Guest Column - October 2009
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Outdoor Recreation

Go Outside & Play
The Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

By Brian W. Flaherty


Here are a few current efforts:

Get Outdoors It's Yours! (www.getoutdoorsitsyours.gov) Launched at the National Recreation and Park Association's 2008 Congress, its purpose is to encourage children and their families to spend time in outdoor recreation venues, environmental education and natural resource stewardship. Seven federal agencies have signed on including the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Partnerships are being formed with nonprofit organizations, conservation organizations and state and local land managers.

No Child Left Inside: (www.nochildleftinside.org) A program of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection focusing on encouraging children and their families to get outside and explore the resources of state park and forest lands, and in doing so, become healthier, more active and environmentally conscious citizens.

No Child Left Inside Act: (www.nrpa.org) Amendments were approved by the House of Representatives in late 2008, which will allow local park and recreation agencies to be eligible for grants, and will also require those entities receiving grants to partner with park and recreation agencies. This act will provide fresh resources for the states to offer environmental education programs to students, as well as finances for teacher training. It will also encourage hands-on field experiences. The 111th Congress will take this up in 2009.

Park Planning Perspective: "I think about how park facilities serve children and nature objectives. Because parents want to see their kids, but their kids desire freedom, we have worked to provide safe sight lines through out our neighborhood parks." Julie McQuary, Parks Projects Coordinator, Olympia Washington.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With the recent passing of this legislation, funding opportunities for park projects have been made available.

As a profession, the challenge is set. We are in the best position to provide the parks, facilities and programs that ensure the health of our children, (adults too!). As our world grows more crowded, both geographically and technologically, it becomes a responsibility we should embrace. Time and space are limited. Recreational options are not. After all, there should always be enough hedge apples to go around…



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian W. Flaherty, PPRP, is director of the Waterford (Conn.) Recreation & Parks Commission. For more information on the initiatives listed here, contact the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) at www.nrpa.org. The National Society for Park Resources is in the forefront of this movement. They can also be contacted via the NRPA.