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posted: 11/9/2011 4:00 AM

Kids need to spend more time outdoors

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Last month during Great Outdoors America Week, I was fortunate enough to team up with the Sierra Club and fly to Washington D.C. to let our elected officials know that children aren't spending enough time outdoors and we need to do something about it.

Kids in Lombard and across Illinois are spending more time watching TV and less time outdoors, so it's not surprising that roughly 35 percent of all children in Illinois are now considered obese, and these rates are rising. We would kill two birds with one stone by finding ways to get kids outside more often. Children would be more active and develop healthier habits, while creating a lifelong bond to the outdoors.

When I have kids, I don't want them to be on the computer and indoors all day. So many kids today don't have any connection with nature, yet it has been proven that going outside frequently helps their physical and mental health. We should encourage more ways to make it easier for parents to get their kids in nature frequently, and we should teach more environmental classes in schools. The greater the connection kids build with nature, the more inclined they'll be to conserve our environment.

That's why Im thrilled that Rep. Ron Kind and Sen. Mark Udall introduced the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act. It's a bill that would support state, local and federal strategies to connect America's youth with the outdoors, with outdoor recreation like camping and hiking and outdoor service learning programs.

I urge more of our elected leaders to show that they care about improving kids' mental and physical health and preserving our green spaces, so that Lombard's next generation of kids can enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.

Gwen Miller


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