Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Kids Outdoors

A Sierra Club California-sponsored bill would connect at-risk youth with nature by funding healthy, educational outdoor and recreation programs run by schools and community organizations.

Assembly Bill 2989 by Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes passed with strong support in the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee today. AB 2989 promotes a commitment to physically active lifestyles by creating a permanent program within the Department of Parks and Recreation that would award grants for outdoor education and recreational opportunities for youth.

“It’s all about getting kids outdoors,” said Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate for Sierra Club California. “Many communities have limited or no access to parks and other safe outdoor recreational opportunities for children to engage in physical activities.”

Rising cases of childhood diabetes and obesity make outdoor recreation and education a health care need.

At-risk children who participated in outdoor education programs upped their science test scores by 27 percent, improved their conflict resolution and problem-solving skills and went back to school with better self-esteem and motivation to learn, according to a 2005 California Department of Education
study. Yet, fewer than 15 percent of youth participate in an outdoor education and recreation program. And an even smaller fraction of urban, lower-income or ethnically diverse youth have access to parks, rivers or forests.

Sadly, this year’s bad budget situation makes competition for state funds a tough, uphill hike. Although the measure relies mostly on private donations and funding from the Environmental License Plate Fund, it still faces obstacles getting out of the Assembly.

Tell the
California Legislature you think getting kids outside is a worthwhile investment.

Please write, call or fax Assemblyman
Mark Leno, who heads the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblyman Mark Leno
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA
Phone (916) 319-2013
Fax (916) 319-2113

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