MADISON – As a consortium of federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry gear up for National Get Outdoors Day 2009 on June 13, visitors to Wisconsin State Parks, Forests and Trails can look forward to a full summer of “Get Outdoors! Wisconsin” events being held around the state.
The Wisconsin State Park System has launched a “Get Outdoors! Wisconsin” initiative with events scheduled throughout the summer at state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas. The events are indicated by a “Get Outdoors! Wisconsin” insignia on the Upcoming Events at Wisconsin State Parks, Forests and Trails Web page of the DNR Web site.
“Both National Get Outdoors Day and Get Outdoors! Wisconsin are aimed at getting children and families to spend more time outdoors with nature,” says Dan Schuller, director of the Wisconsin State Parks program.
Schuller says "Get Outdoors! Wisconsin" addresses a growing problem that author Richard Louv has termed “nature deficit disorder,” which has come about as children spend more time watching television and playing computer and video games. Many health professionals believe this has contributed to an increase in childhood obesity rates, which have risen four-fold for children ages 6 through 11 since 1971.
“Nature is good for kids. Research has shown that children who interact regularly with nature have better cognitive and creative skills and a better ability to deal with stress,” Schuller says.
Schuller notes that a “Top 10” list of reasons for a National Get Outdoors Day identifies many of the same reasons the State Parks program started its Get Outdoors! Wisconsin initiative.
More than a dozen “Get Outdoors! Wisconsin” events are scheduled this coming weekend as part of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 6 and State Parks Open House Day on Sunday, June 7.
More information on the national effort and specific events can be found at [www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org] (exit DNR) and Get Outdoors! Wisconsin.
Top 10 Reasons for National Get Outdoors Day
10) A smaller and smaller portion of the nation is deriving physical, mental and spiritual benefits from time on their lands, and use is especially low for America’s poor, our urban dwellers, and minority Americans.
9) Today’s American kids are less connected to the outdoors than any previous generation. 6.5 hours a day spent watching screens. Six times more likely to play a computer game than ride a bike. Four times more likely to be obese than previous generation. And now facing shorter lives – a decline of 2-5 years in average length of life from parents’ life expectation.
8) America’s youth tell us that we are not reaching them with invitations to be active outdoors because we are not using the communications channels they utilize most: social networking sites including YouTube and MySpace and text messaging and photo-sharing from phone to phone. They tell us they are interested in the outdoors but need "triggers," and National Get Outdoors Day intends to be a trigger.
7) Americans are overwhelmed with information over the Internet. Information on what to do and where to do it is available – but we need to help Americans find it!
6) Americans who volunteer are also likely to be healthier. There are abundant opportunities to get healthy by volunteering on public lands.
5) America’s public lands and water agencies and the recreation community need to work as a team to compete for the hearts and minds of 21st Century Americans. We aren’t talking about choices between biking and fishing for most Americans, but between malls and home-based technologies and the outdoors.
4) The future of America's public lands will be determined by the extent to which Americans care about the Great Outdoors -- and if fewer people directly benefit from time outdoors, the prognosis is not good.
3) Americans have a growing problem that can be addressed with more physical activity – an increase in the percentage of Americans who are overweight and obese. This trend carries with it big costs – in dollars and quality of life. Some $160 billion in direct public spending. 7 in 10 deaths now attributable to largely preventable chronic illnesses – and 3 out of every 4 dollars in our healthcare spending is similarly directed at largely preventable chronic illnesses.
2) Combating stress: About to Burst: Handling Stress and Ending Violence by Rebecca Radcliffe. Teenagers live in a world that is more stressed than ever before. They get overloaded with pressure at school, conflicts at home, relationship problems, and career choices. Many have to deal with divorce, moves, financial struggles, jobs, and blended families. When stress builds up, teens cope however they can. They may drink, drive aggressively, get high, overeat, go shopping, spend hours on the computer or playing video games, or take out their frustration on others. This is why we see increased bullying, isolation, depression, obesity, eating disorders, inappropriate sexual activity, violent outbursts, cutting, intolerance and hate crimes, suicide, and many other destructive choices. Kids need new and better choices. They need help unwinding and handling pressure in positive ways. Recreation is a powerful antidote to stress.
1) American families, American communities and the nation need the connectivity and unity that results from family and friends enjoying time in the outdoors.