In 2005, Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder started a national grassroots movement to reacquaint children with nature. Although there have been great strides since publication of the book, today’s children are still increasingly disconnected from nature and the outdoors. Alaska’s children are no exception. Concerns about our children’s detachment from nature and the subsequent lack of physical exercise and increased physical and mental health risks that result have brought together federal, state, local and private stakeholders in Alaska to do something about this alarming trend. Informal coalitions have been active in several Alaska communities and we hope that with the launching of this site, the grassroots movement will expand to other communities
In Anchorage stakeholders began to meet the spring of 2008, culminating in the “Get Outdoors Anchorage! Working Summit” that brought together more than 100 participants to learn from experts in this field and to begin development of a strategic plan for the Anchorage area. During the winter of 2009 the group met to further develop and implement a plan. In the fall of 2009 Anchorage hosted Martin LeBlanc at a community event. The following December an outdoor event was hosted at Russian Jack Park for the Boys and Girls Club. The Anchorage coalition has grown and now has over twenty partners.
In Fairbanks the group started informally in 2009 with interested partners gathering to discuss the Get Outdoors and No Child Left Inside movement. The group felt as though there are many places to get out and explore around Fairbanks and that there were also many opportunities for children and adults in the Fairbanks area. Given that, the group’s efforts were directed towards bringing awareness about the value of Children in Nature and helping to develop a website that could act as a centralized clearinghouse of opportunities and locations that get people outside.
In Homer the Nature Rocks Homer (NRH) community coalition first gathered in October 2008 and is currently made up of over 60 Homer area residents. In May, 2010 members hosted the event, Mud Games at The Wallow, with development of a permanent local mud wallow for family fun. Contact NRH chairperson Carmen Field at 226-4659 to subscribe to the Homer coalition’s listserve and learn about coalition activities and upcoming outdoor opportunities for families at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=143156071365&ref=mf .
In Juneau a community forum was held in May 2009 leading to the formation of the Juneau Children Outdoors Community Coalition. The coalition has put the following ideas into action: a communications network with outdoor opportunities posted on a Google group site and in the Community Calendar; a seminar series for parents and childcare providers: Science and Nature Throughout the Day, and collaborative events such as the Children’s Outdoor Clothing Exchange, Walk to School Days, the Spring Equinox Jamboree and Southeast Alaska’s First Annual BioBlitz. To subscribe to the Juneau Children Outdoors Community Coalition's listserve and learn about upcoming outdoor opportunities for families, please sign up at http://groups.google.com/group/Juneau-children-outdoors or contact Kristen Romanoff at 465-4292.
In Sitka The Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition (Get Out, Sitka!) was created during the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, when Sitka residents decided one of the community health priorities was to find ways to encourage and support people (especially children and families) to get outdoors more often for recreation. The Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition website http://getoutsitka.wordpress.com offers resources from around the community to help people find ways to get outdoors and play. The group usually meets at 7pm on the first Thursday of the month at Harrigan Centennial Hall (check web site for updates). For more information about the Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition, contact Charles Bingham at 738-8875 or email@example.com