All Kids Deserve Quality Time Outdoors

By Cassidy Gasteiger and Robyn Paulekas

19 November 2019

Did you know that today’s kids average less than 10 minutes playing and learning outside per day? Or that the average American child spends more than 40 hours per week in front of a screen? This has serious implications for our kids and our planet. The benefits of regular time in nature are well-documented by a growing body of evidence: it can make kids healthier, happier, and better stewards of the environment.

Lawmakers across the United States are increasingly aware that playing and learning outdoors is critical for children’s health, well-being, and academic success. Children’s connection to the natural world is also tied to the future of outdoor economies and natural resources. State-level policy provides an unparalleled opportunity to connect state education, transportation, and economic development resources with mechanisms for getting kids outside.

For the past year, Meridian has been proud to support the Youth Outdoor Policy Partnership, a collaboration of leading advocacy organizations working across sectors to ensure all children have access to high quality outdoor experiences and environmental education. The Partnership’s Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook has officially launched! It highlights successful bipartisan policies and provides resources to support new statewide efforts to increase environmental education and youth engagement in the outdoors. Its policy and investment recommendations reflect the understanding that community wellbeing, social and environmental justice, and the health of the natural world are inextricably linked.

Members of the Youth Outdoor Policy Partnership meet with Minnesota state legislators.

The playbook connects legislators with ideas for innovative policies and shares resources for NGOs and advocacy groups to make the case for enacting state-level initiatives. We are excited to see legislators already using the playbook as a tool to get kids outside and share innovative policy ideas across the country.

Minnesota Representative Jim Davnie notes, “I believe that spending time in nature supports the healthy development and education of our children and I’m working hard to advance policies that support youth outdoor engagement. The Policy Playbook is an invaluable tool in that effort, providing at my fingertips the evidence I need to make the case, examples of what’s worked in other states, and a bill library where I can borrow from efforts that have worked in other places.”

“We are living in a time where prevention is a necessity for the well-being of our children,” explains Ohio Representative Stephanie Howse.  “We know the benefits – good health, academic achievement, environmental stewardship – that outdoor experiences have on our children.  With the release of the Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook, legislators across the country will be equipped with strategies on how to bring ideas and thoughts on outdoor learning into action. Ohio has a wealth of natural resources our children can connect with and I’m excited to use the playbook to create policies that help our children grow and ultimately live the American Dream, right here at home.”

Check out the Partnership’s policy framework, policy idea library, and additional resources on the Playbook webpage here. Then step away from your screen and get outside!

Learn more!

Through the Youth Outdoor Policy Partnership, Meridian helps leading advocacy organizations across the country collaborate to advance state-level policies to get more kids outside.