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Earth Day Urges WA Kids Outside on 40th Anniversary

April 22, 2010

SEATTLE - Washington State celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day today with an eye to getting young people to be active in the outdoors. Martin LeBlanc is the national youth education coordinator for the Sierra Club and he is based in Seattle, where much of his time is directed to programs like Washington State's "No Child Left Inside" program.

LeBlanc says Earth Day is the perfect time to get kids away from video games and back outdoors.

"It's hard to build a tree house anymore; it's hard to go on the 'bike ride to nowhere' like a lot of us did as kids. If we want to have a new generation of conservationists and also of people who just enjoy the outdoors, we need to get them outside as kids."

LeBlanc says more than 75,000 children have gotten outdoors as a result of the "No Child Left Inside" initiative in Washington State. Kids can go the the Sierra Club website and make an Earth Day pledge to be active, he adds.

If you are wondering where Earth Day comes from, you can thank the late U.S. senator, Gaylord Nelson. He conceived the original Earth Day as a "national teach-in on the environment."

His daughter, Tia Nelson, says a lot has been accomplished since then, following passage of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Toxic Substances Control Act.

"If you were born after 1970 or 1980, you have an expectation for clean water and clean air that was not a given prior to the first Earth Day."

It's not too late for folks in Washington State to get involved. Orli Cotel suggests going to the Sierra Club website to declare how you want to participate on Earth Day.

"You can say if you're going to bike to work on Earth Day or if you want to plant a tree - whatever it is you are going to do to make a difference. And you can see the map of people all across the country - 40,000 people who have already taken this pledge. It's a way to show that small changes really do add up and make a difference."

The website URL is www.sierraclub.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA