November 17, 2011
Sen. Larson, Rep. Taylor Introduce Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights
MADISON – Today State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and State Representative Chris Taylor (D–Madison) began circulating the Wisconsin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights for legislative co-sponsorship.
The Wisconsin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights makes a generational promise to every child that they have the right to explore Wisconsin’s diverse natural and agricultural resources, breathe clean air, drink fresh water, and eat locally-grown foods. The resolution also affirms our commitment to providing Wisconsin children the opportunity to swim, paddle, fish, hike, hunt, camp, and play in our state’s natural areas. The Wisconsin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights recognizes that providing children with outdoor experiences produces healthy, happy children.
“Generations of Wisconsin children grew healthy and strong enjoying our state’s natural treasures,” said Sen. Larson. “Too often today we allow our youth to turn their backs to the experience of exploring our great outdoors. We are losing our next generation of hunters, anglers, and conservationists to sitcoms and video games.”
A recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Fund found that children ages 8-18 spend more than 7.5 hours each day, or 53 hours a week, on smart phones, computers and watching TV.This shift away from outdoor activities to more solitary and stationary activities has begun to take its toll on the health of our children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1980 to 2008 childhood obesity in children aged 6-11 nearly tripled and childhood obesity in children aged 12-19 more than tripled, meaning that approximately one out of every five children today is considered obese. As a result, today’s children may be the first generation at risk of having a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Time outdoors is proven to not only benefit our children’s health, but also increase our children’s chances for success as students who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests, have higher grade point averages and cause fewer classroom disruptions.
“This resolution affirms our commitment to ensuring that our children have access to a clean, safe environment,” said Rep. Taylor. “Our children are suffering from a ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ and we owe it to them to make sure they have an opportunity to grow up healthy and ready to learn by having outdoor experiences and activities that connect them to nature.”
Sen. Larson and Rep. Taylor are circulating the bill for co-sponsorship to their colleagues today and expect to formally introduce the measure in the near future.