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Groups seek N.C. Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

Posted May 7, 2010

A coalition of groups is hoping state lawmakers will follow the lead of a few other states around the country and pass a N.C. Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights.

"Our goal is to get the state leadership to show their commitment to make sure our children have a safe place to play outside and are encouraged to do so," says Shelby Laird, president of Environmental Educators of North Carolina.

The North Carolina Children and Nature Coalition is a project of the N.C. Zoological Society. The Environmental Educators of N.C. is part of the leadership team. It is inspired by Richard Louv's popular 2005 book "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," which details the importance of getting kids outside and why so many don't do it.

The campaign was launched late last month and already has dozens of supporters, including the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, which holds the nationwide Take A Child Outside Week in September; the N.C. Aquarium; and the Eno River Association.

The proposed bill of rights says that every child in the state should have the opportunity to visit a farm, explore a stream, hike a natural area and camp under the stars, among other activities. Click here for the full bill of rights.

The group has launched a poster contest for kids and adults. The posters will be used in marketing materials for the campaign. The contest gives kids a voice in illustrating what they think is important about going outside, said Laird, the mom of a 16-month-old daughter.

Entries must be received on or before June 21. Winners will be posted by August 1, 2010. Click here for all the details on how to enter.

4 Comments

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  • ochreluna13 May 8, 2010

    Just as a small addition, the national Children & Nature Network has summaries of the research I mentioned below. I ran out of room to quote anything specific. Go to their research tab if you would like more information.

    In my personal opinion, getting all kids outdoors, not just those that already have opportunities to do so on their own will help us all save money after looking at the common health maladies that can be eased with a simple walk out in nature.

    The poster contest is open to all and I hope you all will participate! Thanks, Shelby Laird, President - EENC

  • ochreluna13 May 8, 2010

    Well, I told myself I would not comment, but I feel obligated to note Environmental Educators of NC is a non-profit professional organization for those who teach others about the environment. We represent park rangers, foresters, teachers and others who seek to teach people how to think and study the environment not what they should think about it. Environmental activism is a different activity.

    I do feel you are both correct in that this is a "feel good" measure, which is not bad in these times. We want our government to affirm their commitment to the health and well-being of our children. Studies show time outdoors can increase concentration, help mood and increase fitness, among other benefits. Although many people do encourage their children to play outdoors, some children particularly those in cities in our increasingly urban state do not have the opportunity to play outdoors unless they are able to go on field trips in school or can get to a local EE Center.

    Shelby Laird

  • leeandkaren2 May 7, 2010

    Vote no on this one. I agree with wwyoud. Notice the sponser, Environmental Educators of North Carolina. Next they will say we all have to believe in global warming and OUR ability to "save the planet." Let us not forget the Maker, God!!
    My kids play outside (unless it is thunder and/or lightening). They fish, know how to swim, ride bikes, etc. However, no goverment agency needs to tell me that my kids have the "right" to the things listed in this bill. As a parent, it is my duty and I have control of what I teach my kids.

  • wwyoud May 7, 2010

    While I agree with the bill, I don't understand why lawmakers should pass it. It doesn't have any requirements or regulations, and seems like just another feel-good measure that wastes taxpayers' time and money. Also, can it open the door to requiring the state to ensure these items - will we later have to fund bus trips to farms for every child? Sorry, I'd rather spend state money on things like better academic education and reducing debt.