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The New York Times endorsed Senators Elizabeth Warren of MA and Amy Klobuchar of MN. Plus, on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, candidates spoke at a forum about protecting democracy, "a decade after Citizens United."

“Great Outdoors” Could Be Next Classroom for West Virginia Kids

November 5, 2007

Charleston, WV – West Virginia kids may spend more time in a new classroom – the Great Outdoors. A provision in the "No Child Left Behind" Act, now up for renewal in Congress, would include grants and other support to help schools teach about the environment. The plan is being called "No Child Left Inside," and it would allow schools to arrange firsthand learning experiences for kids in environmental education and nature programs.

Dr. Peter Wentzel is a family doctor with the Medical Center of Taylor County. He says there are serious health benefits in getting children out-of-doors, as well as opportunities for learning and fun.

"If you get kids to appreciate the wilderness early, they will continue to appreciate it and they're going to just keep getting lifelong benefits from that, both in terms of physical and mental health."

Wentzel adds another potential benefit is that time outside would mean increased physical activity, which could help turn the tide of childhood obesity in West Virginia. Matt Keller, of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition agrees that outdoor experiences are great ways to prepare the next generation to deal with important environmental issues.

"If we're getting kids out into these places now, developing an appreciation for them, I think that will lead naturally to a desire to want to protect them, to conserve these natural resources and special places that are part of their heritage in West Virginia."

Keller says an additional benefit is that outdoor lessons offer kids a different way to learn, and can help motivate those students who have trouble learning from textbooks.

"You get them out into the woods, and you can actually see the salamanders, and see the birds and hear them, and experience it firsthand. The educational benefit...I think is really invaluable."

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - WV