January 5, 2012
Wisconsin’s Children Advocate for Outdoor Bill of Rights
MADISON – Today, dozens of children, parents, teachers, health providers and outdoor educators from across the state gathered at the State Capitol to urge their legislators to support the Wisconsin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights and usher it through the Natural Resources Committee. State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and State Representative Chris Taylor (D–Madison), authors of the resolution, met with the children and spoke at a press conference that proceeded the youth’s lobbying efforts.
The Wisconsin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights (WCOBR) is a bipartisan joint resolution that makes a generational promise to every child that they have the right to explore Wisconsin’s diverse natural environment, breathe clean air, drink safe water and eat locally-grown foods. The resolution also affirms our commitment to providing Wisconsin children with the opportunity for connecting with nature through outdoor recreation, including swimming, paddling, fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, and playing in our state’s natural areas.
“I am honored to be joined by children from across the state who came here today to make their voices heard on the Wisconsin they would like to inherit,” said Sen. Chris Larson. “We owe it to Wisconsin’s future generations to reaffirm our tradition of stewardship ensuring that our state flourishes with outdoor opportunities.”
Children are suffering from a public health crisis as outdoor activities are replaced by more solitary and stationary activities. 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 and only 30 minutes each week on unstructured outdoor play.
As a result, incidents of obesity, diabetes and attention deficit disorders are skyrocketing. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one out of every five children today is considered obese, leaving our youth at risk of being the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Time outdoors is proven to benefit our children’s health as it decreases stress levels and lowers their risk of developing asthma or being overweight. It also increases their chances for success since students who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests, have higher grade point averages and cause fewer classroom disruptions.
“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,” said Rep. Chris Taylor. “This is an initiative every legislator should support.”