The readers’ forum

We can attract young people to our great parks


Re the June 9 story Miami’s parks rank a low 38th among nation’s 50 large cities:

There’s no question that open spaces and parks can contribute to a healthier, even more prosperous, community.

However, just having great parks does not seem to have the pizzazz needed to lure teens and young adults outdoors.

Summer vacation is here, and young Americans’ focus will be directed largely at zombie warriors, space aliens and warships, or mega-armies battling mythical beasts raging from video games, not so much on outdoor activities. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that today’s young people spend almost eight hours in front of a screen every day and just minutes outdoors and active — leading to what many are calling, “nature deficit disorder.”

This disconnection from the outdoors is contributing to increased environmental apathy as well as major health challenges such as obesity and ADHD among youth.

At Outdoor Nation, the millennial generation is working to buck this trend. And their voices have been sorely lacking in discussions about outdoor policies and resources, while an old guard faces a leadership challenge from them in trying to get more people outdoors.

They deliver a passion and creativity that is matched by their incredible ability to mobilize peers around issues they care about. Already they have mobilized thousands of young people, organized scores of outdoor outings and reached out to youth from Atlanta to Boston to Chicago, among other communities.

Miami’s parks are great, without a doubt, but if nobody is in them we diminish their value and face serious risks to our community’s health and wellbeing.

Chris Fanning,

executive director,

Outdoor Foundation,

Washington, D.C.

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