In late March, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched Get Outdoors, Florida!, an important statewide initiative to encourage Floridians – and all members of their families – to get outside and enjoy our outdoors. I encourage you to take a look at their website and see what they have to offer as to ALL types of outdoor recreation available in Florida … and of course, I’d like you to get out and take a hike while the weather is beautiful for it! I’m joining the partnership to help promote hiking in Florida.
Here’s the official press release from FWC.
FWC and partners say “Get Outdoors Florida!”
As the capitol building in Tallahassee loomed in the background, more than 40 kids came together in a park to enjoy the outdoors, hours after Gov. Charlie Crist and his Cabinet approved on March 24 a resolution containing the Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights.
The Get Outdoors Florida! coalition, a partnership of land managers, government agencies, children’s advocates, health care professionals, public interest groups and other individuals, sponsored the resolution. The resolution encourages everyone to bring families and children back to nature.
“We strive to engage families in outdoor experiences that will help them achieve healthier lifestyles and gain an appreciation of Florida’s natural resources,” said Bob Wattendorf, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), one of the coalition’s partners. “The focus is on safe and ecologically sustainable, nature-based activities that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.”
As the children practiced casting for “backyard bass” with FWC staff, ran an obstacle course replete with hurdles and then snacked on fruits provided by Capital Health Plan, they smiled, cheered and clapped, all the while burning a fully renewable energy all their own.
Meanwhile, other kids stimulated their brains and powers of observation by using modern GPS devices to locate and learn about some of Florida’s popular wildlife with help from the U.S. Forest Service and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They interacted with professional handlers from the Tallahassee Museum who showed off baby alligators, owls and tadpoles. Kids learned how to use binoculars to spot birds, while also learning about the winged creatures’ habitats, thanks to folks from the FWC’s Great Florida Birding Trail.
Florida Disabled Outdoors Association provided the inspiration and proof that no matter what physical challenges people face, there is always a way to get outdoors and enjoy nature.
Research published by the Children and Nature Organization has shown that an array of major national health issues are related to reduced physical activity and a reduced connection with nature. Negative effects from this disconnect include obesity, attention deficit disorder, impaired social skills, higher stress levels, asthma and poorer performance in the classroom.
To make it even easier for parents and groups who want a new experience in nature, www.GetOutdoorsFlorida.com lists activities and tips. The Web site also provides a list of partners and events from all around the state. The partners take advantage of Florida’s year-round temperate climate to provide an unending array of outdoor opportunities. The site also provides information on how to become a partner or make a donation.