Jacobs interviewed for Maine Public report on getting kids outside

Maine Public interviewed Lauren Jacobs, a lecturer in kinesiology and physical education at the the University of Maine, for a report on how to increase the time children spend outdoors. Children today are spending far less time outdoors than their parents and grandparents did, reducing their sense of connection to nature, which for a largely rural state like Maine can pose issues related to their interest and investment in the state’s future. Visits to the North Maine Woods have declined by more than one third over the past decade, and children represent a shrinking number of visitors. Children spend an average of 12 minutes per day playing outside, and more than 10 hours being inactive indoors, according to a study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute quoted by Maine Public. Jacobs thinks many factors contribute to this tendency to avoid the outdoors. “Do they [families] live in a place where there’s outdoor space available? Do children and adults, whether justified or not, feel that outdoors is a safe place?” Jacobs said. Jacobs is helping to coordinate a minor program in outdoor leadership at UMaine, beginning in the fall, to help address the issue and equip adults to help guide others to discover, or rediscover, nature. She said schools also have an important role. “How are we prioritizing time? Are we making access democratic? Public school — that’s accessible to every kid. So how can we make sure that kids in public schools are getting time outdoors so that we know that every kid is getting access?” said Jacobs.