Connecting Youth with Nature… On a Trail

Encouraging youth to learn about the importance of trails along with stewardship and conservation.

by American Trails Staff

An important trend has been documenting the benefits of trails, not only in the arena of jobs and the economy, but also health and fitness. American Trails has been a leader in conveying the physical, social, and spiritual benefits of trails in our increasingly harried world. Trails have become the souls of our communities— landmarks that define character and meeting places that beckon outdoor enthusiasts. They also serve as highly effective means to burn calories and combat unhealthy lifestyles among adults.

Now in light of emerging data, American Trails has broadened its lens to focus on children and the effects of outdoor experiences and exercise on their physical and intellectual well being. Our publications, webinars, and Symposium papers call attention to the positive effects of walking in nature, including decreased incidence of impulsive, hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorders among children.

Not only are trails conduits to learning about the natural world, but also cost-effective media that help control problematic behavior and even medical conditions among their youngest users. “Taking a hike” is really a euphemism for taking care of mind, body, and soul.

Also, in April we are hosting 19 young people from across the country and Canada to attend the American Trails International Trails Symposium. The new Hulet Hornbeck Youth Scholarship Fund will support training and mentoring opportunities for these young trail enthusiasts. Our goal is to encourage learning about the importance of trails along with stewardship and conservation.

— Jennifer Rigby, American Trails Board and Director of The Acorn Group/Acorn Naturalists

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