The following is a guest post by @ThatOutdoorGuy.
I just read one of the most intriguing articles on the the need—the dire need—to get people outdoors. People. Not just children. Everyone. And even though Richard Louv and his “Nature Deficit Disorder” mantra weren’t mentioned by name, his game-changing ideology was certainly evident in the overall tone of the write-up.
The article titled “Better health may be as easy as a walk in the park”, originally appeared in the Philadelphia Enquirer. Journalist Sandy Bauers put together a very compelling argument, backed up by a Who’s Who of those leading the movement to connect health care and getting outdoors.
I find it heartbreaking that coalitions, advocacy groups, and health care organizations are resorting to teaming up with a multitude of local, state, and national parks in order to convince people of their need to simply #GetOutdoors.
Of course, I’m spoiled, in that I live in a forest, on a mountain with several great hiking trails within a 15-minute drive. Even so, if that weren’t the case —- and it hasn’t always been —- I would still take whatever steps necessary to get outdoors.
Movements like “No Child Left Inside”, “Outdoor Rx”, and “Docs in the Park”, are sadly needed to pry people off the couch, away from their desk, and out the door. Prestigious groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics are teaming up with relative newcomers like the U.S. Play Coalition, in holding brainstorming meeting with park officials, in order to develop effective methods to reach the most at-risk citizens.
It never occurred to me not to teach my own children the importance of -— no, The Need to —- get out of the house and into the yard, the woods, alongside a creek, up a tree, on their bike, and on, and on, and on. Where has the disconnect occurred, and why? What force is at work keeping parents from this pivotal component of raising children?
Yes, I’m all too aware of the crazy-cool gaming systems that fill up homes, and playtime, around our country, and the world. We have them. So? They only work when turned on, and children (and adults) can’t access them if they’re 2 miles out in forest on a nature walk.
The excuse of not knowing how, or not knowing what’s needed in order to get outdoors safely, just doesn’t hold water these days. Since this near-epidemic also exists here in our award-winning outdoor mecca, local groups are partnering to help simplify the hot-button issue.
Stay tuned for one new approach developed by Chattanooga’s leading outdoor adventure retailer, Rock/Creek. I’m honored to be participating in this effort, along with other local, regional, and industry experts. It is our hope that we’ll be able to provide the information, equipment, and encouragement necessary to connect getting outdoors with better physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
Below are two resources provided along with the article, which ran in the Monday, June 9th issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
“The National Park Service allows you to search for national parks by ZIP code:
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists national wildlife refuges: