About the Author

Susan Sachs Lipman (Suz) has more than 25 years experience as a writer, editor, social media manager, community builder, and advocate for getting children into nature. She is the author of Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which was named a TIME magazine Top 10 Trend of 2012. She has written for the New York Times Motherlode blog, the Christian Science Monitor’s Modern Parenthood blog and others. Suz serves as the Director of Social Media Promotion and Partnerships for the Children & Nature Network.

States Adopt Children’s Outdoor Bills of Rights

In an exciting development for the Children and Nature Movement, at least eight states, and some cities and parks, have passed Children’s Outdoor Bills of Rights or Environmental Literacy Plans. There are Children’s Outdoor Bills of Rights working their way through legislatures in at least three additional states. Many of these initiatives resulted from enthusiastic and effective local Grassroots efforts. If you know of a state or region that has passed or is in the process of passing a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, please let us know so we can update our list.

This is an excerpt from California’s Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. California was the first state to pass such a bill. Many states’ Bills of Rights are similar.

The California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights provides that every child should have the right to:

Discover California’s past, Splash in the water, Play in a safe place,
Camp under the stars, Explore nature, Learn to swim, Play on a team,
Follow a trail, Catch a fish, Celebrate their heritage.

The following states and regions have had Children’s Outdoor Bills of Rights or Environmental Literacy Plans signed into law. (Click on the region name for more information.)

California

Colorado

Florida

Illinois

Ohio

Oregon

Maryland

Nebraska

Tennessee

Acadia National Park

Chicago

Lansing

The following states have Children’s Outdoor Bills of Rights currently working their way through their legislatures.

Georgia

Nevada

North Carolina

Wisconsin

In addition, Missouri has an executive order for the initiative to get Missouri communities and families outdoors.

There is great momentum regarding Children’s Outdoor Bills of Rights and the role they can play in encouraging families to get out in nature. Here’s to more citizens, lawmakers and, ultimately, individuals, realizing the importance of such simple acts as climbing a tree and camping under the stars, and then going out and acting on them.

Maybe your state or region will be next!

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Comments (16)

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  1. Shannon Baer says:

    I’d be really interested in learning about this process… anyone involved please contact me shannon@backyardmama.com I think we need one in RI!

  2. Karen Garland says:

    Georgia has a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights–http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/versions/sr357_Read_and_adopted_LC_94_0741_2.htm, but unfortunately is not even working on a literacy plan. To sum it up in one word–politics. However, we do have the Georgia No Child Left Inside Coalition, which is working on the frontlines to change this.

  3. Suz Lipman says:

    Hi Shannon! It’s great to hear from you. I hope you find some partners to work with in RI. You might want to mention this in the Grassroots group on C&NN Connect as well.

    http://childrenandnature.ning.com/group/localgrassrootsmovements

    Hi Karen! Thank you for letting us know about Georgia. That’s great news that a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights appears to be making its way through the legislature. I’ll add that to our information. Are you involved with GA NCLI? If so, I also encourage you to visit our discussion forum, C&NN Connect, and network with other potential partners in your region.

    http://childrenandnature.ning.com/group/localgrassrootsmovements

  4. The state of Illinois adopted a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights in 2009 and named June Leave No Child Inside Month in perpetuity.

    http://e-lobbyist.com/gaits/IL/SJR0044

    The state also has an Environmental Literacy Plan that has just been updated.

    http://www.eeai.net/about.htm

  5. Brock Adler says:

    Environmental Literacy Plan updates – http://eelinked.naaee.net/n/elp

    Advocacy updates on Environmental Literacy Plans and No Child Left Inside legislation – http://www.naaee.org/ee-advocacy

  6. abbie says:

    For more information on the WI Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights you can visit the EE in WI site.http://eeinwisconsin.org/net/org/info.aspx?s=94702.0.0.2209
    We are also working really hard on our State Environmental Literacy Plan which I believe is due to come out very soon and a similar plan for the nonformal sector as well called GreenPrint which will come out this Fall.
    For information on all of these you can visit http://www.waee.org which is partnering on all of these projects.

  7. abbie says:

    Shannon – I am working very closely with several others to spearhead the Outdoor Children’s Bill of Rights in WI and would love to discuss with you what we have done. Email me anytime.
    greeningsamandavery@gmail.com

  8. I have yet to read over one of these bills of rights and will do so. In the mean time, I would love to hear how states and cities are taking the next steps to implement or put these Bill of Rights / Enviro Literacy Plans. I do recognize the tremendous effort it would take to move such a great motion forward. I also am wondering what happens next and what kind of ‘teeth’ these various Bills have?
    thanks!

  9. Sharon Seitz says:

    Any one interested in advocating for this in NYC? Our kids really need this!

  10. I see Lansing, MI on the list. What about the State of Michigan? any activity toward getting our state organized?

  11. Dee Dee says:

    Does anyone know of a similar effort underway in the state of Iowa? If so, who would I contact? Thanks! -db

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    Thanks for all you do. We’re reaching out to communities who want to create nature infused play spaces, and community connectivity opportunities that are playful for families. Sponsored extensive research with NLI and will provide free copies of best practice guidelines for infusing play with nature to anyone interested. aspencer@playcore.com
    So happy that this is getting recognition as an issue, if we dont create environmental stewardship in children today, who will protect our green spaces tomorrow?

  13. Hi CNN staff and fans,
    I just heard a comedian named billy Gardell talking about kicking kids outside and getting them off video games. It was pretty funny. Maybe you can use it? Also, I love this quote from Antoine de Saint Euxpery (sp?) and thought of you:
    “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

    Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/antoine_de_saintexupery.html#ixzz1iiUCpLNA.

  14. Do you know if more states have since adopted a children’s outdoor bill of rights?

  15. Suz Lipman says:

    Hi Susan, We’ve been updating this list as we hear of more. Do you know of any?

  16. Lee Burke says:

    I would like to have this in New Jersey or, at least, in southern New Jersey. I live in Vineland,Cumberland County, NJ. I see Maryland as the only eastcoast state to have a BOR for kids.

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