We hear it all the time -- get outside! Exercise! And according to a report by the Outdoor Foundation, this message is getting through -- to adults.
The bad news? The report shows, kids ages 6 to 17 saw a nearly 12 percent drop in times spent outside between 2006 and 2007. And that has some environmentalists concerned.
The report shows that this trend also contributes to rising obesity levels in children. Rick Koziel, the Director of Beaver Creek Reserve says children are becoming disconnected with nature, and he's made it his goal to reverse that.
When we asked 8-year-old Sydney Schultz what she would do for fun if she could do anything, she told us, “Probably play my D.S.”
A D.S. is a handheld video game system -- and something Sydney's mother rolls her eyes at. Melissa Schultz says, “Yea I’m always trying to chase them outside, ya know they like to sit in front of the TV.”
Melissa’s problem is one many parents face. She chaperoned Sydney's field trip Wednesday to the Beaver Creek Reserve. She says, “This nature reserve is a great way to learn things, the kids just had a ball today, with the activities they had here. “
And this is welcome news to Director Rick Kozie l-- who's made it his life's work to inspire kids to love nature. He says, “We don't have cellphones, but it can be just as exciting, a live animal like a snake in your hands, seeing that tongue flicking back and forth and feeling and touching that snake, is something you don't forget.”
Koziel says he's noticed that a lot of kids these days seem lost when it comes to nature, “It's like they don't know how to entertain themselves outside in an unstructured environment, they don't know how to play outside by themselves.”
So how do we change that? Koziel says kids need a mentor – someone to introduce them to the outdoors. He says, “They have a natural enthusiasm for the outdoors, they're curious, excited and I think you just need to funnel that curiosity and the excitement in the right direction.”
Koziel says unless kids have love and respect for nature, they're not going to take care of the earth. He advises, the more often you take a kid outside -- the better.