Cincinnati Digs Nature for Kids

Betsy Townsend, a leader in the Leave No Child Inside of Greater Cincinnati campaign, reports the campaign’s goal: to educate the public about the mental, physical and emotional health benefits of playing in nature, for all children. “Several nature facilities are exploring ways to create areas where it’s okay -- and safe -- for kids to dig and climb,” says Townsend. Led by the Cincinnati Nature Center, the initiative is an collaboration of Cincinnati Parks, Hamilton County Parks, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Civic Garden Center, Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Greater Cincinnati Environmental Educators, Green Umbrella and Hamilton County Environmental Services. “We’re also working with such health-related organizations as the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Healthy Children/Healthy Futures project, the Junior League and other groups working on children’s health issues,” she adds. The campaign’s first formal event is a lecture by Richard Louv in February, followed by a panel to address questions of safety, health, the role of technology and practical parenting. “Our minimum goal is an audience of 1,200,” says Townsend. “We plan to follow-up the event with a program to get children in the habit of playing outside -- even in February!”