ODNR and Wayne National Forest Challenge Ohio Youth to “Explore The Outdoors” This Summer

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Local destinations will spur children to get in touch with nature and the outdoors

Nelsonville, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and many of its recreational partners, including the Wayne National Forest are challenging the state’s young people to take a break from their computers, televisions and other indoor activities to “Explore the Outdoors” this summer.

The challenge is aimed at reuniting children, especially those in elementary school, with the natural world in order to improve their physical and emotional health and make them better environmental stewards in the future.

National studies show the average elementary-age child spends more than six hours a day playing video games, watching television and operating computers. In Ohio, a 2007 study showed more than 34 percent of the state’s third graders were either obese or overweight. Sedentary activities and weight gain have long-term developmental and social impacts on children. However, additional studies document that children who are in touch with their natural world are healthier, perform better in school and have better self-images.

The cornerstone of the “Explore the Outdoors” challenge is a 34-page, full-color guide that lists 10 outdoor activities such as “Catch A Fish,” “Hike/Bike A Trail,” “Spot A Bird,” etc. Children are encouraged to complete eight of the 10 activities by September 1.

“Explore the Outdoors” posters, featuring correlating codes, are now on display at welcome centers and kiosks in ODNR and partner facilities across Ohio, including those on the Wayne National Forest Leith Run Recreation Area north of Marietta, Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area north of Ironton and the Ora E. Anderson Natural Trail west of Carbon Hill in Hocking County.

Once an activity is completed, the child will enter the appropriate code in the guide. When all eight activities are completed, the child can enter the corresponding codes at www.exploretheoutdoorsohio.com to receive an Ohio Outdoor Explorer certificate. The first 1,000 children to obtain an online certificate will also be eligible to receive a Coleman mini companion lantern.

Nearly 800,000 Explore the Outdoors Activity Guides were distributed to public school students in grades K-5 during May.

ODNR partners lending support to the campaign include the Wayne National Forest, National Park Service, Audubon Ohio, Leave No Child Inside – Central Ohio and Greater Cincinnati, members of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, Ohio Metro and County Parks and the state departments of Health and Education.

Sponsors contributing to the activity guide include the American Heart Association and Coleman.

Additional information about the campaign is available at www.exploretheoutdoorsohio.com