Washington, DC (June 29, 2013) --- As summer vacation kicks off for America's youth and young adults, their attention and enthusiasm will be spent indoors in front of a television or computer screen -- on average for eight hours a day. This is a stark contrast to the minutes per day an average American teenager and young adult spends recreating outdoors. This disconnect from nature is contributing to increased environmental apathy as well as major physical and mental health challenges such as obesity and ADHD among young people.
Outdoor Nation has a proven model to counter this imbalance of indoor versus outdoor play. Over the past two years, Outdoor Nation has hosted Summits in 17 cities, awarded hundreds of grants to youth-led projects and engaged more than 75,000 young people in outdoor activities – mobilizing a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts. This year, Outdoor Nation will hold 15 Summits across the country – including one in North Carolina.
"We are investing directly in project ideas that are created by young leaders – which is our key differentiator. The passion and creativity of this generation is only matched by their incredible ability to mobilize their peers around issues they care about," said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that launched Outdoor Nation in 2010.
On June 29 and 30, Outdoor Nation will hold a Signature Summit in the Chapel Hill area as part of a multi-year commitment to the state and region. Over 200 young people will gather at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and camp at the 47,000-acre Jordan Lake State Recreation Area to brainstorm, collaborate, and develop projects that get more people outdoors and, of course, have fun outside. Co-hosting the North Carolina Summit is North Carolina State Parks.
“What an incredible opportunity it is for North Carolina and our young people to be able to work with Outdoor Nation to engage and empower a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards,” said Lewis Ledford, Director of North Carolina State Parks and Recreation. “North Carolina is very proud of its leading status as an outdoor state and this partnership will help us reach young leaders especially those in underserved communities -- positioning the state for success in the future.”
The event is made possible by founding and presenting partners of Outdoor Nation including The North Face, REI Foundation and The Conservation Fund. In addition, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and North Carolina Recreation and Park Association are lead supporters of the Summit as part of a larger partnership program with Outdoor Nation, which will be rolled out later this year.
“So often, as we grow older, our love of the outdoors is replaced with sedentary activities. This doesn’t have to be the case,” said Kathy Higgins, BCBSNC vice president of corporate affairs. “We’re pleased to be working with Outdoor Nation to encourage young adults to continue their love affair with Mother Nature and to share the excitement of the outdoors with future generations.”
Summit attendees will address a variety of topics including what is keeping people indoors, barriers to access, information or concerns about outdoor safety, and unaffordable gear. They then collaborate to come up with projects to target and overcome these issues. This year, Outdoor Nation will invest some $30,000 in these young adult-developed and led projects. The Summits are free to all participants and more information can be found at outdoornation.org.
About Outdoor Nation and The Outdoor Foundation
Outdoor Nation was launched in 2010 by a partnership of The Outdoor Foundation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The REI Foundation, the National Park Service, and The North Face. Its mission is to increase youth participation in outdoor activities, especially among urban communities, promote healthy lives, and developing a new generation of environmental activists. For more information visit outdoorfoundation.org or outdornation.org.