Potatoes grow outside, at least the ones I like for my mashed potatoes. The potatoes I am talking about are the “couch potatoes.” If we are not one ourselves, we probably know someone who is. Unfortunately, it’s a growing trend in the United States. Several contributing factors go hand in hand that causes this crazy cycle to repeat itself and grows larger than life (no pun intended). 

Potatoes Aren’t People

So, let me ask you this. Is your child physically inactive, watching too much TV, playing video games or on the computer excessively? Having poor sleeping habits, and poor nutrition? Maybe they have just one or perhaps all of these things are going on. I hate to break the news to you, but your child is at risk!

You ask, “At the risk of what?” I would say they are running the increased risk of childhood obesity, poor self-image, and poor self-esteem. Firstly, what is disturbing is that this trend tends to carry from childhood into adulthood unless it is addressed. Look at the growing related issues in America today. Therefore, what is being done? 

What’s Outside

Kids today have become disconnected from being active and from the outdoors. Thus they show signs of what social scientists have labeled as “Nature Deficit Disorder.” This is not something just made up. Research and studies are being done and supporting this. Melissa Hanson, president of the Sajai Foundation, said, “Millions of kids have little or no exposure to the outdoors, thus creating a little appreciation for the natural world’s beauty and appeal.” 

Because of how our society is fixated on the media, internet, etc., most of our kids have had limited or no experience of the outdoors. They get a little in the school curriculum, some on educational TV or DVD’s, some from the web, but why not from first-hand experience? 

The outdoors, whether the comfort of the local parks, the shade in the state forest, the pristine shores of the lake, or the calming waves at the beach, create a nurturing environment. This promotes healthy playing and living. This environment also helps kids stimulate creativity, adventure, and exploring the world around them. 

Here are a few things to look up or things to do: 

• Leave No Trace program 

• Wise Kids Outdoors program 

• Go fishing 

• Try birdwatching or build a birdhouse 

• Visit the nature center and learn about the ecosystem 

• Fly a kite and learn about wind 

• Learn about “Living Green” 

• Go for a walk and take pictures and look upon the web to find out what it is, uses, etc. 

• Learn about recycling and programs in your area 

• “No Child Left Inside” program 

• Chewonkl Program 

• Keewaydln Program 

• Leadership School (NOLS) Outward Bounds Program 

We need to take care of our families, ourselves, and our planet. Doing some of the things listed will help address the risk issues of childhood obesity, poor self-image, and poor self-esteem. 

These activities promote and provide physical activity opportunities, healthy living, proper nutrition, and positive self-image and esteem. Barbara Tulipane, NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association – Chief Executive Officer) said, “We are doing this generation of children a great disservice in not leading them into the outside world. And this is coming to roost in the inactive lifestyles. This problem will be further compounded when these children become adults, and we ask them to care for an environment they have never known.”