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.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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