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.cross
    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.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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