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Get Kids Active!

Chances are, when you were a youth you spent a good deal of time outside riding a bike, walking through the woods or fields near your house, collecting butterflies or playing in a nearby creek. Children today, for the most part, do not have those opportunities for many and various reasons— and it is harmful to their health and well-being. There is a growing body of evidence showing that children who spend more time outdoors playing are less likely to be at risk for weight-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Time outdoors in nature improves not just physical health, but also mental skills. Research also shows that childhood is a crucial time to instill a love of
nature; children who love nature grow up to be adults who love nature and want to protect it. The opportunity to help children spend more time outside being physically active and learning about nature is one of the best things that you can do to improve a child’s health and help instill a love and respect for creation.

Explore Local Possibilities
❑ Find out what parks, nature centers, and community opportunities already exist in your area. Explore partnership or field-trip possibilities.
❑ Contact local governments and non-profit organizations to explore community-wide events that you might want to organize around, such as a creek clean-up day, trash pick-up event, or nature education event.
❑ Local farms, farmers’ markets, and nearby state parks make great field trips—call ahead to discuss bringing a group.

Gather Resources
❑ Begin with your congregational resources: talk to key committees and leaders who might be interested in your event or program. Be sure to include religious education leaders in the conversation.
❑ Don’t re-create the wheel: most likely, someone else has created a program before that you can replicate. Texas Parks and Wildlife and many local parks, for example, provide resources to help reconnect kids with nature and might be able to help.
❑ If you are interested in creating a program for children at your congregation such as a summer nature camp or after-school care program, reach out to local organizations that might have information, resources, or expertise to share.

Plan, Communicate, Launch
❑ Plan for the practical nuts and bolts of your program—permission forms, transportation logistics, liability issues, volunteer recruitment and background checks, etc.
❑ Have a “plan B” in case the weather doesn’t cooperate with your planned event or activity.
❑ Use the communication guide on pages 24-27 to reach out both to your congregation and to the larger community.
❑ Sometimes new programs start out with a whimper; do not be discouraged. Be patient and persistent, celebrate every activity and success, and your program will grow. Remember that even if you make a difference in just one child’s life, you have done a world of good for that one child.