A wonderful group gathered in Columbus March 24 to discuss strategy statewide, since we have so many statewide health, recreation and conservation things happening. We need to have a unified message and coordinated efforts to make the voice of the Leave No Child Inside movement heard!
Here is a summary of the conclusions we arrived at:
– that the most useful things for Leave No Child Inside to be doing across Ohio is to advocate for nature play, and to spread the word about the problem & the solution to as many constituencies as possible.
– that one of the most valuable things about Leave No Child Inside is that we don’t have an “ax to grind” so to speak, and have nothing to gain financially, so we can speak out on these issues more effectively than groups that stand to benefit fiscally from increased outdoors activity
– that there is some tension between our ability to keep a consistent and recognizable message and logo in Ohio, while at the same time avoiding being labeled an “organization,” which could be viewed as a competing entity to the very groups we are trying to support.
– that referring to ourselves repeatedly as a “citizen’s movement” or something similar might be a solution to the above challenge.
– that we are doing well in Ohio, and are in a better position than many other states with regard to environmental education, and with regard to cooperation between LNCI and other entities, and with regard to the support of the First Family and ODNR for nature play.
– that we still have work to do in the area of coordination and communication, in that there are MANY great programs going on that people don’t know about, and many of us have connections and relationships that could be beneficial to others in the group.
– To make sure that we have at least one person “plugged in” to any statewide initiatives where we might influence policy regarding LNCI related issues (for example, the Ohio Physical Activity Plan discussions, discussions about the Environmental Literacy plan). We can’t be in all places at all times, so we need to coordinate who can cover those meetings most conveniently and report back.
– We should look at some way of communicating between the LNCI initiatves in different parts of the state so we can leverage each other’s work and take advantage of economies of scale. We have started a blog here for this purpose, just this week: Statewide LNCI blog
– and that key players we need to keep up relationships with to advance the cause include:
EECO (Environmental Education Council of Ohio)
ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources)
LNCI (Leave No Child Inside Greater Cincinnati, Leave No Child Inside Central Ohio Collaborative, Earth Day Coalition in Cleveland, Northwest Ohio Leave No Child Inside)
OSU (The Ohio State University)
OPRA (Ohio Parks and Recreation Association)
ODE (Ohio Department of Education)
Ohio Department of Health
National Parks Service, Ohio locations
Conservation groups (Sierra, Audubon)
Industry/Tech/Green building (AEP, Battelle, etc.)
Key dates for future cooperation in publicity efforts are: April (Children and Nature month), April 1 (Launch of Explore the Outdoors and Family Nature Clubs in Ohio), Memorial Day weekend (encourage families to camp and picnic outdoors), National TV Turn-Off Week, Take a Child Outside Week (Sept.), and possibly the anniversary of Hurricane Ike, which caused a lot of people to realize there were kids in the neighborhood and that playing outside with no electricity is fun!