Why We Care

For generations, outdoor exploration and play has been as much a part of children’s early development as reading or writing. The simple act of outdoor play and experiences fosters in children a person connection to nature and shapes a sense of place.

Outdoor play, environmental education and experiences in nature are essential to the physical and mental wellbeing of Michigan’s children. Yet today, the barriers and challenges to children’s ability to play and explore the outdoors are mounting.

Today, children spend less than 30 minutes a week in unstructured outdoor play, while children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of nearly 6.5 hours a DAY with electronic media. These days, children can more easily identify corporate logos than the plants found in their own backyards.

The statistics regarding children and nature are astonishing, and are cause for concern. The resources below help outline the current challenges facing children and nature, as well as the benefits of connecting children with the outdoors.


Reconnecting Children and Nature – Top Ten Reasons for Concern (Michigan DNR)

Healthy Kids Play Outdoors  (Michigan DNR)

Smart Kids Learn Outdoors (Michigan DNR)

Children and Nature Network – Research and Resources

Recommended Reading 

Research is also showing that getting young people outdoors is helping ease attention disorders.  Click the image to access the original scientific article “Coping with ADD”

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