At the beginning of 2010, a national movement was gaining steam known as No Child Left Inside / Children in Nature. This upswell of interest was propelled by Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.
Secretary Collin O’Mara of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and former Secretary Lillian Lowery of the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) charged the Children in Nature/No Child Left Inside® taskforce to be proactive in addressing the opportunities afforded by the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the current status of “nature-deficit disorder” facing the citizens of Delaware. The taskforce responded to this charge and addressed the growing alarm among educators, parents and healthcare workers, that a lack of time to learn and play outdoors is harming our children’s health, hampering their academic success and leaving them ill prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.
Tackling increasing rates of childhood obesity, providing opportunities for children to experience nature up close and integrating meaningful hands-on, outdoor experiences into the school curriculum are essential to the solution. The taskforce was challenged to address these issues with a comprehensive plan; a coalition of organizations and agencies to advocate for policies, programs and infrastructure to facilitate outdoor play and learning; and a comprehensive communications and outreach campaign to give Delaware residents greater access to our state’s tremendous natural resources.