Sierra Club

Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

September 18, 2008

Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698

House Votes to Get Kids Outside
Bill Would Create New Opportunities for Environmental Education

Washington, D.C.-Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted to expand and improve the opportunities for children and adolescents to learn about and experience the natural world. Hands-on outdoor environmental education offers an opportunity to improve academic performance in our schools and provides a solution for reversing the trends of childhood obesity and "nature deficit disorder" that are afflicting a generation.

"Today’s vote signifies a new national commitment to youth and the environment. Right now children are spending their days inside and their evenings and weekends plugged into electronic media," says Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "They are missing out on the daily childhood joy of playing outside that their parents’ took for granted just twenty years ago."

Research shows that when children spend time outdoors, they are more physically active, engage in more creative forms of play and are better focused. Environmental education contributes to significant improvements in academic performance and motivation to learn. It also leads to student gains in problem-solving skills, conflict resolution abilities, and self-esteem. Opportunities for youth to get outdoors to exercise, play and experience their natural world are critical to help prevent obesity, alleviate symptoms of attention deficit disorders and address other related health problems.

The No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, HR 3036

The No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, sponsored by John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) along with sixty-four co-sponsors, would support local and statewide efforts to expand and improve environmental education for K-12 public schools. This legislation would provide needed support to States to develop scientifically sound curriculum, train teachers, and ensure students are environmentally literate upon high school graduation.

"Today’s youth will be asked to tackle severe environmental challenges as adults, yet American children are not being provided with the foundation needed to address these challenges," says Pope. "Environmental education today will provide the foundation necessary for tomorrow’s workforce to effectively address real world environmental challenges."


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