Washington Post Writer Donna St. George reports in today's paper the corporations will join 40 other civic, governmental and private groups tomorrow in launching a $20 million campaign to to fund 20 initiatives across the country. The goal? To encourage children, quite simply, to go outside and play. St. George writes:
Advocates and researchers have been aware of the downturn in outdoor activity for a long time, and it has been documented by experts such as Sandra Hofferth, a family studies professor at the University of Maryland. From 1997 to 2003, Hofferth found, there was a decline of 50 percent, from 16 to 8 percent, in the proportion of children 9 to 12 who spent time in such outside activities as hiking, walking, fishing, beach play and gardening. Organized sports were not included as an outdoor activity in the study, which was based on detailed time diaries.At the National Wildlife Federation, St. George reports, they've started promoting a "green hour," encouraging children to spend at least an hour outside every day. By making it a part of their daily routine, like brushing their teeth, advocates believe the trend data could begin to turn around. From the Post story:
Hofferth's study also showed an increase in computer play time for all children and in time spent on television and video games for those ages 9 to 12. And it found increases in sleep time, study time and reading time.
What are your schools doing to encourage more outdoor time at school? Has your school ever visited Cispus or Chewelah Peak?
Marguerite Kondracke, president of America's Promise Alliance, which calls itself the nation's largest organization of groups focused on children, said the change in how children spend their leisure time is more dramatic than most people recognize and can lead to problems such as obesity and depression.
"I believe this has happened so gradually," she said, "that we as adults don't realize what's taken place. . . . I think we as a nation need to wake up to this."