The National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network will convene in Salt Lake City to participate in the Connecting Children to NatureLeadership Academy on October 6-8. The leadership academy will provide city officials with the skills and knowledge to take up new or expanded leadership roles in improving access to nature in their communities.
NLC and C&NN chose Salt Lake City in recognition of Mayor Ralph Becker’s sponsorship of new, broader efforts to connect children to nature in his home city, and because of his nationwide leadership on the issue throughout his term as 2015 NLC President. His work has led to expanded opportunities for many more leaders in other cities to embrace the children and nature agenda.
Mayor Becker will welcome city leaders from around the country at an opening breakfast Wednesday and will share the success of his new SLC Kids Explore program, a challenge to local youth (and their parents) to spend at least 30 minutes a day outdoors connecting with nature for a 30-day period. SLC Kids Explore was designed to create exciting new outdoor opportunities for students and to raise public awareness about the enormous health and societal benefits of spending time in nature. A directory of free nature activities is available at www.goseekdiscover.com with suggestions on different ways families can get active while having fun and exploring new dimensions of Salt Lake City.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle and Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children and Nature Network will give a keynote presentation on Tuesday, October 6 at 8:30 p.m.
Over the course of the two-day meeting, city leaders will have the opportunity to learn about promising practices and strategies for connecting children to nature. Participants will work with national experts, attend workshops, conduct field visits and engage in peer learning with city leaders from the seven other cities who have been selected for the leadership academy.
"Kids too often do not have experience associated with this incredible natural world around us," said National League of Cities President Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City. "This effort to connect kids to nature is aimed at reducing screen time for kids by expanding new opportunities and resources for them to explore the great outdoors."
Benefits for increasing young people’s access to nature include improved health outcomes, such as lower rates of childhood obesity, as well as stronger academic skills and increased opportunities for social and emotional learning.