Wichita, Kansas – Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, Inc. received endorsement from the National Forum on Children and Nature as one of 30 projects nationwide that demonstrate new and creative ways to reconnect kids with nature.
Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors partners with youth mentoring organizations and outdoor groups to recruit mentors who share their love and passion of the outdoors with a child. Targeting “at-risk” youth, Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors gives children who have limited opportunities the chance to experience first-hand the thrill of time spent afield to learn to hunt, fish, camp and hike under the tutorage of a caring adult mentor.
“We are honored with this endorsement by the National Forum on Children and Nature,” commented Mike Christensen, President of Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, Inc. “We look forward to working closely with the Forum to build upon our past success and to expand the Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors program to give children across the country more opportunities to enjoy time outdoors with a mentor showing them the way.”
Children have a basic right to a healthy, whole childhood. Despite major advances in medicine, education and other fields, however, kids today are developing chronic health conditions–such as obesity and depression-earlier and more frequently than ever before. Growing evidence links the decline in children’s health, in part, to their disconnect with nature, including less active time outdoors.
Recognizing an urgent need to reconnect kids with nature, The Conservation Fund launched the National Forum on Children and Nature in 2007. The Forum includes 51 dynamic public and private leaders and is chaired by Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT), Edward Rendell (PA), Mark Sanford (SC) and Brian Schweitzer (MT), with honorary co-chair Richard Louv, bestselling author of “Last Child in the Woods.” The mayors of Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago are Forum members, as are the CEOs of The North Face, REI and the National Audubon Society, among other organizations.
The Forum’s mission is to: elevate the issue of reconnecting children with nature to the highest levels of our national consciousness; connect the fast-growing grass-roots side of this movement to some of the most powerful engines of American society – public, private and nonprofit; and make real for every American-through nationally significant demonstration projects-ways that each of us can help reconnect children with nature.
Over the past year, the Forum received 560 proposals from projects seeking endorsement. Forum advisory panels culled the best ideas for investment in children’s health through nature, particularly in the areas of education, technology and community. Ultimately, the Forum endorsed 30 projects, based on their relevance, impact and sustainability. Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, Inc. is one of these 30.
Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors began as a joint effort between Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to get more kids outdoors. With the support of its founding sponsors, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the program has grown to the point where it spun off as a separate non-profit organization, working with youth mentoring organizations in a number of states across the country.
“The National Forum on Children and Nature proudly endorses Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, Inc. for its vision, creativity and commitment to the well-being of future generations,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “Collectively and individually, these demonstration projects are a platform for advocating for change locally and nationally.”
By endorsing these projects, the Forum commits to raising visibility and support for them. To learn more about the Forum and projects, see www.forum-on-children-and-nature.org, a website slated to go live in mid-November.