Goal Set: 10 Million More Kids Outdoors in Three Years

A GENERATION AGO, kids spent hours playing outside each day. Now it’s down to minutes. To combat today’s “indoor childhood” trend, National Wildlife Federation has set a goal—made public earlier this month—to get 10 million more kids outdoors for regular time in nature during the next three years.

NWF has a three-pronged approach to achieve this goal: educate, inspire and partner with the major influencers of children’s time: 1) parents and caregivers, 2) child-serving institutions, and 3) policy makers. Through an unprecedented program of public media education, signature events and online outreach, parents—with a special focus on mothers—will gain the knowledge and tools they need to incorporate regular outdoor time into their children’s daily lives. We will encourage child-serving institutions, such as schools, day care centers, city park departments, after-school programs and neighborhood YMCAs, to incorporate regular time for outdoor learning and play. We will advocate for local, state and national policy makers to pass innovative new policies that help children, youth and families spend regular time outdoors.

“The goal is a natural outgrowth of NWF’s core mission and the mission of our affiliates to protect wildlife for our children’s future,” says Meri-Margaret Deoudes, NWF’s vice president of strategic alliances and special events. “In meeting this goal, we will help parents, schools and policy makers create a generation of healthier, happier and more eco-minded children who will safeguard our wildlife and wild places.”

The 10 million kids outdoors campaign encourages kids to get outside to explore, play, and learn for at least 90 minutes per week. This outdoor time excludes time spent in organized sports, which while beneficial, does not provide children the same benefits as outdoor play and learning in green spaces. Research shows that spending time outside helps kids grow lean and strong, boosts mood, improves school performance and creates a stronger tie to the natural world.

“Our affiliate network has been a leader in reconnecting kids with nature for decades,” says Kevin Coyle, NWF’s vice president for education and training. “Whether running summer camps to get youth hunting and fishing or engaging families for outdoor learning at a nature center, NWF affiliates will play a critical role moving forward.”

Working towards the 10 million kids goal will help the entire NWF family reach broader audiences and build powerful new allies to grow the conservation movement. NWF is currently developing national partnerships around the goal with organizations like the YMCA of the USA and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). In fact, just last week NRPA announced its intent to enlist 1,000 park agencies in the effort.