by Alicia Pimental
August 01, 2008
The state of Maryland has launched a new commitment to help children throughout the state re-connect with Maryland’s mountains, forests and waterways.
The Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature will promote structured and unstructured play activities for children in the outdoors through a 21-member panel made up of representatives from public, private and non-profit organizations from across the state.
The Partnership for Children in Nature will help the state’s youths improve their environmental literacy and increase their time spent outdoors by:
- Creating trails between schools and communities to encourage walking and biking.
- Increasing support for schoolyard habitat programs.
- Providing at-risk youth with opportunities to serve in conservation crews in state parks and public lands.
- Developing a state environmental literacy plan that will identify model outdoor learning experiences that can be integrated into regular school curricula.
The Partnership for Children in Nature complements the federal No Child Left Inside initiative, which also promotes environmental education. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) is the lead sponsor of the No Child Left Inside bill, which will likely head to a vote in the House of Representatives next month.
According to the No Child Left Inside Coalition, which supports the bill, incorporating environmental education into core curricula has a measurably positive impact on student success in science, reading, math and social studies. Increased time outdoors has been shown to benefit children’s cognitive functioning, self-discipline and emotional well-being.
The No Child Left Inside Coalition currently has more than 640 member groups from across the United States, ranging from environmental and education advocates to businesses and public health experts. In the Chesapeake Bay region, member organizations include the Anacostia Watershed Society, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Virginia Living Museum.