HEALTH – There is growing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of contact with nature, as outlined earlier in this report. Spending time in nature is free, requires no special equipment, is something that nearly everyone can do and offers not only the opportunity for increased physical activity, but also stress relief and experiential learning. That makes it a perfect fit for initiatives aimed at improving public health. These strategies will advance public health priorities while increasing the amount of time children spend in the natural world:
Strategy #4: Encourage non-traditional partnerships to improve the health of Ohio’s Children.
In recent years, many Ohio health initiatives have recognized the need to involve the entire community in the effort to improve children’s health. Examples include the development of the Ohio Physical Activity Plan and the establishment of a multi-disciplinary council to administer the new Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act (Senate Bill 210), aimed at reducing childhood obesity. Working through the organizations already in place is the first step toward integrating outdoor play into Ohio’s existing health programs. At the local level, the Ohio Leave No Child Inside Collaboratives are “radically inclusive” in inviting the participation of all individuals and organizations interested in improving the health of our children through outdoor play and learning. The movement to Leave No Child has a unique ability to encourage non-traditional partnerships because it touches so many areas of a child’s life – not just health, but education, social development, appreciation for the environment and even the design of the neighborhoods in which they live.