As a society, we are raising the first generation of Americans to grow up disconnected from nature. That's the bad news.
The good news is that the steps that got us here are easily traced, and the way to work toward reversing them is clear. Enter the National Wildlife Federations's Green Hour
campaign. The idea behind green hour is to encourage parents to give their kids one hour of structured play outdoors every day.
As a parent, I know that — on paper — the green hour sounds like a great idea. What parent wouldn't want their kids to play in the backyard for an hour (or more) everyday. I have no problems at all achieving this goal with my 3 year old. But the reality check is that there is very little time in the evenings for my eldest daughter by the time she gets home from school, has dinner and heads off to one of her other activities. And she's in kindergarten ... we're not even dealing with homework yet!
Still, there is no denying the considerable research that has been done regarding the connection between outdoor play and a child's health. According to the National Wildlife Federation
, in the last 20 years, while time spent playing outdoors has been cut in half, childhood obesity has more than doubled and adolescent obesity has tripled. The cost of this childhood obesity could topple $100 billion annually to our public health systems. Research has linked this obesity epidemic to a lack of playtime outdoors. In addition, kids who enjoy spending time outdoors are that much more likely to make environmentally friendly choices that protect the planet.
So it makes sense to make it a family priority to see that your kids get a green hour ... one hour of every day spent outdoors connecting with nature, kicking a ball or just relaxing in the sunshine. Both for their health, and that of the planet.