Combating "nature deficit disorder"


Ever heard of “nature deficit disorder”? Kids are spending more time than ever inside glued to a screen and it’s leading to a host of behavioral problems. That’s the theory put forward by journalist Richard Louv in his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods. He says overprotective parents are keeping their kids indoors and many kids are placed in “safe” organized sports rather than letting them roam in the woods and parks.

After the publication of his book, various advocates around the country began pushing for more opportunities to get kids connected to nature. In a play on the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, lawmakers in various parts of the country called for “No Child Left Inside” bills that put money toward outdoor recreation and youth programs.

Here in Washington the state senate just approved a bill aimed at encouraging children to spend more time outside. The bill needs to pass the state house before it is enacted into law. The legislation provides $1.3 million for enhancing Washingtonians’ access to natural surroundings, with an emphasis on outdoor recreation and education youth programs. The bill would invest $1 million in grants across the state. The remaining $300,000 would provide two years of funding for an outdoor-recreation policy coordinator in the Governor’s office.

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