facilities across Ohio.
Once an activity is completed, the child will enter the appropriate code in the guide. When all eight activities are completed, the child can enter the corresponding codes at exploretheoutdoorsohio.com to receive an Ohio Outdoor Explorer certificate. The first 1,000 children to obtain an online certificate will also be eligible to receive a Coleman mini companion lantern.
Nearly 800,000 Explore the Outdoors Activity Guides will be distributed to public school students in grades K-5 during the coming week ‘“ just in time for summer vacation!
ODNR partners lending support to the campaign include the National Park Service, Audubon Ohio, Wayne National Forest, Leave No Child Inside ‘“ Central Ohio and Greater Cincinnati, the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, Ohio Metro and County Parks and the state departments of Health and Education.
Sponsors contributing to the activity guide include the American Heart Association and Coleman. Gander Mountain provided the youth fishing demonstration at today’s launch event. The Raisin Rack Natural Food Market in Westerville provided snacks and drinks for the event.