Ohio youngsters urged to go outside 6.4

Written by David Green.

Ohio's young people are challenged to turn off their computers, televisions and video games and "Explore the Outdoors" this summer. The statewide campaign is an initiative of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and many of its recreational partners, including county and metro parks.

 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.

 National figures in the areas of public health and psychology note an increasing disconnect between today's youth and their natural world as a result of a growing preoccupation with electronics and indoor play. Author Richard Louv documented this disturbing trend in his award-winning book, "Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder."

Today's average elementary school child spends more than six hours a day playing video games, watching television or using a computer, according to national statistics. A 2007 study by the Ohio Department of Health showed more than 34 percent of the state's third graders were either obese or overweight. Sedentary activities and weight gain are known to have negative effects on children's long-term development. 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.

"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."

In an effort to counter this trend in Ohio children, ODNR distributed nearly 800,000 this week to public school students in grades K-5. The guides are the cornerstone of the "Explore the Outdoors" challenge and include 10 activities such as "Catch A Fish," "Hike/Bike A Trail," "Spot A Bird." Children are encouraged to complete eight of the 10 activities by September 1. "Explore the Outdoors" posters, featuring codes for each activity are located 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.

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.

Additional information about the campaign is available at exploretheoutdoorsohio.com


  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
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    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
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    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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