Outdoor Kids Bill of Rights

by
MSI VP Bob Stremba

MSI VP Bob Stremba

MSI Board Member Attends “Kids Outdoors” Conference

Mountain Spirit Institute board member Bob Stremba of Fort Lewis College’s Outdoor Pursuits, Durango, Colorado, recently attended a conference aimed at addressing initiatives of getting children outside more in the natural world.  This  “No Child Left Indoors” initiative has a strong advocate with Colorado Lt. Governor O’Brien who is currently soliciting suggestions in writing Colorado KidsOutdoor Bill of Rights.

Stremba shared his findings at this week’s Mountain Institute staff meeting and asked what others in MSI thought about developing curriculum that can be replicated and offered throughout the USA to schools, summer camps and community recreation programs. Said Stremba, “Colorado residents in communities throughout the state are giving feedback on this exciting intiative. He added, “There are about 8 to 10 sites in Colorado working on this, and there will likely be partial government funding for such programs.” Those at the meeting agreed this direction is a good fit for Mountain Spirit.

Revenge of Gaia
Revenge of Gaia

Founder Randy Richards said Mountain Spirit’s core values focus on body mind and spirit, spiritual experiential education, (or a term coined here “espiriential” education), learning from indigenous wisdom, environmental education, sustainability, social responsibility and service.  He added, MSI was founded on just the values for which the  ‘Kids in the Woods’  iniative is striving.”

Sustainable Communities Programs Director and MSI board member Brenda Dowst mentioned that she has noticed programs “popping up all over”  her region in Nova Scotia,  and said that including the Indian nation people to teach about giving back, the earth, about appreciation and understanding of the earth would be vital to such education.

She also refered to James Lovelock’s book,  Revenge of Gaia, where he warns of the perils of ignoring nature and that our survival of a species, in its present numbers, is in question. She added her reason for bringing up the book in the meeting was that it could serve as a touchstone for moving such programs forward.

Sustainable Communities Director, Brenda Dowst
Brenda Dowst

Colorado Kids Outdoors‘ statement of purpose states it  “is a collaboration among organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors for whom the shared goal is increasing outdoor activity for children. The purpose of this effort is to create a comprehensive framework within the State of Colorado to support efforts of many diverse organizations to provide opportunities, environments and infrastructure for children throughout the State to spend significant quality time in the outdoors. The elements of this framework must include:

  • Development and adoption of public policies at the state and local levels that reflects a very high priority for the goal of ensuring that all Colorado’s children, in particular minority and underserved children, have access to safe and healthy, structured and unstructured, outdoor experiences;      (see resources below and..
  • Advocating for the allocation of resources, including new resources, in support of organizations and initiatives that seek to reconnect children and nature;
  • Creation of mechanisms for communication, big idea and best practice exchange, leveraging of effort, and regular networking and coordination among organizations, individuals and agencies that are working to expand childhood environmental education and outdoor activities; and
  • Identification and elimination of barriers that prevent any child in Colorado from free and safe access to outdoor experiences that enable them to lead a healthy and successful life and prepares them for the future stewardship of Colorado’s environment.”

There a number of good resources on MSI’s  resource webpage regarding this subject, a few of which are listed here:  www.hookedonnature.org
Programs, workshops, reading materials and other informative tools designed to inform parents, caregivers, and others about connecting children of all ages with the simple beauty of nature.

www.cbf.org
Information on No Child Left Inside (NCLI) revision to No Child Left Behind, its progress, and solutions, environmental education, nature deficit disorder, climate change, childhood obesity etc, and how to get involved in the legislative process.

www.fs.fed.us/recreation/program
Program designed to fund efforts to get kids interested in the outdoors and recreating in America’s Forests.

www.takeachildoutside.org
Gives parents, teachers, and care-givers resources to connect with outdoor activities, pledge to take a child outside and record your outdoor experiences, using an interactive map of the U.S.

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