Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issued an executive order Monday to form a new group that will create opportunities for children to experience nature.
The group, called Kansas Coalition for Children in Nature, will work with state agencies and other organizations.
Research has shown that time in nature improves a child’s academic performance, concentration, balance, coordination and self-esteem. Unfortunately, the amount of time children spend outside has dropped by 50 percent during the past 20 years.
“Kansas is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and this coalition will work to make sure Kansas children experience all that our state has to offer,” Sebelius said in a news release. “Environmental education is the first step toward helping our children learn to protect and preserve our planet.”
Last fall, about a dozen Lawrence leaders formed a Nature Education for Kids task force. The members are working with schools and the city of Lawrence to get children outdoors more often. The group recently sponsored a community forum on the topic.
“It’s terrific,” John McGrew, a member of the Lawrence task force, said of the state’s initiative. “It’s exactly what we believe Richard Louv’s book (”Last Child in the Woods”) has done is foster a nationwide movement and I am glad the state of Kansas is behind it.”