The outdoors can be a prescription for physical, metal and economic health. That’s the message from the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

Press Release from the Missouri News Service

The outdoors can be a prescription for physical, mental and economic health. That’s the message from the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). The group is a bi-partisan gathering of people and organizations who want kids to “get their nature on.”

Danielle Moodie-Mills is the senior manager for the Environmental Education Campaign of the National Wildlife Federation. She says the outdoors – from national parks to urban green spaces – is a huge economic engine for Missouri and the nation, generating jobs and contributing $730 billion to the economy.

“Often you hear, ‘Well, it’s the outdoors – that’s fun, but we have more important issues to deal with. We have the jobs and we have the economy.’ We’re trying to convey that all of this is intertwined.”

Moodie-Mills says the more active kids are, the healthier they tend to be. Some agree in Washington, D.C., where Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind are planning to introduce the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, which will provide incentives for states to support outdoor activities for children.

Getting kids involved in nature can have a ripple effect, Moodie-Mills points out.

“By connecting people with nature and getting them outside, they figure out, ‘You know, this is really beautiful. This is beautiful mountains and beautiful streams and beautiful oceans.’ Then – you know what? – they decide they want to protect it.”

OAK is not only encouraging outdoor activity, but also has a Facebook app that kids older than 13 can use to earn virtual badges and share their experiences in the outdoors with family and friends.