On November 18, Congressman Ron Kind (D – Wisconsin) introduced the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act (MONA) into the House of Representatives. The idea of the bill is to support federal, state, and local strategies that connect children with nature.
At a time when the average youngster, aged 8 – 18, is spending at least seven and a half hours indoors staring at her or his small screens, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this is desperately needed. Indeed, experts believe that our young people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors, and this has dire effects on their social, emotional, psychological and creative development.
With the notion that our children need real experience, not just virtual experience, this bill proposes to get American kids healthy and active by connecting children, youth and families with nature through natural play areas, outdoor recreation programs, public health initiatives, outdoor learning environments, service learning and other initiatives.
Of course, this bill would also address the growing problem of childhood obesity, at a time when one in three children is overweight or obese.
The move for this legislation comes on the heels of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, launched in June, 2010, an initiative to solve childhood obesity within a generation by providing resources for families to get active in nature.
Meanwhile, the No Child Left Inside legislation has been on hold since April, 2009, when it was read twice and referred to the House Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
The movement to re-connect children with nature is growing rapidly, but having MONA pass would give it tremendous momentum.
Our future stewards of the planet need our help.