WASHINGTON, DC (November 3, 2011) — Congressman Ron Kind (WI) and Senator Mark Udall
(CO) introduced the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act today to support state, local and federal strategies to
connect youth and families with the natural world, improve children’s health and support future
economic growth and conservation efforts.
This legislation will help get Americans active outdoors through natural play; outdoor recreation
such as camping, hiking, hunting and fishing; public health initiatives; outdoor learning
environments; service learning and other initiatives.
“Children today are spending less time outdoors than any other generation in history,” said Rep.
Kind. “To tackle alarming childhood obesity rates and encourage healthy lifestyles, we must
encourage our kids to get active, especially outdoors. I am committed to providing access and
opportunities for our families to get active in nature and will continue to treasure every chance I get
to take advantage of Wisconsin’s abundant natural resources with my two young boys.”
“I introduced the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, along with my House colleague Rep. Ron Kind, to
help Americans, especially kids, connect with healthy, active, outdoor activities,” said Sen. Udall,
the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s National Parks
Subcommittee and co-chairman of the bipartisan Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus. “Connecting
with the outdoors is an excellent way to promote good physical and mental health and bolster
America’s conservation legacy. It also supports our vibrant outdoor economy, which is especially
important in Colorado and to our rural mountain communities.”
Today’s children are spending less time in nature than their parents or grandparents. At the same
time, one in three American kids is overweight or obese; more than half of all children in the United
States are deficient in Vitamin D; instances of attention deficit disorders are on the rise; and stress,
anxiety and depression rates among youth are increasing.
The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act would provide incentives to states to develop cross-cutting, fiveyear
strategies to get children and families active in the great outdoors. It would also direct the
president to involve federal agencies and national partners to create a similar plan at the national
level and support research further documenting the health, conservation and other benefits of active
time spent outdoors in the natural world.
“The nature of childhood has changed, and there isn’t much nature in it,” said Larry Schweiger,
National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO. “National Wildlife Federation commends
Congressman Ron Kind and Senator Mark Udall for introducing legislation that will strengthen the
economy by getting Americans moving through recreation and active outdoor play.”
The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act has the support of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), a national
strategic partnership of non-profit organizations and corporations from the conservation, health and
outdoor recreation sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and
families to connect with nature.
“Providing access to the outdoors is at the heart of our business. We believe in the virtuous cycle–
the simple concept based on the idea that if you get people outdoors, they will love that experience.
The more they come back, the more they grow to care about protecting our natural playgrounds and
living healthy active lives,” said Todd Spaletto, president of The North Face. “We’re excited about
our partnership with OAK and support policy solutions like the Health Kids Outdoors Act as it
means more opportunities to get people outdoors.”
“At a time when more than one in three children in the US are overweight, we applaud Congressman
Ron Kind and Senator Mark Udall for successfully introducing the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act,” said
Dave Alberga, CEO at Active Network. “We look forward to continuing our support in getting kids
active and participating in outdoor activities.”
“Through our Mission Outdoors programs, we have witnessed shy children grow into leaders from
the confidence they gain after hiking up a mountain. We have seen military kids get a much needed
break from the daily stress they face when one of their parents deploys by spending a week outdoors
at summer camp,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “But, fewer kids are
spending time outdoors and many don’t have the opportunity to get outdoors. Rep. Kind and Sen.
Udall’s bill could help reverse this trend, improve our kids’ health and open up a new world for
Americans are paying a steep price for less time spent outdoors. Obesity not only decreases the
quality of life for many Americans – it is straining our nation’s economy through steep increases in
healthcare costs. In addition, local and state economies have suffered as the drop in outdoor
recreation has translated into less revenue for outdoor retailers, local tourist destinations or “gateway
communities,” and state fish and wildlife agencies.
The conditions are right for making lasting changes in the ways youth and families relate to nature.
The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act will support the goals of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors
initiative and the First Lady’s effort to address childhood obesity through Let’s Move!
About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids: OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations
from diverse sectors with the common interest in expanding the number and quality of opportunities
for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The alliance was launched by Sierra
Club, YMCA of the USA, REI, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America,
Outdoor Foundation, Children & Nature Network and the National Recreation and Park Association
in June 2010. Since then, OAK’s steering committee has grown to include the National Association
of State Park Directors, The North Face and Active Network. OAK’s membership continues to
expand and now includes 35 nonprofit organizations