Generation Wild has a new friend to help get kids outside.
By Amber McIver-Traywick
With more children and adults spending more time indoors and in front of a screen of one type or another, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has launched a new phase of a campaign called “Generation Wild,” with help from an extraordinary creature named “Wilder” – created to spark the imaginations of people of all ages to head outdoors in our incredible state and renew the wonder of being outside.
Rosemary Dempsey, communications director at GOCO said, “As Generation Wild enters its third year we wanted to bring to life something remarkable to help us continue to deliver our message around how kids grow better outside,” Dempsey added. “Wilder does just that. He helps remind us of the imaginative play we adults used to engage in and serves to introduce today’s kids to the notion that playing outside can be every bit as fun and cool as sitting in front of a screen. That adventure awaits in the great outdoors.”
Wilder looks like something straight out of the beloved children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” – a yeti mixed with a mountain goat with the friendly disposition of a golden retriever. He’s a creature that sparks the imagination, and it’s creatures at GOCO in conjunction with Sukle Advertising and Design hope he makes an impression as he encourages everyone to reconnect with nature, be more active, creative and self-reliant – all traits research has found children who spend time playing outside exhibit.
Generation Wild hopes by their creative efforts to encourage unstructured play outside, the kind that used to be much more prevalent in generations past. The full program is an integrated effort statewide that involves providing parents and caregivers with inspiration and ideas on how to get kids having fun in the great outdoors again.The organization’s website is a great resource for parents, caregivers and teachers, including links to partner programs.There is also a short video that introduces you to Wilder and his friendship with a little girl – that may or may not bring a tear to your eye – downloadable posters, and a schedule of Wilder’s in-person appearances.
To help spark some ideas Generation Wild has a list of 100 Things to Do Before You’re 12 – and even adults might get a kick out of knocking some of the experiences off the list; like reading a book under a tree, explore a state park, soak in a natural spring, or simply watch the sun rise or set.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. Eighty-seven percent of their life is indoors, then another 6% of their life in automobiles. That’s a miniscule 7% of your entire life outside of an artificial environment. That’s only one half of one day per week outdoors. The average American child spends a mere four to seven minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over seven hours a day in front of a screen.
The benefits of going outside are huge for children and adults, and there is a large amount of research to back it. In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology it was found getting outside and moving around for as little as five minutes a day improved mental health and self-esteem.
Aside from the Generation Wild campaign, GOCO invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. They have an independent board that also awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created by voters in 1992, GOCO has committed more than $1.2 billion in lottery proceeds to more than 5,200 projects in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support.
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