Leave No Child Inside

Leave No Child Inside

To help reverse the growing disconnection between children and nature, The Glenview Park District, along with Chicago Wilderness and more than 200 organizations, are working together to promote “Leave No Child Inside”.

Spearheading the park district’s efforts is Lorin Ottlinger, Assistant Director of The Grove and the team leader of the Glenview Park District’s Environmental Team. Lorin’s passion for the Leave No Child Inside initiative grew from the experiences she had as a child, spending lots of time in the woods with her family, camping, fishing and hiking. She talks about what most people instinctively know: enjoying the outdoors with your children is fun, healthy and a great way to spend quality time with your family.

Q: How did the Leave No Child Inside movement begin?

The movement was inspired by author Richard Louv, who in his groundbreaking 2006 book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, cited kids’ lack of direct experience with nature is largely to blame for alarming increases in obesity, attention deficit disorder and poor social skills. With Leave No Child Inside , our goal is to promote children’s health through outdoor play and exploration, and foster caring for nature and the environment in today’s children and future generations.

What are the benefits of getting kids to spend time outdoors?

Every year, a smaller percentage of Americans are engaging in nature-based activities. Kids are so plugged into television and video games that they’ve lost their connection to the natural world. Children benefit from time in nature outdoors! As The Grove’s assistant director, I see the results firsthand. Even if it’s just exploring in the backyard or at the park down the street, the outdoors provide an opportunity to engage all your senses — see, hear, touch, taste and feel — in a way electronics can’t. Kids who are exposed to nature early and often usually are more aware, have higher energy levels and increased levels of self-confidence. The evidence of needing nature for healthy childhood development is far more than just anecdotal.

What can parents do?

One of the greatest gifts parents can give to their children is to share their love of nature. Consider efforts to get your children hooked on nature as an investment in your family’s health. Turn off the blackberry, put away the wallet and get outside! Getting involved is not as difficult as you might imagine. There are an abundance of simple, accessible, and magical outdoor places right here in the Glenview Park District. They’re as close as your neighborhood park. Simply being able to play freely, in a safe place, in the out-of-doors, and on a regular basis is where it all begins.

What is the Glenview Park District doing to support Leave No Child Inside?

There are a variety of programs at The Grove, Air Station Prairie and Wagner Farm that do a great job of connecting participants with nature and our environmental and cultural heritage. Beyond that, there are over 13 miles of walking/bicycling paths through parks and trails that explore our diverse natural areas from tall grass prairies to oak-hickory savannas and wetlands; numerous sports fields and outdoor tennis courts; outdoor sled hills; and Community Bark West dog park. Even playing golf provides an opportunity to get outside and connect with nature!

Spend time with your child outside

Attend a nature program together or visit a neighborhood park. Skip stones across the water, count butterflies, or go fishing.

For more ideas on where to go and what to do outside with your kids, go to: