If you haven’t heard of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative before, no worries… neither had I (and I watch out for these things). But, while most of us have been watching for news of climate change legislation out of Washington (that’s still hung up), President Obama launched this effort “…to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors” back in April. There have been listening sessions around the country all Summer long. And now, the deadline for a report from the the Secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is coming due (on November 15th).
If you’ve read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, or looked into the detail of “No Child Left Inside” legislation and initiatives,you know that broad health issues (obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and even depression), and concern over environmental awareness, tend to drive the idea of getting kids outdoors more. For a number of programs around the country, though, the stakes are even higher: environmental education is becoming an integral part of working with kids at risk of falling into lives of crime, addiction, and poverty (which make the above-mentioned health issues a bigger likelihood).